How To Create A Content Marketing Strategy In 9 Steps
Developing a content marketing strategy can be a great way to grow your business. It can help you reach more people, convert them into leads and keep your current customers coming back.
If you don’t have a documented content marketing strategy, you may be wasting resources and risking a failed effort. Create a document that outlines the goals of your content strategy and how you plan to accomplish them. This helps you to narrow the scope of your project and make sure everyone is on the same page.
If you’ve got this far chances are you already know the value of first rate content and we don’t need to delve into the basics of what content marketing is and its benefits. But, for the uninitiated and to recap, content marketing is the application of content in word, image, and video form to attract and engage targeted users. By and large, it applies to inbound marketing but well thought out and carefully placed content will complement your outbound marketing as well. Plus, when done right, the ROI for content marketing continues over a much longer period than other marketing efforts such as advertising (we’re talking years as opposed to months or even weeks here).
Contents: the 9 steps to set up your next content marketing campaign
Define your content marketing strategy goals
Identify your target audience
Understand the problem your business solves
Spot the most important keywords for your site
Audit your content
Decide what content types are right for your business
Create a 12-month content marketing calendar
Identify how to measure your content strategy results
Use a content marketing agency to create your content strategy
Regarding content marketing success rates, these figures can vary a lot as there are a lot of factors to consider in your inbound marketing and even more ways to measure and interpret user data. But, average conversion rates for professionally executed content marketing campaigns fall around 1-2%. That’s right, the potential to convert 2% of your website visitors into paying customers is real and many even achieve 5% conversion rates (and even 10%)!
Now you see the power of strategically placed content no doubt you’re itching to know how to set up your next campaign like the pros do. Read on to learn how.
1. Define your content marketing strategy goals
Defining content strategy goals is one of the first steps to creating a successful marketing strategy. Whether you’re a nonprofit or a small business, you need to know what you’re trying to achieve before you start creating your content. Developing a well-defined strategy will also help you determine your target audience, the type of content you’ll create, and how you’ll distribute your content.
You’ll want to create a list of key performance indicators that measure success. These should be measurable, relevant, achievable, and timely. Using SMART goals will ensure that your goals are realistic and attainable.
You’ll want to make sure that your content marketing strategy objectives and goals are based on a strong understanding of your company and its values. Identifying your unique selling proposition (USP) will also help you create content that is tailored to your brand’s strengths.
If you’re a nonprofit, you may want to create stories about your donors, volunteers, beneficiaries, and the work you’re doing. Content that tells these stories can help you establish a connection with your target audience and build trust.
You’ll also want to set specific goals to improve your business. These can be time-based, such as increasing leads, or content-based, such as improving customer service. Having a well-defined content strategy with clear milestones and measurable KPIs will ensure that your team has the right skill sets to meet your company’s goals.
You’ll also want to track your results using Google Analytics or paid tools such as an SEO platform. By tracking your progress, you’ll be able to determine if your content is improving your conversions or increasing organic traffic.
2. Identify your target audience
Identifying your target audience is a key step in creating an effective marketing campaign. When you know who your target customers are, you can create more relevant content and improve your customer retention.
You can get this information from your point of sale system or analytics software. These systems will provide you with basic demographic information, but you should also do a bit of digging.
Using these statistics can reveal insights about your target audience. This can also give you a hint as to what they want and how to market to them.
Depending on what you sell, you can target different segments. For example, you can target a specific age group, gender, or location. This helps you focus your efforts and avoid spending too much money.
You can also use your existing customer base to determine what kind of customer you are selling to. Check your customer database for clues about age groups and purchasing habits.
An important note, you should find out what problems your customers are trying to solve. This can help you identify opportunities to expand your offerings.
Take a look at what your competitors are doing too. What they are doing and what they are not doing is an important step in building a competitive edge. If you can identify what your competitors are doing and what their strengths are, you can use that to your advantage.
The best marketers don’t just make up a target audience. They identify and understand what their customers want and are willing to pay for. This could involve challenging conversations about your value proposition and whether you still relate to your ideal buyer but it is a critical step to creating an effective content marketing strategy.
3. Understand the problem your business solves
Having a clear understanding of the problem your business solves is essential for your business to grow. While a business may have a great product or service, if it doesn’t have an understanding of what customers are looking for it will have a hard time scaling.
There are many ways to solve a problem. Some solutions are obvious, while others require a bit of research. In order to determine the best solution for your situation, you need to consider your business model, the scope and scale of your operation, and the cost of implementing a solution.
A problem-solving process is a structured approach that involves analysing your business, identifying and evaluating potential solutions, and implementing the most appropriate ones. These processes can be a great way to prioritise your efforts and measure your success.
Using a tool such as the Rapid Planning Method can help you come up with solutions to problems and opportunities. The process should involve brainstorming with other stakeholders, examining your financial performance, and evaluating various scenarios and solutions.
Using a tool such as a SWOT analysis can provide you with some useful information about the problems your business is facing and the opportunities it might have. This is especially useful in determining whether a given solution will be profitable.
Taking a helicopter view of the problem is also a good idea. This can help you identify the nuances that contribute to the problem, as well as the hidden costs and gaps in communication.
When you know what problem your business solves for your ideal customer, you can break down how to inform them of your offering. Enter your keyword research.
4. Spot the most important keywords for your site
Identifying the most important keywords for your site is an essential step in developing your content marketing strategy as well as optimising your existing content and building your brand. The most efficient way to perform this task is to use a keyword research tool. Some of the most popular tools are free, but there are also a few paid services that provide more detailed information (and even help you build your strategy with suggestions and recommendations). These tools are worth the investment if you’re serious about your online marketing.
It’s possible to do a bit of keyword research on your own. You can look at your competitor’s sites to see what keywords they are using to rank. While you might not want to replicate their content, it’s helpful to get a sense of the types of keywords they use. This information can also be used to create keyword lists and brainstorm keywords for your site. Ask yourself, do you need to rank for these keywords as well, or can you find potentially more competitive keywords?
To find the most relevant keywords for your business, use your target audience information. This includes things like location, habits, problems, interests, needs, etc. Of course, the magic lies in keywords with healthy volume and low competition but there are a few other factors to consider as well.
Create a list of all the keywords and phrases you have identified and then narrow it down to the most appropriate ones (these will either be the ones you start with or will form the entire campaign). If you are trying to compete with a company that has a strong presence in your industry keeping a record of all the keywords you intend to rank for will be particularly useful.
When you have a list of keywords and common search questions for your target audience, you have the foundations of your content marketing strategy. But, before launching your campaign, pause for a moment to consider your existing content.
5. Audit your existing content
Performing a content audit on your website can give you a lot of valuable insights into what works and what doesn’t. Having the insights of your latest audit to hand can help you achieve even greater SEO dominance. Whether your goal is to gain more traffic, sell more products or generate more leads, auditing your existing content and keeping it nicely optimised is just as important as creating fresh content (even more important for certain industries).
You need to take your time when performing a content audit. Many site owners underestimate the amount of time it takes. It might take several days to sift through all of your content. You might even have to consult a content consultant. However, in the end, a content audit will pay off handsomely in terms of ROI.
You should perform a content audit of your website every few months. It’s an important part of any SEO strategy and you can use a tool such as SEMrush to audit your content based on your sitemap data. You should also track your organic traffic metrics on a regular basis. This will reveal which pages need the most attention.
Performing a content audit is also a learning experience (plus they often reveal fascinating insights). By examining all of the elements of your content and how it’s being consumed, you’ll get a better idea of what your audience wants. This will allow you to create more effective content for your visitors.
Depending on the size of your site, using a spreadsheet can make the process easier. Start by identifying all of your page titles and URLs. Then, create tabs for different content types. For instance, you might want to include your social media posts and your blog posts.
Armed with the keywords to attract your ideal buyers and the latest insights from your existing content, it’s time to brainstorm ideas for your content campaign.
6. Decide what content types are right for your business
Choosing the best content type is a challenging task. It depends on your product and the attention level of your audience. Fundamentally, you want to create content that will engage your target audience and guide them to the right purchase decision, and this applies to all businesses and sectors.
The best way to decide what content types are right for your business is to think of your objectives and create content that meets those goals. For example, do you need a high volume of educational content to help visitors learn more about your industry, technology, or the potential it holds?
One of the most effective types of content is the tried and tested blog, which allows you to interact with your readers and build a relationship with them. It’s a great way to share useful information about your product or service without the need for an additional advertisement. And blogging is as effective today as ever. In fact, your blog should be pulling in more website traffic than your homepage (and if it’s not, then it isn’t serving its purpose). It’s also a good idea to update your top-ranked posts frequently to keep your brand in your audience’s minds.
For blogs, there are many different formats you can choose from, but fundamentally you need to get the mix of educational, transactional, navigational, and commercial content right for your business. Essentially, all your content needs to deliver value and not be a thinly veiled sales pitch that visitors will see through in an instant.
You have your ideas for content topics and their formats. Time to map that strategy out over the next 12 months.
7. Create a 12-month content calendar
Using a content calendar is a great way to plan out your content marketing strategy. Not only will it help you organise your posts, but it will also allow you to assess your resources and make sure you’re executing your plan correctly when you’re in the thick of it.
Creating a content calendar is not a simple process, but it is an essential one. By keeping track of your posts, you can ensure that you’re sending the right messages to the right people too.
There are many CMS tools and content planning platforms out there. But they’re all different and suited to various industries and tech stacks. For example, do you need your CMS to plug directly into your website for easy posting or is this an unnecessary additional step for you? If you’re still investigating the best tools for you, we recommend starting with the trusty spreadsheet. You’d be surprised at the size and complexity of some of the campaigns we still manage with customised spreadsheets!
Keeping a content calendar can be time consuming, especially when you’re new to the game. But update it regularly and you’ll look back and be proud of your work once the campaign is complete (12 months of content goes past quicker than you think and the one person in the room none of us can cheat is Google)!
It’s not just about a calendar – it’s about implementing a content strategy that is as effective as possible. By planning out your content months in advance, you can ensure that you’re sending out the right messages to the right people.
When your calendar is ready, it’s time to begin crafting your first post. But first think about how you’re going to measure the effectiveness of your campaign and its individual components.
8. Identify how to measure your content strategy results
Identifying how to measure your content strategy results is crucial to understanding how your content is performing. You need to know if it is driving the right audience to your website and if you are driving that audience to take action. You need to be able to monitor retention trends as well.
The first step in measuring your content performance is to revisit your goals. Broadly speaking, your goal is to drive a specific audience to your website, convert those visitors, and maintain customer loyalty. Using effective KPIs such as unique visitors vs overall sessions and bounce rates can help you reach those goals and maximise the impact of your content.
Choosing the best KPIs to measure your content performance will help you understand how your content is changing user perceptions of your brand. Plus, you can also use the metrics to identify meaningful opportunities to expand your content marketing strategy.
Another important metric is the internal and external backlinks your website contains. Backlinks indicate how popular your website is, and influence search engine rankings. Think about a shop or business that is well connected in the community compared to an outlier who no one knows. It is important to check for spammy or low quality links when selecting ones to add to your site. Ensure your links are coming from unique, trusted domains with a healthy DA ranking.
A good metric to use to measure content is time on page too. This is how long a visitor stays on your website. If a visitor leaves the site before completing a task, this can be an indication that your product or message is not clear. It may also mean that your website isn’t user-friendly.
Now you know how to plan your next content marketing strategy and get it off the ground. But it is always helpful to have an expert in the room to fact-check, advise, and even hand hold a bit during rollout.
9. Use a content marketing agency to create your content strategy
Using a content marketing agency to create a content strategy can help your business in many ways. It allows you to take advantage of the expertise of a professional, while also reducing your costs. Unlike a traditional marketing campaign, a content marketing strategy involves many different tactics and therefore skillsets such as an intimate knowledge of SEO and Analytics behaviour data coupled with a flare for storytelling.
If you are looking for a content marketing agency, you need to make sure it has experience creating proven content campaigns. An expert content marketer can help with all aspects outlined above and even execute the campaign on your behalf or provide consulting services to keep you on track mid-campaign. They can also provide you with content auditing and help you build out your website’s content.
Finding a good content marketing agency for your needs, business growth stage, and industry can take time but it will pay off in the long run. With the right content marketing agency on board you can be confident your campaign will be successful. Plus they can help you identify insights in your user behaviour for future marketing too.
Let Linguakey help you get the most from your content
We’re a team of specialist content marketers with a flair for great storytelling (and we’re all a bit geeky too). We’re committed to our partners and we make sure the content marketing strategies we create and the campaigns we run are aligned with their goals and producing results.
Whether you need your content marketing strategy created from scratch, great storytelling to attract and engage your ideal buyers, or an expert in the room to advise and recommend the best course of action, we’re got you covered. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you meet your goals with a fine-tuned and brand-aligned content marketing strategy that your audience will love.