When trying to market your business online, your content is the most important thing you can invest in. As the foundation that all your other strategies will build on, your content needs to be interesting, relevant and appealing to your target audience. When you have great content, your SEO strategy, social media strategy, and other digital marketing strategies will take off.
Unfortunately, finding the right content to create and share can be a challenge. When there is so much new content being created each and every day, you need to ensure your strategy stands out. To help you develop a content marketing strategy that can get you high-quality leads, here are a few steps you need to follow.
Step 1: Define Your Goals:
When you create any new marketing campaign, you need to have some idea of what you hope to accomplish by the time the plan is through. While you may be hoping to gain new leads and attract new clients, you need to develop a clear pathway of how you’re going to achieve that.
Defining your goals for content marketing before you begin planning can help you make the right strategic decisions. When you consider how your marketing plan can contribute to your overall business goals, you can then use your content to support these business goals and drive your company to the next level.
When defining your goals, you want them to be as specific, measurable, and actionable as possible. Make sure to clearly define how much you’d like to achieve and when you’d like to achieve that goal by. By setting these boundaries and expectations, you can more easily measure whether or not you’re on the right track.
Step 2: Know Your KPIs
Based on the goals you’ve defined, you need to know what you’ll need to track to measure whether or not you’re moving in the right direction. Your KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators, will become the baseline of your content marketing strategy, helping you evaluate whether or not you’ve made the right strategic choices.
KPIs can come in many different forms. In content marketing, they typically revolve around engagements, shares, time spent on your website, or the number of visitors coming to your page. The KPIs that you’ll want to measure should relate directly back to your goals.
Make a list of the KPIs you’d like to keep your eye on throughout the course of your content marketing strategy. When you know what metrics you’re going to measure before you begin planning your content, you can make smarter strategic decisions.
Step 3: Evaluate What You’re Capable Of
Content marketing is more than just blog posts and social media updates. In order to have a strong content marketing mix, you want to include various kinds of content. However, it’s likely that you and your marketing team aren’t equipped to take on all kinds of content projects.
Before you begin making your plan, take a look at your team and evaluate what you’re capable of accomplishing. Based on the skills of your team, make a list of content types that you’ll be able to tackle in-house. Additionally, consider what content creation you may want to outsource.
Know what your team can do can help you stay on budget. The less you need to outsource, the less you need to invest. When you’re able to get high-quality content without spending more money on freelancers, you can get higher returns on your strategy. However, quality is always important. If you’ll get more attention by hiring a professional, do it.
Step 4: Get to Know Your Target Audience
Your target audience has the power to make or break your content marketing strategy. If you’re creating content they’re not interested in or they’ve seen before, it will be difficult to get them to share your posts or engage with your videos.
Before you begin creating any content, you need to take some time to get to know your target audience. By evaluating what their problems are, understanding what they’re looking for, and tracking what is already available to them, you can find a valuable space to place your content.
Creating a buyer persona is a great way to form a clear picture of your target audience. Document who they are, what pain points they struggle with, and what they may be hoping for when they come to your website. You can refer back to your buyer persona throughout the content creation process to ensure you’re focusing on the right individuals.
Step 5: Complete a Content Audit
A content audit allows you to see what pieces you’ve already created, as well as how they’ve connected with your target audience. Auditing your content before you begin developing your strategy can allow you to get a better understanding of what pieces to include in your content strategy, based on what has or hasn’t worked well for you in the past.
To do your content audit, you want to create a spreadsheet that allows you to input the URL of the content, the title, the details, and the page type. Additionally, you’ll want to record what you’d like to do with this piece of content moving forward, and whatever relevant KPIs you’ve decided to track.
Once your content audit is complete, you’ll have a basic overview of all the content you have. From this compilation, you can remove any irrelevant pieces, update any old posts, and get a better idea of the kinds of content you need to focus on to develop a strong strategy moving forward.
Step 6: Find a Unique Voice
With all the content available online, you need to find a way to make yourself stand out. In order to appeal to your target audience, you need to have a unique approach to your blog posts, videos, and webinars, allowing them to clearly connect and identify with your brand.
Creating a unique voice for your content can help you form your own niche. By giving a personal spin to your content and posts, you’re able to carve out a personality for your brand. With a unique voice, it will be easier for potential customers and clients to relate to your brand, encouraging them to continue coming back for more.
The voice you establish should resonate with your target audience. Your voice should be helpful and informative, but you don’t want to come across as cold or robotic. Instead, think of yourself as a friendly peer ready to give advice, tips, and encouragement to the members of your target audience.
Step 7: Define Your Content Mix
Your content mix tells you what kinds of pieces you’re going to produce in your strategy. In order to reach all members of your target audience, you want to get creative about the content you’re developing. If you’re only creating one type, you may find that you’re only connecting with a small portion of your target audience.
Try to diversify your mix by including videos, infographics, webinars, podcasts, and more. When you can include visual, audio, and text variations of your content, you can reach a wider audience and attract more high-quality leads.
However, when deciding on the content you’re going to create, you want to ensure you’re developing something your audience will like. Pay close attention to how your target audience likes to get their information. If they enjoy video, try to find ways to include more visual content. On the other hand, if they like to listen, focus on creating more podcasts.
Step 8: Develop Content Ideas
Now that you’ve set the foundation for your content marketing strategy, you’re ready to begin developing your ideas. Your topic ideas are crucial for the success of your content. If you’re not focusing on the right tips, guides, or news articles, it won’t matter how well your content is created.
There are a few different ways to get content ideas. Rather than assuming you know what your target audience needs, listen to what they’re asking for online. Check out question forums and social media, and pay close attention to what they’re engaging with from your competitors.
Create a list of potential topics or ideas you’d like to cover. Try to include both evergreen pieces as well as some timely articles that can help stimulate a buzz around your brand. However, make sure that it is something your target audience actually wants to know.
Step 9: Create Your Content Calendar
A content calendar allows you to stay on top of your creation and distribution plan. While a topic list is a great way to get started with your content strategy, it doesn’t give you a clear path to marketing your business.
Placing your topic ideas into a content calendar can give you due dates of when you’d like to create and share each piece. A content calendar also allows you to visualise your strategy, helping you determine what kinds of information should be shared at what time.
Typically, you’ll want to create your content calendar at least three months out. However, this calendar does not need to be set in stone. If a topic appears that is timely or more relevant than what you have scheduled, you have the freedom to move pieces around to get the most impact.
Step 10: Find Your Distribution Channels
Doing the right research isn’t the only important part of a successful content marketing strategy. While you may create awesome content that your target audience will love, you need to let them know that it is available. You can do this by finding your distribution channels.
The right distribution channels will allow you to promote each new piece of content directly to your target audience. While social media is a typical distribution channel, knowing the right platforms to promote on can help you improve your return on investment. Additionally, your newsletter, online forums, and influencers are other distribution channels that can help promote your content.
When finding the right distribution channels for your content, you want to pay close attention to where your target audience is. If you’re getting your content in front of individuals who aren’t interested in your brand or services, you’re only wasting your time. Instead, focus on narrowing in on your audience and providing the information directly to them.
Creating a content marketing strategy doesn’t need to be difficult – even if you’ve never done it before. If you’re creating your first content marketing strategy, you need to focus on getting to know your target audience and providing them with the information they need. When you put your clients and customers first, your content will take off.
Next time you’re creating a content marketing strategy, keep these ten steps in mind.