A content marketing strategy could be the most powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. For years, statistics have proven the value of content marketing for extending brand reach, improving conversions, and boosting loyalty.
According to Aberdeen, year-over-year growth for site traffic is 7.8 times higher for content marketing leaders. Furthermore, surveys also show that 61% of consumers are influenced by custom content. Yet a lot of companies still don’t know how to use content to their advantage.
Content marketing can be a complex process. It requires companies to generate an in-depth knowledge of their audience, design compelling content assets, and optimize them for the search engines. Everything from the way you structure your content, to the steps you take for promotion will have a direct impact on your results.
That’s where content marketing strategy comes in.
Content Marketing Statistics: What You Need to Know
Content marketing is simultaneously one of the most powerful and most affordable forms of marketing in the digital world. DemandMetric shows content marketing costs an average of 62% less than the basic outbound marketing campaign, but it generates up to 3 times as many leads.
It seems clear that adopting content marketing can work wonders for your business. But not just any content will do. Companies need to know how to leverage their content assets correctly. Unfortunately, many brands dive in with no real direction.
What is a Content Marketing Strategy?
A content marketing strategy is exactly what it sounds like–a plan for how you’re going to use content (audio, written, and visual) to achieve specific goals.
A good content strategy considers every stage of the purchasing cycle, from the point where you’re first making your customers aware of your brand, to the nurturing process after a conversion. For instance, you might start with the use of videos and social media content to build awareness for your brand, then post comparison reviews to help customers during the “consideration” stage.
When it comes to “converting” customers, your content will include things like product pages, landing pages, and sales, whereas building loyalty and advocacy could include sending emails to VIP customers and engaging them with educational content.
A content marketing strategy ensures you’ve considered every touchpoint in the customer journey so you can compete with the other 70% of marketers actively investing in content marketing.
Why You Need a Content Marketing Strategy
A content marketing strategy gives you focus and direction when it comes to creating assets for your promotional campaigns. Without a strategy, you’ll simply be designing assets at random and hoping for the best. With a real plan, you can ensure you’re getting the best possible return on your investment, and connecting with your audience.
A content marketing strategy:
- Keeps teams on the same page: With a strategy, you can ensure everyone in your graphic design, writing, and content production team is on the same page about the goals you’re trying to achieve and how you’ll identify success.
- Improves ROI: A good content marketing strategy will drive ROI by allowing you to measure the success of each campaign. This also ensures you can invest more of your time and money into the content efforts that drive the best results.
- Helps with identifying new opportunities: Your content marketing strategy will push you to evaluate the different stages in your customer journey, and look for opportunities to connect with your audience. This can give you insights into new opportunities for growth.
- Optimizes your marketing team: Your content marketing strategy gives your team a direction to focus on, along with goals and KPIs to track.
How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy in 9 Easy Steps
All marketing campaigns work best when they start with a pre-defined set of goals and a clear vision of what you hope to achieve. While every content marketing strategy is different, the steps you’ll take to formulate your plan usually include the following.
Step 1: Define Your Goals
First, you need to understand exactly what you hope to achieve with your content marketing efforts. Specifically, you should have a clear vision of what you’re going to be measuring through each stage of your campaign to determine whether your efforts are successful or not.
For instance, if your goal is to build brand awareness, you’d measure metrics like how much traffic you receive on your website, your number of social media followers, and any mentions of your brand.
Step 2: Understand Your Audience
Once you’re clear on what you hope to achieve with your content marketing plan, the next step is understanding what kind of audience you’re trying to reach. Different kinds of customers respond in unique ways to certain types of content.
For instance, a B2B customer buying software for their organization will be attracted to educational content highlighting the clear benefits of the service. A B2C consumer looking for a product may be more driven by emotional content.
Creating a set of user personas for the people you want to reach will help you to make better decisions about the content you should produce. Your personas should include information about where your customers come from, their age range, spending power, education, and pain points.
Step 3: Examine the competition
Aside from looking at your target audience, you’ll also need to generate a better understanding of your competition and how you can differentiate yourself from other businesses in your space. A competitor analysis can be extremely useful when building a content strategy.
With a competitor analysis, you’ll be able to determine what kind of content customers already expect to see from companies in your space. You’ll also get an insight into the kind of content you can create to separate yourself from other brands.
Step 4: Run a content audit
Unless you’re brand-new to creating content and you’ve never built any assets before, you may need to start by auditing the content you already have. A content audit involves evaluating the impact and performance of all the content you’ve already shared online.
You can use your content audit to get an insight into what kind of posts, videos, and audio drives the most attention from your target audience.
Auditing is also a good way to make sure the old content you’ve shared still sends the right message about your brand identity and personality.
Step 5: Choose a Content Management System
If you’re going to be publishing content as part of a regular strategy, you’ll need a Content Management System (CMS). Options range from WordPress, one of the most popular blog site builders in the world, to Shopify, and Squarespace.
You can also decide what kind of social media platforms you’re going to use to share your content through. The right options will be dependent on your audience. For instance, LinkedIn is more likely to appeal to B2B customers, while Instagram is ideal for visual companies.
While you’re choosing a CMS, it’s also worth looking into scheduling tools, so you can build a content calendar to help with sharing your content at the right time.
Step 6: Decide What Kind of Content You Want to Create
While most companies start their content marketing strategy with blog posts, there are many different options you can consider. Think about what kind of content your customers are most likely to respond to. You can even look at your competitors to get some inspiration here.
Content options include:
- Blog posts
- Social media content
- Case Studies
- Email marketing campaigns
- Infographics and images
There’s a good chance you’ll use a combination of different content types to get the best results. For instance, blog posts and videos can work together to attract and engage different types of customers.
Once you know what kind of content you want to create, you can start brainstorming potential topics. Once again, your competitors will be excellent for inspiration here, but you can also speak to your audience to get insights into what they want to learn about.
Step 7: Consider SEO
Search Engine Optimization or “SEO” is usually associated with written content. However, it’s possible to optimize all kinds of content, from images (with alt tags) to videos (with titles and descriptions).
Most content marketing strategies will include at least a basic SEO strategy. This will include conducting keyword research to see what your customers look for online when they’re searching for brands like yours, or products similar to the ones you sell.
You’ll also need a plan for linking your content internally and externally and getting backlinks from high-quality relevant sites.
Step 8: Schedule and Publish your Content
Once you know what your content is going to include and what topics you’re going to cover, you can start putting your calendar together. Think about how frequently you should share videos, blog posts, and content on your social media channels. Most companies publish blogs between 2 to 4 times per week, and post on social media every day.
You’ll need to decide how you’re going to make the most of your resources to ensure you have a constant stream of content available to share on all of the correct channels. Your editorial calendar will help you to keep publishing consistently.
Step 9: Learn and Optimize
The work doesn’t stop when you’ve published your content. You should also be consistently monitoring your posts to see how well they’re performing. Most website-building tools and social media platforms will come with built-in analytics to help you track important metrics on reach, conversion, and engagement. You can also leverage third-party tools like Google analytics.
Monitoring your campaigns will give you useful information about which campaigns are generating the most ROI.
Content Marketing Strategy Examples
Virtually every example of content marketing you’ll see in the world today started with a powerful strategy behind it. For instance, look at the Buffer website.
Buffer is a company committed to helping brands and individuals grow their presence on social media through analytics and scheduling tools. The company doesn’t just have a great product to offer, it also has a fantastic approach to content marketing, built to attract, engage, and educate potential customers.
For instance, the Buffer blog shares topics specifically catering to companies or individuals who might be looking for help dealing with their social media campaigns. A recent article, “I experienced Founder Burnout when Building a Self-Care Startup,” highlights one of the main problems Buffer helps to solve–a lack of time when running a business.
The company also has a Podcast Series for people looking for inspiration about how to grow their brand and a Workplace culture blog dedicated to helping business leaders support their teams. Buffer’s approach to content marketing strategy involves creating different content for the different audiences they serve regularly.
HubSpot is another excellent example of a company with a fantastic content marketing strategy. The HubSpot blog is packed full of information about all topics HubSpot is built to help with, like HR, social media marketing, and SEO.
Customers belonging to the various persona groups served by HubSpot can browse through content based on their interests. The company also allows users to specifically sign up for email newsletters covering the topics they’re most interested in, like sales, marketing, or website building.
As a bonus, HubSpot regularly creates exclusive reports, that you can download after giving your email address to download, meaning they have an excellent way to capture customers for long-term lead nurturing and conversion.
Where to find content marketing expert help?
Content marketing is easily one of the most important tools in a promotional team’s toolkit today, but it is also a complicated type of marketing approach to master. Producing and sharing content at the right pace for your audience takes time, focus, and effort.
For the majority of brands running a growing company, there’s simply not enough time in the day to manage the business and achieve excellent content marketing results at the same time.
Hiring a freelance content marketer through Growth Collective’s exclusive network can be an excellent way to fill any gaps you may have on your team or scale your content marketing efforts. Your content marketing expert is pre-vetted and hand-matched based on your needs by experienced marketers from Growth Collective.
Building Your Content Marketing Strategy
A useful content marketing strategy is the key to leveraging the best possible benefits from your content marketing efforts. While content has the power to drive incredible outcomes for any business, it’s nothing without the right plan behind it.
A content marketing strategy ensures you’re prepared to get the best results in terms of brand awareness, website traffic acquisition, and lead generation while strengthening connections with your target audience.