Developing a Winning Content Marketing Strategy:
Content marketing is becoming an increasingly important tool for businesses looking to share information about their brand, expertise, and products or services with their target audience. According to Hubspot:
- 70% of marketers are currently investing resources in content marketing
- 24% of marketers expressed an intention to invest more heavily in content marketing at the start of 2020
- 40% of marketers identify content marketing as an integral component of their overall strategy
If your business doesn’t have a well-developed content marketing strategy, you’re missing out on a crucial opportunity to expand your customer base and grow your brand. Your content marketing plan defines the philosophy behind your content development, allowing you to more effectively manage the process and maximize the ROI on your efforts.
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A successful content marketing plan will help you maintain a cohesive message that conveys your brand and explains to your audience what makes you truly unique. Without a well-thought-out strategy, your content efforts are likely to be haphazard and fail to deliver the results you desire.
Developing an effective content strategy requires a systematic and methodical approach. The following steps will help you get this process right and set your marketing team up for success:
- Define your goals
- Know your audience
- Conduct a content audit
- Determine the most effective content types to use
- Plan out your content strategy
- Create a content calendar
- Create your content
- Promote your content
- Track and evaluate the performance of your content
Define Your Goals
Developing a content marketing strategy starts with defining your goals. What are you trying to achieve with your content creation efforts? This specific purpose should guide every aspect of the process. Every decision you make regarding your content strategy should relate to achieving your stated goals. This point can’t be emphasized heavily enough.
In all likelihood, you’ll arrive at multiple goals that you want to achieve with your content efforts. These may include:
- Increasing traffic to your website
- Improving your search engine rankings for specific keywords that are relevant to your industry
- Grow your list of email subscribers
- Boost your brand awareness
- Generate more leads
- Improve conversion rates for your qualified leads
- Increase social media engagement
Keep in mind that this list is by no means exhaustive, and yours shouldn’t be either. You’ll need to prioritize 2-3 core goals that will help you achieve your business objectives. If you try to focus on too many goals, it will become more challenging to establish a cohesive plan.
Know Your Audience
Great content addresses the needs of your audience. In order to truly understand what your audience cares about, you first need to know who you are trying to target. Then you can identify specific challenges and pain points they’re looking to address.
The most effective way to get to know your audience is to create buyer personas. These personas allow you to break down your target audience into segmented groups based on demographic information such as:
- Income level
For each persona, you’ll want to create a robust, three-dimensional profile that helps you to better understand their behavioral motivations. This should include:
- Their pain points, challenges and goals
- What would make their life easier
- The specific products and services you offer which will help them achieve their goals or make their life easier
- The specific emotions that resonate most with them
- The channels they’re most likely to engage with
Once you know this information, you’ll have a better grasp on the kind of content your audience will respond to and the specific messaging necessary to connect with them.
Conduct a Content Audit
Unless you’re a brand new business building your web presence from scratch, you most likely already have content circulating on the Internet. It’s important to evaluate the effectiveness of this content in order to determine the best approach to take moving forward. This is accomplished by performing a content audit that logs all of your existing content, assesses its success, and identifies gaps that need to be addressed.
Your content audit should help you determine:
- Specific content types that may be resonating more with your audience and achieving the goals you’ve established
- Certain topics that may be driving more traffic to your website than others
- Which pieces of content most closely reflect your brand messaging
- Specific subject areas where you already have an abundance of content and others where you would benefit from adding content moving forward
- Content types that can be eliminated from your overall content mix
- Opportunities to repurpose existing content in other forms in order to reach a wider audience
This information will allow you to focus your efforts on what has proven to work best. There are a variety of online tools you can use for your content audit. The right one for your business will depend on your specific goals and budget.
Determine the Most Effective Content Types to Use
Now that you’ve evaluated your existing content, you need to determine which content types will most effectively achieve your marketing goals. There are a wide range of content types available to leverage when implementing your content plan, and each one achieves a different purpose.
Think of each content type as a different tool available to you. You may find that different options resonate with each of your personas. You may also find that a more diverse content mix allows for more engaging social media content that can help spread your message.
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Using a variety of content types will also allow you to repurpose the same piece of content in multiple formats in order to target different members of your audience. This will help you get the most out of each piece that you create.
Some content types you may want to consider incorporating into your plan include:
- Web pages
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
- White papers
- Case studies
- Email newsletters
- Online courses
While it’s important to have a well-rounded mix, you shouldn’t plan on using every content type listed above. Instead, identify 4-5 options that you believe will be most effective for your audience and focus your efforts on these specific types. Over time, you can test additional content types and incorporate the ones that achieve your desired results.
Plan Out Your Content Strategy
The first four steps have laid the foundation for your content marketing strategy. Now it’s time to actually create your strategy. This involves:
- Performing keyword research to prioritize specific subjects to cover in your content
- Generating a list of topics for each content type you plan on producing
- Creating a social media strategy that will consistently promote your content and drive traffic to your website
- Planning several bigger pieces of content that will serve as the pillars of your content plan and identifying supplemental pieces to support each pillar
- Identifying any changes necessary to the structure of your website in order to properly implement your content marketing strategy
- Conducting competitor research to identify examples of content that have achieved success with your target audience
You can use this information to develop a cohesive strategy that will utilize the different content types you’ve chosen to connect with your audience and address their needs. As part of your content marketing plan, you will need to determine:
- Which members of your team will be in charge of producing and maintaining content
- What human and digital resources are necessary to create your content
- How often you want to publish content
Create a Content Calendar
Now that you’ve constructed your content strategy, you need to create a plan that will outline how it will be implemented. The most effective way to do this is to create a content calendar. This will provide your content marketing team with an outline of the plan and ensure they stay on task.
The simplest way to manage your content calendar is to use a spreadsheet. Make sure it contains all information necessary for your writers to effectively implement your strategy. For each piece of content included in the calendar, make sure to include the following items:
- Content type
- Content topic
- Keyword focus
- Target publishing date
- Any useful resources that will help in creating the content
- Any notes regarding specific messaging required
If you’re creating a large quantity of content, you may find it helpful to use an online content calendar tool to manage the process.
Create Your Content
You’ve done a tremendous amount of legwork by now, and it’s time to sit down to write your content. If you’ve created a content calendar, you’ll have a clear action plan to guide your efforts. This will make the job of writing your content much easier to manage.
Keep the following points in mind when creating your content:
Provide value – Simply posting content on your website won’t help grow your business or achieve your goals. Your content must provide value to your audience. As you’re writing, always prioritize information that will provide value and build trust.
- Comprehensive content – In recent years, Google has increasingly valued long form content that provides a comprehensive discussion of the topic. The more thoroughly you’re able to cover a subject, the more useful the information will be to your audience. This will increase the likelihood that your content ranks high on the search engines and converts well.
- Research – In order to deliver comprehensive content that provides value to your audience, you’ll need to do your research. See what authoritative resources are saying on the topic. Look at similar content from competitors that is ranking well on the search engines. Get a sense of what has already been said, and try to find a way to add something new or unique to the discussion.
- SEO – Your content is a powerful tool that can augment your SEO efforts. While you should always write primarily with your target audience in mind, you should also make sure your content reflects SEO best practices. Make sure to include all relevant keywords, but avoid keyword stuffing. Include links to other pages on your website that provide complementary information. When appropriate, provide links to authoritative websites as well. This is particularly important when citing statistics, since it will give your data more credibility.
- Visual layout – Most people tend to scan content when they read online. Make sure your content is displayed in a way that is easy to scan and digest. Avoid large blocks of text that are hard to read. Instead, include subheads that break up your content and identify specific topics being discussed. Use bullet lists whenever appropriate, and vary the length of your paragraphs to make them easier to read.
- Brand messaging – Always make sure your content conveys your brand messaging. This is your opportunity to explain to your audience why you are special and unique.
- Voice – Should your content have a professional tone or a more casual, conversational tone? What kinds of emotions are you trying to evoke? Whatever you decide regarding the tone and voice of your content, it should always reflect your brand messaging and connect with your target audience.
Promote Your Content
You can produce amazing content, but it won’t be of any use to your business unless others can find it. Therefore, it’s crucial that you promote your content in order to make sure it reaches your audience.
Your promotion strategy should include both organic and paid promotion. If you’re working with an SEO specialist, it will significantly improve your chances of ranking well on organic search. However, you may want to consider supplementing these efforts with paid search (PPC), especially for important pieces of content.
In addition, you should always promote your content on your social media profiles. This is an important way to reach your audience. Organic social posts are important, but also consider sponsored posts and paid ads on social media platforms to boost the visibility of your content.
When appropriate, you may also want to consider building relationships with influencers in your industry who can help your content reach a wider audience.
Track and Evaluate the Performance of Your Content
It’s important to track the performance of your content to make sure it’s achieving the goals you identified earlier in the process:
- Did you achieve your content marketing goals?
- How well is your audience engaging with your content?
- Is it ranking well on search engines?
- Are you seeing good conversion rates for the desired actions you’re trying to elicit from your audience?
You can use a platform like Google Analytics to track a variety of performance metrics that will help you evaluate the success of your content. This data will help you make any necessary adjustments to your content plan moving forward. This is a crucial part of the process. Constant evaluation of your content’s performance will help you to continually improve your efforts and achieve a greater ROI on your content marketing.
Webolutions Can Help You Create a Winning Content Marketing Strategy
Webolutions provides comprehensive custom website design services to help grow your business. We’ll work with you to understand your company’s goals in order to develop a well-rounded content strategy that builds your brand and addresses the pain points experienced by your target audience. Our team uses a wide range of content types to provide a diverse content mix that will resonate with each segment of your audience.
Our approach to content marketing is based on the following five pillars:
- Market positioning – We’ll set you up to compete with the leaders of your industry by elevating the experience you provide to your audience.
- Brand messaging – We’ll take the time to clarify your message and build a brand platform that communicates the value you provide to your audience.
- Promotion – We’ll utilize all of the marketing channels at our disposal to make sure your content is visible to the widest possible audience.
- Data driven decisions – We believe that every decision we make should be supported by data. We’re constantly tracking analytics on our content to make sure it’s effectively achieving your goals.
- Long-term planning – The best content marketing strategies set your company up for long-term growth. We’ll work with you to identify where you want your business to be in several years and craft your content plan with those goals in mind.
Please contact Webolutions today to learn more about your content marketing options. We serve clients nationwide from our offices in Denver, Colorado.