In the digital era, where attention spans are dwindling and competition for audience engagement is fierce, a well-crafted content marketing strategy is the key to capturing attention, building brand awareness, and driving valuable customer actions. To create a successful content marketing strategy, businesses must go beyond sporadic content creation and embrace a structured and purposeful approach.
Content marketing is creating, publishing and promoting value-based content to attract your target audience so they get to know, like and trust you. But content marketing should not be done without a well thought-out content marketing strategy.
All major marketing activities require a well-planned strategy, including creating content. Without a content marketing strategy:
- Marketing activities become random and unfocused
- Resources are wasted on tasks that don’t help you achieve your goals.
- Your marketing activities are not focused on the things that help you reach your ideal client.
Therefore, it is important that you plan your content and how you will promote it before you begin the creation process.
What is a content marketing strategy?
A content marketing strategy is creating a plan to provide relevant, valuable content and promoting it on the marketing channels that best reach your target audience. You need to match your content to the needs and desires of your audience so that you educate them and become memorable.
There are many benefits to small businesses that implement a content marketing strategy. By providing quality content, you become known as a trusted expert and advisor in your industry. This helps to build your online brand presence, making your business more visible. And one of the most important aspects of content marketing is that it helps attract new visitors and turn them into qualified leads.
Before you start creating content, understand the following and create your content marketing strategy.
Define the purpose of your content
Knowing what you are trying to achieve before you start writing content will help you focus your efforts. Chances are there are many reasons you want to create content for your business.
Determine the goals for your content marketing efforts. Do you want to:
- Attract new visitors
- Generate more leads
- Grow your email list
- Develop an expert reputation
- Build brand awareness
By knowing what you want to achieve, you can align the content with those goals so that it delivers actionable results.
Well-written blog posts shared on relevant social media sites can drive more traffic to your website, help you build brand awareness and develop an expert reputation. Blog posts are good for visitors in the early part of their buyer’s journey.
eBooks and whitepapers are more useful for visitors who have learned about your business and want to get further education on how you can help them.
Creating a content marketing strategy will help ensure that you focus all your time, energy, and money on reaching a goal that is important to your business.
Understand the content needs of the buyer
What challenges do your clients face? What content can you create that will help them find you when they are doing research looking for solutions?
A buyer is on a journey and the content you provide differs for each phase of the inbound marketing journey.
- Early in the journey, the buyer will be looking for awareness and education on a solution. This is where your blog posts and social media will play an important role.
- Next the buyer will want to know more about your solutions. At this point, they will benefit from webinars, case studies and other more in-depth content.
- Finally the buyer will want to purchase if your solution makes sense. This is where you need to be creative depending on your industry. A free estimate, a demo, a free trial or a complimentary assessment will help the buyer finalize their decision.
Perform a content audit and organize it by type (blog posts, articles, white papers, videos and presentations) and by topic to determine where you need to fill in the gaps. Use this information to lay out your editorial calendar that will be your content road map going forward.
This is your opportunity to become reliable source of information that keeps them coming back for more.
Define your content type
Content is not just words. It can be video, audio, images and text. The type of content you use will depend on your target audience and the goal of the content. Develop a good mix of content types that makes your content interesting and easy to consume. Also take content in one format and re-purpose it into another type that enables distribution on a different platform. For example, one of my clients does a radio show. We then take pieces of the show and turn it into a podcast and a blog post.
Define your frequency
The challenge for most small businesses is to provide engaging content on a consistent basis. Finding the time to implement a regular and consistent strategy is very difficult. The key to success is to do what works for you based on your time and resources. Small businesses need to focus on providing quality content on a regular schedule, even if that schedule is only once or twice a month.
Writing requires creative thinking. Some people can create a blog post in minutes. For others (like myself), writing takes more time. Some write short posts more frequently. Others writer longer posts less often. Know which type you are and which would benefit your business the most. Then schedule your writing time accordingly. Do not commit to more than you can realistically achieve. To stay on track, try some of the following tips:
- Schedule time in your calendar to write. Having set dates for publishing can help remind you that it’s time for new content.
- Note ideas and topics that you want to write about
- Use your categories to organize topics to write
- Subscribe to blogs that may help generate ideas
Be realistic. Plan a schedule that can work for you and stick with it as best possible.
Determine your distribution strategy
Content without distribution and sharing is content that is invisible. You need to cast a wider presence by getting your content out to where your target audience is spending time. Align your content distribution with the buyer journey, paying for advertising where necessary to reach your ideal audience.
Besides your blog, where else will your content be distributed? Consider posting a link to your content on Twitter, your Facebook Business Page and LinkedIn, depending on where it makes the most sense. In order to drive people to your Website, you need to cast a wider presence by getting your content out to where your target audience is spending time.
Make it easy for others to share your content broadly.
- Add a visible subscribe button on your blog and don’t forget to allow visitors to subscribe via email.
- Sending content in the form of a series of emails to your list
- Add social share buttons to your website so visitors can share your content to their friends and followers.
- Share your content on the social sites that you use.
Create your editorial calendar
Creating a robust editorial calendar that outlines content, purpose, timing, type, keywords, call to action and distribution strategy for each piece of content will help you know what you need to do to stay on track. Your editorial calendar can be shared with outsourced content creators to help them deliver their content on time.
Monitor, analyze and adapt
Measure your results based on how effective you are at achieving your goals. If you want:
- More inbound leads, is your content helping?
- To grow your email list, is your lead magnet attracting the right audience?
- To become known as an expert in your industry, is your content projecting that image for you?
Track and measure your efforts so you can adjust if necessary.
Keep a close eye on key metrics such as website traffic, engagement rates, conversion rates, and social media interactions. Use analytics tools to gain insights into what’s working and what needs improvement. Adjust your strategy as necessary, optimizing content types, distribution channels, and messaging to maximize your desired outcomes.
And if you have a challenge creating the content yourself, don’t hesitate to consider outsourcing the writing to someone who can get it done faster. You have enough to do as a business owner to feel like you must write the content yourself. You could dictate your thoughts, turn it over to a writer and then edit the content.
Determine who will create, manage and maintain the content
If you are going to go it alone and can remain consistent in your delivery, great. If you know you need help, find someone who can help you create the content you need and manage its life cycle so you can work on your business and continue to grow.
Create a style guide
If more than one person is creating the content, especially if you are outsourcing content creation, you need to document your brand in a style guide. A style guide defines and enforces your brand in terms of colors, fonts, logo usage and other design criteria so that all content produced is branded consistently.
Content creation is the basis of inbound marketing
A well-crafted content marketing strategy serves as the backbone of your digital marketing efforts. By defining your goals, understanding your audience, creating compelling content, and leveraging effective distribution channels, you can build a powerful online presence and achieve your desired outcomes. Remember to continually measure, analyze, and adapt your strategy to stay ahead in the ever-evolving digital landscape. Embrace the power of content marketing, and pave the way for meaningful connections, increased brand visibility, and long-term success.
Need help with a planning your content marketing? Sign up for my email list and receive an editorial calendar included with my Masterful Marketing Plan eBook and free marketing campaign template.