How To Create a Content Marketing Strategy
Learn why it's important to create a content marketing strategy for your business.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is not a one-size-fits-all strategy and it changes depending on what your business does and what your business goals are. When you take the time to develop a content marketing strategy, you focus on how to achieve your business goals first (increasing leads, driving website traffic, making online purchases…) and then look at how you will produce “content.” Essentially, every bit of content your business produces (newsletter, social media, advertising…) should serve a clear purpose that aligns with your business goals. Whether you’re looking to improve your website, social media accounts, or in-person customer experience, it’s absolutely essential for your content marketing goals to align back to your primary business goals. During the process of creating a content marketing strategy it is important to remember that your marketing goals have nothing to do with the number of social media Favorites, Retweets or Likes your content may receive. While having a popular social media account or a “viral” post can be an ego-boost, if all those eye-balls, clicks, and shares don’t move you forward in meeting business goals, it’s time and money spent for minimal gain.If you want to reach new customers, you need a content marketing strategy. Click To Tweet
As you start planning your content marketing strategy, think about your business objectives – what are your most important goals and who are your most important customer groups? Having these clearly defined will help you in determining the best ways to connect your content and messaging to reach your goals and customers.
Ready to start? Grab your laptop or a pen and paper and take some time to think about and answer these questions:
What are your specific business objectives?
Really drill-down into the details here! If you’re too general you won’t be able to craft a strategy this is measurable. Here are some frequently used content marketing objectives to consider:
- Increase brand awareness in one of your key markets
- Increase visitors to your website
- Increase signups (for a newsletter, mailing list, group…)
- Completion of a lead-generation page or inquiry form
Every goal on your list must be measurable. This could be in terms of an increase in dollars, visits or a sales percentage, but it’s essential that you define a numeric target of so that you can track your progress. If you’ve set a goal and can’t determine how to measure it, you probably need to re-think, or dig deeper into what the goal represents.
Do you know enough about your target audience?
Take the time to gather as much information about your target audience as possible. You can get this information in a variety of ways including customer surveys, analyzing the demographics of your social media accounts, and talking face to face with customers and clients. Here are three important questions to get answers to:
- What do they like to share with friends and family (videos, photos, stories…)?
- Where and how do they share these types of information (social media, emails, texting, blogs…)?
- What’s the best way to “keep in touch” with this customer group (social media, local newspaper advertising, text messaging, e-mail…)?
Chances are your business has more than one target customer group. For example, a retail store specializing in clothing for children may have a primary target group of adults with children between the ages of 0-12 and a secondary target group of grandparents. How to most effectively communicate and market to these different segments will vary – one group may want to follow a social media page, another group may want to see an ad in the local newspaper. If you want to be effective you need to target your messaging and your delivery to what your audience wants.
Does your content fit your goals?
Remember, goals vary from business to business and they will also vary over time. The goals of a newly launched business may be different from those of a well-established one which may be different from the goals of a business currently undergoing an expansion. The key thing to remember is that your content will need to change over time to align with what your business objectives are. Here are a few examples:
Example Goal 1: My business needs to increase awareness in our primary market
If you’re new to the market, you want your messaging to have broad appeal. You’ll want to highlight your expertise to as many people as you can to “spread the word” as far and as wide as possible.
Content to consider:
- Videos tutorials
- Customer success stories, interview profiles or business case studies
- Blog or newsletter content that illustrates and promotes your expertise
Example Goal 2: My business needs to increase subscriptions or signups
To encourage people to subscribe or sign-up for your service or product, your content needs to reinforce the benefits of your business has to offer while clearly establishing a very simple and easy call to action. Each piece of content must reinforce what makes your offering stand out from the pack and your sign-up mechanism must be simple, easy to understand, and error-free.
Content to consider:
- Photo, video, or live demonstrations of your product
- Video tutorials
- Social media campaigns/ads targeted to your niche market
- Content that demonstrates your leadership or expertise such as blogging, podcasts or video streaming
Example Goal 3: My business needs to increase our lead generation efforts
Driving people to complete a lead generation form can be a challenge but it will be less so if you offer content that is helpful and appealing enough that visitors to your website decide it is worth sharing their contact information with you in exchange for it. Of course, it rarely hurts to offer incentives – just make sure it’s one that you know your target audience will find hard to resist!
Content to consider:
- Detailed white papers or guides that are not available elsewhere
- Exclusive webinars, podcasts or in-person trainings
- Live demonstrations of your product
What are some content marketing examples?
Once you have your goals clearly defined it’s helpful to have a variety of content options to choose from. This list contains many suggestions, but it never hurts to get creative and think of your own!
- Case Studies or White Papers
- Charts and graphs
- Product summaries
- Product reviews
- Giveaways & contests
- Q&A Sessions
- Games and Quizzes
- Videos – informal or formal
- Resource List
- Press Releases
- Company News
- Content Generated by Customers/Clients
- Illustrations or Cartoons
Do you have a content production plan?
You’ve identified your business goals and you’ve aligned them with the kind of content you want to create – now you need a content production plan. What can you and your team successfully manage? One video per month? Daily social media posts? A weekly blog? A monthly e-newsletter? Develop a production schedule and share it with everyone involved. Giving all participants adequate time to prepare and generate the content they will be responsible for helps to better ensure high quality – and because all content is tied to business goals, high quality is essential!
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What is your content distribution and promotion plan?
Once you’ve decided what kind of content you’ll be creating, and how often you’ll be creating it, you then need to consider how you are going to promote each piece of content and for how long. Additionally, you’ll need to decide how much money you can budget for promotion and distribution. For some kinds of content, the answers may be quite easy – you may choose to boost, or highlight, certain social media posts or run socially targeted advertising. Typically, you will want to promote all of your content through a variety of channels in order to drive awareness. Examples can range from promoting your business’ social media accounts in a monthly e-newsletter, driving sign-up for an e-newsletter through social media accounts, to having a bag-stuffer or counter-top sign driving people to a sign-up web-page. Keep in mind that the more channels you use to promote your content and business, the more likely you’ll be to reach as many existing and new customers as possible.
How do you measure content marketing strategies?
Now that you’ve spent time defining your business goals, aligning your content to support your goals, and planning your content creation and distribution strategy, don’t forget to budget time for measuring and evaluation!
You will want to establish a set schedule for reviewing content performance and evaluating the process you are making on reaching your goals. Depending on the size of your business and the amount of staff you have, this analysis may happen daily, weekly or even monthly.Content marketers need to look carefully at the outcomes of their various initiatives. Measure! Click To Tweet
Are you noticing that early morning Facebook posts get more reach than those you schedule for afternoon hours? Did your recent e-newsletter see a dramatic increase (or decrease) in the open or click-through rates? Is your website seeing traffic from the magazine or newspaper you recently purchased a print ad from? Getting answers will help your business to use marketing time and dollars in the wisest way possible and reduce or eliminate wasted dollars!
When you take the time to create an effective content marketing strategy, you’ll not only help your business to achieve its goals but also help your customers by providing high-quality, valuable information that aligns with their interests and preferred communication styles. Whether you’re looking to improve your current strategy or start one from scratch, the end result will be well-worth your time and effort.
Are you looking for an internet marketing consultant to help you create a content marketing strategy? Contact us today and let’s get started.