If you've had any experience with content marketing strategies, you'll obviously know that it isn't just something businesses are doing to stick with the trends; it has become a critical marketing requirement. Web marketing research journals have documented and detailed that a vast majority of B2B marketers have, and need, a content marketing strategy, as that's the way forward to sustainable web presence.
So if you're looking for ways to improve your existing strategy or want to create your first successful content marketing strategy, this is the right place to start. But before that, it's vital to remember that a content marketing strategy is not same as a content strategy, although these terms are used interchangeably nowadays, especially since the parameters that define them are rather blurred. So, let's clarify the difference before we move on:
- For a content marketing strategy, marketers devise and create a clear picture of what an organization does, and why the do it. It is focused more on creating inventive ways in which you can engage your audience by using content to boost profitability.
- A content strategy, on the other hand, is a much deeper and broader term that encompasses the creation, distribution, and regulation of usable content. Experts have established that a content strategy helps you manage your content, as an independent business asset.
Now that we've clearly defined what a content marketing strategy covers, let's discuss some of the fundamentals of a content marketing plan. Even if you've handled content marketing earlier, keeping these points in mind will either act as a refresher or teach you things that you haven't implemented before. So, always ensure that you map out the following components in your marketing plan:
1. Goals and Objectives
As always, you need to establish the purpose of developing a content marketing plan. This starts at the grass-root level as you even need to figure out things like why you want to produce content and draft a marketing plan for it. They say that knowing if half the battle, and planning is the other half. SO, if you now your ultimate goal even before you begin your planning, you'll have a much easier time determining the best course of action for your content marketing strategy.
If yours is a new business, avoid producing content just because you think it will add to your profits because you probably won't be using content effectively. And no business wants to waste time and resources on something that isn't going to deliver any useful results. But, if you've been in business for some time, review your previous content marketing plans, and their subsequent outcomes. Check what you can do differently this time around by setting new goals, and making sure that your team's goals are aligned with the rest of your organization's goals.
2. Target Audience
You don't want to go around marketing sports cars to senior citizens or hip replacement surgery to minors. If you really want your plan to hit it off, you need to define your content's target audience, sometimes referred to as “buyer's persona.” This is especially critical to businesses that are just starting out and are new to content marketing. By gauging your target audience, you will enable yourself to produce relevant and valuable content that they'll want see. And even if you're an experienced marketer, you might have changed your target market or shifted clients. So, if you have to target a new group of people or expand your current market, it's always best to keep reviewing your audiences' parameters audience on an annual basis.
3. Types of Content
Most individuals typically start off with blogs, but if you're looking to venture out and try creating other content sources, think of the ones you want to activate. This aspect depends heavily on your product or service and the kind of customer engagement you're looking for, so choose wisely.
4. Content Management System
You definitely need to have an efficient content management system in place. The ideal system will handle all aspects of content management including creation, publication, and content analytics. You can also make use of standalone tools that will help you manage your content.
Why You Need a Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing is a very broad term and is used by businesses for a variety of reasons and can mean different things to different people. A content marketing strategy is intangible compared to search engine marketing, which is exactly why you have to think about the strategic role that content marketing plays in your organization and its ecosystem. Without a content marketing strategy, you risk making the most gruesome mistakes of content marketing, which is focusing too much on the content and overlooking the aim of your overall content strategy. Surprisingly, this blurry-eyed perspective of content marketing occurs often and can lead you to a focus on the wrong things.
To give your strategy that edge over the others, consider these additional important factors:
1. Focus on Your Strength
What content are you going to include while creating content marketing program and how you'll set yourself apart are important things to consider. Visitors can find the internet soaked in content, irrespective of their interest, and they're not going to waste their time reading all of it. So, are you going to be disproportionately useful, will you create utility, will you provide motivational, inspirational, or encouraging content or otherwise? Make sure that you focus on what your target audience reads, map it back to your strengths and create a connection that attracts more visitors, so that you can add some heart and soul to your content program? Always dream to be bigger and better with your content.
3. Review Your Content Marketing
Your overall goals will ultimately dictate the metrics that you use. If you're looking to generate awareness, measure it. And i f you want to track consumer behavior, you must do something that can be traced back to its source.
4. Research Your Audiences Needs
Your goals also dictate your audiences because you are not your own audience . Use buyer personas to populate your content marketing audience. Find out what your audience needs to learn from you. Make use of social media, involve yourself with customers and your own personnel to get a better understanding of the information you have regarding the persuasive requirements of your clients. D on't just settle for raw data, it might get you more confused than you already are. Instead, get real customer insights through customer conversations.
6. Content Execution Plan
Use you buyer's persona and customer conversations to establish your optimal content model. Understand how and where audience is most likely to assimilate information. Understand that different customers for the same product or service will still require different types of content. Devise a plan that showcases the content that you'll be creating on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis. And always remember to define calls-to-action. There's no point of any of this if you're not going make your customers do more than just read your content.
Another harsh dose of reality is that it simply isn't enough to create the right kind of readable content, it needs to be amplified. You basically need to market your marketing! This is where social media can be a real boon. Make a note of the places and people that can help you amplify your content marketing, including customers, employees, and influencers.
Enhance Your Strategy
So, what really makes turns a good content marketing strategy into a great one? Here are a few cautionary steps that you can take in order to get your content to the next level:
Step 1: Leadership
As bread-and-butter as it might sound, you probably have a vision as executive in a company, and it is most likely that this vision is shared with others within your organization. To share this vision, you're going to need the right kind of people, who will create your vision and allow it to manifest. The same process applies to your content marketing strategy. If you want your team to create a killer content marketing strategy, you have to have a vision that you can effectively communicate to all the members of your content marketing team. So, keep your head clear and in the game and create a detailed content marketing strategy because your team needs to know exactly what you want from them.
Step 2: Who and What
Before you go around marketing your great content to an audience that doesn't even get the message, you'll need to identify your target audience and market to get your content noticed. You'll need to know who finds what interesting, before you can even try selling it to them. So, provide some valuable content, instead of just focusing on building your brand's image. You have to know who you're marketing to before you decide on the kind of content you're going to create and offer.
Step 3: Face the Music
Very few people in this world can take criticism and turn it into their biggest asset, and being honest with yourself can be quite the challenge. In order to make your content marketing strategy a success, you need to face the harsh facts. So, even if you think you've created a masterpiece of content, it my might seem as useful as a pile of rocks to your audience.
Step 4: Do the Hedgehog!
The management version of the ancient Greek parable, this three-circled, one focus concept allows your business to focus on three major areas that culminate into one major focus. According to the Hedgehog Concept, a business is most likely to succeed if they focus on one main goal. And in your case, your vision or goals are of the content marketing realm. It's always best to focus on one thing than to go in multiple directions at the same time.
Step 5: Be consistent and disciplined
If there's one thing that everyone in this world universally appreciates, its consistency. So, if you want to achieve your content marketing goals, make sure you as consistent as possible. You also need to draft a schedule that can support a consistent content marketing strategy. Even if you have millions of great content ideas already in the pipeline and ready to go, you're still going to need to publish valuable content for your target market.
Step 6: Use Technology Accelerators
Since giving your audience a heads up about your content is the next major step in your content marketing strategy, you need to make use of the appropriate marketing tools, to help you promote your content and get it seen by millions. Not only will your content get seen, but you can also use tools to accelerate the growth of content that is published.
Step 7: Flywheel Concept
The Flywheel Concept represents what is similar to a snowball effect, which is, rolling down a snow-covered mountain and getting bigger as it gathers more snow. It might start out small, but eventually get bigger and gains momentum as it goes along. This concept can easily be applied to your content marketing strategy. The more outreach, creation, editing, publishing and social media posting you do for your content marketing plan, the higher are your chances of getting bigger and better results in the long run.
Important Marketing Dates
Once you've incorporated all the collective knowledge if this article into your content marketing strategy, just know that the job's not just done yet. After you've developed your load if great ideas, they're going to have to be slotted into various dates and events in an editorial calendar. Most of your ideas can be used at any point of time, irrespective of them being used in this season or the next year. That being said, you shouldn't ignore the fact that some of your best ideas will be time-based and their effectiveness will deteriorate over time. Although such ideas probably won't constitute the bulk of your calendar of events, they will definitely help you get those much desired traffic spikes.
Most businesses rely on incorporating major public holidays like New Year's, Thanksgiving and Christmas into their marketing plans. The reality is that you don't have to limit yourself to these important dates, and you can focus on any kind of event that people might find celebration-worthy. Always include other popular holidays and dates into your content marketing strategy. You can even base your content on themes or products on these special days.
How Often Should You Review Your Content Marketing Strategy?
While some crucial parts of your content strategy (goals and objectives included) should be consistent, irrespective of how your content marketing program grows and evolves, you can routinely review and update your strategy to keep up with the changing times. In fact, some aspects of your strategy are so fundamental to your business that you probably want to them tattooed to your hand so that you don't forget the main theme or aim of your content.
However, you can feel free to alter other non-essential aspects of your content marketing strategy, which will most likely benefit from being periodically reviewed, measured and updated. To make sure that your content marketing program is always aligned to the changing ways in which you can reach your target, consider reviewing other aspects of plan like your channel strategy, foundation topics, and department processes, on an annual basis or as often as you feel the need to.
Do You Share Your Strategy With Other Departments?
The last question you need to ask yourself is who else will you be sharing your content management strategy with, or whether you'll be sharing it at all. It is always beneficial to keep everyone involved by giving them organizational access to your content marketing strategy, even if they might not be directly involved in your content marketing process. As inconsequential as this might seem, it is a particularly critical aspect in larger organizations. This helps company big-wigs and your many employees, all on the same page. It also allows you minimize duplication of efforts so that you don't end up wasting limited time and precious resources. Ultimately, it ensures that everyone is working towards a common content goal.
Sharing your well-documented and presumably confidential strategy is also a good idea for businesses that have just commenced their content marketing. It is also useful to content teams that rely on internal or external subject matter experts (SMEs), or for organizations who outsource all or any part of their content creation and distribution process. How you communicate your strategy within your business depends entirely on the structure and working culture of your organization. It may sometimes be appropriate to share every detail and every page of documentation with your entire organization. But in other cases, you might need to exercise caution by creating audience-targeted presentation for particular stakeholders, especially if your content marketing strategy will impact their specific roles and objectives differently.
Overall, considering how to use the principles of content marketing to push content marketing and what people actual care to know about will help you determine the components of strategy that you need to share and how to share it with them.