When it comes to content marketing, everything you do needs to be part of a larger strategy aimed at achieving specific goals.
More sales, more leads, more page views—whatever it is, you need a clear, well thought out and defined plan. You need a content strategy.
Here is what needs to be included.
What is a content strategy?
As you might have guessed, a content strategy is a specific set of strategies for developing and managing content.
It uses various forms of media including blogs, videos, podcasts and/or social media posts for specific business purposes.
It’s not the same as content marketing, but it’s your content marketing master plan.
What are the anatomical elements of a content strategy?
Like the marketing octopus, there are eight important appendages to a good marketing strategy.
Let’s run them in the order you should create them.
A successful content marketing program always starts with clearly stated goals. This is a stage that many people skip to their own disadvantage.
Different types of marketing strategies can achieve different goals, most of which may correspond to a step in your sales funnel.
Some of the more common goals are building brand awareness, increasing traffic, growing your email list, generating new leads, converting new customers, increasing customer retention and upselling.
The goals you decide on will determine the type of content and channels for each marketing strategy.
It is perfectly acceptable to have multiple goals; however, please understand that not everything will apply to every goal.
Remember, a multi-talented person can do anything. Better to have more professional content.
Every tactic in your content strategy should be research support defend it. Putting in the work here will save you a lot of trouble.
Start by researching your target audience. What are their demographics? What are their pain points? How can you help?
There are multiple ways to find this information, including mining digital data, sending surveys, and interviewing customers.
Next, apply this knowledge to your current content and identify where it hits the mark, where it can get stronger, and where it misses completely.
Do keyword research and determine which phrases you rank highly for and which ones need improvement. It’s important to pay attention to search intent, volume, and relevance.
Investigate what your competitors are doing. What seems to be working?
For digital marketing purposes, determine which keywords they rank for, who link to them, and their social media presence.
3. Targeted topics
At this point, you should have started compiling a list of potential ideas and information you want to share.
Determine which topics are most important to each of your strategies and how your new content will help you achieve your goals.
To evaluate a topic, determine how it fits your organizational goals.
For example, if you’re a camping supply company looking to make consumers aware of your brand, a blog post about the 5 biggest mistakes in campfire construction might appeal to curious web searchers.
This will familiarize them with your brand, although it’s unlikely to sell many sleeping bags. For this purpose, banner ads with discount codes may be more useful.
Try to approach each topic from a new angle.
If you can find a new way to compose your images, you’ll stand out in a market flooded with refurbished products with the same philosophy. Be as specific as possible without limiting your creativity.
4. Editorial Calendar
Now, it’s time to determine when each piece of content should be published.
Some things have definite seasons. For example, no one buys a Christmas tree in June, but in December there is a huge market. Others are more loosely defined (eg, people need new cars all year round).
Find out the best time to delete each piece of content, and how often to post new content. This will vary based on your audience and platform, so there is no hard and fast rule.
Be aware that producing and publishing content on a regular basis takes a lot of work. If you don’t have a content calendar to keep everything on track, it’s easy to fall behind.
You should always work months in advance so you have something ready to go. This gives you more flexibility in case new opportunities or emergencies arise and minimizes the stress of content creation.
5. Editorial Guidelines
What does your company sound like? Is it professional? welcome? Knowledgeable? interesting? Find the voice of the organization.
Write a document explaining it and distribute it to your content creators, whether they are in-house or freelancers. This will create a sense of consistency across all content and all channels.
In the same document, you should outline formatting requirements, including punctuation, heading styles, and styles (for example, AP styles). If you include visual aspects, make sure you clearly define brand colors, fonts, and logo usage.
Even if they have completely different goals and distributions, each piece should have a clear relationship to the next.
6. Distribution Channels
You’ve set your content goals, themes, and calendar; now, it’s time to decide where to use it.
Identify the platforms you will use to tell your story and the processes and goals of each platform.
Where content plays will often affect its format and pace, but your goal is to present a consistent brand narrative across all channels.
By outlining your distribution channels, you can determine the best platform for each content.
Look for cross-posting opportunities. There’s no reason why you can’t share infographics from your blog on Instagram. This gives you twice the exposure for the same amount of work.
Just because you create and distribute content doesn’t mean you can sit back and relax.
Now, it’s time to evaluate it to see what works and, just as importantly, what doesn’t. Now is the time for an in-depth analysis.
You’re not just looking at the number of shares, clicks, or purchases through your website; you’re looking for “why?” You’re trying to understand what makes content successful and other parts fail.
Does it work fine on one channel but fail on another? Why is this happening? Is it a different audience or just a lack of exposure?
In this step, Google Analytics is very useful.
8. Key Performance Indicators
This is closely related to the previous step; when analyzing content performance, you should find key performance indicators (KPIs) to back it up.
Again, what you measure will depend on the goals.
Some KPIs you might consider include organic web traffic, leads generated, keyword ranking changes, social shares and engagement, inbound links, and lead cost.
It’s been said that even a bad plan is better than no plan, so imagine the huge results you’ll get with a powerful new content strategy.
It takes some work to create this strategy, but even the simplest organizations with the smallest marketing budgets will benefit from using it. This is an absolute must for any marketing department of any type of complexity.
Following the steps outlined here, you will create a well thought out content strategy to help you achieve your goals.
Featured Image: fizkes/Shutterstock