Content marketing strategy
One of the key concepts in Marketing is content marketing. A study undertaken by Smart Insights of the most significant marketing trends places content marketing in pole position.
A lot of companies discuss content marketing, but few have a dedicated strategy for its content efforts. For many, this means that content is created without a clear plan to ensure this is carried out efficiently.
Here we have listed six steps to constructing a content marketing strategy that can help to maximise the potential of your content.
1. Define your purpose
The first step is identifying the basis of the strategy e.g. defining the purpose or vision regarding content. Do you want to:
- Position yourself as an expert?
- Increase customer loyalty?
- Generate more leads or increase sales?
- Highlight your skills?
- Provide a better service?
- Expand your business?
There isn’t one specific answer to this as it may be a mixture of several aspects. You need to ask yourself, what are your main reasons for working with content marketing?
Only when you know your specific reasons, you can define the objectives required to be successful in content marketing.
2. Identify your target audience
You cannot excel with your content marketing efforts without knowing who you are targeting. You need to understand your customers’ needs to determine the type of content that will be useful and make a difference for them and meet their needs.
Once you have identified your audience and know what they would be interested in, you can create the content that is relevant to them.
Learn about your audience
Be aware of your surroundings. By doing this, you can learn a lot about your customers and competitors. Social media is a key place to understand more about current trends within your industry, what your competitors are interested in and how customers feel about your brand.
Web statistics can tell you much more about interactions with your brand. In a statistical tool like Google Analytics, you will find not only information on gender, age, and loyalty but also how do users find your website, what interests them and where conversions are made. Other useful methods are user testing, focus groups and interviews.
3. Consider content distribution
Ask yourself this question: "If you create content, and no one sees it, have you created content?"
It is not enough to produce useful content and believe that the work is now complete. The content needs to be actively distributed to the appropriate channels to reach your selected audience. If you know your audience well, then you will know where to find them.
Your distribution channels can be divided into three categories: Owned, Earned and Paid.
'Owned' is your personal channels such as websites, online shops, blogs, newsletters, magazines, social profiles, etc.
'Earned' is the channels where you acquire the ability to publicise content. There is immense reach potential with this method, since it is through mainstream channels, for example, through PR, references and links from blogs, mentions on social media, reviews, etc.
‘Paid’ is the channels that require payment for visibility on banners, print, television and radio commercials, online ads, direct mail and more.
Build a base
One of the reasons that content marketing has become a significant phenomenon is because traditional marketing activities are no longer as effective as before. Television adverts do not have the same effect due to streaming, television shows on demand and ad blockers. Banners have become the norm that people do not take as much notice of them unless it is extremely eye-catching. It is now important to create a following and place something directly in front of customers to catch their attention.
Traditional means are certainly still beneficial, but through a combination of the distribution channels mentioned above, your content can have a strong reach and longevity. For example, a blog about the top ten tips for social media can be created into a short, engaging YouTube video.
Only your imagination will limit how your content base can be used or recycled.
4. Work with all departments to plan content
The most successful companies in content marketing will tell you that although there is a person or people involved in writing content, all departments are involved in the creation of it. It is a challenge for content writers to be able to conjure up the topics to write about, and they certainly do not have the knowledge to write expert content on everything.
It is crucial to meet with other departments and brainstorm the relevant topics to be written about and ask for their input where required.
I have a plan!
Once you have an overview of the content required for the different sections of the company, you must plan for the content and the channels it will be distributed to. The plan should be comprehensive, clearly identifying the topics, time of publication, those responsible, goals for each piece of content to channels, evaluation, etc.
The purpose of the plan is to ensure there is a balance between content from different departments, and the topics being created. The plan helps to have structure and a constant flow of content. It also allows you monitor which types of content generate the most traffic and conversions.
It generates knowledge that can be used to optimise your future marketing efforts.
5. Ensure there is a formal framework in place
Once your purpose, audience, channels and plans are in place. It is important to have a budget set for the relevant resources required to fulfil your content marketing desires.
Therefore, the formal framework takes the form of an autonomous budget, for example, advertising, external writers, the cost of events, etc.
It needs to be clear who is to participate in editorial meetings and what is required of them, who is responsible for strategy, planning, production, editorial meetings and follow-up.
It is always important to assess how content has performed and will also be beneficial to future plans.
6. Keep track of the results
The last step in formulating your strategy is probably the most important. You need to have concrete and measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) to ensure that your content marketing is supporting the company's strategic objectives.
You can read more about KPI’s in this article.
Key KPI’s to consider:
- Number of articles produced
- Traffic figures
- Newsletter sign-ups
- Conversion rates
- Submitted contact forms
- Phone calls
- Followers on social media
- Video views
- Participants to events
The importance of each target varies. The goal for how much content you produce, for example, is a micro-objective; i.e. an objective that can guarantee a conversion such as a sale, an order or a booked meeting. Having a continuous content flow that is distributed strategically ensures continuous visibility for your brand.
Bonus piece of advice: Remember to tell the success stories!
Keep the relevant teams updated, presenting the strategy at a meeting and set up a screen with KPI’s that show how close you are to reaching your goals. Pictured above is an example of how to present the results visually with KPI tool Geckoboards.
When the content marketing strategy involves different departments across the company, you will be successful.