Without an effective content marketing strategy, your online business might as well not exist. It’s operating in a void if no one knows or cares about it.
Staring at a blank screen will NOT get your website noticed. Erratically throwing together 100 words on the first topic that comes to mind is sure to keep your rankings at the bottom of the search engine results pages.
And clickbait headlines can only get you so far once the reader realizes there is no substance to the rest of your post and clicks away.
You need a plan that will attract your ideal clients and keep them coming back for more, but the project seems overwhelming.
The biggest challenge content marketers face is constantly having to create so much material on an ongoing basis. Think of all of your different marketing channels — your blog, your YouTube channel, all of your social media accounts, your email list, and so on. You need unique content for each one.
Think also of the time frame. Your content stream develops over months or years, depending on your marketing plan. How on earth do the big, influential content creators stay on top of it all?
Of course, you can delegate or outsource, and tools can help. But being organized is the secret weapon. You’ll need to be organized if you want to use content to gain exposure, build relationships, and sell your products and services.
Don’t waste valuable time posting ineffective nonsense that could potentially alienate your target audience. Instead, understand how and why a content marketing strategy is essential for success — and create a simple, easy-to-follow plan even if you think you don’t know where to begin.
Why Content Marketing Strategy Matters
Having a documented content marketing strategy really is a big deal. Savvy shoppers these days avoid ads whenever possible, and 84% of people expect brands to create content. Content marketing costs 62% less yet generates 3x more leads than traditional marketing.
But although 72% of marketers have a strategy in place, only 30% have it documented. Considering that small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth than those without, their competitors who have not documented their plan in favor of keeping it in their heads are far behind in terms of attracting leads and increasing revenue.
A strategy is simply a plan of action designed to meet a major aim. Your business has a major aim: Generate revenue and earn a profit. Having a documented content marketing strategy will help you do just that.
5 Steps to an Effective Content Marketing Strategy
Step 1. Set SMART goals for your strategy. As we mentioned before, it’s the roadmap you’ll follow to make your business goals. So before you do anything else, define those goals and address why you’re creating content in the first place. SMART goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, results-based and time-bound are your starting point.
Next, inventory your existing content. You likely have blog posts, infographics, eBooks, case studies, and more. Be on the lookout for ways to repurpose these assets you already own to fill any gaps uncovered in your audit.
There are multitudes of creative ways to turn blogs into podcasts, eBooks into templates and worksheets, and other endless possibilities. So take stock of the various ways you might use new and existing content to achieve the business goals you’ve set. Providing the information your audience is looking for is the foundation of effective content marketing strategy.
Step 2. Perform target market research and develop buyer personas. You want your readers to look forward to your content to help them solve their problems as only you seem able to do — because you’ve taken the time to learn about them and understand their needs.
In order to produce content your audience loves, you have to know them well. You’ll need to collect data about them and use it to develop content. This requires an organized system of gathering and analyzing information about your audience, and keeping in constant contact with them so you can learn more.
The most effective content is that which offers a practical, unique solution to the problems your readers face. Your system should be designed to pay close attention to these needs and challenges.
Identify your market and find the types of content they prefer. Understand the emotions that lead your ideal clients on their journey from recognizing they need a solution to realizing that you are the solution they seek.
Step 3. Brainstorm topic ideas and keywords to target. If you’ve been paying attention, your potential clients have already given you much of this information. Use it to create a list of topics your audience has discussed online or asked about in forums. From that, make a keyword list of common search terms they might use to look for answers to those questions.
Don’t go overboard here, though. To create compelling content that readers will find valuable, always be sure to write for humans and not search engine bots. You’ll get better results than if you produce keyword-stuffed gibberish that doesn’t serve your target market.
Step 4. Create a content calendar. A content marketing strategy has many moving parts. The best way to organize these moving parts is to create an editorial calendar. Once your calendar is in place, you can simply open it each day and you’ll know what needs to be done.
Your editorial calendar should include each piece of content and when to publish it. It should also include each step along the way to creating the piece, such as planning, writing, image research, and editing.
Actually, every single task related to your marketing plan should be on this schedule, including brainstorming sessions, reaching out to any people involved, and monitoring your results.
Incorporate content ideas, keyword suggestions, and social media promotion. In addition to keeping you organized, this gives you a record of the types of content you’ve distributed, keywords you’ve used, and details on your social media sharing.
5. Develop remarkable content. With practice, this is not as difficult as it may seem. Here are a few guidelines:
- Assemble well-written material using proper spelling and grammar.
- Avoid jargon and complex terminology.
- Format text for skimming with plenty of headers, subheaders, bulleted lists, block quotes, bolding, and italics.
- Acknowledge your research using stats, case studies, and examples.
- Attract readers by addressing both their problems and their common objections to moving forward.
- Maintain interest in your content using relevant, high-quality images.
Position yourself as someone your readers can begin to know, like, and trust. Once you’ve determined your target audience and the purpose of your content, it’s easier to integrate with your buyer’s journey.
Making Your Content Strategy Work
The most successful content marketing strategies focus on nurturing readers who care about the information being delivered. Helping your business gain traffic and enhancing your SEO rankings are only two benefits of a sound strategy. You’ll also generate more leads and convert more prospects.
Develop a strong foundation by examining your business goals and matching your expertise to your target market’s needs. Then you’ll have the tools to create content from your unique selling point.
Your advantage lies in highlighting the perspective that differentiates you from your competitors.
Seeing the Big Picture
All of these moving parts, your editorial calendar, and data collection from your market should be aligned with the “big picture,” your long-term business goals. The first step in getting organized is to review and/or clarify your major goals for the next year or few years. This allows you to see the big picture, which makes it easier to understand how your content fits in.
Each piece of content has its own mini-goal within the big picture. Some pieces are for attracting people to your marketing. Some are geared towards building relationships or generating leads. There could also be pieces that are designed to drive sales directly.
The best things about content marketing are that it’s relatively inexpensive, quite cost-effective, and yields long-term results. You only need to invest the time necessary to build an organized, streamlined system for producing, publishing, and promoting your content.
Understanding why and how to create an effective content marketing strategy is just the beginning. It’s up to you to put in the work to clarify your business goals and determine how best to reach your target audience.
Have you created a content marketing strategy? Do you need more information? Comment below or contact us if you’d like help creating your own content marketing strategy!