How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy

Author Contributor

Have you been wondering about the best ways to market your content? With so many different channels out there, it’s difficult even for the most experienced professional.

What’s the best way to get the word out there effectively? Should you stick with the same platform over time? How many platforms should you use?

These are all valid questions, but in truth, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Part of your unique strategy will really be figuring out how your audience is seeing and engaging with you. Each social platform and content type is a testing ground, and even the best marketers will have to experience some trial and error sometimes.

The key is engaging deeply instead of just “talking” about a product or service.

So where do you start? Keep reading for some tips on how to keep your content marketing strategy on track.  

Why create a content strategy?

If you’ve spent any time at all in the digital sphere, you probably already know that between all the social media platforms, email lists, personal blogs, e-books, whitepapers, videos and so on, there’s a lot of content floating around online out there. And the truth is that only a small fraction of it ever gets read.

Generally, content is the marketing “stuff” that floats around at the top of the funnel and thus is more geared towards lead generation and brand awareness than actual conversions. Part of the point of creating a strategy ahead of time is to make sure that whatever you’re creating has the best chance of reaching your audience.

What type of content should you use?

Do you know what type of content you should use to get the word out? This will depend on a number of things, including what social tools you’re using, what your product is, and the general behavior of your audience. Here’s a rundown of just a few of the many types of content that you can easily produce and share.

Blog Articles 

Blogs remain one of the most effective and versatile types of content, and when developed strategically they can be re-purposed over time and across different channels. 

The key is that you need to publish regularly in order to have them bring in traffic -- Neil Patel recommends getting at least sixteen 1,000-or-more-word blog posts up per month for effective inbound lead generation. If you want to get a lead on blogging skills, check out Copyblogger for some great pointers to get you started.

Audio

Podcasts are great ways to get the word out for those who prefer audio, and you can always record interviews via video and then use the audio component to market separately or as a podcast.  

E-Books

E-books are good for lead generation and mail-list sign-ups, especially for digital tools like SaaS and educational packages. They are more detailed than blogs and as such are great for a learning-oriented audience

Videos

Visuals like this can say a lot with a combination of visuals and story-lines and data, and they’re also super compatible across various social media channels. Just putting a bit of extra time and money into one great video can get you a lot of attention when distributed strategically.  

Document / Plan / Distribute

You’ll want to take existing insights and try to determine which of the different social platforms is most effective, and then choose one or two KEY platforms to work your content. Be sure that your brand and product fits your social media channel itself as well as the demographic. For instance, you’re better off sharing yoga clothes on Instagram and Pinterest, perhaps even via an influencer marketer, then on something like LinkedIn.

You can use a scheduler like Hootsuite for automated posting however it’s important to keep tabs and update things manually as you test and share so don’t get in over your head. You also want to make sure that a social expert is on hand for engaging in real time – just “posting” several times a day without engaging will not be effective at relationship-building in the long run.

Distribution will take place in three phases: Pick your options, develop a plan, and promote your content.

Here are some questions to consider as you design a distribution strategy:

  • What is the key demographic on each of your chosen channels?
  • What is the purpose or value of each channel?
  • What type of media format does each channel thrive on?
  • What times of day do you post?
  • What’s the tone and best practice?
  • Who do you have that’s in charge of this channel?
  • How do your calls to action fit in?
  • What KPIs will support an ongoing strategy here? 

Tell the Right Story

Are you just telling people about your products or are you actually giving people a reason to believe that your product could be an important part of their lives?

The purpose of telling a great story is to add meaning and/or specific value to people’s lives. You need your brand to stand out amongst your competitors, and the internet is a wild place – it’s hard! This is why you need to make an impact with your content.

But depending on your product, it doesn’t need to be “deep” – something super concise and humorous can do the trick. It all depends on your key demographics.

Here are a few tools to help you find topics:

  • Buzzsumo will help you find out what’s trending after you put in search terms.
  • HubSpot’s Topic Generator will help you find more specific blog topics after you punch in an idea.
  • The CoSchedule Headline Generator lets you choose some ideas and see how they fare when it comes to keywords and overall title structure as you brainstorm different topics.

These are just a few of many tools that you could use to help you develop content that is trending and highly shareable. 

Always bear in mind, though, that your content needs to primarily be useful to the audience as well as, ideally, providing a high ROI to you. Developing content such as video that can be re-shared across different channels is an example of something that can offer a high ROI over time.

Search Engine Optimization

Your overall positioning will influence traffic types and patterns, and your traffic patterns will also influence your SEO standing. It’s all a two-way street, and the rules sometimes change over time. To this end, having your SEO on point can be challenging and having an SEO-friendly website can take a while to build (search engines do tend to favor more established businesses).

But SEO is key to getting found in searches, so you’ll want to keep on top of things like:

  • Links
  • Metadata
  • Keywords tell search engines

As you’re building a content strategy that works with your brand, you’ll also have to bear in mind how well this fits with your search engine optimization (SEO) plan. You’ll want to focus your content marketing on audience engagement, and this should be genuine. However, you’ll also want to meld this with keyword research in order to ensure that the content you are creating is really going to bring traffic to your site if that’s your key platform.

Ideally, it shouldn’t be hard to meld these two elements, since search engines like Google favor quality content. But when you’re actually looking at the way that traffic and social is functioning around certain topics and pain points, you can use this information to tailor your content even further and differentiate your brand while ensuring your website remains in decent standing.

It’s important that every piece of content has a Call-to-Action (CTA) that’s direct and brand-focused – otherwise, your content isn’t really likely to generate leads. The cool part about social marketing, however, is that you can get creative with this. Instead of just saying, “Buy this product,” for example, you can offer a free e-book or trial offer to let users have access and decide for themselves whether or not your product or service is valuable.

The idea here, again, is engagement. Make sure your CTA on ALL content is clear, specific and relevant.

Key Performance Indicators

As you build a content marketing strategy, it’s important that you pay attention to the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that fit your key goals.

For instance, if you are developing a lot of content that’s specifically meant to convert, you will want to focus on conversion rates. If your focus is lead generation, you’ll want to look at, for example, how many leads were brought in via a specific piece of content.

Some ideas:

  • To measure brand awareness: visitors, page views
  • To measure retention: subscribes/unsubscribes, bounce rate
  • Engagement: Likes, shares, retweets, comments

The key here is really engagement and brand awareness. You can tell how valuable your content is to your audience by how well they’re engaging. So, comments, mail list signups, and social shares are examples of things that point in this direction.

You will want to measure and monitor your KPIs, then incorporate your findings back into your strategy.

Final Thoughts

There’s really no single way to create a content marketing strategy – you have to do it in such a way that aligns with your budget and business goals. However, the main thing to bear in mind that, with digital marketing, you’re looking for engagement and conversations that are a two-way street. So, you’re going to pay attention to what genuinely draws people towards your brand.

Are they noticing you? Are they choosing to engage and purchase from you? Why is that? When your customers and clients are coming to you by choice, that’s when you know you’re doing things right.  

Contributor
Content Marketer