So, let’s explore content marketing and how to create a content strategy.
To be successful at content marketing, it’s important to understand the various parts of a content marketing plan, including personas, brand story, listening, and measurement.
Equally important is to become aware of choosing the right channels that will complement your content, and prioritize and plan content ideas around your company’s biggest opportunities.
Content Strategy Versus Content Marketing Strategy
There is a difference between content strategy and content marketing. Where content strategy focused on the actual content, content marketing focuses on the outcome. Content Strategy is about the management and creation of the media, the tools you are using, the resources you have available, what are the types of content you will be creating.
Content marketing is all about the customer. Who are you targeting with the content? How well do you know this person? And most important, what is the expected business outcome? Are you creating and sharing content to build brand awareness? Or are you aiming to increase revenue?
More generic content marketing questions are how it fits within your overall digital marketing strategy. What does your content calendar look like? And also, by sharing your content? Are you exposed to risk in any way? Does your content work for every market and content creation framework?
A good way to start putting together your content marketing strategy is by creating your content marketing framework. It enables you to map out to required content along the customer buying journey while considering the impact it has on your online presence, your social media, your website, and your sales between these two areas.
The Types of Content
For the customer journey and your overall digital marketing approach, you should be mindful of two to three types of content. They would be link content, conversion content, and authority content.
Link content is content that drives traffic from the internet and from your social media to your website. This is content that is created with the goal of attracting quality backlinks for SEO purposes.
Conversion content is content that drives web visitors to the next stage in the buying cycle through a call to action or CTAs. This is the content that is created with the goal to convince prospects that they should buy from you.
Authority content drives web visitors to sales through goal-to-actions and drives repeat traffic to your website. This is content that is created to build a community of people that trust you and see you as the expert in your fields.
This is a very useful structure for organizing your content. And it keeps you focused on the customer needs and the impact on your overall digital marketing objectives.
You should also know that each of these types of content has different requirements.
1. Link content needs to be high quality and often based on research so other websites can refer to it. It’s all geared towards generating high-quality backlinks to your website, which Google sees is very important for your search ranking.
You should make this content failproof, and could also repurpose it and promote it everywhere you can.
2. Conversion content is based on helping the customer to go through the buying cycle. This will only work if you understand what they need, and that your content clearly articulates that you can help them solve their problem.
Additionally, an important point here is that this type of content must provide the option to move to the next stage through a very clear and compelling call to action.
3. Authority content is a logical follow-up from your link content. It is content that confirms you are an expert in your field. It helps you to build trust, as long as you are truthful, transparent, and show integrity, and done continuously and consistently.
This type of content also helps you to deepen your relationship with your prospects and your clients.
Content Marketing Strategy
There are several steps in developing your content marketing strategy. The obvious thing, of course, is to start with setting your objectives. Additionally, you could also consider a number of things.
- Create customer personas
- Create listening outposts
- Write your brand story
- Develop your channel strategy
- Create a content marketing playbook
- Measure your content marketing
- Establish your content marketing ROI.
Let’s have a more detailed look into some of the elements of your content marketing strategy.
A vital step in your content marketing strategy is creating customer personas. This is a concept that comes directly from the user interface and design world.
In a customer persona, you look at things like demographic characteristics like age and gender. But it is important to add to this, what the pain points are. What is their affinity with technology? Where do they hang out online? And what are their interests and their hobbies?
You can also consider things like education, the preferred method of communication tools they need to do their job goals and objectives, some of their challenges, and how they gain knowledge.
Once you completed your customer personas, you should even print them out and keep them handy so that you can refer to them often. Also, make sure you add them to your briefing document when you ask your agency to create a new campaign.
Establish Listening Posts
An important part of your content marketing strategy is to listen to what people are talking about online. You can find out what they think about your brand as well as other topics they like to talk about.
It is also great to listen online to find good content you could share. You don’t have to share just your own content. There’s nothing wrong with sharing relevant content from others. Obviously, when I say listening online, I mean this in the widest sense like watching videos, reading articles or blogs, looking at photos or infographics, or literally listening to podcasts.
Here are a few tools you can use to listen. Feedly is a reader app on which you can listen to live RSS feeds. Google Alerts is a widely used tool that will send you a notification for certain terms that you could set. You can also use Google Trends to find out search trends for keywords.
Your Brand’s Story
The next thing you need to work out for your content marketing strategy is your brand story. What are your mission, vision, and values? What is the story of your company and even perhaps you?
Remember that people want to listen and share stories. When I search for IKEA on Google, you get an understanding of what I mean by stories about the history of the company, the founder of the company, the way they work with their employees, and what makes them unique. The more twists and turns, and uncertainties in these stories, the more people will love them.
And it gets even better. If you can show them how you overcame obstacles and bumps in the road, it will increase your credibility. A good example of this is Elon Musk. He came from a very simple background but kept on following his beliefs. Even when he was nearly bankrupt, he kept on going and look where he is now.
An important element of defining your content marketing strategy is understanding what kind of brand you are. The type of brand you are determines the type of social media you will use for your content. If you are a basic brand, you won’t get many people to engage and talk about you. Let alone comments on your social media posts.
One of the ways such brands can get engagement on social media is to turn themselves into a funny brand, like Blendtec blenders who launched the ‘Will It Blend’ campaign.
If you are a functional brand, such as Adobe, you will have customers asking questions about how to use your product. You need to respond to that by offering content in which you answer their questions.
Exciting brands don’t have a problem getting social media engagement with their content. They have 1000s of fans who love to talk about brands. Harley Davidson is a classic example.
These brands need to keep on posting amazing content that becomes almost like collector items for their fans.
And finally, vital brands are for the greater benefit of mankind. Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund UNICEF, have no problem in getting engagement and discussions. But they should be very alert to what people are talking about and try to find influencers that can help them spread their cause.
So, think about all this when you start putting your content marketing strategy together.
It will guide you on the type of content and campaigns you should create and the types of calls to action you should be using.
Before deciding on the type of content you’re going to create, it makes sense to explore and select the social media channels you are going to use.
In the listening stage, you should have learned about which channels your clients usually hang out at. You’re going to make sure you are there as well. You will synchronize your branding, the key messages, and the campaigns.
To grow your followers on these channels, you need to make sure you understand the latest features and trends on these social channels.
Content Gap Analysis
It also makes good sense to do a content gap analysis.
The analysis should show you what type of content do you already have for each channel and where the gaps are. You will then know what type of content you need to further create. The gaps will also help you to align an intelligible content marketing strategy with your content marketing playbook.
Content Marketing Playbook
So now you are in a position to decide on the type of content you’re going to create.
Link content and authority content can be fairly similar. It’s more on the promotion side of things where they differ.
But the conversion content needs to be organized along the customer journey from awareness to evaluation to purchase. We call this the marketing playbook.
You need to create your own by selecting the right content for the right stage.
Measuring Content Marketing Efforts
You can measure the traffic you get through your content, you can measure the engagement you get, and you can measure the sentiments.
Whether you are targeting consumers or businesses, the metrics are the same, but the priorities may differ. Today, lead generation is seen as the number one KPI when it comes to measuring the success of your content marketing, closely followed by traffic generation to your website.
These metrics show how your content marketing efforts are succeeding. But you need to go a level deeper to discover what specific content campaign channels and efforts are most effective in driving value.
Content Marketing ROI
And in the end, whether you are in B2C or B2B, it comes down to measuring the ROI of your content marketing. How much money did you earn from your content marketing in relation to the cost you incurred in creating and distributing it?
The things that can improve your ROI or quality of your leads, sales, web traffic engagement, successful SEO, and brand exposure. And remember, improved ROI is not just based on more sales.
It can also be based on lowering costs and the planning of your content marketing strategy.
Planning Your Content Marketing Strategy Is Very Important
There are so many things you need to take into consideration. If you don’t put some structure into this, you may lose control.
It is best to create your own content marketing process guide. In this guide, you could specify how you create and manage your content, how you optimize and curate the content, how you listen and engage in conversations, and how you measure your content marketing.
Additionally, there are tactical aspects you could include like roles and responsibilities, writing style and guidelines, posting, and publishing guidelines. Highly suggested that you communicate a process guide to the relevant people in your organization.
You may even want to put a training video together for the people who will work with this on a daily basis. Another vital part of your process guide is the content marketing calendar. It’s the calendar that contains your content production and publication schedule.
There are many templates and tools for this on the internet. My favorite ones are trello.com and Google Calendar. The most important part of it is that it is a collaborative tool. So, you can schedule the calendar with your colleagues and clients.
You can give people viewing or editing access. You can use color codes for the different types of content or for the different channels becoming a content marketing agency.
Understand that content marketing is about creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to generate website traffic and new leads. The content creation framework consists of linked content, conversion content, and authority content. It puts your content in the context of the customer journey.
A customer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research, and real data about your existing customers.
Stories are the currency of content marketing and your story starts with your mission and your editorial statements and content marketing ROI is how much revenue you gained from your content marketing in comparison to what you spent on creating and distributing your content.
I hope this post helped you with your understanding of how to develop your content marketing strategy. Please feel free to comment below on any questions or thoughts you may have.
If you found this post to be of some use to you, please take the time to share this post with your friends.
Please also take the time to visit the sponsor of this post by clicking on the banner below.