How do you create a content marketing strategy? – By now most people have recognised content boosts your profile, improves your search engine rankings, makes you more visible, widens your audience and – most importantly – generates new enquiries and new sales.
However, knowing how to focus so you harness all these potential benefits is a different question so how do you create a content marketing strategy?
Why is a content marketing strategy important?
Creating a content requires time and money. It is an investment. This means that if you just start writing haphazardly, is highly unlikely your content will ever have the effect you want it to.
This is where a content marketing strategy comes in, it’ll give you the focus you need to make content really work for you.
It’ll define why you want to produce content.
It’ll define what you want your content to do (inform, educate, engage, promote or move the reader to take a specific action).
It’ll define what type of content you want to create.
It’ll define where you need your content to be published.
It’ll also give you a defined set of targets you can use to measure your success.
It’ll tell you how to tweak your content marketing strategy as it progresses.
How do you create a content marketing strategy?
The following steps the ones we’d suggest you follow when you sit down to put your content marketing strategy together.
1. Set clear goals
Be very clear about what you want your content to do. Something like ‘increase awareness’ isn’t good enough! You need to make proper decisions.
Do you want to increase website traffic?
Do you want more new enquiries?
Do you want more direct sales from your website?
Do you want more people to like and share your content to build a bigger audience?
Do you want people within your team to become recognised as the expert in their field?
2. Define your target audience
The best content is written for someone in particular. If it’s going to engage them, it needs to speak directly to them.
Part of this is to address the things that are most important to them but it’s more than that. It’s using the right terms of reference, the right examples, the right vocabulary and the right tone of voice.
We’d actually go one further and say every piece of content should be accompanied by the right
If you’re going to do this successfully, you need to know exactly who your targets are, what they look like, what they like, what they want and what they’re most likely to respond to.
3. Know what’s working
Have you heard the saying ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’? It’s actually a good start point for most marketing initiatives.
If you can identify what is working (and sometimes you will be the best litmus test for this – what catches your attention?) and why for your competitors, you can refine the key points and integrate them into your ideas.
While copying your competitors is never an option, you can cut a huge corner in your development by using what your competitors have learned along the way.
Similarly, it’s always worth using the tools you have available to analyse their best performing blogs, social media posts, and search terms because if they’re working for them …
The other part of knowing what’s working is to research current Google searches. Again, there are a host of tools you can use for this but if you just want to take the market’s temperature, the ‘People Also Asked’ function on Google isn’t a bad place to start.
4. Agree what level of resource you can use
While all the different parts of the content marketing mix can be managed in-house, progress can be hampered if:
- You are short of time
- You have too many other possibilities
- You don’t have the required expertise
- You are operating within a highly competitive market and don’t have the budget to cover any PPC/sponsored ad word costs
In the same way, if people’s workload is likely to go up and down, will you have the resources required to deliver a consistent flow of new, relevant, and effective content?
This is where you need to outsource some of the tasks and please remember it’s not just the writing you’ll need to cover, you may also need to look at:
- Researching the best topics
Managing your content calendar
- Finding external experts for specific topics/industries/sectors
- Editing and proof reading
Producing images and supporting video
- Promoting your content to the widest and most relevant possible audience
- Developing your website and/or social media in line with your content
- Tracking, measuring and reporting progress
- Identifying potential improvements to ensure continued progress
5. Work out the best way to stay on top of topic and keyword research
We all think we know what we should be writing about, but topic and keyword research will tell you what you should be writing about.
We can’t stress just how vital this step is.
Writing blind can waste loads of time and money.
It can switch people off content marketing internally and once they’ve made that decision, it’ll be nigh on impossible to bring them back into the fold.
It can give your audience the perception you’re not at the cutting edge and therefore not worth reading.
It can suggest to editors and conference producers that you’re not the people they should be asking for articles and talks from.
Worst of all, it will deny Google the chance they want to find you. This will see you slip further and further behind you competitors in the search engines. Given the speed at which internet searches are driving new customers to every type of business, this alone could be fatal.
Topic and keyword research will cost but it is not discretionary spend, it is essential spend. Without comprehensive, consistently updated and professionally conducted research, you are hamstringing your content marketing strategy’s success.
Don’t ignore these warnings!
Adapt, improvise, and overcome. Tweaking tactics isn’t an admission of failure. It’s the only way to protect the time and budget you invest in the next stage of your content marketing strategy. Part 2 will following in the coming weeks.