How to Create Your Content Marketing Strategy
With the potential to double website conversion rates, more companies are turning to content marketing to grow their businesses. While their content marketing strategies may vary, every organization wonders, “How can we create the best content marketing strategy?”
You’ll find the answer in this handy how-to guide for developing a content marketing strategy that not only make your audiences happy but also your company’s decision makers. Keep reading to learn more — or, start building your website's content strategy by contacting our award-winning team online or by phone, at +1-917-725-3071!
What is a content marketing strategy, anyway?
A content marketing strategy focuses on developing and launching a competitive content marketing plan. This plan is the roadmap for all the original content your business plans to create. That content can include written materials, as well as visual ones.
To separate the two, think of your content marketing plan as the “what” and your content marketing strategy as the “how.” Your content marketing strategy answers the question of how your content marketing plan will increase brand awareness or improve lead generation, for example.
Is a content marketing strategy needed?
If you’re searching for how to create a content marketing strategy, you probably recognize the importance of one. While your content marketing plan is your roadmap, your content marketing strategy is your game plan.
For a quick refresher, however, here is why a content marketing strategy matters:
- It develops a strategy for achieving your content marketing goals: Without a strategy, it’s easy for your company to lose track of its content marketing goals. That can lead to a lackluster return on investment (ROI), as well as a misunderstanding of what content marketing can do.
- It influences the success of your content marketing plan: A strategy can have a massive impact on your success. A study of business-to-business (B2B) organizations found that those with a strategy increased their plan’s effectiveness by 25 percent.
- It adapts your content marketing plan to industry changes: In your industry, as well as digital marketing, it’s essential to stay ahead. With a content marketing strategy, your team can adapt your plan to changes, making your content marketing even more effective.
Now, ready to start building a competitive content marketing strategy?
How to create a content marketing strategy
When it comes to developing a content marketing strategy, many businesses follow the appropriate steps. They research their audiences, develop their content calendar, and monitor their content’s performance.
Their content, however, doesn’t drive the results they expect. What happens is that these businesses often follow the right steps but overlook important details. That’s why this how-to guide reviews best practice recommendations, plus highlights the tiniest details.
With this approach, you learn not only how to create a content marketing strategy, but also how to improve your existing one by spotting areas for improvement. Ready to start creating the best marketing strategies for your business?
Get started with these seven steps:
1. Set your content marketing strategy’s goal
Whether you’re looking to increase your revenue, drive your lead generation upward, or improve your user engagement, there is a goal behind your content strategy. A lot of times, however, companies skip on investing the time to develop their goal.
When you create your content strategy’s goals, make S.M.A.R.T. goals:
- Specific: A well-defined goal can answer the what, why, who, where, and which questions related to it. Spend time brainstorming what your company wants to accomplish with content marketing, as well as who would need to oversee your content marketing strategy.
- Measurable: Whether you’re overseeing your content marketing plan in-house or partnering with a digital marketing agency, you should have a measurable goal. If you’re looking to increase your lead generation efforts, for example, how much of an increase do you want to see?
- Achievable: While a challenging goal can push your team, it’s important to keep your content marketing goals achievable. A few factors to consider are your company’s marketing budget, as well as the time constraints and other responsibilities of your team.
- Realistic: Another factor to think about is whether your goal is realistic. For example, maybe your lead generation aspirations are more feasible over a two-year period, rather than a one-year timeframe.
- Timely: Your content marketing goal should have a deadline. For goals with a distant deadline, such as a few years or several months, set checkpoints. If you want to increase your lead generation by 10 percent in one year, for instance, commit to hitting five percent by month six.
With a S.M.A.R.T goal for your content marketing strategy, you establish a foundation for your content marketing plan. Your team knows what your company wants to accomplish, as well as when, which provides them with a base for fully developing your content marketing strategy.
2. Determine your content marketing strategy’s audience
A critical component of content marketing is your audience — they’re reading your content, after all. That’s why companies don’t overlook this step in creating a content strategy often. It is an area that businesses can improve, however.
In most cases, you probably already know the following about your audience:
It’s their basic demographic information and provides tons of value when building a strategy for your content marketing. The best content marketing strategies go beyond demographics, however. They research what target audiences do on the Internet.
Reach your target audience by answering these questions:
- Where is their Internet hangout? If you’re looking to create one-of-a-kind content, then you need to know where your target audience goes for answers. The questions they’re asking can serve as the foundation for an amazing how-to blog post or comprehensive guide. Depending on your audience, they may like Reddit, Quora, or an industry-specific forum.
- What is their go-to social media platform? It’s also worth investigating their favorite social media platforms. While the demographics of your audience will likely influence their preferences, knowing whether they prefer Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat can target your content marketing strategy to the platforms that matter most.
- What are their pain points? While researching their favorite Internet hangouts, you’ll likely discover your audience’s pain points for your industry. For your content marketing strategy, that’s valuable. You can develop content that is both SEO-friendly, and provides solutions to those issues — you can even emphasize how your company solves those problems with your sales-orientated content.
- What kind do they like? As you explore the hangouts of your audience, as well as their interactions on social media, notice the types of content they respond to. Some may react well to infographics, while others engage with videos. These interactions offer insight into your target audience, as well as ideas for how to connect with them.
- Who do they trust? In most industries, there are influencers. These are people that your target audience trusts, which means partnering with that influencer could offer immense value to your content marketing plan and business goals. Browse social media, as well as forums, and you can probably spot a few influencers your audience trusts.
For example, a pharmaceutical digital marketing strategy with a focus on content marketing may target physicians, rather than patients. Their content could focus on educating younger physicians via video content that answers some common, yet tough questions about finding the perfect treatment.
With a better understanding of your audience’s motivations and habits, you can enhance your content marketing strategy. That improved strategy can lead to better content, engagement rates, and lead generation.
Some of our client Successes
+95% case study ▸ IncreasedConversionRate by
+37% case study ▸ IncreasedLeadsGenerated by
+60% “We measure our success by how much we WOW our clients.”
Bill Craig 360 Digital Idea President
3. Audit your content
While many content marketing strategy guides recommend a content audit, a lot of companies skip this step. Some, because they only have a few pieces of content and others because they have a ton of it.
No matter how much — or how little — history your company has with content marketing, conduct a content audit. It’s a critical step to creating a content marketing strategy. The results provide insight into your past approaches and can even offer ideas for future content.
Complete a content audit with the following steps:
- Create a content inventory: A content inventory serves as a directory and includes the content URL. In some cases, you may include the content’s heading and sub-headings. You can create a content inventory with a tool like Screaming Frog, and then export the data to a spreadsheet.
- Catalog content topic: Once you have your spreadsheet, classify the content. For maximum documentation, note the content type and topic, such as a 500-word how-to blog post or 800-word service page.
- Grade content: Next, grade each piece of content. Consider the quality of writing, as well as the content’s relevancy and accuracy for audiences today. Review the content’s organization, tone, and visuals too, as you want it to match your current branding.
- Log content performance: The last detail to include in your spreadsheet is the content’s performance. A few metrics to include are the amount of traffic earned by the webpage, as well as the bounce rate and engagement of users, which you can find in Google Analytics.
Use the results of your content audit to build your content marketing strategy. What does your past content do well that you’d like to include or avoid in future content? Or, how can you repurpose that content to align with your new content marketing goals?
4. Write your content guidelines
For businesses new to content marketing, this question doesn’t offer an easy answer.
It requires time and preparation, as your team needs to develop guidelines for creating and publishing your company’s content. This is especially true for healthcare content marketing plans, as you want to ensure your content meets industry regulations.
Many companies, however, skip the recommendation to write a set of content guidelines. It’s critical that your business doesn’t overlook this step. Without guidelines, you can impact the quality of your strategy, as well as its impact on your goals.
That’s why you should have a guide that explores the following content features:
- Content types: The best content marketing strategies focus on more than blog posts — and so should yours. Develop a list of content types and list their unique features or requirements. These requirements can include a preferred word count or calls-to-action (CTAs).
- Content formats: With various types of content, you’ll also have different formats. For example, a blog post may feature one graphic that invites users to call your company, while a guide may feature two or three.
- Content images: Your content guidelines should also note the use and format of images. If you’re creating custom graphics, for instance, what fonts or colors should they use? Or, what websites should your team use for images?
- Content tone: While your company’s branding guidelines may have information on the preferred tone for press releases and other formal communications, it may not discuss more casual content types, like blog posts. Note those preferences in your guide.
Once you launch your content marketing strategy, expect to modify your guidelines. You may discover, for example, that your blog posts should feature additional images to provide a better user experience.
5. Brainstorm your content
While initially browsing guides on content marketing strategies, businesses skim past the importance of brainstorming fresh, original content. While you may have a ton of ideas now, that number decreases as your content backlog grows.
How can you continue to develop content that your audience loves? With these tips:
- Use content idea tools: A lot of websites offer idea generator tools, which can help your team brainstorm a new idea. One tool is our Blog Post Idea Generator, which even suggests a title tag for the recommended idea.
- Read industry sites: Another way to generate ideas for your content marketing plan is by following the leading websites in your sector. While you shouldn’t cover the exact topic, you may create content that expands on an idea mentioned.
- Watch competitors: You can also monitor the content that your competitors create. As with industry websites, don’t copy your competitors’ content marketing strategy. Instead, you want to find the features of the story that are relevant to your audience.
If you’re partnering with a content marketing agency, they develop fresh content on a routine basis for you. When you partner with 360 Digital Idea, you even receive a hands-on and dedicated account manager who learns your business. The result is engaging content that’s even more relevant to your audience.
That kind of tailored content marketing strategy contributes to even better results for your company.
6. Develop your content management process
It’s not uncommon for businesses to overlook the importance of a content management system (CMS), like WordPress. If you’re a small-to-midsized business (SMB), for instance, you may consider planning, producing, and publishing your content manually.
As your content marketing strategy grows, however, that becomes unmanageable. That’s why you need to consider your management processes early. By taking this proactive step, you’re reducing the stress and workload of your team, as well as maximizing the success of your content marketing plan.
In some cases, content marketing agencies will offer CMS services. 360 Digital Idea, for instance, offers comprehensive CMS services, such as for WordPress, Joomla!, and Magento — we can even create a custom CMS platform for your business.
Another content process to consider is your content calendar. This calendar is critical to your content marketing plan because it provides details on the content you’re producing and publishing, as well as your content deadlines.
If you’re looking for a content calendar, these are a few helpful online tools:
Note, some of these tools offer free and paid versions.
7. Measure your content strategy’s success
For businesses that don’t create S.M.A.R.T. goals, it’s a challenge to measure the success of their content marketing plan. Even though digital marketing provides plenty of metrics to track and analyze, you need a S.M.A.R.T. goal to measure your success.
That’s why the “M” in S.M.A.R.T. focuses on measurement.
Measuring the success of your content marketing strategy also depends on your measurement tools. For example, your business may reference the data of your webpages in Google Analytics to see if they’re contributing to your S.M.A.R.T. goals.
If you’re collaborating with a full-service digital marketing agency, like 360 Digital Idea, you may have access to proprietary software for measuring your content strategy’s success. At 360 Digital Idea, for instance, we developed 360 Digital Idea.
This platform, powered by IBM Watson, offers our clients insight into their content marketing strategy’s performance. Plus, as the leading ROI-tracking software, it lets you see the power of your investment in real-time.
That’s critical, as your strategy should not only achieve your goals but also deliver a noteworthy ROI.
Checklist: How to create a content marketing strategy
Need a quick summary of this guide? Here’s a handy content marketing strategy checklist:
- Set S.M.A.R.T. goals
- Build in-depth target audiences
- Audit existing website content
- Develop content guidelines
- Brainstorm content ideas with online resources
- Establish a content management system
- Measure actionable metrics
Now you’re ready to create one of the best content marketing strategies for your business.
5 quick tips for your content marketing strategy
If you’re excited to improve your content marketing strategy with the above recommendations but are looking for additional ways to take your content strategy a step above the competition, then these five content marketing tips for 2019 are for you.
- Prioritize visuals: While your content probably features visuals already, it helps your content marketing strategy if you prioritize visuals. Not only do readers love images but they also appeal to how users skim content. If you can add visuals that enhance your content, such as screenshots, graphs, GIFs, or videos — do it.
- Develop pillar content: Maximize your content marketing plan by considering the value of pillar content in your strategy. What is pillar content? It’s in-depth content, such as guides or ebooks, that focuses on providing immense value to users and high-quality leads for your sales team.
- Optimize content: A core focus of content marketing is on high-quality, original content. Another focus, however, is on optimizing that content for search engines. By optimizing your content, from your title tag to your image alt tags, you can increase your ranking in search results. A better ranking can lead to more visits from your target audience.
- Target actionable metrics: While mentioned earlier, it’s worth emphasizing the importance of tracking actionable metrics — and not vanity metrics — in your content marketing strategy. These are metrics with a direct impact on your company. A few examples include your company’s sales, lead generation rates, and more.
- Consider search trends: A competitive content marketing strategy monitors and adapts to the latest search trends, such as voice search. This trend is worth considering, as 40 percent of adults use it at least once a day, making voice search content optimization worth the investment.
Launch a content marketing strategy with 360 Digital Idea
Our content marketing plans include the following assets and strategies.
BLOG POSTS AND ARTICLES
Is your blog looking a little barren? Need a new blog for your business set up? At 360 Digital Idea, we believe that a blog is often the centerpiece of a great content marketing strategy. Our agency will set up your company blog, creating an engaging and interesting design that matches the look and feel of your website.
As part of our content marketing services, we'll regularly add content to your blog that fits your marketing and engages visitors to your site. We'll also optimize it for optimal sharing on social media, ensuring it has the best chance of spreading and being read over and over again.
SOCIAL MEDIA MONITORING
Social media is how your content marketing efforts spread, so we'll make sure you have the tools and knowledge you need to monitor your accounts for new mentions of your blog posts or shares of your infographics. No time to manage your social presence? We can help!
INFOGRAPHICS AND MOTION GRAPHICS
Through in-depth research of your brand, industry and key topics, the 360 Digital Idea team of content strategists will gain valuable insight to provide accurate and exclusive data to our graphic design team. Then, our full staff of graphic designers translates this information into engaging info and motion graphics to not only promote your brand, but encourage high social activity. These designs are just one part of the content marketing strategy.
CONTENT ASSET LINKS
Images are great for going viral and bringing in extra power from social shares, but written content is also an important aspect of content marketing services. With an extensive network of authority bloggers, 360 Digital Idea's content management team can secure content links for your site from a number of different domains. Our copywriting manager ensures ideal usage of keywords and anchor text for all contextual links created within our content marketing strategies, guaranteeing significant power increases for your website.
Build a better content marketing strategy
Does your business need a better content marketing strategy, one that’s driven to deliver results?
At 360 Digital Idea, we’re a full-service digital marketing agency with more than 20 years of experience that specializes in content marketing services. With our personalized content marketing strategies, we’ll help your company earn more revenue, plus achieve its digital marketing goals.
Get a better content marketing strategy by contacting us online — or give us a ring at 801-601-5359!
Ready for your customized content marketing plan? Call +1-917-725-3071 or contact us online today to get started.