Having completed your content audit, you will probably already have spotted some gaps in your messaging. But revisiting your journey will help you ensure that you are telling people what they want to hear at every stage.
How to Create a Content Strategy
(In Only 652 Steps)
This is a really, really, really long piece. There’s no TL;DR version. That’s because content marketing has a lot of steps. I’ve tried to focus on the planning, break it down and explain those steps, so that a writer who knows their way around a computer or a marketing geek who knows how to write can take this and kick things off within their organization. And hey, if you’ve got other things to do and don’t have time to read something this long, maybe you should hire us to handle your content marketing.
First, while this piece is about content marketing, it focuses on the “getting started” steps. A lot of people call these steps “content strategy.” This article goes a little beyond that, getting to best practices and a few favorite tools.
#1 is the most mechanically-involved task, because you have to grab a lot of data and mush it all together. #2 is the shortest. #3 and 4 are the most demanding (for me, anyway) because I have to suss out impossible-to-automate marketing stuff that’s essential to success.
What is Content Strategy?
Content strategy lays out the goals you want your content to achieve, what type of content is best suited to achieve those goals, and how you’re going to create, distribute, and measure the performance of it.
Defining your content strategy brings focus and purpose to your efforts. A well-defined content strategy provides a foundation that will help you make tactical decisions. Think of your content marketing as a highway. You’ve got to decide where it will go, lay down some pavement, and figure out how many lanes there will be. If you just start driving before you’ve thought out the road, you’ll use up a lot more gas – and you may not even get to your destination.
Bear in mind that content marketing is a business investment. It requires time, money, and (possibly) extra people. As with all investments, you’ll want to tie it to results. That means starting out with clear goals and the KPIs that indicate whether you’re accomplishing those goals.
What Makes a Good Content Strategy?
Just because you have a content strategy on paper doesn’t mean it will actually help your brand. There are plenty of content marketers who have a content strategy yet struggle to a) bring it to fruition or b) see actual results.
- Tailored to your goals. The only thing worse than having no content strategy is having one that isn’t aligned to your larger goals. When that happens, your strategy will be ineffective at best and counterproductive at worst. The best strategies use every element of content marketing in service of the larger goal.
- Comprehensive. The whole point of content marketing is to create a relationship with people through consistent, quality content. But it takes a lot of moving parts to make good content happen on a regular basis. A good strategy is built to keep your editorial calendar full of fresh, interesting ideas—with the infrastructure in place to bring them to life.
- Flexible. Your strategy is a blueprint, but it isn’t set in stone. If something unexpected happens, or you realize things aren’t working the way they should, you should be able to adapt as necessary.
Now it’s your turn.
The first step of developing your content strategy is to identify the goals you’re trying to reach through your content or inbound marketing efforts. These goals should be high-level, meaning they should be broad statements or generalities rather than focusing on the fine details. Establish a few goals and build your content around them. Here are some examples:
- Drive traffic to your site via organic traffic. This means you want your content to be optimized for search engine results so that when users search for your company’s products, services, or keywords, they will find you.
- Bring exposure to your products and services. When users come to your content to find solutions to their questions, your product or service will be forefronted to meet their needs. This exposure can potentially convert visitors into paying customers.
- Become thought leaders in the industry. Your brand goes beyond its mere product or service; the content you produce is a huge reflection of your brand image. If you produce quality content that embodies your company’s mindset and brings value to your audience, you’ll be able to establish your company as thought leaders in the industry.
Why You Need to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy
You must be taking the time to plan a content marketing strategy, are regularly reviewing it and changing things up as needed, and understand how your content marketing strategy is going to meet your business’ goals.
And to help you out, we have put together a proven eight-step template framework that you can use as a starting point. You can also use the content strategy template to record findings as you complete the framework.
1. Setting Your Goals and KPIs
It all starts with setting goals and KPIs. If you have not selected your goals, you have no strategy. But what goals should you be setting for your content?
While we can, of course, guide you on the goals that are commonly set by content marketers, you need to make sure you’re putting in place the plans that are meaningful to your business.
Figure out what success looks like and set this as your goals and KPIs. Then make sure that these are S.M.A.R.T. Not sure what that means? It is a way of setting goals that ensure you keep these clear and achievable. Your goals should be:
2. Researching Your Audience Personas
You need to know who you are creating content for to be able to effectively make the content that they want to consume. An effective way of doing this is to create buyer personas.
Even existing businesses have to redefine the portrait of their audience from time to time, not to mention newbies who are just about to create their go-to-market strategy.
A study by NetProspex revealed that the creation of buying personas increased the number of pageviews per visit by 100%, saw an increase in site visit duration by 900%, and an increase in ROI by 171%.
Ideally, you will create several different personas that align with the various audiences that your business targets, building out a profile for each (complete with a fictional name and avatar) across the likes of: