Content is Dead, Long Live Content. A Short and Simple Guide on Creating a Content Marketing Strategy That Works
- What’s Content Strategy?
- Why do you need content marketing strategy exactly?
- Steps for developing your content marketing strategy
- Publish and manage your content
Content marketing has become somewhat of a buzzword in recent years. You hear content is King, Queen and the Holy Mary from every corner.
If you happen to be an aspiring business owner just launching your business website, you most definitely have been told you simply must create unique content, pack it with unique pictures, graphics etc., publish it all on your website and that’s it, your business will start booming right away. Because yes, the world is simply standing there waiting for your precious content.
But is it really? The modern internet is full to the brim with content. It’s like in the mall on Black Friday – full of people, products and offers, everyone is scurrying all around you and no one, I repeat – no one, is interested in you, and your shiny and rigorously polished content. Especially when there are established, familiar brands all around. Yes, those businesses you call competitors.
Even if your offer is more alluring, even if your product or service is outstanding, even if your content is better and your pictures are custom made especially for you by Annie Leibovitz herself… The customer inevitably will go to the brand they already know, they simply won’t notice you in the sea of offers.
So is there no hope at all? There is of course! We do not advocate for you to quit it all from the very start, we just want you to understand that there is a lot of work you need to do to be heard, seen and eventually trusted by the customers.
Yes, there is an abundance of content out there, but there is an abundance of people to read it too!
A well-crafted content marketing campaign improves website reach and conversions, does wonders for lead generation and brand recognition, and a lot more.
In this ebook we will help you develop a content strategy that will suit your business like a glove, to help you find your audience, and retain your customers.
What’s Content Strategy?
Simply put, a content strategy is a part of your overall marketing strategy, it entails management of all the media you have on your website; and outside your website, if it refers to your online presence in any way. This includes visual, written and even downloadable media.
Content creation is important and even crucial, yes. But creating content for the sake of it, with no particular purpose, will not get you anywhere near to achieving your business goals. This is what content strategy is meant to help you with.
The key aspects you have to consider when developing your content marketing strategy are:
- Who’s your audience
- What’s the issue you are solving for the audience
- Content uniqueness
- Content formats
- Distribution channels
- Who will create the content, publish it and manage these processes
Why do you need content marketing strategy exactly?
As has already been mentioned above – content marketing has lots of benefits; website reach and conversions improvements, lead generation and brand recognition being just a few of those. But most importantly, a well done content marketing strategy will help you find your audience, build a rapport with those people and thus create a pool of loyal customers and brand advocates for your business.
If the above reason is not enough here’s more – when there is an actual strategy in place you create better content that suits the purpose of your business while educating the audience and providing them with valuable information, this content then becomes a reliable and continuous source of organic traffic. Awesome, right?
Steps for developing your content marketing strategy
Define your business purpose and marketing goal
Before you start hiring copywriters and writing that letter to Annie Leibovitz, you need to have a clear understanding of what it actually is you are trying to achieve with your business and your marketing strategy.
You may think now – what the hell, my business purpose is making money. And you will be right, any business should make money, otherwise it’s not a business but a charity organization.
But money should not be everything behind your efforts, there has to be something more to it. We are talking about the thing that drives you, the very reason your business was born in your head in the first place. This thing, this ultimate purpose that makes it worth all the time and effort, is what brings you closer to your target audience, makes your business unique and interesting.
When you have that clear understanding of your ultimate business purpose you have a more clear understanding of who your target audience is and where you can find these people, you know exactly what’s the issue you are going to resolve for this audience.
When you’ve established your business purpose you need to concentrate on your marketing goals, after all content strategy is a part of your marketing strategy and as such it should serve to achieve those marketing goals of yours.
Your marketing goals can be long-term or short-term, either way they have to be:
Specific. And preferably short. If you can describe your marketing goal in one or two words – awesome. If your goal is something vague like “more followers on social networks” or “better marketing year” you need to think more on your goal and make it more specific.
Measurable. How will you know if you actually achieved your goals? Make sure they are measurable. While a 1000 active blog readers is a good goal it is not ideal, if you redefine it to be a 30% increase in active readers it suddenly becomes an easily measurable goal, doesn’t it? Tracking your progress this way is way more clear and simple.
Achievable. It is good to be ambitious in business, but you have to stay realistic. If your monthly average is 15 leads and you set your goal to jump to 1500, well you set yourself to failure. Come up with a realistic, yet big, goal for a year, divide it by 12 and slowly but steadily achieve your big goal every month.
Relevant. Do you really need 100500 Facebook followers on your business page if they never visit your website or buy anything? Your marketing goals need to be relevant to your business and its purpose.
Define your target audience
For your content marketing plan to be truly successful you need to have a clear understanding of who your target audience is, what these people love, what they hate, what interests them, what makes them react, where they prefer to spend their time and money, and most importantly – what it is you can help them with, how you and your product or service can make their lives easier and more enjoyable.
When you know your audience and have successfully developed a relationship with them it is important to expand and revise. Never presume you know all it is to know about your existing audience and potential one. Conducting a market research once a year is a good practice.
Create a content plan
Content plan is not the same thing as content marketing strategy. Content plan documents the specifics of how you will make your content strategy a reality. Which topics you will cover, what types of content will you create, what calls to action will you include, who will be responsible for each piece of content, where and how will you distribute it all, all these things are what a content plan is made for.
How do you create a content plan? Well, you need to research the market, your competitors and the current trends. Make sure to always have a surefire backup content in case something does not work as you plan it to, and always leave a place for an urgent piece of content in case there is a hype going on in your niche, you can not afford to always be the last to jump on the bandwagon.
Decide on the types of content you are going to create
Blog posts are not the only content type, in fact you might not even need a blog to execute a perfectly successful content marketing strategy. There is a plethora of content types you can create and use t your advantage, some of them might be not right for your business, others will prove to be just perfect. How do you decide which content types are the best for you? This is where your market research and knowing your target audience some in handy. But don’t be afraid to experiment and test things, you never know what unexpected thing might turn out to be the winner for your business.
If you have a blog on your business website and your audience is prone to reading it then you obviously need to take advantage of blog posts. Blog posts should provide valuable information to the readers, that is if you want your audience to actually read and share them. Blog posts should be published regularly, but noone will tell you the exact number of posts you need to publish monthly or weekly, you will need to test and see what works best for you and your readers. Same thing applies to the length of posts, though it is generally considered best to publish long posts (1000-2000 words), but who knows maybe your audience is more interested in shorter posts.
Blog posts are usually used to attract new readers and educate customers, they can also be a good tool for promoting sales and offers.
eBooks are awesome for lead generation. All you need is a good eBook with truly interesting and valuable information and a small form for your readers to submit to be able to download the book. Usually such forms ask for only the email and optionally the name of the person who wants to download the eBook.
eBooks are usually longer and more in-depth than blog posts, they do not have to be published regularly.
Videos are an extremely popular content type in recent years. They are engaging and shareable, they are more likely to become viral then blog posts and eBooks. Videos are also more time and resources consuming. Though if this type of content suits your business than all the effort and resources you put into it are very much worth it.
Podcasts have become extremely popular in recent years, only in 2016 there was approximately 57 million listeners monthly. If your audience is more prone to listening than to reading it might be the best type of content for you. But don’t force it, if you do not have an engaging topic to discuss, a great host and some experts to interview, no one will listen to it and you will simply waste your resources.
Infographics are constantly rumoured to be dead, but research shows they do actually still work.
Infographics are essentially a blend of written and visual content, they are an awesome way to visualise data and make it clear and easy to comprehend.
Here’s a great example done by TemplateMonster team to illustrate and comprehensively describe web design trends of 2018. The infographic holds so much detailed information and it is far more fun to read it than simple text:
While pictures are an awesome type of content, using them on their own probably won’t make much of a difference for your marketing efforts. But combining written content with engaging and unique visuals (photos, graphics, illustrations etc.) is sure to make wonders. Enhance your texts with visuals and you will see how much more engaging and attractive for the readers it will become.
Publish and manage your content
Obviously, if you have your own blog you have a platform for any and all the content types. But focusing only on your own blog is not as beneficial as adding social media and other platforms to your distribution channels. Here’s a nice guide on how to easily add social media to your content marketing strategy.
Finally, do not publish and abandon your content. Some of the topics you decide to write on will become evergreen content, and it is awesome for attracting organic traffic. But if you regularly revise such posts, add more and more valuable and up-to-date information to them, they will bring you even more success.