How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy
As we alluded to in our previous page on creating a complete marketing strategy, there are sub-strategies in marketing that require their own brainstorming sessions and tailored plans.
Content marketing is one of them.
And it’s an important one at that. According to eMarketer, 60% of marketers create at least one piece of content every twenty-four hours.
In fact, our whole world seems to be driven by content as we constantly scroll down our feeds, listen to podcasts and watch the news. Exchanging information is the new normal and brands need to factor this into their marketing campaigns.
There’s no denying that content marketing requires some serious thought as getting your content marketing strategy right could spell serious success.
What Is a Content Marketing Strategy?
Imagine a set of Russian dolls.
The largest Russian doll is your overarching marketing strategy.
Within this doll is another, smaller doll that represents your digital marketing strategy.
Open this one up and you’ll meet with your content marketing strategy.
A content marketing strategy is a plan within your digital marketing strategy that outlines every content activity you plan to do.
This strategy ranges from social media content to blog content and may even stem to bigger projects like the creation of an ebook.
Needless to say, there are plenty of other, smaller Russian dolls stacked inside.
This is because content marketing is a broad practice that encompasses written content as well as visual and audio content like videos and podcasts.
Not every piece of marketing work is classed as content marketing.
Technically all types of marketing consist of content.
Aggressive ads, TV commercials and billboards require content creation.
Yet, these aren’t classed as content marketing activities.
Content marketing refers to any type of inbound activity where valuable information exchange happens.
These are content resources that answer people’s questions and address their worries, not inform them of a limited time offer or an “everything must go” sale.
The great news is content marketing is an affordable way to market as it relies on the valuable information in your brain. Whatever your profession, you’re bound to have some expertise your customers will appreciate.
If you’re a plumber, you can diagnose common household problems. If you’re a cat blogger, you might have some great insights into cat behaviour and what it means.
Your expert information and the willingness of your audience to hear it is what lays the foundation for your content marketing strategy.
Why Should You Create a Content Marketing Strategy?
There are a few reasons why you’ll want to create a content marketing strategy, as well as a digital marketing strategy and a complete marketing strategy.
We know, there are a whole lot of strategies stacked up here, but they all serve a purpose. We promise.
You should create a content marketing strategy because:
- It’s what your customers want
- It focuses your creative content
- It structures existing and new content
- It requires little marketing budget
- It helps you to track ROI
- It unites your team
As with any type of plan, a shared goal will make your content marketing work more productive and fulfilling for your team. In a creative space, a content marketing strategy will help to cut through the noise and optimise those innovative thoughts, so their delivery is as good as their design.
How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy from Start-to-Finish
When creating a content marketing strategy, you’re going to want to start with the basics before tailoring your thoughts to a more specific and timely plan.
This process of whittling down your ideas breaks down into the following six steps:
- Step 1: Set Your Content Marketing Goals
- Step 2: Create Your Buyers Persona
- Step 3: Do A Content Marketing Audit
- Step 4: Analyse Your Competitor’s Content Marketing
- Step 5: Create a Content Marketing Roadmap
- Step 6: Create a Content Marketing Calendar
Step 1: Set Your Content Marketing Goals
We all know we’re not spending hours of our day creating content for the fun of it.
At the forefront of your marketing strategy is your goals.
These are usually to do with sales and leads, ranking, conversion and brand awareness.
To make things simpler, your goals for content marketing will mirror the goals you identified in your overarching marketing strategy. And any other sub-strategy going forward like SEO, PPC and social will also share these same marketing goals.
Remember these goals need to be SMART meaning they’re specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.
In other words, you’ll need to be able to track them.
We want fewer goals like “to create “good” content”.
And more goals like “to increase the conversion rate by X% in 90 days”.
Step 2: Create Your Buyers Persona
Before you create or think of any piece of content, you’ll need to think of the people who will be reading, watching and listening to it.
Successful content creation relies on having a specific persona, so your small chunks of content will weather the stormy sea of content already available on the internet.
Your content will need to feel superior to every other resource on the topic as well as tailored to your target market. The aim is to create content that feels like a personal affair.
For example, a business owner who reads a blog post where every word resonates. Or, a student who listens to a podcast and suddenly feels like they can smash their next test.
You can use the buyer’s persona you created for your overarching marketing strategy as a template. Yet, in the context of content marketing, you’ll want to make things more personal.
While you might have already jotted down key information like age, gender and profession, you should also add the devices this person uses the most, which publications they like to read and what type of language (formal or informal) they like the most.
Step 3: Do a Content Marketing Audit
Now you have some clear guidelines in place — your marketing goals and your target audience — you can vet the existing content on your website.
Some old content might feel irrelevant and that’s okay.
However, you might find some hidden gems that can be repurposed and optimised to better serve your goal and your target customer.
Perhaps there’s an FAQ-based blog missing a call to action or an up-to-date perspective.
A clear way to identify content optimisation opportunities is by looking at pages already performing well in terms of search and engagement.
Is there a page that’s sitting in position eleven or twelve? Updating these high-ranking pages can make all the difference. A rewrite could push a page ranking on page two all the way onto page one in search, giving you a much greater opportunity to drive traffic.
The same goes for pages that are already on the first page of Google yet could be pushed further up the results. Remember, when you’re this high in search every position counts.
You can find out if you have any pages ranking fairly high for chosen keywords with a tool like SEMrush (which you can try for free at thankyouninjas.com*).
Have you noticed a drop-off on a page that was once high-performing? This is a sure sign of a page requiring some love and attention to keep it relevant as new and similar content starts to surface.
You can identify high-performing pages and changes in their visitation, engagement and bounce rate in Google Analytics.
Rewriting content is one of the easiest ways to up your content game fast and is the simplest way to start a strategy.
It’s like every time you declutter your closet and realise you already have a top that’s strikingly similar to the one you were planning to purchase.
Some of the content ideas you have right now might be made easier by implementing them in the content you’ve put out in the past and since forgotten about.
Step 4: Analyse Your Competitor’s Content Marketing
When you’re done scrutinising your own content, you should move on to your competitors.
This is partly to peek at any opportunities they’ve landed that you’ve missed out on, but also, it’s a way to ensure your content stands out from the crowd.
In short, you’ll want to mimic some of your competitor’s strategies, while injecting something fresh into your own.
First, you’ll want to check out your competitor’s backlink profiles using something like Neil Patels’ Backlinks or Moz’s Link Explorer. Both tools are free and provide a sneak peek of your competitor’s backlink profile.
From here, you can see the volume of backlinks a website has as well as which individual links a website has picked up. You notice the type of link, the anchor text used and the website they’ve received mention from. This should give you a basic insight into what type of content marketing campaigns they’re running and whether they’re successful.
Want to see how a particular piece of competitor content is performing? This is where you’ll turn to a tool like Buzzsumo.
Just copy and paste a website link to see the total engagement a piece of content has, as well as which platforms it’s been successful on and the number of times it has been linked to.
Checking content like this vets how a competitor’s content resonates with the search engine and the reader.
Step 5: Create a Content Marketing Roadmap
Getting to grips with existing content and competitor content while keeping your business goals in mind is sure to kickstart the planning process.
As a content marketing strategy starts to form in your mind, you’ll want to write this down and formalise it in a document with slides.
This is the process of creating a content marketing roadmap.
A roadmap will have sections like:
- Competitor content comparison
- Potential blog and article topics
- A long-term content promotion plan
- A social media strategy
A complete roadmap proposes a plan of action based on research, data and forecasting.
This should be a presentable document you could show to a boss, client or colleague without cringing, as well as become a piece of work you reference going forward.
Since a content marketing roadmap acts as a framework for your content, this is the closest to a physical incarnation of a content marketing strategy you can get.
Before you know it, you’ll have written your content marketing strategy just as a result of brainstorming.
Step 6: Create a Content Marketing Calendar
The final thing you’ll want to do is use your long-term content marketing roadmap to create an actionable document for your team.
To do this, you’ll want to flesh out some of your short-term plans — such as the proposed blog topics for the next month — and leave out some of the wider strategies and complex analysis.
This is the process of creating a content marketing calendar that takes a magnifying glass and zooms into your immediate content focus.
These tools will take your data-led ideas and put them into context. By giving content ideas a fresh and timely angle, you’ll have more chance of achieving more social shares, clicks and engagement.
What To Look for When Reviewing Your Content Marketing Strategy
A step-by-step guide will show you the templated steps to create a content marketing strategy. Yet it’s your intuition and marketing sense that will make your strategy stand the test of time.
This is the equivalent of considering corporate responsibility and skills gaps when creating a complete marketing strategy. When devising and reviewing a content marketing plan, keep these topics of interest present in your mind:
- Whether content is leading to conversion — Content marketers are usually born creatives who take great pride and passion in their work. As a marketing manager, you’ll need to learn when to listen to your head instead of your heart as you analyse whether or not sentimental content is converting. With a heavy heart, you’ll need to drop any content marketing activities that aren’t materialising in sales, leads or ranking benefits.
- Changes in Google’s behaviour — Most digital marketers agree we’re largely at the mercy of Google. This means adapting our entire approach to content creation at the drop of a hat if Google’s behaviour begins to change. Algorithm updates, new approaches and developed intelligence all play a part in how marketers get their content to rank. We’ve long forgotten about simply stuffing keywords in a blog post to get our content ranking. We’re now focused on what’s important to Google — i.e. natural language and expert authors. And these preferences are subject to change again.
- Expanding customer expectations — Content marketing is a preferred method of promotion because customers respond to it well. As we said earlier in this session, content marketing is what your customers want. If this desire ever changes, so will our way of marketing. So don’t get attached to this form of marketing as it’s not you who calls the shots.
- New places to publish content — As a marketing manager, it’s your job to stay in the digital marketing loop. You’ll need to be aware of new content platforms that are arising and factor these into your content plans. This could mean adjusting your long-term focus to stay proactive rather than reactive.
*Some links within this article are affiliate links which Exposure Ninja receives a fee for promoting (these links are not sponsored). Exposure Ninja only promotes services we already use within our marketing stack