How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy (And Why You Need One)
Your content marketing strategy is the key to your online presence, digital marketing strategy, and your website as a whole. But what does this really mean, and how do you go about making one?
Content creation is one of the most important things you can do to help your brand stand out online. No matter what industry you’re operating within, there is always going to be a potential audience waiting for you to give them the value they need. To make sure you meet those needs and get your strategy off the ground, you need a good content strategy in place to keep consistency and flow.
Whether you’re new to the game or you just aren’t sure how to create a content strategy, we’re here to help you from start to finish. This guide will take you step by step through the process of planning, creating, and implementing a content marketing strategy that helps your business grow onwards and upwards
What is a Content Strategy?
Let’s start with the basics: what exactly is a content marketing strategy?
Content marketing is a marketing strategy that involves creating and distributing valuable content to a targeted audience with the goal of increasing traffic, conversions, audience engagement, and brand retention. Content creation can include a variety of elements, from well-crafted social media posts to blogs and long-form articles on your website.
Your content strategy, therefore, is the planning and implementation process that determines who you’ll target, what content you’ll create, who will be in charge of content creation, and where you’ll publish it (among many other factors). This is an opportunity to provide value to your audience instead of delivering them a sales pitch.
The Importance of a Good Content Marketing Strategy
So, now that you know what a content marketing strategy is, let’s talk about why you need one.
The goal with any content strategy is to provide information to your audience that helps them solve their problems, makes them feel more informed (or even smarter), or even gives them some entertainment. In turn, your audience will position you as an authority leader in your industry, keep your brand in mind when it comes time to make a purchasing decision, and hopefully choose you over a competitor.
However, content strategy is also very important for SEO marketing and driving online traffic. Your content is how you will add keywords to your website, giving Google a better idea of what topics it should index you for. The more valuable, relevant content you publish, the stronger your authority position will be in Google’s (virtual) eyes.
Above and beyond these important reasons, you should have a content plan in place to help provide your users with more information about who you are, what problems you can solve for them, and why they should trust you. With so many competitors in the online space, it’s important to position yourself as a credible, authentic brand that stands out from the crowd. A good content strategy will do this for you.
How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy: The 7 Essential Steps
It’s time to do the work: learning how to make a content strategy. When you’re starting a content plan from scratch, it’s going to seem like a pretty intimidating or exhausting task. However, once you get the ball rolling and put everything in place, you’ll be able to make tweaks and adjustments along the way with a solid foundation for success. In fact, you may find that planning out content can be fun!
We’ve broken the process down into seven clear steps for you to follow. Along the way, we’ll share some creative content marketing ideas, some tips for managing your strategy, and advice for keeping it all organized.
1. Set Your Goals
Behind every effective content marketing strategy is a set of clear, measurable goals. Your goals should relate to the different stages of the marketing funnel. If you’re a startup company, for example, your initial marketing strategy might have a heavy focus on the awareness stage to try and get your name out there and let everyone know you’re new in town.
Here’s how the marketing funnel works, from the top to the bottom:
Awareness → Interest → Consideration → Intent → Evaluation → Purchase
Understanding which goals you’re trying to achieve is an important component that will determine what type of content you’ll produce and which audience you’ll produce it for. Content creation for audiences at the top of the marketing funnel will look quite different than it will for those who are closer to the bottom and almost ready to convert.
You don’t push your product or service on people who are just learning who you are. Instead, you give them valuable information through epic content marketing that leaves them satisfied and encourages them to keep coming back for more.
2. Define Your Audience
Now that you know what goals you’re targeting, it’s time to determine who you’re targeting. You will need to plan out your ideal customer profile (ICP) and your buyer personas for your target audience.
Create a set of buyer personas that will represent the audience you’ll be speaking to when you create your content. A buyer persona is essentially a fictional, generalized representation of a specific type of customer you’ll target based on their demographics, the problems they’re facing (that you can solve for them), and their behaviours.
ICP is often used in B2B businesses to describe the perfect potential customer your product can benefit. Usually this is a fictional representation of an organization or company that has a specific issue you can help solve. So, while your buyer personas would be the specific people within a company, the ICP would represent the company as a whole. An ICP could have anywhere from two to five different buyer personas within its structure depending on its size.
Narrowing down your target audience is a crucial step for marketing content creation. You don’t speak to every single customer the same way, and your content likely won’t, either. Additionally, each different customer might have a unique problem to solve.
Here’s an example to tie everything together: let’s say you’re creating a content strategy for a commercial landscaping company looking to secure maintenance contracts with high schools. A potential ICP would be the high school, while the buyer personas may include the principal and a parent who runs the PTA meetings. When creating content for the PTA parent, you’d likely create content focusing on the importance of landscaping for student safety, while the principal might care more about the cost and budget benefits of your services.
3. Do Your Keyword Research
SEO and content strategy are bonded. One can’t work without the other. Before you start making your content plan, do some initial keyword research to view the search competition and ranking opportunities for the topics you’d like to focus on. This will also help give you some new topic ideas.
The best content for SEO focuses on a blend of wider short tail keywords and targeted, long tail keywords. Short tail keywords are usually one or two words and have a more generic theme, while long tail keywords are phrases or even sentences that have a specific focus. For example, “sports cars” would be a short tail keyword, while “sports cars under $25,000” would be a more focused, long tail keyword.
Short tail keywords target users who are at the beginning of the marketing funnel, in the awareness stage, while long tail keywords target users towards the bottom, near the purchasing stage. Long tail keywords have a better ROI because they target qualified leads, but short tail keywords can still be effective for reaching new potential leads you can nurture until they’re ready to convert. Someone Googling “sports cars” is clearly not ready to purchase a new vehicle, but someone looking for “sports cars under $25,000” likely is.
How to create keywords for SEO and set up your content plan:
- Use tools like Google Keyword Planner to search for keyword ideas within your industry, location, or niche.
- Add all of your keywords to a master spreadsheet and organize them into subtopics if necessary.
- Form topics based on the most promising keywords that are relevant for your business.
- Optimize your content for these keywords.
4. Decide Where You’ll be Active
Once you’ve narrowed down your ideal customer and target audience, you can start to get a better idea of which platforms you’ll use to publish your digital content. For example, if you’re planning on creating specialized content such as podcasts or ebooks, you’ll need to decide on a publishing platform.
Social media should always be a part of your strategy, especially for sharing any of the content you create, but you need to make sure you’re focusing on the right platforms and channels. Your ultimate goal is meeting the right audience in the right place, with the right content to appeal to their needs and wants. The last thing you want to do is put a lot of time and effort into social media content creation just to have it ignored.
- Facebook: While younger audiences have gravitated away from Facebook in the last few years, there are still relatively high numbers of active users in a large age range – anywhere from ages 13 to 64.
- Instagram: Daily active Instagram users fall within the range of 13 to 49 years old, with a relatively slow rise of users ages 50-55 over the last few years.
- Twitter: Predominantly used by adults ages 18 to 30, Twitter has a smaller number of active users than other platforms but can be an effective communication or customer service tool.
- SnapChat: Popular with younger audiences, the largest demographic of SnapChat users are between 15 and 25 years old, with a much smaller percentage of users ages 26 to 35.
- TikTok: A Gen Z favourite and the latest platform to dominate the social media scene (with 800 million active users worldwide), TikTok is primarily used by people ages 16 to 24.
- Reddit: Most Reddit users tend to be males between the ages of 18 and 29, as well as a smaller percentage of 30 to 49 year olds. Before you go and launch a Reddit content strategy, make sure you understand what you’re getting into. Reddit is notoriously tough on marketers, companies, and brands.
- YouTube: A go-to social media network for adults across a range of demographics globally, YouTube is actively used by a large percentage of people anywhere from 15 to 64 years old.
- LinkedIn: Popular with those in the professional and business markets, LinkedIn’s average user age range is 25 to 49 year olds.
- Pinterest: Adults ages 18 to 49 are most active on Pinterest, particularly within DIY, food, wedding, travel, and style/fashion niches. Additionally, Pinterest has a predominantly female audience (42% of women use Pinterest compared to just 15% of men).
5. Hammer Out Your Content Creation Details
Now that you know who you’re targeting, where you’ll target them, and what keywords you’re going to focus on, it’s time to create a content plan and hammer out those details. Make sure you get them in writing and add them to a master policy. Your content marketing strategy should always be outlined in detail and included in your company handbook or process documents. This way, all current team members are on the same page and onboarding new team members will be easier.
Here are some questions you need to answer within your content plan:
- Who will be in charge of content creation? Will you designate certain team members in house, or will you hire a copywriting agency to help you out?
- What type of content will you make? Refer to the list below for ideas.
- When are you going to be posting your digital content? Will you be posting regularly, a few times per week, or every day?
There are so many types of digital content out there that can work for your brand. Here are some ideas you can consider:
- Long-form content (5,000+ words)
- Case studies
- Social media content
- Podcasts (post the transcripts for extra SEO value)
- Service and location pages
- Targeted landing pages
- Industry tools (such as mortgage calculators)
- How-to guides and manuals
- Downloadable templates or reference materials (such as checklists)
6. Create a Content Calendar
Every business should have a content calendar shared between any team members who may be involved in publishing content. It should include details such as what content will be published (including topic, type of content, and focus keywords), which platforms it will be published on, and which dates/times it will be posted.
A good content calendar helps you lay out your ideas and visualize how your content will come together when published. It keeps everyone on your team organized and on the same page in terms of messaging, value propositioning, and engagement.
Here are a few content calendar ideas that might come in handy when you’re getting your content marketing strategy off the ground:
7. Launch Your Content Marketing Strategy!
With your content plan laid out and ready to go, it’s time to launch. Now that you’re ready to deploy your new content strategy, make sure you consider the right steps before you hit that “publish” button. Here are some of the dos and don’ts you should follow.
- Post content regularly and consistently.
- Include a variety of content in your rotation.
- Repurpose content later.
- Include a clear call-to-action within each piece of content.
- Prioritize actionable metrics over vanity metrics (ie. link clicks over likes).
- Set it and forget it. Always check your metrics to see how your content is performing and make adjustments if necessary.
- Be afraid to test different types of content to see what performs best.
- Use content to push your sales messaging or make it all about you.
- Give up if you don’t see immediate results. Content marketing doesn’t create success overnight, and SEO takes time to build.
- Separate your content and marketing teams. Everyone should be working together so all goals are aligned and everyone is on the same page.
Need Help With Your Content Marketing Strategy? Turn to the Experts
If you’re still unsure of how to create a content strategy, or you’re looking for an experienced agency that can develop the content you need to put that strategy into practice, we’re ready to step in and help.
At The Write Direction, we understand the value of a good content marketing plan and SEO strategy. Our team of expert professional and technical writers have a gift for making words come to life with a data-backed strategy that can help your business get your online presence where it needs to be.
Get in touch with us now to discuss your content needs or get a custom quote for high-quality content creation services.