Decades ago, a business could place an advertisement in the local newspaper — or even the yellow pages — and connect with current and future customers. But times have changed. In 2023, effective marketing requires a digital content strategy.
A digital marketing strategy is a comprehensive and dynamic document that business leaders create, often in association with a digital content strategist or other marketing professionals. It sets in motion a process of content creation designed to meet goals and objectives that are outlined within the document.
Shockingly few business leaders take the time to brainstorm and outline such a document, in part because it can’t happen over a working lunch. A digital marketing strategy takes time to make, but it’s an investment that will pay dividends over the following months or quarters. When a team meets to lay out the strategy, it’s possible to lessen the stress of fast-approaching deadlines. “Plan the work and work the plan” is the mantra of many marketing teams.
The types of content in your strategy can and often do vary significantly. Written formats can include e-books, blogs, white papers, case studies, infographics, video scripts, podcasts, and more. The platforms that will work best, along with the topics to be covered, are just some of the elements of an effective content marketing plan.
The first step to success with a digital content strategy is to garner support from business leaders and the marketing team. To do that, you must first understand the importance of this worthwhile initiative.
The Importance of a Digital Content Strategy
The overarching goal of digital content marketing is to leverage technology and customer behavior to position the company well within the industry and geographic location. That is, it’s likely that your customers are going online to search for the products and services you offer. If you do not have a robust online presence with high-quality content, it will be more challenging to reach your business goals.
There are plenty of benefits of digital marketing. In particular, digital content strategies allow companies to:
- Strengthen relationships with current and potential customers
- Improve brand recognition
- Grow trust with consistent, high-quality content
- Build authority and expertise within the industry
- Drive traffic to website pages
- Increase lead conversion and sales
- Create more loyalty in your customer base
The Evolution of Digital Content Marketing Strategies
The commercial industry has evolved into what is known as a digital-first society, where traditional outreach methods like newspaper ads have become secondary to online strategies. It’s not just because all your customers, regardless of your business, look online to find you. The reality is that a digital content strategy now is the most cost-effective option for the best return on investment. The key to success is crafting a plan, rather than “winging it.”
Best practices have evolved from when companies would publish random blogs online and hope for success. Thus, you must integrate the necessary components of a successful digital marketing strategy to get desired results.
Why a Digital Content Strategy is Crucial in 2023
Some companies aren’t interested in content development because they think they’re too small to get noticed. Others may think the company is too big for something like a blog to make a difference. That’s incorrect; regardless of size, every company needs a content strategy in 2023.
In this post-pandemic world, customers in all demographics now seek out solutions to their pain points online. With the right types of content and an effective content plan, their organic searches will end with a connection to your business.
Digital content is not only less expensive than traditional methods; it also helps small businesses be more competitive. Best of all, content marketing efforts can help personalize your messaging in a way that shows in your bottom line.
Key Components of a Successful Digital Content Strategy
Now that you know the answer to “What is content strategy?” you’re ready to schedule a block of time with your marketing team, top managers, and perhaps a content strategist to create your content plan. Consider working with a content marketing agency like Compose.ly in the early stages of development.
Then, follow these best practices to create the key components for your digital content strategy.
Define Your Target Audience and Buyer Personas
Before you create content or even form a content plan, it is critical to deeply understand the people or businesses that you seek as future customers. A common mistake many business owners think is that they want “everyone” as a customer, but that’s simply impossible. Instead, focus as tightly as possible on creating a very specific customer persona.
Brainstorm not only demographics and geographic location, but also pain points, hobbies, and interests of your ideal customer. If you know who you’re talking to, it will be easier to craft messages that resonate.
Set Clear Goals and Objectives
Content goals must be outlined at the beginning of the planning process so that it is clear whether the plan was successful. While it’s unlikely that any digital content strategy will result in an immediate impact, some changes should be evident over the quarter or even year.
The objectives you choose will be based on your own business needs and can include:
- Increased traffic to a website or landing page
- More sales and converted leads
- Enhanced engagement on social media
- Improved brand recognition.
Whatever it is, set the definition of success before you begin.
Select the Right Content Formats and Digital Channels
Once you know the business goal and target audience, you’ll likely have a better understanding of where you’ll find success. Content creation can feel overwhelming, as there are so many online platforms to choose from — and the popularity of each ebb and flow.
Start with just one digital platform that your current customers already use. If you aren’t sure, ask them in a survey. If your company is still building a customer base, spend time online with different platforms. Search for users who fit your target audience best. Also, research where your competition has social media success. For example, if you have a product that shows well in photos, an image-based platform like Instagram may make the most sense.
The type of content you create may also be limited by your current budget. If you cannot afford to hire a graphic designer, for example, limit the use of infographics in your strategy. And be realistic. If your team does not have the time or skills for crafting high-quality blogs, it's better to engage the services of a blog writing agency.
Incorporate Search Engine Optimization and Keyword Research
The next step in crafting a digital content strategy is to research what exactly your ideal customers are looking for. Keywords are short phrases that are typed into search engine sites like Google. To figure out the best keywords for your industry, use free or paid keyword search tools like SemRush, Google Keyword Planner, Moz Keyword Explorer, or Ahrefs. Once you have a list of keywords (or phrases), you can create a piece of content focused on each one.
Search engine optimization is a complex goal for refining a company’s digital presence, and keywords are just the beginning. Google and other search engines keep their algorithms a secret, but high-quality content that is useful, entertaining, and helpful will always beat copy that’s stuffed with keywords.
Create a Content Calendar and Editorial Plan
You’ve got the who, the why, and the where — now it’s time for the when and the how. Editorial calendars ensure that everyone on your team knows what content will be created, who is responsible for the work, and all deadlines associated with it. Make a chart with the following rows:
- Type of content
- Keywords to integrate
- Person responsible for writing
- Person responsible for editing
- Location(s) where content will be posted
- Date of post
- Person responsible for posting
- Notes on the process
The sooner you can make your editorial plan, the better. Also, remember that new and timely topics can arise over time. So, allow this document to be dynamic. If you're looking for a place to start, take a look at our free Editorial Content Template.
Implement Your Digital Content Strategy
If your company has never launched a digital content strategy before, it may be necessary to start your digital presence by creating social media platforms for the business. Then, it's up to you to follow the plan.
Remember, to succeed in your business objectives, it is crucial to have a regular digital content presence. For example, it is better to publish a blog once every two weeks than to publish three in a week and nothing for the rest of the month. Schedule the content release consistently and let your customers know when to expect more. Then stick to that schedule.
Content Creation and Production
When you’re learning how to become a content creator, you’ll quickly discover that it’s more work than most think. High-quality, interesting content that speaks directly to a target audience can take time to make. Some formats, such as e-books or videos, take even more time to produce. Again, it is important to be realistic about expectations and workload for the professionals on your team.
One way to further distribute the work of content creation is by connecting with professionals outside your company who are already creating content. To understand what is curated content, think about how a curator in a museum works to design and display art. You can do the same by sharing interesting articles, cartoons, research, or images you find online with your target audience.
However, this requires a very discriminating eye. It is critical to stay on-brand and appeal to your target audience at all times.
Content Distribution and Promotion
Once the content has been created, the next step is to distribute it effectively. This is the essence of social media marketing, which dovetails with content marketing when your plan includes sharing blogs, videos, podcasts, and other content through social media platforms. It takes time to upload, craft captions, and respond appropriately to comments.
Another powerful way to distribute content is through email marketing. It’s also worth the effort to collect as many email addresses as possible from your customers. Create pop-ups on your website’s home page encouraging prospects to sign up for an e-newsletter. The more ways you can connect directly with your target audience in digital formats, the better.
Engage with Your Audience
Tap someone from your marketing team to serve as the spokesperson for the company when someone comments on your published content. Engagement is an important benefit of social media and part of any successful digital content strategy, and it’s easy to forget.
Just as it’s a best practice to respond professionally to any review left on a Google Business page, it’s also wise to interact with people even if they are critical. Use engagement opportunities as a way to learn what your customers truly value. Start a conversation, and you’ll start a relationship.
Measure and Analyze Content Performance
Finally, schedule content audits on a quarterly basis. Determine if there are ways to improve the plan, which isn’t written in stone. One way to accomplish this is through a process known as A/B testing. Create an experiment to test whether one type of post is better than another. Be open to change and pivot when necessary.
Adapt to Changing Digital Trends in 2023
Technology is always changing, for better or worse. The best marketing plans not only recognize this but embrace it. Look for ways to use new trends, such as artificial intelligence (AI), automation, omnichannel expectations, and green technology.
Embrace New Technologies and Platforms
One of the biggest trends in 2023 is the use of AI. Chatbots like ChatGPT, for example, can be a tempting way to create content quickly. Yet, will generative AI replace human copywriters? It's unlikely. Customers and search engines can tell when content comes from a computer rather than a person. A better use of this tech is for brainstorming ideas. Leave the content production to creative humans.
Leverage User-Generated Content and Influencer Marketing
Another big shift is the popularity of influencer marketing, which is when businesses partner with individuals with large social media followings consisting of people in a target audience. Create a clear contract outlining expectations of content creation with an influencer if you discover someone who could complement your company values.
Or, consider engaging customers to create content on your behalf. Contests and challenges can be a fun way to connect with people who are already loyal to your brand. Their friends and followers will see their content and may connect with your company, too.
Get Your Digital Content Strategy Ready for 2023
A digital content marketing strategy requires substantial planning, but it’s time saved once the work begins. Another way to save time and resources is by working with professional content creators who have experience in executing content strategies. Talk with the experts at Compose.ly’s blog writing services to get started today.