How to Develop a Successful Content Marketing Strategy in 11 Step

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As the power and reach of the internet grows, so does the effectiveness of content marketing. In fact, by 2022, content marketing revenue has reached almost $66 billion, and forecasts expect the industry to double its revenue by 2026.

Most companies now use a content marketing strategy to raise brand awareness online. But if you haven't implemented one yet, you may feel lost trying to understand how to create one. Here is a guide that will walk you through what makes a good content marketing strategy framework so you can access its benefits too.

What Is a Content Marketing Strategy?

A content marketing strategy determines how your brand will create and distribute content online that fits with company goals to increase brand awareness. It brings consistency to your brand messaging at every customer touchpoint, reinforcing your company values, establishing credibility, and strengthening your reputation.

What Are the Components of a Content Strategy?

Each business will create a unique content marketing strategy to fit its own needs, though there are five key points that each address. Here is what to include in a content strategy:

  • Business case for content marketing: This covers why you're making content and the risks that come with it. It will also discuss what indicators you will use to measure the strategy's success.
  • Business content plan: Here, you will discuss your business goals for the content, the unique value it will provide, and details of your business model. The content plan should also outline challenges and potential opportunities that will occur as you execute the plan.
  • Audience personas and content maps: This section discusses the specific audience you are trying to reach with the content, including their needs and an estimation of their content engagement cycle. You could also map out the content along the buyer's journey.
  • Brand story: This contains the ideas and messages you want to communicate, how they're unique from competitors' messaging, and how you think the landscape will evolve after enacting your content strategy.
  • Channel plan: Here, you should outline the platforms you'll use, how you'll use them, and how each channel's marketing will connect to build a cohesive brand image.

11 Steps To Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

There are plenty of moving parts in content marketing that can feel overwhelming. To help you direct your focus, here are 11 steps to make a content marketing strategy.

1. Establish Your Goals

Establishing your goals early ensures that your strategy keeps a consistent focus. Identify what effect you want your content to have. Some typical goals include:

  • Increasing revenue
  • Making more conversions and sales
  • Getting more traffic
  • Building brand authority and influence
  • Reducing marketing costs
  • Increasing social media engagement

Once you know your goals, you need to also set targets that inform you of the strategy's progress. These key performance indicators (KPIs) should be quantifiable and specific, like receiving a certain number of signups or hitting a certain revenue target.

There are three types of content strategy based on your goals:

  • Thought leadership, if you want to become an industry expert
  • Lead generation, if you want to convert people to email list subscribers
  • Search engine optimization (SEO), if you want to attract leads to you instead of pursuing them

2. Define Your Audience

Your content marketing strategy will heavily depend on the audience you target. Your strategy will be most successful if you market your brand in places where your target audience spends the most time and in ways that appeal to them.

To define your audience, you should first take a look at the demographics of people you currently reach, such as site visitors, email subscribers, and social media followers. Most online platforms will give you analytics data that includes your audience's:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Ethnicity

Identify segments of your audience that you would like to receive more activity. To better understand their priorities and the best ways to reach them, it can help to request feedback on:

  • How they feel about your present content
  • Their most pressing needs
  • How your content can address their problems

With this information, you should build buyer personas that describe your ideal audience members. The more you can flesh them out, the better you'll be able to target your content. For example, your persona could be "Brent, a 30-year-old data analyst who's married with one child. He lives in the suburbs, takes one family vacation every year, and loves playing golf. He goes to conferences because he likes meeting new people. He sticks with brands he knows and trusts."

3. Research Competitors

Competitor research is a valuable, risk-free way to learn more about how to target your audience. Pay attention to which topics and keywords get the most engagement, as they're good options for you to target, too.

This research will also help you identify how you can make your content feel unique and provide a different value to your target audience. Nvidia, for example, had success with a campaign called Frames Win Games because they realized their graphics card competitors weren't catering strongly to gamers who wanted the highest possible frame rate.

4. Conduct Topic and Keyword Research

Once you know your audience, you need to figure out what they search for online. The queries people enter into search engines are keywords you can include in your content to make it easy to find.

Google Trends is a useful free tool to figure out the Google search volume for different keywords. It also provides related keywords that have been gaining traction.

You could also Google keywords and topics you've considered. The box titled "People Also Ask" gives you more queries that people often search. Scrolling down to the "Related searches" section can yield even more inspiration.

5. Review Your Existing Content

Content you've already published could help you gain useful insights. Find out what types of content have generated the most interest. See which pages on your site generate the most traffic. You should also investigate the keywords people searched to find your site. These details will help you figure out what your current audience most enjoys.

To identify what has been working well, look for metrics like:

  • Number of inbound links to the content
  • Search engine ranking for the keywords each piece of content uses
  • How many people are sharing the content

Your review will also reveal content gaps that you can fill, like questions you're not answering and related keywords that you haven't targeted.

6. Identify the Best Content Channels and Types

Each platform has its own demographic. If you push your content to the wrong platform, you risk missing the majority of your target audience. So look at which channels they spend the most time on and target those. You can also use Google Analytics to find out the main social networks where people share your content. This lets you know which platform is the most popular among those who frequently interact with your content.

Most successful content marketing strategies incorporate a central core of content on a main website or homepage, which you then repurpose and share to other channels. That's why many companies make blog posts containing the information that they chunk and convert to other content types.

The best content types to use will also depend on your target audience. The main types you should consider are:

  • Social media
  • Infographics
  • Blog content
  • Podcast content
  • Video content
  • Paid ad content

Think about how to make your content shareable — is your target audience more likely to spread a graphic, or would they prefer sharing a podcast about a topic within your niche?

7. Plan Your Resources

Identifying and allocating your resources ensures that your content marketing efforts don't exceed your bandwidth.

The first to consider is who will create your content? You could either create it in-house or outsource your content creation to content writing services that will handle it for you. You also need a content marketing manager who will work with the content team and deliver every day on the content marketing strategy.

The other major resources you will need are the tools to create (if necessary) and distribute content. Depending on the content types you produce, these can include:

  • Image-editing software, like Canva
  • Audio-recording programs, like Audacity
  • Business accounts on social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram
  • Accounts on video-hosting sites, like YouTube and Vimeo

8. Create Your Content Schedule

Making a content schedule helps you keep track of content so that you don't post too much at one time and not enough at another time. It can also show you any channels that you may be overusing or under-utilizing.

When you create your content marketing plan, try not to use the same keywords for multiple pieces, or else your content pieces will compete with each other.

While there are scheduling programs available that offer more features, your content schedule can simply be a Google Calendar with due dates for each piece — especially if you're just starting out or not publishing too much content.

9. Create and Publish Your Content

Finally, you're ready to create content. Incorporate what you've learned from your research to make your content reach the largest audience. For example, if you found that lists or how-to posts are the most popular blog types in your niche, create those. You should also make sure to include the keywords you found in your research.

You can experiment with SEO tactics, but don't let that supersede the quality of the content. You may be able to draw people in with SEO, but people only share and engage with good, relevant content.

10. Promote Your Content

Content promotion is vital in getting initial views to your content. A good amount of early engagement tells algorithms that people are interested in the content, prompting them to push it to more people.

Consider ways you can activate your current customer base and people within your target audience to engage with your new content. For example, you can:

  • Share your content to your followers on social media
  • Use email marketing to drive subscribers to the content
  • Inform any influencers in your content that you included them, so that they may share it with their followers

11. Monitor Progress and Refine Strategy

The final step is to review your progress against your KPIs to evaluate the success of your strategy. Consider if the KPIs you identified give you an accurate picture of your performance, or if there are any you should add or remove.

This is also a good time to measure your engagement across different channels to see where your efforts were most successful and discover any new channels that you could include in your strategy.

Industry Examples of Content Marketing Strategies

A good way to get ideas for your own strategy is to look at the best content marketing strategy examples from other brands to understand what worked for them.

Wendy's

Fast-food giant, Wendy's has built a content marketing strategy that it sums up in its Twitter bio as "hot, crispy, and better than anyone expects from a fast-food restaurant."

All the chain's Tweets have a funny, snide voice that its followers love. Because these Tweets come from such a well-known brand, and since we expect brands to have a more formal, corporate voice, they often get shared. In fact, some become so viral that they even get featured in the news.

This conveys the brand's image as a fun-loving company that's on the front of high school and college students' minds when they're considering where to eat.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a tool that lets you manage all your social media accounts from one place. In 2015, during the popular run of HBO's Game of Thrones, it released a video titled " Game of Social Thrones." It was Hootsuite's own rendition of the show's theme song, featuring many social media app icons as different nations. Hootsuite's logo features in the middle, positioning itself as a force uniting these "social kingdoms," as the video calls them.

This strategy creatively communicated Hootsuite's brand messaging to the many Game of Thrones fans, who in turn loved and shared it.

Try Developing Your Own Content Marketing Strategy

There are many steps to create a content marketing strategy, but the value you get from executing it is high. And, once you've started, successful content marketing just takes consistency and regular strategy reviews. To create a successful content marketing strategy today, you can write down your brand's values and try to brainstorm some ways you could represent them online.

Need help developing and executing your content strategy? Compose.ly has you covered.
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