Content marketing is crucial to any marketing strategy.
In fact, 93% of B2B marketers use it – and 60% of marketers create at least one new piece of content every day.
But content creation isn’t actually enough to see real results for your business.
If you don’t have an overarching plan for your content, your marketing will feel confusing with no real direction or aspirations in mind.
Enter: the content marketing strategy.
With a comprehensive strategy in place for your content marketing, you’ll create a clear connection between the written and visual posts you develop and the goals you want to achieve.
And with that connection established, you’ll be in a better position to address what’s working – or what isn’t working – with your marketing.
When you have a business to run, it’s easy to underestimate the importance of developing a plan for content marketing.
But we would argue that, without it, you’ll find it difficult to grow.
Let’s take a closer look at why every business needs a content marketing strategy and how to develop one for long-term success.
What is a Content Marketing Strategy, Anyway?
If we break down this concept, it’s actually pretty simple.
A strategy refers to a plan of action, an approach, or a blueprint to follow.
Whether you’re playing a sport, going into battle, or trying to outpace your competitors, you can’t leave things up to chance.
You need a strategy if you want to win.
Next up is marketing. You probably know that marketing your business involves some type of promotion.
But it’s more than just selling your product or services. It involves demonstrating the value your brand can provide in a variety of ways.
Specifically, content marketing refers to the development and sharing of digital materials that are meant to increase awareness and interest in a brand.
“Content” is an umbrella term that includes numerous types of media, including blog posts, videos, case studies, whitepapers, social media posts, e-books, webinars, and more.
You can think of content as information that your audience finds valuable, presented in an appealing, engaging, and digestible way.
With all that in mind, what is a content marketing strategy?
It’s not only about creating and sharing content with your audience.
You’ll also need to make a plan for your content that will help you accomplish your greatest aims.
A content marketing strategy involves fleshing out your business goals and developing content that will help you achieve those goals.
At its essence, your content marketing strategy should support your brand’s WHY – your ultimate purpose – and your aspirations.
Why Do Businesses Need a Content Marketing Strategy?
Some business owners might assume that having a content marketing strategy is optional.
It would be nice to have, they might think, if we just had the time.
The reality is that you can’t be successful in content marketing without a strategy.
Not only will you lose potential customers along the way, but you’ll also find it difficult to track important metrics.
And that means you won’t know the effect your content has (or doesn’t have) on your audience.
Without a content marketing strategy, it’s easy for this aspect of your business to fall by the wayside.
You won’t post consistently or create content that actually provides value to your customers.
As a result, they’ll find it harder to trust you. They’ll look elsewhere for answers. And you’ll have fewer tools for web traffic, lead generation, and sales at your disposal.
Simply put, establishing and executing a strategy for content marketing can help you improve brand awareness, build customer relationships, cement your industry authority, generate better leads, gain valuable insight into your audience, and cut marketing costs overall.
The argument for developing a content marketing strategy couldn’t be clearer.
According to statistics compiled by Neil Patel:
- Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing while generating roughly three times as many leads.
- Conversion rates among content marketing adopters are nearly six times higher than conversion rates among those who don’t use content marketing.
- Content marketing leaders see 7.8 times as much year-over-year growth in unique site traffic as followers do.
- At least 73% of organizations have established someone to oversee their content strategy.
Additional data reveals that:
- Roughly 77% of companies had a content marketing strategy in 2019
- Around 24% of marketers planned to boost their content marketing investment in 2020
- The most common search query related to content marketing in 2019 was “content marketing strategy” – an indicator that marketers and business owners alike really want to know how to develop one!
If you neglect the need for a content marketing strategy, your bottom line may suffer as a result.
In order to attract new customers consistently, build your brand reputation, and market your business effectively, you can’t just wing it.
You need a game plan that supports your business goals and gives your audience what they’re looking for.
What Do You Need to Know When Developing a Content Marketing Strategy?
Understanding the importance of developing a strategy is the first step.
But before you dive into the development process, you’ll want to clarify a few things first.
Here are just a few questions to answer:
- What do you want to achieve?
- How will your content support those goals?
- Who is your audience?
- What kinds of content will you create?
- What’s unique about your brand?
- How will you help your audience?
- How will you distribute your content?
Asking and answering these questions will allow you to...
- Zero in on your business goals
- Discover how content creation supports those goals
- Learn more about your customers
- Decide on the best medium(s) and distribution channels for your brand
- Hone in on how to beat your competitors
- Ensure your content provides discernable value
These questions will play a crucial role in the development of your content marketing strategy. Without the answers, you’ll have gaps in your plan – and that will make it harder to win in the end.
Once you’ve clarified this foundation of your strategy, you can build on it and really get into the details of creation and execution.
You can, of course, answer these questions during the development of your strategy. The approach is really up to you. But no matter what, your strategy should allow you to answer these questions in full.
What Are the Steps Involved in Creating a Content Marketing Strategy For Your Business?
Every marketing agency will follow its own roadmap for content creation.
Some will include the questions outlined above in the actual development process. Others will consider those questions to be prerequisites that must be completed before diving in.
You can feel free to personalize your approach in a way that works best for your brand. As long as you answer the questions above and follow the basic steps we’ve outlined below, you’ll be well on your way to developing a killer content marketing strategy for your business.
Establish Your Goal(s)
If you haven’t already, you need to determine your reason for having a content marketing strategy in the first place.
Do you want to increase your website traffic? Boost your sales and revenue? Improve brand perception and awareness?
It can be helpful to actually write out a mission statement or purpose for your content marketing.
In it, you can outline your target audience, what you’ll provide to them, and how you’ll reach your goals with the content you create.
You’ll also want to define your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) during this step.
KPIs will make your goals a lot easier to measure. They’re more specific and tangible, allowing you to clearly see what’s working and what isn’t.
Typical KPIs for content marketing include specific revenue targets, email subscriber numbers, search ranking improvements, measurable traffic increases, and more.
You can reference these KPIs to assess the success of your strategy and make adjustments along the way.
Research Your Audience, Competition, and Position
You might have a general idea of your ideal buyer.
But if you want to connect with your audience, you have to get to know them on a more personal level.
You’ll need to collect demographic information and really do a deep dive into who they are, what they need, and how you can help.
You can then develop your buyer persona to figure out where they get their information, what motivates them, and what challenges they face.
Gaining a clear understanding of exactly who your customer is can allow you to create content that truly resonates.
Knowing the background of your customers and what they deal with on a daily basis can allow you to practice empathy and connect with them in a deeper, more meaningful way through your content marketing.
But they aren’t the only ones you’ll need to know like the back of your hand.
You’ll also need to discover as much as you possibly can about your competitors.
During this process, you should take a closer look at what your industry competitors (or even other related organizations you admire) are doing with their content marketing.
Sign up for their email blasts, subscribe to their blog, and follow them on social media.
While you shouldn’t copy their content in any way, you can certainly be inspired by their approach, improve on a topic they’ve covered, and identify gaps that you can fill.
Finally, you’ll want to audit your own existing content and determine where you currently stand.
You should take inventory of all your content, figure out its value, and see what can be improved.
This research will prove crucial in developing your content marketing strategy. Knowing how to better serve your customers and rise above the competition will make your strategy truly successful.
Develop Your Content Calendar
You’ve done all the prep work.
Now it’s time to make a plan.
You’ll need to:
- Figure out the best types of content and distribution channels for your content
- Brainstorm topics that address your customers’ needs, your business goals, and the gaps in your existing content
- Address optimization needs (like SEO and image creation)
- Identify who will create the content and the tools you’ll need
- Decide when and how the content will be created, published, and promoted (workflow)
Then, you can use a content calendar template or project management system to schedule the different aspects of the content creation process and ensure deadlines are met.
From there, you can create, distribute, and market your content on a consistent basis. Of course, you’ll want to refer back to your objectives and KPIs to measure your performance over time.
Your Content Marketing Strategy is Your Roadmap to Marketing Success
We’re the first to admit that there are other crucial aspects to any digital marketing strategy.
But there’s a reason why those in the industry say that “content is king.”
And while you may already possess all the skills you need to create compelling content, that’s not actually enough to market your business effectively.
Without the proper framework and consistent execution, you’ll be fighting a constant battle for leads, traffic, and sales.
You won’t have the data you need for sustainable growth.
If you take the time to develop a content marketing blueprint, you’ll be able to create content that converts – and do so in a predictable and measurable way.
By keeping these simple steps in mind, you’ll create a content marketing strategy that will help you reach your customers, make a positive impression, and grow your business over time.