According to a recent Semrush survey, 84 percent of businesses have a content marketing strategy in place.
Have you been working on a content strategy for your company? If not, you may have a hard time keeping up with your competitors.
The good news is - we’re here to get you up to speed. Outlined below is everything you need to know about creating an effective content marketing strategy that helps you see results.
What Is a Content Marketing Strategy?
Let’s start from the beginning. What is a content marketing strategy?
Put simply, your business’s content marketing strategy is a plan that helps you to consistently create and share high-quality, relevant content to your target audience.
If you’ve ever tried to create and distribute content in the past, you know how hard it can be to keep up the momentum and continue sharing when you’re busy handling other aspects of your business. When you have a strategy in place, though, it’s much easier to make sure content remains a priority.
<inter-sb>Types of Content<inter-sb>
When most people think of content marketing, they think of blogging. In reality, though, there are lots of other types of content you can include in your strategy, including the following:
- Social media posts
<inter-sb>Content Marketing Objectives<inter-sb>
When creating a content strategy for your business, before you decide on specific types of content, it’s helpful to identify your objectives.
What do you want to accomplish with your content? Why are you sharing blog posts, videos, or infographics with your audience?
The following are some of the most common objectives you might set for your content marketing strategy:
With the right content, you can get more people interested in signing up for your email newsletter or registering for your online course, for example. The more people sign up, the easier it is to convert them to paying customers, right?
<inter-sb>Boost SEO/Organic Traffic<inter-sb>
Content marketing can also make it easier for you to optimize your website. When you use the right keywords, format your content well, and answer questions that are relevant to your audience, all of this helps to boost your search engine ranking and increases the number of people who click on your website.
<inter-sb>Generate More Leads<inter-sb>
Content marketing can help with lead generation, too.
A well-planned content strategy makes it easier for you to reach those who are most likely to buy what you’re selling. Quality content also gets more people interested in what your business has to offer.
<inter-sb>Tips for Setting Goals and KPIs<inter-sb>
You know what you want to accomplish. That’s great!
However, it’s not enough to just say “I want more newsletter signups” or “I want to generate more leads.”
You’re much more likely to see results if you set specific goals and identify key performance indicators (or KPIs).
KPIs help you to measure progress and ensure your business is heading in the right direction. Because of this, they typically have numbers attached to them.
An example of a content marketing KPI might be to hit a specific monthly, quarterly, or yearly revenue target. You might also try to get a specific number of new email subscribers by a set date.
You can establish any kind of goal and KPIs that you want. The more specific they are, though, the easier it is to monitor your progress and figure out what’s working when it comes to content marketing.
- Your content marketing strategy gives you a blueprint for creating and distributing high-quality content to your audience
- There are many different types of content you can create, from blog posts and videos to whitepapers and newsletters
- A great content strategy starts with clear, specific goals
- KPIs help you determine whether or not your content strategy is working
- KPIs are typically numbers-based and have a set deadline
Step 1: Understand Your Audience
The first step to creating an effective content strategy is to understand your audience.
How old are your target customers? What is their gender? Where do they live? What is their income or education level?
The more you know about the people you’re trying to reach, the easier it will be to write, design, film, or record content that will resonate with them.
To understand your audience, start by taking these steps:
<inter-sb>Do Customer Research<inter-sb>
There are lots of ways to answer the questions mentioned above and learn about your audience. Here are a few tried and true techniques you can use:
- Review Google Analytics to see which market segments your website visitors fit into
- Look at social media analytics (such as Facebook Business Suite and Twitter analytics) to view demographic information for your followers
- Reach out to your customers with tools like email surveys and social media polls to learn more about them, their backgrounds, and their interests
Customer feedback can be especially valuable because it’s harder to misinterpret. You’re getting information straight from the source, which can help you fine-tune your content and figure out the best places to share it.
Create A Buyer Persona
Once you’ve gathered some data about your audience, start creating buyer personas.
A buyer persona is sometimes referred to as a customer avatar. It’s a description of your ideal customer and gives you someone concrete to think about when you’re creating content.
A good buyer persona will be highly specific. When creating one, you’ll think beyond age, gender, and hobbies and focus on the buyer’s pain points and challenges, as well as the motivations behind their behaviour.
Once you’ve created a few buyer personas to represent your target customers, you’ll want to factor them in whenever you’re putting together a new piece of content.
Ask yourself whether or not the avatar would enjoy this content or find it valuable. This helps you avoid putting out material that no one wants to consume or engage with.
- Customer research helps you better tailor your content to your target customers
- Use tools like Google Analytics, Facebook Business Suite, and Twitter Analytics to learn about your audience
- Surveys and polls can help you get customer information straight from the source
- Use the data you’ve gathered to create buyer personas or customer avatars so you have a reference point when you’re drafting content
Step 2: Create a Content Plan
Once you know more about the people who make up your audience, the next step is to create a content plan. This will dictate the different types of content you create and ensure it’s optimized to help you achieve your desired results.
Do the following to start putting together a well-thought-out content plan:
<inter-sb>Analyze Your Existing Content<inter-sb>
You don’t always have to create a content strategy from scratch. For many businesses, a good starting point is the content that already exists on your website or social media pages.
Start by assessing existing content. This is sometimes referred to as a content audit.
During your assessment, take note of the different types of content you’ve already created. Consider the topics you’ve covered and the way each piece of content was received.
What kinds of content seem to resonate most with your audience. Do they like blog posts? Videos? Infographics?
Identify gaps in your existing content, too. What questions aren’t you answering? Is there a piece of content that you could build upon to create a more comprehensive guide?
<inter-sb>Choose Content for Different Funnel Stages<inter-sb>
Okay, you’ve identified some gaps in your existing content and started brainstorming pieces of content you want to create in the future. A good next step is to think about the specific pieces of content you’ll use for each stage of the content funnel.
<inter-sb>What Is a Content Marketing Funnel?<inter-sb>
A content marketing funnel takes your leads through a specific, multi-step content flow. The ultimate goal is to introduce them to a series of content that converts them into paying customers.
There are 3 stages of the content marketing funnel:
- Top of Funnel: This stage is typically reserved for broad content like blog posts, videos, podcasts, and social media posts
- Middle of Funnel: This stage includes more specific content like guides, white papers, and webinars
- Bottom of Funnel: This stage includes even more specific content, such as customer testimonials, free consultations, and free trials
When creating a content plan, think about the types of content you want to create for each stage. Yes, blog posts and infographics are great. However, you’ll also need to brainstorm more specific content pieces for the later stages of the funnel.
<inter-sb>Do Keyword Research<inter-sb>
Another important part of your content plan is keyword research.
Keyword research helps you to determine the specific words and phrases you should use in your content to improve its search engine ranking. In other words, what kinds of words or phrases will people likely be typing into search engines when they’re looking for products or services like yours?
There are lots of tools you can use for keyword research, including the following:
<inter-sb>Where to Get Content Ideas<inter-sb>
At this point, are you still struggling to find content ideas?
It can definitely be tricky to come up with a list of new and valuable content ideas for your blog, YouTube channel, or other platforms.
You can check out our guide on where professional bloggers find ideas for their sites, but here are a few tips that can help you get unstuck, though:
- Monitor social media and take note of the questions people are asking (Facebook groups are great for this)
- Repurpose or expand upon old content
- Share personal stories, or interview existing customers and share their stories
- Publish guest posts from industry professionals
- Answer frequently asked questions
<inter-sb>How to Use Competitor Research<inter-sb>
Another way to come up with content ideas is to use competitor research.
Take a look at your competitors’ websites or social media profiles. Then, take note of the types of content they’re creating and look for gaps that you can fill in.
Are there topics they’re not covering or questions they’re not answering? How can you expand upon the subjects they’ve already addressed and provide more value to your audience?
You can also use tools like SEMrush to conduct competitor research. This makes it easier for you to keep up with other businesses and see what’s working for them.
- A content plan helps you decide which kinds of content to create and start fine-tuning your content strategy
- Start by analyzing your existing content to see what topics you can build upon and find out which types of content resonate most with your audience
- Plan different types of content for different stages of the content marketing funnel
- Do keyword research to determine the words and phrases you’ll try to rank for in search engine results
- Use competitor research to see what kind of content other brands are publishing and find ways to make yours better
Step 3 - Outsource Content Production
Could you handle content production all by yourself?
Technically, yes, you could take that approach. Doesn’t it sound exhausting, though?
As a business owner, you have a lot on your plate already. Why take on more work than you have to by creating all the content for your business’s content marketing strategy?
Rather than doing all your content creation yourself, consider outsourcing. It can save you a lot of time and free you up to focus on other things.
<inter-sb>Pros and Cons of Working with Freelancers<inter-sb>
There are plenty of benefits that come with hiring freelancers to help with content creation. There are some potential downsides, too, though.
Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons to keep in mind:
<inter-sb>Pro: Save Money<inter-sb>
In most cases, freelancer rates are far lower than what you’d pay to bring on a part-time or full-time content creator.
When you work with freelancers, you don’t have to worry about paying for benefits or health insurance, for example. They often work remotely, too, so you also don’t have to worry about extra overhead costs.
<inter-sb>Pro: Increased Efficiency<inter-sb>
Freelancers often have better turnaround times than hired employees, too. Because they set their own hours, they can work when they’re most productive and get the job done faster.
Many freelancers specialize in specific types of content creation. They have lots of experience and know what it takes to create a great blog post, edit an amazing video, or design an impressive infographic.
Working with a highly specialized freelancer ensures that you get high-quality, valuable content curated for your audience.
<inter-sb>Con: Less Reliability<inter-sb>
Some freelancers are not as reliable as others, which can be frustrating when you’re trying to get content published or shared by a specific date. Often, you can avoid this problem, though, by working with an experienced freelancer or getting a referral from a colleague.
<inter-sb>Con: Initial Risk<inter-sb>
When you first start working with a freelancer, there’s some risk involved. It’s not always easy to tell if they’ll be a good fit or if their style will align with yours.
You can mitigate a lot of the risks by conducting thorough interviews before agreeing to work with a particular freelancer. Reviewing their portfolio or reading reviews from past clients can reduce risks, too.
<inter-sb>Where to Find Writers<inter-sb>
There are lots of tools that make finding freelance writers a lot easier. We recommend these platforms to connect with qualified, experienced, and reliable writers:
- ContentFly: All writers are rigorously vetted and tested before being hired; you receive high-quality content for a flat fee of $313 per 4,000 words
- Upwork: A popular platform that lots of freelancers use; pricing varies depending on the writer, as they’re able to set their own rates
- ProBlogger: ProBlogger is an online job board where companies can post jobs and connect with writers looking for work; it costs $75 to post a listing, but you get to determine payment for the project
<inter-sb>Where to Find Illustrators and Designers<inter-sb>
If you’re looking for freelance illustrators or designers who can help you create infographics, video thumbnails, and other types of content, Upwork is another good platform to use. Other options for freelancers include:
- Dribbble: An online design community that allows you to look at portfolios, search through different categories, and get in touch with a qualified freelancer
- Fiverr: An online freelancer marketplace that offers affordable freelance design, illustration, writing, and other services
- Toptal: A long-running talent-matching service that connects you with qualified designers and illustrators and offers a money-back guarantee
- Outsourcing saves you time and money and frees you up to focus on other aspects of your business
- Working with freelancers is a great way to save money, speed up the content creation process, and work with highly experienced, specialized creators
- Freelancers can sometimes be unreliable, and there is some initial risk involved, but proper vetting can help you avoid these issues
- There are lots of online platforms that help you connect with freelance writers, illustrators, designers, and other content creators
Get unique content from world class writers.
ContentFly automates the process of working with freelancers so you can get the content you need, when you need it. Grab a free demo to learn more!Request Demo
Step 4: Create a Plan to Promote Your Content
It’s great to have high-quality content. If you aren’t doing a good job of promoting it, though, you likely won’t see the kinds of results you’re hoping for.
Promotion should be a key part of your business’s content strategy. Outlined below are some tips that will help you create a promotion plan:
<inter-sb>Ways to Amplify Content<inter-sb>
The term “content amplification” refers to the strategies you use to expose your content to more people.
There are lots of ways to amplify your content and increase your reach, beyond simply hitting the “share” button on social media (although this is, of course, a good starting point). The following are some of the best techniques you can try:
- Highlight your best work and share it using relevant social media channels
- Partner with influencers to get your work in front of their already-established audiences
- Share your content as a guest post on other, relevant websites
- Pay to “boost” your most popular posts on social media
<inter-sb>Create a Content Calendar<inter-sb>
If you have a content calendar, you never have to worry about what you’re going to share on social media or publish on your blog on a given day.
Content calendars help you to plan ahead and streamline the content creation strategy. When you take the time to create one, you’ll always know what you’re posting and where you need to share it.
Remember, many content planning tools also allow you to automate posting. When you use these tools, you don’t even have to worry about hitting the “Publish” button!
<inter-sb>Tools That Automate Social Media Publishing<inter-sb>
Speaking of tools that automate social media publishing, there are plenty of options to choose from. Here are some of our top recommendations:
- Hootsuite: An all-in-one solution that integrates with a variety of apps, including MailChimp, Canva, and most social media platforms
- Buffer: One of the oldest social media publishing tools that supports all major social media platforms and comes with a handy hashtag planner to improve your Instagram posts
- SproutSocial: A social media planning tool that also comes with an integrated CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform so you can stay in touch with your audience and monitor keywords, social media mentions, and more
You can also take a look at our 2021 roundup of best social media scheduling tools if you need more options.
- Without a promotion plan, your content marketing strategy will be incomplete and you’ll have a hard time seeing great results from the content you’ve worked so hard to create and publish
- There are lots of ways to amplify your content, including guest posts, boosted social media posts, and influencer partnerships
- A content calendar helps you to stay on top of your content marketing strategy and take the guesswork of figuring what to post and when
- Tools that automate social media posting make content marketing even easier and allow you to focus on other things while also sharing valuable content with your audience
Start Building Your Content Marketing Strategy Today
In 2021, a content marketing strategy is a must, no matter what kind of business you’re running.
Have you been feeling daunted by the idea of creating your business’s content strategy? Hopefully, the steps outlined above can help.
Keep this information in mind and you’ll be well on your way to creating high-quality content and seeing great results.