As marketers, we’re often hearing about the benefits of content marketing. How building an effective content strategy can help us generate clients, bring in new site visitors, and build our businesses.
But all this talk of content marketing has left some of us wondering, “What the heck is a content marketing strategy? And how can I build one for my business?”
What is a content marketing strategy?
Content marketing is the creation and distribution of valuable and actionable content. This includes everything from your email marketing to blogs, videos, and of course, your social media posts.
The goal of content marketing is to strengthen relationships with existing customers by providing them with valuable content while also establishing your business with new audiences.
Now that we’ve discussed the fundamental components of content marketing, let’s dive into the 7 steps that you can follow towards developing an effective content strategy in 2022.
1. Begin with the end in mind
For those of you familiar with the timeless and highly influential book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, you’re probably aware of habit #2 — begin with the end in mind.
While this principle is powerful in all aspects of life, it is an especially relevant rule to remember as you create your content marketing strategy.
Setting goals and KPIs for your content is crucial for developing an effective content strategy. It will help to define what you want to accomplish, and more importantly, why.
For some, goals might include increasing followers and directly impacting revenue. Others might be more focused on building long-term customer loyalty and an engaged community.
Having a clear destination will make it easy for you to do pulse checks and ensure that you’re taking the right actions to reach your goals.
2. Know your customers
To provide valuable content to customers, you need to learn about who they are and what they like. You can do this in a few ways:
- Analyzing your existing customer online behaviors
- Using data from tools like Google Analytics
- Reviewing your top competitors
While you’re doing your research, some things you should be looking for include age, interests, purchase behaviors, and challenges. Knowing this will help you determine which types of content (and distribution channels) will be most impactful.
Although you may think this is a one-and-done task, that’s not the case. It’s important to review your target audience frequently to ensure you’re continuously learning and improving your customer profiles.
3. Choose mediums for sharing
Using what you’ve learned about your audience, choose the mediums you want to use to distribute your content.
There are a ton of different distribution channels, but don’t worry — nobody’s expecting you to incorporate every single one of them into your strategy. While some channels are beneficial for almost all companies, such as email marketing and blogging, others might not be the right fit for you.
Each content channel has its specific benefits. It’s your job to determine which ones will be a good use of your time and provide the highest return.
For example, when it comes to social media, if you’re a business-to-business (B2B) company, a platform like LinkedIn can help build a professional brand and generate potential clients. For business-to-consumer (B2C) companies, platforms like Instagram and Facebook will be better for increasing visibility and building a community with your customers.
4. Review competitors
As I’ve mentioned a few times already, your competitors will be a key source of inspiration for you when developing an effective content strategy. Analyze your top competitors to determine content trends and their most successful channels.
While reviewing competitors can be a great place to watch for positive trends, it’s also a great place to spot gaps and opportunities that your competition is missing.
Take what you learn from your competitors to make informed decisions for your strategy.
Although your competition can provide value, it’s important not to get caught up in constant comparison. Instead, set limits for the time you spend looking at your competition.
5. Create your content
Now that all the hard work is complete, it’s time for the fun stuff, creating the content.
The types and amount of content that you create will depend on a few variables:
- Your business’s size
- Your strategic goals
- The allocated budget (time and financial)
Manage content creation by implementing a process that will support your content development plans and encourage creativity. But most importantly, one that will work for you and your team.
Tip: In the era of social media, remember to be visual and use images and videos to tell your story and connect on a deeper level with your audience.
6. Publish and manage (content calendar)
One of the biggest challenges of developing an effective content marketing strategy is staying consistent.
Introducing a process and plan for scheduling your content (a content calendar) will help you and your team stay on top of your strategy and keep organized as you create and publish to your various channels.
Once your content is published, be sure to engage with your audience. Responding to both positive and negative comments gives you an opportunity to show off your customer service skills. At the same time, you are fostering a loyal and engaged community.
7. Measure content marketing results
Now that your content has been planned, scheduled, and published, you’re all done, right? Not so fast.
It’s time to learn from all your efforts and use analytics and insights to see how you’re doing.
Schedule time regularly to re-analyze your content, review KPIs, and compare your results to the goals that you initially set for your strategy.
Using tools like Google Analytics, you’ll be able to identify and learn from your high-performing content and continually tweak and adjust your strategy.
So, that’s what it takes to build and execute a well-structured content marketing strategy. It may seem like a lot of work (and it is), but by following the steps in this article, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a content marketing master.
About the author
Landon Gartner is a co-founder and leading strategist for Vanspec Marketing, a Canadian digital marketing agency that specializes in the development and execution of creative digital marketing strategies that produce practical results.