If you’re completely new to content marketing, developing your content marketing strategy can seem like a rather daunting and impossible task. You’ve likely read a lot of blogs and even books on how to create a successful content marketing program, and are probably feeling pretty confused about what you should do next.
If you’re not sure where to get started, keep reading! And even if you already have a content marketing strategy in place, it’s worth seeing if you’re missing any of these elements so you can improve your program.
Here are six simple steps on how to develop an effective content marketing strategy from Brian Sutter, the Marketing Director at Wasp Barcode Technologies:
- Identify Your Objectives
The first question you’ll want to ask yourself when developing your content marketing strategy is: What is your objective? Your objectives need to be specific and measurable.
An objective like “more business” is not specific enough. It’s too high level, and later down the road you’ll find it extremely difficult to measure the impact your content marketing efforts has on your company’s bottom line.
What are some common objectives other marketers are measuring then? According to the latest B2B Content Marketing: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report from Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs released last month, lead generation, brand awareness, customer engagement, lead nurturing, sales and customer retention/loyalty were some of the top objectives marketers say their organizations will focus on in 2017.
- Identify Your Conversions
Now that you’ve identified your key content marketing objectives, you need to determine the actions that can help you achieve those goals. What are the triggers that drive your customers to respond to your content and take the desired action?
Once you’ve identified the key conversions for your content marketing, you can focus on developing the messaging that actually resonates with your audience and converts.
- Define Your Target Audience
It doesn’t matter how great your content is, if there’s no audience for it, it will never get seen. So before you create any content, you need to find out who your target audience is. What do your target customers want to know? What challenges or pain points are keeping them up at night?
You’ll also want to find out where they go and search for information. Which platforms and channels do they prefer and spend time on when consuming content? What content formats do they prefer on these platforms and channels? Is it blogs, videos or infographics, etc.?
Many marketers find it helpful to create personas, which breaks the target audience down into groups based on, for example, their demographics and psychographics.
Then, you’ll want to map out each persona’s buyer journey. Sutter recommends creating at least one piece of quality content for every stage of each persona’s buyer journey you’ve identified. This is key because each persona may be looking for different kinds of content at different stages of their buyer’s journey.
As well, which influencers does your target audience follow? You’ll want to build relationships with these influencers as they can help amplify your content and help you reach your target audience.
- Create Your Content
It’s go time! Now that you have a deep understanding of who your target audience is, the content they want and need, where they go to search and find information, and the actions you want your target customers to take, it’s time to create your content.
Sutter suggests brainstorming 50 different content ideas that would be helpful to your target audience. Then, cut out the hardest to create and the least helpful content, so you only have the best topics left. You want to create the highest quality content possible that will differentiate your brand from your competitors.
To make your content creation process more efficient, think about how you can repurpose and reuse every piece of content you create. For example, the content of a blog post could be rewritten for an email, a section of a whitepaper or eBook and for different social media posts, or be repurposed into an infographic.
- Promote Your Content
Content distribution is just as important as content creation. If you’re not actively promoting and getting your content in front of your audience, chances are they will miss it, even if it’s the content they want or need.
Today’s consumers are bombarded with so much new content every day, so you’ll want to make your content as easy as you can for them find and consume.
A good distribution strategy should include both organic and paid promotion. Social media, tweets, Facebook posts and SEO are some good ways to promote your content organically. Sponsored posts, advertising and promoted tweets are just some examples of paid promotion you can do.
Where appropriate, you should also reach out to influencers you’ve established good relationships with to help amplify your content.
- Evaluate Your Performance
Remember the objectives and conversions you’ve identified at the beginning? It’s time to look at these metrics and evaluate how well your content marketing strategy is performing: Did you achieve your content marketing objectives? How effective were your conversion actions? Did you have the right messages for the right audience? Did your content drive your target audience to take the desired action?
With these answers, you can go back to your content marketing strategy and make adjustments where needed. This process should be an ongoing activity for your team, so you can continuously improve your content marketing strategy and maximize the ROI and impact of your efforts on your company’s sales and bottom line.
Do you have any other tips on developing a successful content marketing strategy? Please share them below!