Marketing has been and always will be a vital component of every business. While key elements of marketing remain important regardless of method, traditional marketing is becoming less and less effective. This is where content marketing enters the scene. Content marketing strategy is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive customer action. Instead of simply pitching your products or services, you are providing truly relevant and useful digital content to your prospects and customers to help them solve their issues or meet their needs. An individual’s online behaviors are tracked and analyzed and provide insights to companies on what type of content will drive the actions of their target market.
Content surrounds us in our daily lives. Take a moment to think about how much time you spend online each day. We consume vast amounts of content each day, whether through social media platforms, websites, television, or radio. How many different ads do you see on the apps you use each day? Each one requires quite a bit of strategic planning and creation to get those ads in front of you.
When thinking about content marketing strategy for your business, useful content should always be at the core of your marketing strategy. It is important to remember that even website graphics, product descriptions, and mission statements are important components. However, content marketing is not just creating and distributing content. It is an entire strategic approach that allows you to attract and engage a clearly defined audience and, ultimately, generate profitable customer action. A good content marketing strategy not only engages your audience, but also grabs the attention of major search engines like Google so more people will find it in their search results.
Content marketing is any marketing strategy that uses high-quality on-page content to engage audiences and potential customers, resulting in better SEO rankings, increased website traffic, higher quality leads, and ultimately conversions and a positive ROI. It’s an incredible tool to boost your results. By delivering valuable and relevant content, you can improve your online credibility, create a community of loyal customers, and build brand awareness.
Why You Need to Create a Content Marketing Strategy
It is important to be strategic about your content marketing as it will help you build relationships with your existing customers as well as reach your target audience effectively. With a good content marketing strategy, you will build trust with your audience, improve conversions, connect with customers, and generate profits. In today’s market, people have come to expect high-quality, consistent content from their favorite brands—it’s a contributing factor in generating brand loyalty. A well implemented content marketing strategy will ensure you know your audience, provide them with opportunities to engage with your brand, and help your business become more visible online. Great marketing content will create positive experiences for your customers. You want your target audience to keep coming back for more, and your content marketing strategy will reinforce a positive impression for your brand.
Additionally, this will build trust with your target audience. When you create content that engages your audience, the interaction will build a relationship between customer and business. Just as any in-person relationship with a customer takes work, so do online relationships. When you build trust with them, they will likely trust your advice and recommendations. This will improve your brand’s reputation, and customers will have a positive association with your business. When customers trust you, they will look to you as an expert. In turn, this will help you rank higher with Google, who will also consider your company a reliable source for your products and services. Content marketing will help you cultivate loyal brand fans and improve your bottom line.
How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy
There are several important steps in creating your content marketing strategy. You will want to begin by thinking about your goals. What is your aim for developing a content marketing plan? What do you hope to achieve with your content marketing plan? Your answers to these questions will form the foundation of your strategy.
The next step in developing a successful plan is to clearly define your target audience. When you know your audience, you will be able to produce more relevant and valuable content they will want to read and respond to your call to action. Even if you have researched your audience in the past, do not skip this step! Your target audience may have changed, or you may realize you want to expand your target market. Researching your audience will ensure you have the information you need to keep your content fresh and interesting, so you will continue to grow your market.
After you have thought about your goals and researched your target audience, you will want to review your content. Spend time examining the analytics of your past content pieces. Reviewing your content marketing efforts will allow you to make data-informed decisions and help you figure out what you can do differently in the upcoming year and set new goals to reach.
The last step is to develop an editorial plan and publish and manage your content. Planning your content allows you to allocate your resources appropriately, see which workflows are taking longer than expected, and adjust your expectations accordingly. Find an editorial calendar that fits your preferences. Using an editorial calendar will allow you to monitor progress and streamline communication across multiple team members as you create, publish, and analyze content. An editorial calendar can also allow you to add tasks, assign them to specific people, and set deadlines. This will allow your team to work efficiently and keep everyone updated on project progress. Organizing your content using an editorial calendar will also ensure you are on the right track for publishing well-balanced and diverse content on your website and on social media. Don’t forget to incorporate holidays such as Thanksgiving and New Year’s into your marketing efforts!
Types of Content Marketing
There are many different types of content marketing, and a lot of information floating around about the best types to implement. There are three basic categories: written, visual, and audiovisual. Each type can help you reach your goals effectively. You will want to create a strategic content marketing plan that utilizes a variety of platforms to reach your audience.
Written content is the category your customer will spend some time with and is often useful as an educational tool. You can inform your customers about your products and offerings in an in-depth and detailed format that helps them understand what your business brings to the table. Types of written content include website pages, landing pages, blog posts, and case studies.
When you want to make an immediate impact, visual content is the way to go. Outstanding visual content is a great way to grab your customers’ attention and convey a message quickly. Keep your visuals impactful using bold and clean elements. Remember to resist the urge to cover this type of content with text. Visual posts are meant to be more focused and condensed. If you have a lot to say, consider revamping your content into a written format like a blog post. A few examples of visual content include infographics, social media posts, and website graphics.
The last category of content falls somewhere between written and visual categories, as it has similarities to both. Audiovisual content is a format naturally fitted for telling a story and happens to be one of the most popular types of content marketing. Through short or long videos, podcasts, or webinars, you can share a glimpse behind the scenes, speak to your customers about why your business is your passion, and create content that is engaging. Types of audiovisual content include videos, podcasts, and webinars.
Let’s explore the various types of content marketing!
Blog posts live on a website and should be published regularly to attract new visitors. Each post should provide valuable content for your audience that motivates them to share on their social media accounts across a wide variety of platforms. Best practices recommend each post should be between 1,000 and 2,000 words in length, but this may or may not work for your target audience. You should experiment with lengths of posts to see if your audience prefers shorter or longer blogs.
E-books are an effective way to capture leads on your website. E-books are generally longer than blog posts, go into greater detail, and are published less frequently than blog posts. After reading a blog post and deciding they want more information, potential clients can download an e-book after submitting a lead form with their contact information. Keeping in mind the purpose of an e-book is to generate leads, content should be introductory and informational. E-books can be used for different purposes depending on your marketing goals.
The importance of having a call-to-action cannot be overstated. You will want to direct people to a landing page where they can submit their contact information and download an e-book to learn more valuable information. In turn, this generates a new lead for the sales team to contact.
Case studies are an ideal opportunity to tell the story of a customer who succeeded in solving a problem by working with you. Case studies are one of the most versatile types of content marketing because they can take many different forms—a blog post, e-book, podcast, even an infographic. Case studies give the opportunity for you to creatively weave information and fit it for a variety of different platforms. Telling the same story but repurposing it in different ways will allow you maximize the impact of the testimonial.
Infographics allow you to organize and visualize your data in compelling and interesting ways. This format is a great way to share vast quantities of data in a way that is clear and easy to understand. Depending on the detail of your infographic needs, you can outsource this type of content, or you can use one of the many online tools developed over the past few years and create them in house.
Videos are one of the most highly engaging forms of content, largely due to being easily shareable across both social media platforms and websites alike. Videos will capture your audience’s attention but do require a bigger investment of time and resources than written content. Although they demand more resources, videos will help you reach your marketing goals quickly and effectively. Visual marketing continues to increase in popularity and is most likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. This is most definitely a medium you should include in your content marketing strategy.
Podcasts are effective ways to help audiences find your brand if they do not have time or interest in reading content every day. The number of podcast listeners continues to grow each year. An estimated 116 million Americans are listening to podcasts monthly, a 37% increase from the previous year.* If you have fascinating people to interview and conversations to host, you should consider podcasting as another content format to include in your content marketing strategy.
Where to Publish and Share Your Fantastic Content
Now that you have created a content marketing strategy, set goals, created a content calendar, and developed content, the question becomes—where should I publish it? After you post on your site, it’s time to distribute your content on other sites. This could mean repurposing into new formats or creating original content specifically for external sites or social networks. Social media is essential to amplifying your company’s brand and reaching a refined target audience where you know they spend their time. Social media options include:
- Facebook: Share blog posts, website content, videos, product promotions, and promote events to expand your audience. You can also utilize Facebook Live as another way to connect with your community in real time.
- Instagram: A wonderful tool to tell a visual story that develops your brand’s identity to connect with your audience and build community through videos and images. You can also go live to connect with your audience in real time and even allow other accounts to join your live feed.
- Twitter: Share all branded content quickly, connect with your followers, and share the latest updates about your company. Twitter can be used as a search engine for potential customers to learn about your company and is an excellent tool for expanding your audience.
- LinkedIn: Share branded content to generate leads, improve brand awareness, foster business relationships, and drive traffic to your website.
- Pinterest: Used to distribute visual content pieces like infographics, diagrams, original illustrations, and direct traffic to your website.
- Snapchat: A key channel to share videos for brands that want to connect and market to millennials and tweens, but it is less important for those who want to reach the older demographics—Generation X or baby boomers.
- YouTube: Upload and share your video content to your YouTube channel and drive traffic to your website.
Keep in mind, you want your content to feel cohesive regardless of where you are posting. Cohesion will create trust between your audience and your business, and this will improve user engagement across all platforms. As content originates on your website, having consistent and optimized content will improve your SEO rankings.
Final Step in Effective Content Marketing Strategy
How can you determine the success of your digital marketing efforts? Content marketing is not a static concept. It must be ever evolving, adapting to your target market and to your own successes and failures. Even with the best content marketing strategy, some content will not succeed. You will need to conduct ongoing audits and reviews to keep your content relevant and fresh. Therefore, you should build a maintenance plan into your content marketing strategy, continually adjusting to performance and measurable key performance indicators.
Content metrics fall into four categories:
- User behavior: page views, unique visitors, pages per session, new and returning users, average time on page, page depth, bounce rate, traffic sources.
- Engagement: likes, shares, comments, mentions, republications.
- SEO results: organic traffic, dwell time, backlinks, keyword rankings.
- Company revenue: number of leads generated, existing leads touched, conversion rate, return on investment.
Analyzing your content performance is the best way to understand what type of content is connecting with your audience, and then use that data to decide what content to generate next. Your audience will give you clear signals about what attracts their interest the most, making it easier for you to come up with new content that intrigues them. You can collect data points from your website and from all social media platforms and use this information to make informed decisions on the content development.
A successful content marketing strategy does not happen overnight. It takes time, planning, and creativity to develop. From examining your target audience and setting goals to developing engaging content and reviewing metrics, implementing a content marketing strategy will set your business up for success.
* Quah, N. March 16, 2021. Yes, Podcast Listenership is Still on the Rise. Retrieved June 28, 2021 from https://www.vulture.com/2021/03/podcast-listenership-download-data-on-the-rise.html.