Do you know the difference between a content strategy and a content marketing strategy? Where to find a steady stream of content ideas? How about the best way to go about marketing and promoting your content?
Our 7 step process should set you in the right direction.
1. Be clear on the scope of your strategy
Before launching into developing a content marketing strategy, the team at the Content Marketing Institute reminds us that we should be clear on what a content marketing strategy actually is.
They make the distinction between a content strategy and a content marketing strategy.
A content strategy has a focus on all of the useful, publishable content that a business develops. A content marketing strategy has a specific aim of using content to engage prospective customers in order to generate leads and drive sales.
The focus of this article is on content marketing.
For a detailed beginner’s guide on how to develop a broader content strategy for your business, consult UXBooth’s excellent resource.
2. Know what you are trying to achieve
As with any planning process, begin the exercise with clarity regarding the overall aim and goals of your content marketing strategy.
Avoid creating content just for the sake of it, as the Hubspot blog points out. There has to be a clear reason for content creation. You need a clear line of logic connecting your content marketing goals to your overall business mission and objectives.
In thinking through all of this, it will be important to know who it is you are trying to engage with your content. If you haven’t previously defined your target market, now is the time. Keep checking in as your business grows and changes to ensure you are still on the right track.
3. Choose your content type and channel
If you are on top of the previous step, you might already have a good idea of the type of content and channel you will need to use in order to be successful.
If not, it might help to do a bit of basic market research into your target audience. This is to see what their preferences for receiving these types of messages are. This can be done either by directly surveying your own customer base (this is preferable – it doesn’t always pay to make assumptions) or by using secondary data such as that published by sites like Marketing Sherpa.
For example, if you are looking to increase brand awareness, they suggest you might consider content with broad appeals, such as client case studies.
In contrast, if you are trying to increase conversions within your target market niche, you would develop much more targeted content likely to appeal specifically to the type of customers you are trying to attract.
4. Set up metrics to measure your results
Wondering why this tip is at Step 4 and not Step 7?
If you are, you probably wouldn’t be alone – after all, isn’t it only possible to measure your results after you’ve achieved them?
While this is true, it’s important to define your measurement metrics upfront. You need this before you begin implementation of your content marketing strategy. That way, you know exactly what it is you need to collect.
If you’re confused about what you should be collecting, Jay Baer at Convince and Convert has a potentially useful categorisation of content marketing metrics into 4 types: consumption metrics, sharing metrics, lead generation metrics and sales metrics, to make sure you are covering all of your bases, and is a good place to get started.
5. Generate a war chest of content ideas
Just like a real war chest, pulling together a reserve of content ideas to tide you through when inspiration dries up might save your bacon when the going gets tough and you’re struck with terminal writer’s block.
But where do you source new ideas from? This is a perennial problem for content writers, who are well aware of the sea of content out there on the internet relating to just about every topic under the sun by now.
The first thing to remember is, don’t panic. Remember, your take on a given situation is going to be that – your take, and therefore unique. It is still completely possible to take inspiration from others out there in the field without fear of plagiarizing or infringing copyright.
If you are at all worried, services like Copyscape offer a scanning service to check your content against what is already out there on the web. If you are outsourcing your content for the first time to a new provider, this is also a good way to ensure that your reputation is in good hands.
Still scratching around for new content ideas? There are a number of good guides out there if you need help with brainstorming. They include Quicksprout’s guide to generating clickable ideas, Hannah Smith’s guide for Moz on conducting creative content research and Kissmetric’s 101 ways to source content ideas.
6. Create a content calendar
The content calendar is the critical centerpiece of your content marketing strategy. It’s where all of your planning comes together with all of the ideas from your war chest to create a constant stream of on-message content that will engage and delight prospective customers.
The Content First blog provides some inspiration for things you should consider in setting up your calendar. This includes content type, channel, publishing frequency, time of day, theme and seasonality vs evergreen content.
If you are still stuck, you might consider downloading a blank template or even having a look at someone else’s content calendar to get you started. Bright Vessel has some good examples of content calendars on their blog (mostly relevant to social media). Curata offers a selection of useful blog-oriented templates.
7. Promote your content
After you’ve spent all that time and effort developing your content, it only makes sense to invest sufficient time to promote it. There are almost as many avenues for promoting your content as there are new content ideas. It’s up to you to experiment with what works best for you and your audience.
For those who are having trouble getting started, here are some quick suggestions:
- Email it to your list, either as a letter with a link within or as part of a broader newsletter release (Quicksprout);
- Reach out to an influencer in your industry and ask them to share it widely (Kissmetrics);
- Try guest posting on credible blogs within your industry (Moz);
- Share on multiple occasions to social media (Buffer);
- Try a non-obvious tip like Buzzsumo or Flipboard (Content Marketing Institute).
A content marketing strategy can make or break your business, but it has to cover all the bases to be truly effective. For more on marketing, check out our related content: