How To Create A Content Marketing Strategy

By Rhonda Bradley / 18 July 2018

Learn how to create a content marketing strategy that will keep your team focused and give you an edge on the competition.

A content marketing strategy is a big-picture plan for all of your brand’s content. It includes your vision, goals, buyer personas, and choice of content formats. “Content” is a broad term that covers all the media you use to promote your business, including written media, videos and webinars, slideshows and presentations, and more.

A content marketing strategy is different from a content marketing plan. 

Strategy answers the questions of “how and why,” and planning lays out the execution of your strategy. A documented strategy guides your team in a focused direction when choosing topics, keywords, style, and voice.

A recent survey by Content Marketing Institute discovered that the most of the successful marketers “have a documented content marketing strategy and deliver content consistently always or frequently.”

In this article, we’ll cover the steps you need to follow to create a content marketing strategy, including how to:

  • Define Your Content Marketing Goals
  • Define Your Audience
  • Determine How You’ll Approach Your Content
  • Select Your Content Marketing Tools
  • Decide How To Promote Your Content

It’s important to keep in mind that content marketing strategy needs to be documented in a formal written guide. This way, you can refer to it as you move forward into the planning and execution stages.

Step 1: Define Your Content Marketing Goals

Content marketing can serve many goals, but you’ll have more success if you focus your efforts toward one purpose by creating campaigns. As you’re writing your content marketing strategy, define the objectives that you’d like your content to achieve over the course of one year. This may include 2-3 marketing campaigns with similar or different goals. 

  • Increase Brand Awareness

If your goal is to heighten your brand awareness, you’ll want to work toward more social views, follows, and shares.

  • Drive Qualified Traffic to Your Website 

Increasing website traffic is a popular goal for content marketing. However, be careful to aim for qualified traffic over high numbers. 

Qualified traffic means that you’re driving a targeted audience to your site, and this means they’re more likely to convert to leads and customers. Non-qualified traffic might show impressive numbers, but often doesn’t improve your sales.

  • Increase Your Onsite Conversions

If you’re already receiving a good amount of qualified traffic to your website, then you may want to focus your efforts on converting that traffic to lead and sales. 

  • Retain and Resell to Current Customers

If you have a strong customer base, keep their interest alive by tailoring content and offers that will keep them coming back.

In order to profit from your content marketing investment, you need to track, measure, and experiment with the results of your content. 

Each goal has a complex set of key performance indicators (KPI’s), but all productive goals have 5 things in common. Smart goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable 
  • Relevant
  • Timely

In the “goals” section of your content marketing strategy, you want to list your goals next to the KPI’s that you’ll be measuring to determine how well your content is performing.

Once your content marketing goals are in place, you’ll also want to consider how you’ll map content to the buyer’s journey. In other words, determine the best types of content for the audience you’re targeting.

In the example below, Accent Technologies offers suggestions for creating content to match different stages of the buyer’s journey.

Content Mapped to the Buyer's Journey
Source

For example, if your goal is to drive more traffic to your website, then your target audience will fall into the “awareness” and “discovery” phases. This means you’ll want to provide resources like eBooks, whitepapers, webinars, and blog posts.

Learn how to start a blog for your business.

Step 2: Define Your Audience

Audience building is at the heart of today’s content strategy. The more content-saturated our online world becomes, the more important it is for brands to focus their energies on highly specific audiences.

This year, 80% of content marketers are focused on audience building. That’s an 18% increase over last year. 

That’s great news for marketers who focus on building subscriptions through content marketing.

Some of the points you should include in this section of your content marketing strategy are:

  1. Buyer personas
  2. Branding guidelines that set a consistent style and tone for your content
  3. Understanding the needs of your audience and the problem that your brand solves

Above all, your strategy should have a clear audience description that clarifies who you are creating content for. This way your entire team can rally around creating informative, engaging, and entertaining content for your target audience.

Step 3: Determine How You’ll Approach Your Content

This part of your content marketing strategy addresses the question of how you’ll stand out and gain an edge on your competition.

First, you should conduct a content audit.

Your content audit lists the details of all your published content. You can keep track of your inventory in a basic spreadsheet. At the very least, your audit should record the following for each piece of content:

  • Topic
  • Keyword
  • Stage of buyer’s journey it’s written for
  • Word count
  • Date of last update
  • Is it SEO optimized?
  • Is it formatted and structured for maximum readability?

Your content audit will help you make decisions about future topics and keywords, and help you decide what content is worth updating and repurposing. For instructions on how to perform a full content audit, visit Moz’s guide to performing a content audit.

Or, for a more casual content audit, watch UX Mastery’s How To Conduct A Content Audit
Video

Screenshot of UX Mastery video

The video takes a more casual approach to auditing content, and may be a good choice for small businesses who’ve never recorded their inventory.

Then, decide which formats you’ll use.

The term “content” is a wide definition that covers a wide range of media, including:

  • Video and webinars
  • Audio
  • Articles, reports, guides, and blog posts
  • Infographics
  • Slide presentations
  • Graphics like quotes and memes

Make a decision on what formats you’ll use in your content marketing, and include them in your documented strategy.

Finally, decide how you’ll stand out.

There are many ways to stand out in content marketing, and it’s good to convey your strategy in this section. Depending on your brand and the problems it solves, you might stand out by positioning your brand as one of the following:

  • An authoritative source of information in your industry
  • The place to go for breaking news
  • A solid source of training and/or certifications
  • Entertaining, funny, or captivating content

To stand out, you don’t have to be the funniest or most entertaining brand in your industry. You simply need to know your strengths and make a conscious decision to build on them. 

Step 4: Select Your Content Marketing Tools

In order to publish, promote, and track your content, you’ll need a list of tools that help your team get the job done. 

Content marketing tools help with research, writing, SEO, scheduling, and collaboration. For a list, see our article on the best content marketing tools.

Choose tools that help you:

  • Organize and manage your content
  • Schedule and publish social media posts
  • Create content and editorial calendars
  • Manage and track search engine results

Content inventory grows quickly, and making use of tools helps you organize and execute your plan quicker and more efficiently.

For example, Buzzsumo’s app saves hours of time when you want to know what’s trending on social media in your industry. 

Buzzsumo screenshot

In the image, you can see that a search on “party planning tips” reveals what type of party planning tips and content get the most engagement.

Step 5: Decide How To Promote Your Content

Your documented strategy will include an overall picture of how you’ll promote your content. Some of these decisions will be left to content and campaign planning, but you do want to build a blueprint for how your content will be promoted.

There are a number of ways to promote your content, including:

  • Paid advertising
  • Repurposing content
  • Updating content
  • Social media platforms - which ones will you use?
  • Email marketing

Your documented strategy should include an overall picture of how you’ll promote the different types of content that you publish.

Document Your Strategy

Taking the time to make decisions and write them into a cohesive strategy takes extra time and resources, but will greatly improve your chances of success.

A solid content marketing strategy defines your:

  • Goals
  • Audience
  • Content parameters
  • Tools
  • Promotional overview

By creating a documented content strategy, you alleviate much of the decision-making process for content planners and creators. You also help align your team’s efforts in a way that allows them to focus on shared goals and purpose.

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