11 Steps to Building an Effective Content Marketing Strategy

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A great content marketing strategy can help any business expand their audience and grow their brand identity. Shockingly, however, many companies are winging their content strategy and hoping for the best.

So, if you fall into the category of not having a clearly structured content marketing strategy, then you’ve come to the right place! Within this article, we’ll walk you through 11 easy-to-follow steps to help you build – and sustain – a successful strategy!

1. Set a Goal

A good starting point in your new marketing efforts is to set long- and short-term goals.

Let’s say you’ve recently launched a new YouTube channel.

Your short-term goal could be to receive 10–15 subscriptions per week, instead of focusing on 100 per month. Eventually, those 10 subscribers will amount to a larger figure, anyway, so it’s better to focus on short-term achievements.

Using the same example, your long-term goal could be to drive traffic from your YouTube channel back to your website and convert these subscribers to loyal customers.

Therefore, having a clear goal in mind will help you narrow down your goal and strategise more effectively.

2. Audit Your Existing Content

It’s likely that you already have an array of valuable content. So, before you start building a new content marketing strategy, you should review and audit your existing content by using different analytical tools to determine what’s worked and what hasn’t.

To check website content, you can use a reliable tool like Google Analytics, Moz, Ahrefs or SEMrush to identify popular keywords that you’re ranking for, backlinks and page views.

In terms of social media, you can use each platform’s insights to review your content and take note of high-performing posts.

3. Determine Your Target Audience

Depending on the goal that you set in Step One, you’ll need to determine the audience that you’re planning to target.

To help you reach the correct audience, use analytical tools to identify your viewers’ age, gender, location, income and interests.

That said, your user profile may differ slightly to your website’s target audience if you’re building a specific campaign.

So, let’s say that you want to boost a newly launched product. You’ll first need to identify who your target audience is before you start planning the content and channels that you will use to promote your products or services.

4. Carry Out Competitor Research

Competitor research is a vital step that many marketers often overlook.

By conducting effective competitor research, you can identify what type of content your competitors are producing, see what’s working for them and get some inspiration on what you can do to improve what they’re already producing. Not only that, but it will also prevent you from making the same mistakes they’ve made.

For example, your competitor may be sharing links to their articles on Facebook that receive little engagement – this will indicate that this content strategy doesn’t really work, so you can avoid wasting time doing the same and instead focus on creating alternative posts.

Conducting competitor research doesn’t only help you build a winning content strategy, but it also helps you confirm that you’ve aligned it with the correct audience. According to marketing guru Neil Patel, ‘many people don’t successfully identify their target market. Competitor analysis is a key step in the audit process’.

5. Identify Keywords You’re Not Ranking For

You’ll most likely be using analytical tools like Moz and Ahrefs to track keywords that you’re ranking for, but are you using them to discover what you’re not ranking for?

If not, it’s time to discover where you have a gap in your content strategy and how you can fix it.

To do so, log into your Ahrefs account and go to ‘Organic search’ and click on ‘Content gap’. Then insert the domains of your main competitors in the ‘Show keywords that the below rank for’ area, and your own domain in the ‘But the following target does not rank for’ area. Click on ‘Show keywords’ and just like that, you can find a list of keywords that you need to incorporate into your content strategy to reach a wider audience!

5. Target Channels that Work for Your Brand

Depending on your industry, it’s unlikely that all channels will work for your content strategy, and it would be much harder to keep a unique presence across all outlets.

Therefore, when creating an effective content marketing strategy, you’ll need to target channels that work for your brand.

To identify these channels, analyse your current marketing efforts and combine your results with those that you discovered from your competitor analysis. Also, conduct market research to find out what platforms your target audience are using.

For example, if you’re targeting millennials, you’ll usually find them on social channels like Instagram and Facebook.

6. Create a Content Plan

Now you’ve conducted all your research and analysis, you need to start building a structured content plan.

You can use tools like BuzzSumo and Google’s Keyword Planner to help you map out the type of posts that you want to create and share. You can also conduct a simple Google search to see what other brands have created around your topic and how you can improve it and put your own twist on it.

That said, it’s important to follow a few rules when creating a content plan:

Use Visuals

The Content Marketing Institute reported in their B2C Content Marketing 2019 report (PDF) that 69% of B2C marketers surveyed increased their use of audio/visual content compared to the previous year, and it’s not hard to see why!

Visuals are an important part of any marketing strategy as users are demanding more interactive content rather than simple words. So, it’s essential that you use your data and information to create captivating infographics, illustrated posts and engaging video content.

Create SEO-Friendly Content

You probably know this already, but in order to rank highly in Google, you’ll need to create SEO-friendly content that incorporates popular keywords.

Make Use of User-Generated Content

If you want to engage with your audience while building your brand identity, there’s no better way than using user-generated content.

A brand that nails this trend is Calvin Klein, which bases entire campaigns on user-generated content, persuading customers to post pictures of their garments using the #MyCalvins hashtag.

That said, there are plenty of ways to generate this type of content; you can run contests and provide giveaways to get some traction.

Designate Roles

It’s unlikely that one person alone will be able to oversee, create and roll out your entire content strategy.

S, when creating your new marketing plan, you’ll need to delegate tasks.

Ensure that you tap in on the strengths of your team, and have one person create the content, another to edit and another to roll out PR advertising.

7. Advertise

To reach a wider audience, advertising should also be a key component of your content marketing plan. While it’s important to focus on organic traffic, paid promotion can help you boost your brand and build a stronger presence.

To advertise correctly, follow the below tips:

Set a Budget

Setting a budget for the most relevant channels is essential.

You’ll want to see the return on your investment and tweak any paid promotion that isn’t working for you.

For example, if you’re looking at social media, it’s hard for an organic post to reach a wide audience with Facebook’s new algorithm. Therefore, by investing a small budget in Facebook Ads, you can boost your posts to attract the right users.

Engage in Omnichannel Marketing

Omnichannel communication is essential when developing a great content marketing strategy, and it’s one of the best ways to help keep your brand at the forefront of your users minds.

That said, be sure to add a variation of posts across multiple channels to ensure that your audience gets a clear picture of who you are.

Use Native Ads

Native ads are a great way to boost your brand – they’re ads that are displayed on either your website or another site that offers similar content to your ad.

According to a 2015 study reported by the Native Advertising Institute, ‘when compared to traditional advertising, native advertising was found to be more informative (32% compared to 16%), more interesting (27% versus 19%), more useful (21% versus 13%) and more helpful (15% compared to 10%)’.

8. Organise Your Workflow

It’s essential to use a calendar to organise and streamline your workflow.

By doing so, you’ll know exactly when to publish content on the platform that you want to use, and you also won’t duplicate any content.

There are many apps and tools out there that can help you get organised – you just need to find the ones that help you and your team work collaboratively and effectively.

9. Repurpose Your Content

Once you’ve published a blog post, you can use that content to create other types of formats that your users may enjoy.

For example, you could use the statistics from your article to create an infographic or use key points to produce a digestible video or picture post.

Whatever method you decide to follow, just remember that you can use the research and topic to expand your content creation and reach new users that may prefer different content types rather than the traditional blog format.

10. Analyse Your Results

Without proper and in-depth analysis, you won’t be able to determine what is working and what needs to be changed within your content strategy.

For this reason, it’s important to conduct monthly and quarterly analysis to review your content performance and see what is connecting with your audience. Within this analysis, you should review user behaviour, engagement, SEO results and lead conversion rates.

11. Develop and Adjust Your Content Marketing Plan

Once you’ve carried out your analysis, you can use your results to develop and adjust your content marketing plan.

This step is vital!

No matter who you are or what industry you’re in, it’s essential to follow the latest digital marketing trends and adapt your strategy around them. If you fail to do so, you’ll be missing out on attracting new users.

So, now that you’re aware of how to create a winning marketing strategy, there’s nothing stopping you from setting and reaching new goals!

Just remember that whatever you do, you should always have your user in mind.

What content marketing strategy do you follow? Let us know in the comments section below!