The goal of content marketing is to attract and engage an audience by developing and publishing relevant content, such as articles, photos, and podcasts. However, creating and distributing content is only one part of the formula.
Content marketing strategy drives what you publish and what channels you use to distribute it. Through strategic planning and content mapping, you can define what types of content to create, what channels to use to distribute it, and what goals you want to achieve.
When you know what matters most to your business, you’ll be able to match what you publish to what your consumers want. You can also utilize this in important decision-making processes. Every business, however, is unique; depending on the industry, size, and target audience, various priorities may exist. As a result, what works for one firm may not work for another.
What are the components of content marketing?
There are six critical elements to a successful content marketing strategy. If you’re creating your company’s first content marketing plan or revamping an outdated one, here’s what you’ll need to get started.
Brand guidelines serve as a content style guide. This establishes and maintains your brand’s voice, use of imagery, preferred fonts, and colors. By maintaining this consistent tone in all your content, you communicate who you are as a company.
Taking courses, especially courses with a digital marketing concentration, can sharpen your skills and help you develop an effective and engaging content marketing plan.
Target audience analysis
Before you can meet your audience’s needs and publish the right content, you first need to know who your audience is. A target market analysis is a study of your potential customers or clients. Knowing how to do a target audience analysis will enable you to figure out exactly who to market and sell to.
Many companies utilize demographics as a starting point for better understanding and reaching consumers. Marketers analyze demographics such as:
- Location and region
- Social media behavior
- Online habits
By knowing who your customers are, what they like, and how to communicate with them, your brand can reach people effectively.
Marketing goals and objectives state what your business intends to accomplish. Though goals vary from business to business, typical examples of marketing goals are:
- Increasing social media engagement by X% over the next six months on Facebook.
- Driving website traffic.
- Ranking well in Google search results (also known as search engine optimization).
Depending on your business needs, you’ll want to set different goals for your content marketing strategy that align with measurable results.
Content production process
Not only should you know what your content production process looks like, but you should also be able to map it out. This includes identifying individual responsibilities such as:
- Creating content
- Managing the editorial calendar
- Scheduling and publishing blog posts
- Scheduling and publishing social media posts and updates
- Identifying and creating images
Managing the production process will help improve your company’s efficiency. While it may take time to create engaging content that informs your audience, you’ll be able to use the same plan again for subsequent posts or social media messages.
Having a straightforward method for content production can also help you prevent mistakes. It will keep your team on track.
An editorial calendar, or content calendar, is a tool that outlines the company’s publishing plan. This includes deadlines for writing and distribution dates.
Content calendars offer businesses transparency and help them understand what’s coming next. The plan helps each member of the team stay organized and on task. It also allows for collaboration across departments, as different people may be.
Data collection and analysis
Analyzing data and how people interact with your content lets marketers understand user interests, pain points, preferences, and nomenclature.
Using this information, brands can create content that answers customer questions, reflects what interests them, connects with their needs, and speaks to them on a personal level. They can monitor what types of content are successful (and which ones aren’t) by tracking performance metrics like page views, social media engagement, time spent on site, and sales.
Each business will have different key performance indicators (KPIs). Typical KPIs include:
- Profit margin
- Revenue growth
- Conversion rates
- Client retention rate
- Customer satisfaction and loyalty
- Brand awareness and exposure
Once you know what success looks like, you’ll be able to measure your goals and determine if your content marketing is working for your company.
How to craft an effective content marketing strategy
An effective content marketing strategy should provide clear direction to employees and partners across the company. This includes knowing what type of content you need, how it will be distributed when it goes live, and who is responsible for creating it. You should also have a thorough understanding of your objectives, how you will measure your success, and what metrics you’ll be using to evaluate progress.
There are several steps to take to create an effective content marketing strategy for your company.
Define your goals
The first step in creating an effective content marketing strategy is understanding your goals. Your strategy must be driven by why it’s valuable to the customer, not just what you want to accomplish for your company. Your content should drive tangible results for your brand while fulfilling a need of your audience.
When identifying your goals:
- Identify what problems you can solve.
- Determine what pain points you can alleviate for your customers.
- Identify what content your audience is searching for online and how to provide that content.
- Identify what information your audience wants (or needs) that is currently hard to find, like product comparisons or returns policies.
- Identify what questions your audience asks that you can answer with content.
Depending on the scope of your goals, various factors will play a role in determining what you need to do to achieve them, such as:
- Size of your company.
- Your business type.
- Your projected revenue and target audience.
Whatever your business is, you should have a content marketing strategy in place that can help you achieve your goals.
Research your audience
To understand your audience, carry out your research into what’s currently being provided by other companies in a similar industry or niche. This will give you a better idea of the information that people find valuable and what type of content they’re searching for.
As you learn more about their needs, you can create content tailored to those specific problems and questions. The information that customers care the most about will likely be what helps them make informed decisions and understand how your products or services may benefit them.
As you begin to understand your buyer persona, you’ll see how different audiences respond to various kinds of marketing. This will help you decide how to promote your content and the end goal for that audience. For instance, millennials tend to respond well to concise messaging executed creatively. Whereas boomers may appreciate more basic information presented in an easy-to-follow format.
To help this process along, there are a variety of tools you should become proficient in:
- Google Analytics — To keep track of what people search for on your site. This will help you better understand their preferences and how to work that kind of content into your strategy.
- Ahrefs — To see which keywords are searched for most often. This will help you understand what people are interested in learning about when it comes to your products or services and will help you make content that answers specific questions directly.
- SEMrush — To find out what keywords your competition ranks for. This will help you learn which topics are trending and find a unique angle for your content marketing campaign.
With tools to help you carry out audience research, you can create an effective content marketing strategy for your business.
Perform a content audit
A content audit allows you to study the performance of your existing content to help guide future production. You can use this information to identify what’s working for your audience and what isn’t, so you’ll know how to improve.
You can use several metrics when evaluating your site’s content, such as:
- Frequency of visits
- Return visits
- Shares on social media platforms
With this data in hand, you’ll be better equipped to determine what kinds of content are working for your business. You can then use that information to create improved content marketing efforts moving forward.
How to create high-quality content
The demand for high-quality content is growing every day. Your audiences are becoming more discerning by the minute, so if you want to keep their attention, you need to generate content that’s both informative and entertaining.
This means adding visual elements by showcasing images, videos, animations, infographics, or downloadable interactive tools. Or you can use the written word to curate content that’s interesting, informative, or thought-provoking.
The best way to learn what works best is to experiment with different kinds of content and see which ones are most effective at engaging your audience. A good rule of thumb is to provide more information than they expect. Remember, the more value you provide, the more likely your audience is to share with their networks.
Keep searcher intent in mind
Your content marketing campaign can’t succeed if you don’t take your audience’s desires into account. The best way to do this, as mentioned earlier, is through inbound marketing, such as researching what keywords people are actively using.
When creating content for search engines, think about how you can phrase what you want to say so that the content is both relevant and appealing to the audience it serves. Searcher intent can include a wide variety of keyword possibilities, but it often has questions that your content can answer clearly and concisely.
Tips to consider:
- Make sure your content is relevant to your audience if you want to generate traffic.
- Keep the length of your posts in mind and provide as much information as you can without overwhelming your readers.
- Target specific keywords for increased results.
- Include visuals throughout your content.
- Start with a question and state how it will be answered, then provide that answer to keep searcher intent in mind and maximize engagement.
Once you’re in the mind of your target audience, you’ll quickly be able to see what types of content they’re actively searching for and which topics you need to cover to keep them interested. Once this is established, it will be simple to create a content strategy that keeps searchers coming back for more and generates high-quality leads and sales for your business.
Use proper formatting
Whether you’re writing a blog post or creating an article, it’s important to apply formatting that makes the content easier to skim and scan.
When you study what makes well-structured text so easily skimmable, you’ll soon realize that applying these standards is essential for keeping readers engaged for extended periods.
The easiest way to do this is by using:
- Headings and subheadings
- Short paragraphs
- Bulleted or numbered lists
- Internal links to related posts
- External links that reference objective data for further reading
- Font size and color changes for emphasis
- Bolded wording
- Highlighted text
Prioritizing a web and search engine marketing track in your studies can help you understand what formatting makes your content more skimmable and more accessible for search engine crawlers to follow.
There are many different ways that companies can study trends and research what audiences search for to create more appealing content. Surveys are one unique method companies use to analyze trends. These are great for getting a better overview of what audiences are searching for and what they’re interested in learning about.
Successful content marketing campaigns can be studied and analyzed so that you don’t have to take the time to reinvent the wheel when it comes to creating content that resonates with your target audience.
Offer a unique perspective
High competition and the general oversaturation of media make it difficult for businesses to compete these days. However, if you’re able to provide unique content that offers something other companies don’t, you’ll be able to build trust with your audience more easily and create engaging pieces of content at the same time.
One way to offer unique information is by conducting company research, such as internal studies or case studies, which you can publish on a blog or through whitepapers. This type of content may help build trust with potential customers and generate more leads and conversions.
Diversify your media use
To generate high-quality leads, businesses have to provide content beyond just text. You can achieve this by offering media, such as images or videos, throughout your site.
Many businesses utilize a variety of media for their social media marketing efforts. This might range from employees taking selfies while chatting with customers to providing behind-the-scenes footage of your business.
Consider becoming skilled in paid social media marketing tools such as Hootsuite to make sure you get the best return for your social marketing dollars. This will also help make it easier for you to create future posts that resonate with your audience members.
Consider integrating various media into your content strategy, such as:
Although it can be difficult for some companies to start using images or videos when they’re just starting, the sooner you get started, the more time you’ll have to experiment and find what works best for your industry.
Ultimately, your content marketing strategy should be based around providing your audience with engaging, unique content that’s easy to read and understand.
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