Content marketing is becoming an increasingly significant element of online marketing strategies. We’re all familiar with the saying “content is king.” But now, where we post and share our content is secondary only to the quality of the content we create.
Though it may seem like a straightforward concept (create great content and share it), content marketing isn’t all that simple.
For a content marketing campaign to be successful, a well-developed strategy is necessary — taking industry, content type, distribution channels and more into consideration. If you create web pages, blog posts, videos or other types of content online, you are considered a publisher. So, it’s time to think like a publisher when it comes to developing your content marketing strategy.
Take Stock Of Where You Are
Before you dive into developing a strategy, take an inventory of your existing content. You make be able to repurpose or reuse some old content for a new content marketing initiative. Perhaps an old blog post can be updated to be timely and relevant again, or a video can be edited to include new information.
If the core idea of an old piece of content can work for a new piece, you will be ahead of the game. With an inventory of your content assets complete, it’s time to start setting goals for upcoming content marketing projects.
One of the most important parts of any online marketing campaign is to have a goal in mind before strategy development. If you aren’t sure what you want to accomplish, how are you going to strategize the best way to succeed? You need to define what success looks like for your content marketing campaign. Ask yourself: “Why am I creating this content? And what do I want this content to do for my website and business?
Maybe the goal is to drive traffic to your website, or maybe the goal is to get people to sign up for your newsletter. Other goals might include customer retention, lead generation, thought leadership or higher conversion rates.
Goals can change or vary by each content piece you produce. The important thing is that each content piece you create for content marketing purposes ties back to achieving a business goal. Developing a content marketing strategy takes significant time and effort. Be sure that all the time you spend creating compelling content yields positive results for your business. By modeling your content creation around your main business objectives, your content development process will be more productive, which maximizes return on investment.
Once you know what it is you want to achieve with your content, it will be easier to decipher what metrics to measure success against. It’s best to establish benchmarks before a content marketing piece goes live to truly measure the impact of that content.
With any strategy development comes research, and lots of it. When building a content strategy, there is a great deal to consider, including:
- Audience – think demographics, psychographics and behaviors
- Online market – what websites does your audience spend time on?
- Keyword research – what keywords should you be associating with your content for maximum search engine optimization (SEO) value?
- Social listening – what are people sharing? what questions are people asking? where are content gaps?
After researching the above areas, you should be on your way to conceptualizing your content.
Though creating an editorial plan and calendar are steps that are often overlooked, these are key elements to a content marketing strategy. First, consider the tone and voice of your brand and find a way to apply it to your content.
You want to be sure your tone speaks directly to your target audience, without lacking personality. It’s important that your company’s voice shines through in content pieces across a variety of channels, as not to confuse your audience. Being consistent with messaging in cross-channel marketing efforts is necessary for brands who want to keep their audience loyal.
Don’t skip out on creating an editorial calendar. Most businesses do not use an editorial calendar for content marketing campaigns, and it costs them. Being organized will save you time in the long run and will also reduce the risk of forgetting a step in your content marketing plan.
An editorial calendar is a great place to emphasize industry events, holidays, marketing themes and other marketing initiatives that are happening. This way, you can plan your content marketing campaign around everything else that is going on with your business.
Consider including the following elements in your editorial and content plan:
- Dates – as this is an editorial calendar, organize by date
- Themes – if your website has a monthly theme or a holiday theme used in marketing
- Events – highlight industry events to coordinate content marketing initiatives
- Content piece - be as descriptive as possible, as some content pieces may be “repurposed” versions of older content
- Distribution channel(s) – where is the content going
- Content owner – who owns this content and who is responsible for distribution
- Meta data – to save time, you might include the meta data so it is easily accessible for distribution
Your editorial calendar may need to be adjusted as you put it to practical use, but the basics should be the same. This calendar is useful for a number of reasons. An editorial calendar showcases the big picture, but also details of each marketing initiative. Being able to see a number of different projects, events and business happenings highlighted at a high-level is useful for many different business teams.
The creation part is where the magic happens. The opportunities are endless when it comes to content creation, between blog posts, infographics, videos, slideshows, photo albums, podcasts and more. As a part of your strategy and planning, you will need to determine who will be creating your content. This might be internal staff or partners, or it might even be outsourced to content development agencies.
Think about drafting a creative brief for your content creator. This way messaging, concepts and ideas won’t get lost during the creation process. Provide your content creator with all the research you have to ensure he/she sees the whole picture and can work to get the message across efficiently.
Content Distribution and Promotion
Distributing your content is one of the most important steps in a content marketing strategy. After all, it is what content marketing is all about. There are plenty of places to distribute content, depending on the content medium. Each distribution channel should be noted on your editorial calendar.
Promotion is what drives traffic and links back to your original content. Be sure to include traditional PR and blogger outreach efforts as part of your plan, as they can be very important in giving your content the exposure it deserves. At a very minimum, share a link to your content on each social media channel your brand is active on. Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn are probably all on your promotion list, but don’t forget about niche social media sites, too.
Remember those goals we discussed in the beginning of this article? Remember those benchmarks you were supposed to establish? After your content marketing campaign has been deployed, it’s time to start measuring. Of course, results measurement is a continuous process, but can be started right away.
Measure your results against the benchmarks recorded for your established goals, but also look at trends and other metrics. You may be surprised to see the positive affects a quality content piece that’s well distributed and promoted can have on your website and online presence.
Content marketing can be extremely beneficial for your business if it is done correctly, and if you consider the above points when developing your strategy.
Please feel free to add your own tips and suggestions in the comments below.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.