So, you’ve heard all the buzz around content marketing and now you’re hearing you need a content marketing strategy. Well, the buzz is true and, to create quality, performing content, you do need a content marketing strategy. Don’t just open a spreadsheet and stare at it blankly — we’ve got you. We’re here to show you how to create a content marketing strategy, and a good one at that.
But first, let’s talk about content marketing. What’s a content marketing strategy? How is a content marketing campaign different? Let’s lay down some basic terms first.
Content marketing is creating content with the goal of providing free value to your customers. The content might come in the form of a blog, podcast, email, video, landing page, or maybe even a LinkedIn post. Whatever the content is, it’s then marketed. It might be shared on your socials, sent out in your newsletter, or just emailed directly to them. Content marketing is all about offering something of value to your customers for free, in the hopes of earning trust and credibility from there. You can market yourself in the content too — but it’s not the point. Head here to learn more about content marketing.
A content marketing strategy is basically an outline of your content marketing campaign. It’s all of your content marketing efforts laid out in one document, with timeframes and all the information you could need. Your content marketing strategy is basically a plan for how you’ll create your content, market your content, and use your content to market your business. You’ll lay everything out month by month:
A content marketing campaign is a bit different to the strategy. A content marketing campaign is developed and spun directly from your content marketing strategy. A content marketing campaign is a collection of content that works together to achieve a certain goal. So, maybe you’re launching a new product. You might write a blog post on all the different ways you can use the product. You might create a video, showing how it’s used. Maybe you could record a podcast about the issues in your industry that inspired the product. Then, you’d run an email marketing campaign and create a landing page to support the emails. All of those efforts combined to support the one goal of marketing your brand new product? That’s a content marketing campaign.
Just writing a blog? That’s just creating content. Just posting a photo on Instagram isn’t a campaign either. A content marketing campaign is the combination of all these different kinds of content working together to achieve a goal.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to use every single different kind of content piece to create a banging content marketing campaign. You might just need a landing page, a few blog posts, and an email marketing campaign. Maybe a video, a podcast, and a couple of blogs. It really depends on the goal of your campaign, what you’re trying to achieve, and who you’re trying to reach.
Before you map out all of the content you’re going to create, you need to know which channels you should be showing up on. Blog writing is amazing for SEO, podcasts are great for voice search, IGTV content is amazing for engagement, templates and eBooks are great for generating email lists. Where you should show up all depends on your goals. Plus who you’re targeting.
Who are you creating content for? Video content and showing up on Instagram is great if you’re targeting a younger population but podcasts and LinkedIn are where you’ll find business owners and busy professionals. You should be working out who your target audience is and creating buyer personas for them. Work out who they are, what content they want, where they find their content, and what content encourages or motivates them to buy. We have a good resource for creating target personas.
The specific goal for your content should change month to month, or from piece to piece (of content that is). But, you should have a few overall goals in your back pocket. Is it SEO? Is it connecting with your customers? Is it building a huge following? Work it out now.
You can find a bunch of these templates online, or you can make your own. The core, essential things you need organised by each month in your content marketing strategy are:
It doesn’t make any sense to match your goals to the content you’ve already mapped out. Go through the months listed in your content marketing strategy and consider where you might want to be each month, what you want to achieve, and what KPIs might support that goal. So, your goal might be to rank higher for a certain term. You might target that goal by creating your own blog content around that term and creating a guest post on a different website. Your KPI might be seeing your website’s Domain Authority rise a few points, or seeing your organic ranking for that term rise.
Maybe you’re really keen to see your socials get more engagement and you want to become an authoritative brand in your industry. Your goal might be to create a highly shareable and engaging piece of content. Your KPI for that could be getting your post shared 100 times or receiving 300 comments. It’s good to have goals and KPIs to keep you on track with your content and benchmark your results.
It’s also a good idea to have some kind of theme for each month. This is kind of because you don’t want to jump back and forth between all these different ideas in the same month. It’s more so because, you don’t need to create fresh and unique content for each different channel you’re using.
You might write a blog about something specific, then post that blog on Facebook and LinkedIn with the best quote or snippet for those platforms. You might create a video too, that should be embedded in your blog content. All of your content should work together to create a really strong month’s worth of content around one topic or theme.
If you’re writing blog content, make sure you have a decent blog on your website that’s ready to go. Make sure you have templates created for your blog images. If you’re creating video content, do you have a camera? Do you have good editing software? Make sure you have everything you need, ready to go. This way, you don’t get into the first month of your strategy and call it quits.
Try and be creative here. Think of new ideas or perspectives your customers might not have heard before. In an ideal world, you want to offer your audience something new and packed with value. But, especially when you’re new to creating content, coming up with ideas is tricky. You can use tools like Ahrefs’ ‘Content Explorer’ or you can ask your audience what they want to know directly. However you come up with the ideas, now is the time to start filling in those content spots in your calendar.
Even professional content creators have trouble critiquing their own strategies. Go through your content marketing strategy with a colleague who isn’t attached to the plan you’ve created. They have a fresh pair of eyes. So, they can spot weird jumps in content or glaring gaps that you probably missed.
There’s a lot of content you can plan. How-tos, case studies, infographics — a lot of these will still be relevant in six months and that’s great news for business owners and content creators alike. Buuut, you should be prepared to jump on and create something off the cuff if it’s needed. Big industry news or a brand new trend that’s just smacked your industry in the face — don’t ignore it and schedule a blog post for six months from now. Jump on and get something up as soon as you can.