- Our Expertise
- Our Services
- Growth Strategies
- Chief Growth Officers
- Expert Sessions
Businesses today rely on the internet to build awareness and drive traffic. The best way to do both is to have a content marketing strategy.
The facts are in the stats.
Small businesses that own blogs get 126% more leads than those without. This is likely possible because 77% of internet users read blogs.
But that's not all they're doing -- 61% of American consumers make purchases online after reading recommendations (from blogs and videos).
So not only can content drive traffic, it can influence what your audience does afterward.
However, if you want to be a part of the crowd that's getting 7.8x more traffic, then you're going to have to become a leader in content marketing.
In other words, you need to excel in creating, managing, and innovating your content strategy.
Lucky for you, we have a guide.
Let's have a look.
There's no single definition for content strategy because it's made up of so many moving parts. But in a nutshell, content strategy is all about developing a plan of delivery for your brand's content.
The idea is to produce content that's goal-driven and user-focused at all stages of the campaign (and customer journey).
The marketing strategy acts as a guide for all future content creation, whether it be blog posts, articles, white papers, videos, or social media posts.
Diving into content marketing without a strategy is like jumping into the middle of an ocean without a GPS or lifeboat. You're going to swim for days on end without land in sight.
And eventually, you'll either drown (lose brand visibility) or get eaten by a predator (your competition).
With a strategy, you'll have a guide for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful (and usable) content. And in doing so, you'll consistently develop and execute campaigns designed for the right people, delivered at the right place, and consumed at the right time.
Miss any of these key components and you risk losing before you start.
So before you begin planning or creating content for your campaign, you need to strategize.
When you implement a content strategy, you can improve the success of your campaign. And it's done by focusing on:
It's essential to discuss these matters internally to ensure that everything's aligned before you execute your campaign.
There are several steps you must take to go from idea to concept to execution. Here's a break down of the steps.
The first step is conducting company research. You can't design content for a brand you know little about (even if it's your own). Sure, you know your product, its features, and who you want to sell to.
But what's your message, voice, and vision? What values does your company hold? These are all essential to identify because they're key to attracting and connecting with your core audience.
So you'll have to put together a style guide that covers your brand's:
Clarify these areas, and you'll find it easier to develop the message for your brand.
Already have content? Then this is a great time to do a content audit. See if it's helping to reach your objectives or requires an overhaul.
Now that you have a better idea of your company (and what it stands for), it's time to research your customer base. Having a general idea of your target audience isn't going to cut it.
You need to create detailed customer profiles. This should consist of your ideal customers':
In some cases, you may have to create more than one profile. For instance, you may have one for teens, moms, and business owners (depending on the groups you target).
When you're equipped with buyer personas, you can focus on content creation that's geared specifically for your audience. This, in turn, makes it easier to convert them.
Now, it's time to take a deep dive into your industry. Knowing who your competitors are, and more importantly, what they're doing, will allow you to better position your brand.
And by knowing your position, you can develop content that sets your business apart. If you can make your brand stand out, you can attract more traffic and prospective customers to your products and services.
Alright, so it's time to dig deeper into the strategy portion of this conversation. There is a long list of things you'll need to get started, so let's jump right in.
We already touched a little on customer profiles, but it's worth delving into more. Understanding your audience is vital to the success of your content strategy.
If you speak the wrong verbiage, touch on irrelevant pain points, or deliver your content on the wrong channels, then your content won't gain traction.
And any traffic your site does receive will quickly bounce away because the content and your product or service are irrelevant.
Side note: Some companies go as far as to create a 3D avatar for each customer. It can help make your customers feel real instead of just data on a sheet.
What makes your product or service the best option on the market? How will customers benefit from doing business with your brand?
These are the types of questions you must answer when coming up with your value proposition. After all, this is what drives the success of your content (and overall business) strategy.
How prospects perceive your brand will determine whether or not they buy from you. So make sure your proposition resonates with your audience.
What's the theme of your content campaign? And what will be the recurring topics you touch on in your strategy?
Don't worry -- these topics will likely evolve over time, so don't fret about "cornering" your campaign. The concept is to choose three to five supporting ideas for your content.
These should relate to one another in some way and connect with your offer (product or service). The purpose of cornerstone topics is to attract your core audience based on their most pressing concerns.
This will help to position your brand as an authority in your realm.
For example, in the real estate industry, you may want to talk about:
Each piece of content you create will fit within these cornerstones and will have support from a specific landing page.
Your content should contain a call to action (CTA) that directs readers (or watchers) to your landing page.
Sales funnel, paths to purchase, buyer's journey -- whatever you want to call it, it's important to research and understand this concept. This journey consists of several stages: awareness, evaluation, and decision (or purchase).
As you're writing content, you have to keep in mind the stage they're in and what their needs are.
It wouldn't make sense to create content for top-of-the-funnel prospects, that doesn't support their needs.
The only way to know for sure is to "walk" in their virtual shoes. Where do your prospective customers go to research their problems?
What type of content are they looking for? What questions are they asking?
You can use this intel to craft content that meets their needs, answers their questions, and is easy to find.
Once you know your cornerstone topics, you'll need to design it. There are different ways you can build these pieces.
For instance, you can turn an idea into a manifesto, email sequence, or ebook. Blog posts and social media are just two areas of content marketing.
Once you know the types of content you'll create for your cornerstone topics, include it in your strategy document.
Be sure the topics you create around those cornerstones are evergreen, so they're relevant for years.
Not all content is equal. There are some pieces designed for attracting attention. Then others are meant to inspire.
Each content type plays a specific role in making your strategy a success.
Here's a quick look at the four types of content roles:
A quality content strategy carefully outlines the roles of each piece of content. Understanding this can help ensure you create content for the correct audience and cornerstone themes.
The content should also support the buyer's journey:
Using a generic funnel strategy is one way to kill your content marketing campaign. Consumers today are intelligent shoppers, which means each undergoes a unique journey.
Based on the customer avatars you created, you can sketch out the funnels and sequences your customers take. With this, you can identify what types of content would best suit each group and on which platforms.
For example, you can have a series of blog posts, social media posts, ads, and landing pages geared towards a specific avatar and the funnel they go through.
Publishing a piece of content isn't the end. It's crucial to repurpose content, especially those that brought in a lot of traffic and attention (or has the potential to).
For instance, you can take a long-form blog post and turn it into a short video. And if there's plenty of data in there, you can even create an infographic to share on social media.
Your strategy should focus on developing multiple versions of a given topic to maximize reach and traffic.
Here's where your strategy begins to blend. The purpose of your content is to educate your audience and convert them into customers.
So it's vital to smoothly transition your audience from your content (information) to sales without it feeling awkward. One way to achieve this is to own the entire persuasion path.
This means creating all of your content assets, such as emails, articles, and sales pages. You want to design these strategically, so they're cohesive in their message and offer.
When a user finds your blog post informative, then signing up to your email will make sense. And from the email, you can share advice on improving a problem. Promoting a product/service that can help resolve that problem would make sense as well.
Then to end it off, you send the reader to a landing page that discusses the same problems and solutions relating to the blog content and email series.
Quick note: Don't make the mistake of relying on a single page or email to convert your audience.
You're not the only business in your industry. What will you do to stand out?
To prevent sounding like the next guy, you need to develop unique content. Look at the content your competitors are creating to see how you can make yours better.
What areas do they leave out? How can you make the areas they do touch on more in-depth? Research the content that's out there and find ways to 10x your piece, so it outperforms your competition.
If you're like most people, you probably think of "content" as the articles, blog posts and videos that fill your website and social media feeds. That's only part of it. If content is king, content strategy is the court jester who can tell you when to begin, when to end and when to know when to stop. Content strategy is the key to creating compelling content that meets your business needs.
The content strategy is a blueprint that outlines how, when and where you'll create your content.
The blueprint is a living, breathing document that will evolve as your business changes and grows. The key, though, is to follow it to the letter. Content created without a strategy is just stuff. It's just random blog posts and articles with no real purpose or longevity.
The first step in creating a content strategy is to figure out what type of content you should be creating. This can be difficult for startups because they often lack the resources to produce huge amounts of content right at the start. That's why it's important to have a strategy in place from the beginning. This is to ensure that as your company grows you have enough content to sustain it.
Putting strategy to content is the art of making content work for you. It's all about understanding how the content you create today will help your company achieve its goals tomorrow. It's what enables you to take a collection of great ideas and turn them into something that achieves real business results.
The process of creating a content strategy is fairly straightforward, but it does take time and effort, particularly if you're trying to do it yourself. That's why many companies look for an outside consultant to handle the job, either by working with someone they already know or by hiring a dedicated firm for the project.
And it doesn't have to be done in one fell swoop, either. You can start out with a small, manageable project and build from there as you gain experience and confidence.
A content strategy is a blueprint for what you'll be creating and how you'll be distributing it. It is the basis for all of your editorial decisions — what to cover, who to cover it with and how to share it. Laying out a content strategy is an important step in defining your editorial calendar and how you'll apply resources to meet your goals. Some aspects of a content strategy can be adjusted as you go. But it's good to start from a strong foundation that you can build on.
So take the time to:
There's a lot of planning and creating to do for a content strategy. But who's in charge of it all? It depends on who you ask.
Most will list various departments within an organization. For instance, the SEO team, Public Relations (PR), or corporate communications department.
When you take a step back, you'll see that all of these answers are true. Many hands share in the development of a content strategy. And that's because there are a lot of moving parts to worry about.
You have to have a plan for ranking your content on search engines to drive traffic. Then you also need a PR plan to gain media attention to get eyes on your business faster. Then corporate communications is necessary to write the copy for your content.
Everyone must work together by sharing ideas for development and execution in a way that benefits the brand's mission. If these departments aren't aligned, then it'll ruin the vision of the brand.
Messages will be all over the place, and the tone and voice may not sync across channels. Not a good look for your brand building. If consumers see this, then trust will go right out the window.
At the end of the day, your content strategy will need to combine the strategies used for search, social, and PR.
Creating and managing a content strategy is a lot of work. It requires significant organization and understanding of your brand, audience, and competitors.
But is it worth all of this work? From the stats we listed earlier -- yes. Let's do a recap of the benefits of executing a well-thought-out content strategy.
Since the focus of your content is on building evergreen content, you won't have to worry about your pieces going out of style. That's a heck of a deal when you consider the price you pay for the execution of your content plan.
You pay once for the content, and it continues working for your business for many, many years.
There aren't many marketing investments you can make that can yield the same results.
SEO is a significant part of content strategy and for a good reason -- it helps to boost your ranking in search engines. This means more incoming traffic from relevant audiences (if you're targeting the right phrases).
Content encompasses different areas of the web -- email, blog, video, 3rd party sites, and social media. With a strategy, you can ensure everything fits together like a puzzle.
Also, your content strategy can support your offline initiatives. The more places your audience sees you, the higher the chance they'll eventually check you out.
TV commercials and radio ads reached a broad audience. But you can't stop the wrong people from viewing your adverts.
So although you're reaching millions, only thousands are going to turn into customers. That's a waste of money on a method that's inefficient.
Content marketing uses a tailored strategy that hones in on specific audiences. Your keywords, topics, and channels will help to weed out those who aren't interested (or don't need) your product or service.
In turn, you get more traffic from qualified leads.
Taking it back to the radio and TV ads -- the focus of the content is on top of the funnel audiences. There's no way to offer tips and answers in a 30-second ad.
But that's what folks are looking for once they gain awareness of their problem (and a possible solution). With content strategy, you can create a plan for customers at all stages of the buyer's journey.
Your content strategy may consist of blog posts, ebooks, guides, video tutorials, testimonials, case studies, white papers, press releases, infographics, and seminars.
Your audience will determine the types of pieces you create, since it depends on how they like to consume content.
The beauty of digital content is that it fosters relationships with your audience. You're addressing their needs in a convenient and useful way, which builds trust.
As they continue consuming your content and learning more, they'll see you as a credible authority.
Consumers hate being advertised to, so it makes sense to deliver content that's informative and engaging. Strike up conversations wherever possible (social media, blog comments, etc.).
Content marketing can and should be a two-way conversation.
One thing the internet is excellent for is establishing your brand as an industry leader. It's where you can find a plethora of talking heads who share opinions, timely news analyses, and advice.
Not only does this help build trust with consumers, but it'll also help establish relationships with media.
This can land you more interviews and mentions from media outlets with large followings.
It's not enough to have just a blog. You need to be everywhere your audience is. This includes their email inbox, social media platforms, YouTube, and so on.
The more places you are, the harder it'll be for consumers to ignore you. Your online presence should consist of regularly updating your website, blog, and social media accounts.
Also, ensure you're active on all platforms, so your brand doesn't feel static.
There's a lot of competition on the web, especially if you're targeting a national or global market. Thankfully, a content strategy can help differentiate your brand.
And this is much-needed if you're in a saturated industry. One way you can stand apart is to niche down, so your content is narrower. This will position you as an expert in that area vs. being a generalist like others in your market.
Now, what if you don't know how to stand out? Then we recommend researching your competition to see their position. Are they niching down? If so, is there another niche you can focus on?
If not, how can you improve your position in the same niche, so you're a better option in the eyes of your audience?
As time goes on, you may find you want to ramp up production for your content strategy. This is easy and quick to pull off, especially if you already have a team in place.
Then if you enter a rough patch (or golden period), you may need to scale back a bit.
Content marketing is quite forgiving -- the content you own will continue to perform for you. You may find that blog posts you wrote months ago are now getting more traffic than ever.
And you can repurpose what you already have so you have fresh content to share. It makes it easier to manage a monthly content calendar.
There may come a time when you want to bring aboard top talent for your content strategy. This may be writers, designers, marketers, and strategists.
Well, as it turns out, these individuals like working with brands that already have a content strategy in place. And if you've already reached industry leader status, then even better.
By hiring quality talent, you can amplify your content and results.
It's time to create a documented content strategy -- where do you begin?
Here's a list of steps you can take:
There are many ways you can create a content strategy. But not all strategies perform well.
So what are the elements of a content strategy?
Ideally, you want to ensure your content strategy has:
You've done all the work in planning and executing your content strategy. How do you go about managing it?
At this point, you want to keep track of the creation and performance of all content. So here's what you can do to make the management process seamless.
There are various tools out there you can use to automate various aspects of your content marketing plan. For instance, you can use platforms like Hubspot to schedule blog posts, MailChimp to schedule emails, and HootSuite to pre-schedule social media posts.
This will help lighten the load and ensure your editorial calendar runs smoothly.
We live in the age of big data, so collecting intelligence about your campaign is recommended. Not only will this teach you more about your audience, but it'll assist with content improvement efforts.
The idea is to choose tools that make it simple and fast to gather these details. The platform should deliver user-friendly formats, such as a dashboard and detailed generated reports (on desktop and mobile devices).
You'll find it easier to create, execute, and improve your content calendar.
Your content management strategy is what will ensure your campaign consists of accurate, consistent, and complete content. There needs to be a dedicated team that edits and tweaks content according to demand.
This may include split-testing different titles to see which attract more traffic.
The purpose of QC is to make improvements to content based on the data collected.
Learning how to create a content strategy is a continuous effort. The needs of consumers are always changing, and with it, your content.
Not to mention, search engines are always innovating the way content marketers implement SEO. So keeping your eyes open and ears to the ground is critical to the success of your content marketing strategy.
But even with all the benefits content marketing offers, only 44% of B2B content marketers have a documented content strategy.
Don't be one of these guys (or gals).
If you want to take control of your traffic, visibility, and authority, then you need a plan for your content. When you compare content marketing with traditional marketing, you'll find it costs 62% less and generates 3x the leads.
How can you beat that?
Hopefully, these tips will help point you in the right direction.
If you need help along the way, you can always reach out to the experts at gardenpatch. Contact us today to get started with a free content strategy consultation!
These Stories on Content Strategy
Let us know what you think