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The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing Strategy

Alekh Verma | February 24, 2023
content marketing-1

Content marketing is one of the best ways to skyrocket the growth of your business.

And, the best part, it is no rocket science.

To succeed and get your job done with content marketing, all you need to do is leveraging valuable content that is relevant.

This approach will help you better your online reputation, create a community of knowledge seekers and sharers, and get a scope to advocate for your brand.

But is it that simple? What do you think?

Well, no need to scratch your head anymore.

Let us tell you, content marketing is not just a simple formula of creating and sharing content. Instead, it is a comprehensive strategy-based approach that focuses on attracting and engaging with a particular set of audience through content mapping.

Obviously, the final goal is to generate customer action that is profitable.

And, to help you with the same, here we have shared an all-encompassing guide that can have your way to the best content marketing strategy to skyrocket the ROI of your business.

The Four Pillars of a Successful Content Marketing Strategy

A successful and effective content marketing strategy is based on four pillars. These four pillars are, brand positioning, value proposition, business case, and last but not least, strategic plan.

Now, let’s move ahead and find out the reason behind these pillars being so essential and the ways of implementing them in your content marketing strategy.

1. Brand Positioning

When you have your brand as well as your product positioned clearly and properly, it will pave the way to providing an experience to your audience which is consistent. Not just that having a clear brand positioning helps building the right brand image via your content marketing endeavors.

2. Value Proposition

Establishing your brand as an authoritative source, you need to produce content that is credible.

Here, you need to find answers to these simple questions.

  • What unique value does your audience get from your content?
  • How are you different from other content creators of your niche?
  • Why should people prefer your content over your competitors’?

To get to these answers with you need to start with performing research about the type of audience your content caters to and understand what information do they seek and what resources do they prefer?

Once you get to know the above, start analysing the content strategies of your competitors to understand what your editorial niche is.

3. Business Case

Providing value to your audience is an integral part of a successful content strategy. But in addition to attracting new readers and followers, Content Marketing should drive your business forward.

Identify business goals that your company needs to achieve and figure out how Content Marketing will bring your business closer to those goals. How many resources do you need to invest in your content strategy and what results do you want to get from this?

4. Strategic Plan

A strategic plan should focus on your goals and how exactly you will achieve them. It will help you to think through each step of your content strategy. This plan should help you decide who you want to reach with your Content Marketing efforts, how you will deliver that content to them and, finally, how you will achieve and measure your targeted results.

Now let’s see how you can develop a perfect content strategy plan with some useful tips and tools that will help you to be more efficient.

Seven Steps to Creating a Complete Content Strategy Plan

Long-term planning allows you to focus on your company’s goals, anticipate challenges and allocate resources effectively. Laying out these seven steps will help you to develop and implement a complete content strategy plan step by step.

Step 1: Audit Your Existing Content

A content audit can help you to stand out in an era of mass content production. Considering there are approximately 1.6 billion websites and more than 70 million blog posts published each month, there is an unfathomable amount of information for your audience to click on. Creating content with no understanding of what works for your audience and your brand is a waste of time and resources.

Collect all your existing content and analyse data sets to understand the actual state of your content. What kind of content attracts your audience? What content brings you the best results? What do you need to improve?

Step 2: Establish your content marketing goals

To keep your goals clear, ensure that every content piece builds toward meeting those goals and organizes them in a hierarchical fashion. Start with goals related to your overall vision and mission before moving on to identifying long- and short-term goals your Content Marketing can help accomplish. Long-term strategic goals should take precedence over specific operational goals in your plan.

Don’t forget that your Content Marketing goals should contribute to the achievement of your business goals and be linked to the global marketing strategy of your company.

Goal-Setting Frameworks

While you may be more comfortable with traditional goal-setting frameworks like SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) goals, flexibility is key to setting realistic benchmarks. Consider using the framework CLEAR, which can help you to be more agile in a fast-changing environment.

Your CLEAR objectives are evaluated in terms of their main characteristics:

  • Collaborative: your goals encourage teamwork.
  • Limited: they are limited in scope and duration.
  • Emotional: they inspire and motivate your team.
  • Appreciable: they are broken down into smaller micro-objectives.
  • Refinable: they can be redefined according to circumstances and needs.

If you find KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to be too technical or limited in scope, you can set OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) to make your goals more flexible:

  • Set each goal as a challenge.
  • Define 3-4 key results by objective.
  • Measure your goals with a progress indicator of 0 to 100%.
  • Make your goals collaborative and transparent.
  • Assess goals according to new conditions.
  • Adjust a goal if it becomes irrelevant (even if you didn’t anticipate it).

With this approach, you can target an ambitious result, but set a minimum threshold for reaching the goal. Progress indicators (0%-100%) allow each team member to see how attainable each goal is, as well as understand what remains to be done.

In contrast to KPIs, which can be reset only for each new quarter, objectives in OKRs can be updated at any time if initial conditions change. With OKRs, you will not waste your time working on goals that are no longer relevant to you.

Step 3: Determine Your Audience

Finding your audience and drawing them in with your content pieces is the key to success in Content Marketing. To do this, you have to understand their lifestyle, concerns, problems, and needs.

Audience ≠ Buyers

Creating buyer personas is very important for Content Marketing, but your audience isn’t solely made up of buyers. Audiences include people who begin interacting with your brand long before they intend to make a purchase.

It is essential to deliver content that will attract your potential customers before they enter the buyer’s journey and draw them into the universe your brand has created. Then, follow up with content that illuminates how your brand can be of assistance when they are ready to take action.

The Empathy Map

The empathy map is a collaborative tool that can help you understand your target audience better. This method was described by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur in their book Business Model Generation.

The empathy map is based on a comprehensive approach: by adopting your customers’ perspective or point of view, you can step back and improve their experience based on what they think, feel, see or hear.

The “Jobs to Be Done” Framework

The “Jobs to Be Done” framework is an easy way to understand your customer’s needs and to find the reason they use your product. The idea is to place yourself in the prospect’s shoes and try to identify the jobs your customer is trying to get done (what your customer seeks to accomplish in a given circumstance).

Keep in mind that your prospects don’t need your product as such; they are looking to improve their personal or professional lives by solving their problems.

Once you have an understanding of the prospect’s current problem, the solution they need, and the result they envision, you can create compelling content that can transform them from newcomers into your brand advocates.

Step 4: Develop an Editorial Plan

Planning your content allows you to allocate your resources appropriately, and to see which workflows are taking longer than expected, and adjust your expectations accordingly.

Prioritize Your Actions

One of the essential elements of efficient planning is prioritization. If you plan your actions, you can identify the most critical tasks that you should do or things that you can easily test. By doing this, you can protect your strategy from major fails and find opportunities for experiments that can potentially boost your results.

Find Relevant Topics

To start, you will need to uncover the topics that attract your audience’s interest as they progress through the customer journey. The Topic Research tool gives you ideas for subjects you should cover, as well as related questions, possible subtopics, and headers. You might focus on creating evergreen content, building topic clusters, or leveraging newsjacking - it'll suggest ideas for either of those strategies.

Once you have determined the right topics to include and the appropriate format for the content pieces, you can place them on a content calendar to make it easier to track upcoming and missed deadlines.

Use an Editorial Calendar to Organize Your Work

You can add tasks, assign them to specific people, and set deadlines — all while collaborating with unlimited team members. This tool will help you cut down on the amount of back-and-forth email communication you receive about projects while keeping everyone involved via a notification system.

Step 5: Plan Content Production

Before starting the content creation process, think about the purpose of each piece you want to create. Make sure that your content covers every part of the customer journey to support your prospects at each stage, and, ultimately, develop a long-term relationship between your client and your brand.

  • Awareness Stage – These pieces are often centered around questions your leads may have at the top of the funnel as they become more aware of their problem or need; this can also be content that tells your brand story, educates, informs or entertains your audience.
  • Consideration Stage – As they progress through the consideration stage, prospects will want to know more. Help them understand why they need assistance in overcoming the issue in front of them; guide them through how others have solved similar problems in the past; and discuss what steps may be necessary to follow up.
  • Decision Stage – These pieces are designed to help potential leads determine why you are the best choice to help them. Case studies, client reviews, and specific analysis of the work you have done in the past can be helpful at this stage, as users compare you directly with other providers.
  • Retention Stage – Bring to the forefront the various ways to get the most out of your product or service, as well as ways to solve common issues, and new features. Anticipating the questions, they will ask and addressing them pre-emptively can also keep prospects from growing frustrated with your offerings.
  • Advocacy Stage – These are pieces that highlight the parts of your brand that will transform customers into evangelists; this might include pieces that spotlight your corporate values, efforts to give back, or outstanding team members.

Diversify Your Content

Include a diverse mix of content types in your plan to appeal to every member of your audience.

If you have limited resources for content creation, the next three tips can help you to be more productive.

Create SEO-Friendly Content

35% of all website traffic comes from organic search; this is why search engine optimization is essential for creating any piece of content. Once your content is created, you can use the SEMrush SEO Writing Assistant to ensure that articles are optimized for organic search.

Repurpose Your Content

Once a content piece is published, you can repurpose it to appeal to new readers who may prefer a different format. Easy ways to repurpose an existing content piece include:

  • Turn an article into an infographic, slideshow, or video.
  • Segment a long article or video into shorter pieces that you can publish as a series.
  • Combine short content pieces to create a white paper or a long-read article.
  • Create slide presentations.
  • Create usable snippets and informative images for social media.

Repurpose Your Content

Once a content piece is published, you can repurpose it to appeal to new readers who may prefer a different format.

Take Advantage of User-Generated Content

Include user-generated content in your narrative to help grow your reputation with your audience. Reviews, comments, photos, and videos help add legitimacy to your claims. Plus, gathering and sharing this content can be easy and save you plenty of resources.

Step 6: Plan Content Distribution

We have already mentioned that one of the core elements of Content Marketing is owned media development. Earned media and paid media, in their turn, represent essential elements of a content distribution strategy.

Create an Integrated Omnichannel Experience

Providing omnichannel communication to your audience is the best way to help keep your brand at the forefront of their minds. By aligning the brand messaging and goals across multiple channels, your audience will get a clear picture of who you are and what you can offer.

Identify the Most Relevant Channels

Resources should go to the channels where your audience already spends most of their time to give your content the best chance of being seen. Specific social media analytics and demographics can determine which channels to try to engage your clients or target audience, and which ones may be a waste of budget.

Using the research, you have already compiled, you can determine where your audience is most likely to see and consume your content.

There are also multiple content promotion formats you can get creative with: from influencer-driven thought leadership content, to sponsored content, lead-generating content ads, viral concepts, and more.

Automate Social Media Posting

Creating a seamless user experience on different social media channels can seem time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be. You can easily automate posting to multiple social media networks to save resources and ensure accuracy in timing.

Step 7: Analyse Your Content Performance

Analysing your content performance is the best way to understand what type of content is connecting with your audience, and then determine what pieces to generate next. Your audience will give you clear signals about what attracts their interest the most, making it easier for you to come up with new content that intrigues them.

Content metrics fall into four categories:

  • User behaviour: unique visitors, pages per session, bounce rate.
  • Engagement: likes, shares, comments, mentions.
  • SEO results: organic traffic, dwell time, backlinks.
  • Company revenue: number of leads, existing leads affected, conversion rate.

In Conclusion

While the methods used to deliver content to prospects are continually changing, the core principles remain the same — develop a top-notch Content Marketing strategy based on trustworthy data.

As you progress in your Content Marketing efforts, you will find many tools and blog posts on the Internet to make a data-driven approach to Content Marketing easier.

Alekh Verma

CEO and Founder at eSearch Logix Technologies!

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