Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and ultimately drive profitable customer action.
What Is Content Marketing?
- It’s not just about making “content” (blog posts, videos, infographics, etc.) that you hope people will read.
- It’s not something you can do once or twice and expect results. Content marketing is an ongoing strategy with well-defined goals.
- It’s not something you can do alone or without a plan. You need a team of people who understand how to write for the web (SEO) as well as experts in design/graphics, social media/community management, storytelling (copywriting), video production — plus IT infrastructure to publish your content online and get it in front of customers at the right time across multiple channels (social media + email).
You know it’s worth your time and attention. This guide will help you solidify your content marketing strategy.
Content marketing is a way to provide valuable content to your customers. It’s about giving people information that can help them understand and strengthen their relationship with your brand.
It’s a great way to connect with your audience and build relationships that lead to loyal customers.
Content Strategy Competitive Research
Your competitors are a good place to start when developing a content marketing strategy because they already have a target audience and a content strategy. You can learn what content is working for them, what isn’t, and where they are having the most success.
The 6 P’s of Content Marketing
A good content marketing strategy can be boiled down to the 6 Ps:
Positioning: How you’re positioning yourself in the market and what makes you different from your competitors.
Platforms: Where will you publish your content? Are you going to use social media, email newsletters, or both?
People: Who are you writing for? What do they want to hear from you? Do they want a lot of visuals or would they prefer detailed text? Are they more likely to engage with short posts or longer ones?
Purpose: What’s the purpose of your content—to educate, inform, entertain, and sell something? What does each piece have to accomplish for it to be considered successful?
Personalization: How can you make each piece of content unique for each person who engages with it to know it was made just for them?
Processes: How will you create your content and distribute it through the channels outlined above so that everything is consistent enough visually and in tone while still being unique enough across channels so as not to seem like cookie-cutter copy/paste jobs
Step One: Define Your Marketing Goals
Most marketers have an immediate knee-jerk reaction to “content marketing strategy.” They think it’s too hard or that they don’t have enough time. But this is illogical—who would go on a road trip without first checking to make sure their car had gas or leave for a flight without verifying the departure time?
Before you get started with any content, take the time to define your goals and objectives. The best way to do this is by setting SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.
Once you define your goals, you can then measure your success as you move forward with creating content.
Step Two: Define Your Target Audience(s)
The next step in creating a content marketing strategy is to define your target audience(s). It’s essential to have deep insight into your audience’s interests, concerns and decision-making process. Knowing who they are and what they want will help inform all of the decisions you make about your content marketing strategy.
It’s not enough to know their demographics; you need to know their geographic location, purchasing habits, pain points, and even psychographics. Content marketing strategies for B2B or B2C companies should always include an understanding the problem a potential customer has when looking for a product or service like yours. You can then devise a content marketing strategy that speaks directly to those issues.
Step Three: Identify Common Questions and Concerns
In this step, you need to identify the questions your customers have related to your products and services. These are questions that you can answer through content marketing. For example, if you run a SaaS company, you might hear a lot of these questions:
- What is SaaS?
- What are the most popular SaaS tools?
- Why do I need SaaS?
The goal is to figure out what questions people ask about your industry and business. These are often questions that generate many searches on Google and other search engines.
To find these common questions, look for information on relevant industry forums and blogs as well as in places where your target audience spends their time online or offline. Check social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Reddit for comments from people who interact with brands like yours. This helps you unearth specific themes that help inform content creation strategies.
Step Four: Find Out Where Your Audience Consumes Content
Knowing where your audience consumes content is extremely important. It allows you to reach them and hopefully get a response. Fortunately, there are many ways to find this out:
- Ask directly. You can email or message your audience if they’re on an online platform, or hold a focus group if they’re in person. They’ll tell you how they consume content and what types of content they like best
- Look at the data. If you have an email list, look at the stats for open rate, click-through rate, etc., for each type of email campaign you’ve sent
- Check the comments on past blog posts and social media posts to see what people have said about the content
Step Five: Create a Content Ideas List
Now that you’ve got a general idea of the type of content your audience wants and brainstormed some content ideas, it’s time to make a list. (Yes, another list.)
The key to creating great content is to create content your audience will find useful. So now you need to create what’s known as an “idea list.”
This means making a list of all the questions your target audience has. Next, go through each question and ask yourself, ‘how can I answer this question?’ and ‘what information does my audience need for me to answer this question?’ The answers might be blog posts, videos or even a webinar if you have more than one question.
Step Six: Develop a Promotional Plan for Each Piece of Content
Once you’ve developed your content, it’s important to put together a promotional plan for each piece of content. This includes being clear about the goals of your content and determining how you will measure the success of your content. As part of this process, it’s also essential to understand the audience for your content and develop a plan for promoting your content to achieve the results you want.
Step Seven: Determine the Best Format for Each Piece of Content
In this step, you want to dive into the Google search results and see what type of content is ranking. Is it primarily blog posts? Videos? Podcasts? If you can’t find any high-quality content that matches your topic, you might have a gap in the market.
As an example, let’s say that we wanted to create some content around the topic “how to write social media ad copy that converts.” Using SEMRush’s Keyword Magic Tool (shown below), we can quickly see what types of content are ranking at the top of Google for this term:
So while there are some videos and articles on the first page, there are many more articles than anything else. So if I were going after this term and wanted to rank, I would probably focus on writing and publishing an article.
Step Eight: Identify the Best Channel to Publish Each Piece of Content On
The final step in the content marketing strategy process is identifying the best channel to publish your content on.
- Define which channels your customers use and where they consume content.
- Create content that’s suitable for that particular channel.
- Don’t spread yourself too thin; use one or two channels first, then move on to other channels when you get good at them.