What is a digital marketing strategy without a content marketing strategy? A recipe for failure. The key is to align all your content within your digital marketing strategy to work together to achieve better results.
According to Hubspot, almost 70% of businesses are actively investing in content marketing in 2020. That means the competition is stronger than ever and it takes a real strategy to cut through the noise.
To begin, you need to identify your competition and see what they are doing so you have an opportunity to differentiate your messaging. This can also show you where there are potential gaps you can fill with high-quality evergreen content. Evergreen content is downloadable content that will perform well over time. This includes things like long-form blog posts that deeply explain a topic or challenge. It could also be a guide, an e-book, an infographic, or templates that can be used to save time. The idea is that the content should be valuable enough to generate leads.
In this post, we are going to dig into exactly what content marketing strategy is and how it works as part of the bigger picture for your digital marketing strategy. Before we do, let's take about why content is so valuable for long-term strategies. If you can create one blog post that gets a steady amount of organic traffic that includes an e-book or other downloadable form of content, it will continue to generate leads long after it is published. The main benefit of organic content is that it can bring in leads at a lower cost than paid media campaigns over time. Content marketing is about lead generation and lead nurturing. Content should be a tool to help marketing and sales teams reach goals. The right content can help you attract leads, and it can also be used to educate your target audience and generate more awareness and thought leadership for your brand. For many brands, holidays are a great time for timely promotions. Content strategy should include owned, earned, and paid media. Brands should build content to support short term and long term growth goals.
What is content marketing strategy?
The content strategy covers the management of all media assets that you create and own including written, visual, video, or other downloadable content. It also covers earned media (like press coverage or other mentions of your brand) and paid media such as ad campaigns or social media promotions. It relates to your branding, marketing, sales, customer service, and your communications strategies. How you align your content strategy will depend on the goals of the other business strategies. It should be aligned to support them. A well thought out content strategy should consider all aspects of the business and ensure that goals set for content are aligned with generating desired business outcomes. When developing a content strategy it is important to start with the right questions. 1. Who is your audience? Who will read your content?
Content strategy begins with getting to know your audience. Many businesses have more than one customer segment. Your content strategy should include content that is designed for each target audience. The messaging to a CEO should not look the same as the messaging that will go to a Sales Manager for example. You need to think about who you are talking to and speak in the language that is most engaging for them. Consider building buyer personas for your different audience segments. Buyer personas are a detailed picture of what a typical customer from a specific segment might look like. Here is an example of one of our buyer persona templates:
2. What problem are you solving or what value are you adding? Most businesses or products are designed to solve existing problems or to add value. Think about the particular problems and pain points for each audience segment. In the example above, the CEO is thinking about growth just like the Sales Manager, but their pain points may be different. A CEO is likely to be worried about sales, but they are also worried about many more objectives for the company as well. The Sales Manager is focused on meeting this month's sales goals with much more urgency. While they may share some concerns their motivations may be different. For retail and other B2C businesses, you need to think in terms of demographics. You won't send the same type of messaging out to a millennial who travels as you would to a mom who is planning her family's next vacation.
Surveys are a great way to gather insights about your customers. Another option is to simply reach out and have some conversations with your sales team to see the objections they face often and/or speak to customers directly to get some feedback. Testimonials, for example, are an excellent way to show social proof to your audience that your business can be trusted and provides good customer service. While we are on this topic, it is also really important to monitor and respond politely to any reviews you receive on sites like Yelp or your Google Map listing. This all impacts your brand reputation online. 3. What makes you different or unique compared to the competition? Nearly every business faces competition in the market. How you differentiate yourself from other options is crucial for marketing and sales success. Customers are empowered to research online and trust me they will. How you set your self apart will make all the difference. Customers need to understand how you are different and more importantly why you are a better fit for their needs. It will be easier to tell that story effectively once you have researched your audience and their needs and included those in your buyer personas. The key here is to make the content as relevant as possible for each of your audience segments. 4. What channels are your audience using most often? Once you know who your audience is, you need to figure where they are. It does little good to distribute content on channels where your audience is not spending their time. If you are a B2B company obviously LinkedIn will be a good choice. If you are B2C other platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube or Pinterest may be better for you. Let's say you sell products that are for crafting - a place like Pinterest holds a good audience for you. Facebook is a go-to channel for most businesses simply because they have the largest audience compared to other social channels. You can utilize targeting to hone in on the right customers based on their interests. If your audience is young, consider Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok. For podcasts, you might consider Spotify or Youtube. Google and Apple also have platforms to host podcasts on their mobile devices. Top Social Media Channels in 2020 - Facebook - Instagram - Twitter - LinkedIn
5. What types of content do you need to produce?
This will largely depend on your budget and should be considered beforehand. Video has seen a huge boost in engagement compared to other types of content, but it is also much more expensive to produce in most cases. If you have a B2B audience things like infographics, case studies and white papers may be strong choices. If you have a retail business, social media promotions may be more important for you. It really does depend on who your audience is and what type of content they like. Think about how much time, money, and resources you will need to produce high-quality content consistently because that is what it takes to succeed in the crowded online space today. You should also consider if content production will remain in-house, with an agency, or a combination of the two. Most businesses end up with a combination, with someone internally working on core content like blogs and an agency helping with specialized content like Social Media promotions, ad campaigns, or video production. For those who don't have the resources to keep it in-house, an agency or even freelance talent may fill that gap. Here is a shortlist of Types of Content to give you some ideas: -Blog Posts - Ebooks - Case Studies - Templates - Infographics - Videos - Podcasts - Social Media
6. How will you manage content production, publication, and distribution?
Once you have identified the audience, the channels, and the types of content you need to produce it is time to consider how you will manage it smoothly. We know this can be a daunting task. We highly suggest developing a content calendar in order to track and maintain consistent high-quality content production. You should consider your channels and the peak traffic times on those channels to schedule your posts in advance for distribution. This alone will save lots of headaches and give you the best potential organic reach on those channels. Creating a content calendar will let you see who is posting what, when things are going live, and shows you what your distribution looks like with a clearer picture of how everything is working together. There are several options out there, at Dulci Digital we utilize our project management software Clickup, to manage live content calendars with our clients on the cloud, which saves them the out of pocket cost for this solution. Another tool used often is Hootsuite, which allows you to share access with multiple users and schedule posts in advance for multiple channels. They have several plans to fit businesses based on their size. 7. How is your content aligned with your overall digital marketing strategy? After you have developed a content marketing plan you need to consider how it is aligned with your digital marketing strategy. If SEO is a priority, for example, your content strategy should be cohesive with your SEO goals. You should be including SEO copy that is designed to improve keyword rankings as part of your content strategy. All too often, we see these treated separately, with one agency working on content and another agency or team working on SEO. However, social media can be a great way to build backlinks for example, which will complement your SEO. Other things to consider: Is your content plan focused on building brand awareness and thought leadership? Is your content strategy focused on the right channels for driving website traffic? Check out your analytics to see what channels are sending the most referrals to your website. You can also monitor social media analytics to see which types of content are generating the best engagement. Finally, A/B testing is a great way to optimize performance. You want to learn as much as you can about what works and what doesn't to prevent wasting your budget. Our agency saved one client over a million dollars on ad spend utilizing A/B testing to find the best performing ads for them. Most channels lower costs based on good engagement. The better an ad or content performs the cheaper it is to distribute and vise versa. Poor performing ads and content see less engagement and more expensive to share. This is why A/B testing to find the best messaging is essential to improve results over time. You should spend more on the channels that are sending you the most traffic and you should prioritize producing content that has the highest engagement for your brand. How to Build Your Content Strategy
Once you have considered all the questions above it is time to start building a tactical content marketing strategy and plan. First, you should define the business goals? Are you trying to increase website traffic? Generate X number of new leads per month? Define what success looks like, so you can measure your performance. Next, you should define some personas for your audience segments, also known as buyer personas. By knowing your audience better you can develop more relevant content to increase engagement. This will be an important step to ensure you are creating valuable content for your audience. Grab our template and save some time on creating your buyer personas. Choose a content management system or CMS. Consider what you need for content management. This should include content creation, content publication, and content analytics. Two of the most common solutions are WordPress and Hubspot. Both allow you to build landing pages and manage blogs. You also want to consider what happens to your leads once they are captured. HubSpot for example has a suite of products including a customer management platform to nurture leads after they complete a form. It is more expensive but has far more features that are specific to meet content marketing challenges. WordPress is cheaper but will require integrations with other solutions to follow up on leads once they are captured. The best solution will be based on your budget and your specific business needs. Once you know your audience and have chosen the right CMS platform for your team, the next step is to begin brainstorming content ideas. What types of content should you post? How often should you post? What types of content will help lead your audience through a full buyer's journey? This is a good time to audit the content you have already created as well. How does it fit into the bigger picture? Are there any gaps you need to fill? Here are some good sources for inspiration: - Monitor Social Media trends for hashtags that might be relevant to your audience. - Set up a Google Alert, to capture news and stories based on keywords. - Use Answer the Public to see what questions people are asking based on topics.
- Feedly RSS is a great way to keep track of trendy topics in your industry. Once you get your content marketing strategy outlined, the next step should be to have a plan for how it will evolve. Here is a simple framework our agency uses to generate better results from our content marketing program:
Still, feeling overwhelmed? Schedule a free consultation with our team to review your strategy and get our detailed Content Marketing Template to build a strong content marketing strategy for your brand. No commitments required, just solid advice, and a handy template with a clear roadmap to help you succeed.