8 Steps to creating an effective content marketing strategy

content marketing strategy

In the last couple of years, content has emerged as the new marketing paradigm. According to the annual report of the Content Marketing Institute, 91% of respondents acknowledged investing time in ensuring that their content is credible and fact-based. A content marketing strategy designed with a focus on gaining the trust of the audience strengthens their competitive position.

By now you must have realized that a majority of your competitors already have well-thought-out content marketing strategies which have proved valuable in 2019. Why should you be left behind in the game?

Here are some steps which successful marketers have adopted to create an effective content marketing strategy. You could embrace them as well:

1. Defining mission and goals

The first step is to establish the mission and goals. The start of a new content marketing strategy begins with what you want to achieve and by when. A clear mission statement defines the company’s direction and destination. It helps the marketing team to focus on future goals and take decisions with a preferred future in mind. For example, if your mission is to be recognized as one of the top-10 companies in your domain, you’ll want to set measurable goals over a set timeframe for achieving that. This could include increasing your newsletter subscriptions and social media followers, gaining recognition by reputed trade associations, among others.

Also, when the mission is clear, it helps shape the strategy and understand what competitors are doing. It translates objectives of an organization into work structures, meanwhile, guiding them on what to measure and how to measure.

2. Establishing KPIs

The next step is to set key performance indicators (KPIs) which enable a company to monitor and measure performance on an operational and strategic level. Often KPIs, also known as “lead indicators,” are based on the strategic goals. They allow a company to compare its performance to the market leaders, review progress in a strategic plan, and decide on actionable steps to achieve a goal.

While establishing the KPIs, it is necessary that you are flexible. Before setting the KPIs, make sure that you are equipped with accurate facts, data, and insights. The most useful aspect of setting up a KPI is that it highlights areas where you can improve.

3. Knowing the audience

After you have clarity on the mission and KPIs, shift your focus to the audience. Knowing your audience is crucial to achieving great marketing results. For a successful content marketing strategy, you need to know whom you are targeting and what their pain-points are. Savvy marketers turn to market research agencies to get an accurate picture of their customers and create buyer personas accordingly. If you’d rather do it in-house, consider starting out with a keyword analysis to understand how your customers search for information on the internet. Speaking to fellow employees that have a direct contact with customers, such as sales and customer service teams, can provide deep insight into the needs, questions, and expectations of the target audience. This can help to devise a more targeted marketing strategy and create a greater impact. Segmentation helps categorize the target market according to demographics and psychographics. Once you identify the primary personas, ask yourself questions to uncover the unique value proposition that you can then provide through fresh content.

4. Assessing competition

Once you are well-informed about the audience, the next logical move is to conduct a competitive analysis. Analyze their market positioning, pricing, website traffic, marketing collateral, and compare them to your own to identify opportunities you can improve or capitalize on.

5. Taking content-related decisions: channels, collateral types, and content calendar

After a competitive analysis, the question which crops up is how to stay ahead of the competition continually? To build a sustainable competitive advantage you will need to invest in a strong marketing communications team which takes sole responsibility to build the brand image, create awareness, and work in tandem with the business strategy teams. Writers with an analytical streak and flair will help you churn content that is insightful and well-researched.

This stage will also require you to figure out the most effective content channels that can contribute significantly to content reach, impressions, and lead generation. Key insights into customer preferences and how they consume information can help decide on the channels to promote your content.

survey conducted by a marketing technology provider revealed that the most effective paid channels to distribute content are search engine marketing and social media advertising. A majority of the marketers in this survey were engaged in B2B-focused firms. Once you have finalized the content channels, narrow down on the content types you want to promote and hold relevance for your audience.

6. Allocating resources for content creation and planning a content calendar

The choice of content type and channel alone is not sufficient. Several decisions factor into large-scale content marketing operations which give shape to opportunities. You can consider the below-mentioned approach for positive results:

  1. Determine who will be directly involved in content creation and the tasks each individual will be responsible for. Establish tasks and break them into sub-tasks to bring a content idea into fruition.
  2. Decide who will be in charge of the content assets.
  3. Formulate a tactical plan which will include the topics you will cover, how often will you publish, in which channels and how will you ensure quality standards.
  4. Focus on systematizing the content production process with a content calendar.
  5. Create a content calendar and put it to best use by identifying unique and engaging topics, taking stock of existing content assets, and scheduling, publishing, promoting and tweaking content when necessary.

7. Distributing content and measuring results

Once the content calendar is ready and you want to drive inbound traffic, you will have to figure out the best methods to distribute content. For digital content distribution, you could divide the channels into:

  1. digital owned (website, blogs, social media channels)
  2. digital-earned (publishing platforms, forums, review sites, groups on social networks)
  3. digital paid (PPC, Display Ads), and
  4. offline (direct mail, paid press advertising, and outbound telesales)

How your content performs will depend on how effectively you are getting the message in front of the right audience. Spend some time figuring out where to promote a blog or an infographic and how to go about it. A systematic research on the audience will provide you with data on their content consumption patterns. Don’t ignore the potential of content distribution where you target “high potential” accounts to maximize conversion rates. At times, some content is time sensitive and you will need to factor that in.

8. Measuring results

The last and most important aspect of the content marketing strategy is ascertaining the success rate. A content marketing tool with built-in analytics will prove useful here. Keep a close tab on shares, likes, comments, and post clicks to gauge whether a collateral is gaining traction. In addition, measuring the traffic to the website, conversions, automating data collection, taking time out for analysis, and identifying opportunities for improvement will ensure the success of your overall marketing efforts.

As you embark on a well-laid out content marketing journey, make sure that your team’s efforts align well with your content strategy and the team members continually upgrade their skills to offer a content experience par excellence.

Netscribes helps some of the world’s smartest marketing teams achieve superior results by taking charge of their content writing and market insight responsibilities. To find out how you can benefit from similar results, contact info@netscribes.com.

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