What’s your content marketing strategy? If you don’t know or are certain you don’t have one, you’re not alone.
Although everyone seems to be talking and writing about content marketing, only 32 percent of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy, according to a 2016 Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs study.
We know that having a documented content strategy makes marketers more effective. The same study showed that B2B marketers who have a documented content strategy get better results.
Still, the lack of a content marketing strategy isn’t stopping marketers from pumping out content. Marketers regularly send out white papers, e-books, webinars, email newsletters, infographics, blog posts and (gulp) paid campaigns without a clear strategy outlining who they want to reach, what their audience wants or how they’ll define success.
Why You Need a Content Marketing Strategy
Without an overarching content marketing strategy to guide your team as it implements content marketing tactics, it’s extremely difficult to:
- Create and distribute content on a regular basis.
- Produce content that meets consistent quality standards and brand guidelines.
- Deliver the sort of content your customers and prospects want.
- Determine what types of content work for your business and affect revenue.
- Calculate your content marketing ROI.
8 Steps to Creating a Content Marketing Strategy
Strategy doesn’t have to be hard! Once you’ve put in the effort to define your strategy, everything else becomes a lot easier and much more effective.
Consider these important steps in creating a content marketing strategy for your company:
- Establish goals. What do you want to accomplish with your content? Are you trying to establish brand awareness for a new startup? Drive qualified leads for your sales team? Drum up interest in an event? Build trust with your existing customer base? Get specific about what success looks like for you.
- Create buyer personas. Consider who buys from you, and all of the other people who contribute to the buying decision. What are they interested in? What challenges can you help them with? What questions could your content answer?
- Check out the competition. Look at what your competitors are doing well and poorly. Do a SWOT analysis and determine where you can do better and how you can be more helpful for your shared audience.
- Consider your tactics. It’s easy to be completely overwhelmed by all the things you should be doing. Avoid the pull toward “checklist marketing” — doing everything just to check off all the boxes. Instead of committing yourself to 10 e-books, daily blog posts, a robust email nurturing program and unique content on every social network, choose a few channels and content formats that are best for your brand and your audience. Test, experiment and find what works.
- Identify your content creators. Who can you call on to contribute? Consider your in-house marketing team, contributors from throughout the company (salespeople, product developers, customer service reps, C-level leaders) and outside the organization (freelancers, content marketing agencies, industry leaders and even customers). Even if your core content team is doing the writing, you can tap a broad network of contributors and interview subjects.
- Create an editorial calendar. Plan which tactics you’re going to use and when you’re going to use them. List topics and ideas for each blog post, newsletter, video and other content you plan to create — and who’s responsible for creating each one.
- Make a plan to measure ROI. No strategy is complete without a plan to measure and track its success. Look back at the goals you set in step 1. What does success look like? What metrics will you evaluate? (We love Raven Tools for tracking content marketing results).
- Adjust as needed. Content marketing is all about testing and iterating. Watch the data to see how your content is performing and adjust your strategy to do more of what’s working and nix or tweak what’s not.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2014 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.