Do you know how many bloggers there are in the United States today?
Over 30 million.
And they publish over 5 million blog posts every day!
When you add on top of this other forms of content such as social media posts, articles, videos, and more, you’re left with a lot of content that’s fighting for consumers’ attention.
Now, you may be wondering, “How the heck can I compete with that?” And I won’t lie, it’s a tough competition. But it’s not a hopeless one!
There are a number of ways to grow your online business, so it becomes a shark in a sea of minnows. One way to accomplish this is to develop a killer content marketing strategy.
So what is a content marketing strategy?
The Content Marketing Institute defines it as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Or, in layman’s terms, it is how you plan to strategically craft and utilize your content in a way that will deepen relationships with your customers, and generate increased traffic and sales to your business.
In addition to having a solid content marketing strategy, it’s crucial to have a stellar content strategy. The main difference between the two is that a…
- Content marketing strategy focuses on effectively using your content to relay your business’ overall story and convert your casual visitors into committed customers.
- Content strategy, on the other hand, focuses specifically on the creation and management of your content.
While the two strategies are different, they are closely related and the success of one heavily relies on the success of the other. Luckily, this guide will help you develop a content marketing strategy that also addresses certain aspects of a content strategy!
When developing your content marketing strategy you need to make sure you address the following why, who, what, where, and when questions:
- Why are you making this strategy?
- Who are you creating content for?
- What types of content will you produce?
- Where will you post your content?
- When will you publish your content?
The answers to these questions will most likely take some brainstorming to fully develop, so I highly recommend writing notes and storing all the information you gather in one place.
This will make staying organized much easier, and if you have a content marketing team, you can share the details of the plan effortlessly because they’re all recorded!
And on top of all that, documenting your ideas will make revising and revamping them a piece of cake!
How To Create A Killer Content Marketing Strategy
1. Develop Your Mission Statement And Goals
The first thing you’ll want to develop is your mission statement, which ultimately answers your “why” question, while also addressing a few of the other questions too.
Your mission statement is incredibly important because it will help you maintain a clear focus for all of your content. It should address who your target audience is, what information you provide them, and how this information will benefit them.
It can be as simple or detailed as you’d like. Let’s look at an example from the homepage of LadyBossBlogger.com:
Now let’s break it down.
Elaine strives to equip budding female entrepreneurs, bloggers and influencers (target audience) with valuable educational resources (information provided) that will aid them in growing their online businesses or blogs (benefits).
Simple, sweet, and straight to the point.
Once you’ve determined your mission statement, your ready to start with the most important part to any sort of planning: GOALS!
The goals you set for your content marketing strategy should answer the first of our five questions: why are you making this strategy?
There’s a wide array of answers, so don’t worry about choosing the “right” one. But do make sure to think through this question thoroughly, so you really define and understand the goals of your strategy.
This will help you stay focused with your content marketing and you’ll be able to see tangible results, which is always encouraging!
You’ll want to create Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals, or in other words, SMART goals. Let’s think through crafting a goal to generate more sales.
- Specific: Do you want to increase sales of a certain product or service?
- Measurable: Is there a particular percentage increase you desire to achieve and do you have systems in place to track your progress?
- Achievable: Is your goal reasonable considering your available resources and timeframe? How do you intend to utilize your content to achieve your goal?
- Relevant: Does your goal effectively relate back to your mission statement for your content marketing strategy?
- Time-bound: When do you want to accomplish this goal?
As you develop your goals, make sure to go through each step of the SMART goal method because it will greatly assist you in accomplishing them!
2. Determine Who Your Customers Are
Now let’s move on to our next question: for whom are you creating content? Your customers obviously! But who are your customers? This is where we go a step further than we did with the mission statement.
Rather than just stating your target audience, you need to thoroughly define your consumers by creating buyer personas of your ideal customers. This includes basic facts such as age, gender, and occupation, as well as more detailed information such as reasons for and/or hesitations towards making a purchase.
You can gather this data by asking your customers to fill out surveys after completing a purchase. You might even consider incentivizing clients to complete questionnaires by offering online store credit or free samples of your product!
Once you’ve collected a solid amount of research, look for patterns amongst your consumers and consolidate those who are similar to one buyer persona. You might find that you have multiple buyer personas, and that’s okay! This is often the case for many businesses.
At the end of the day, every buyer persona you develop as a result of extensive audience research is extremely valuable because it provides you with invaluable information that can further guide your content marketing.
If you know who you’re selling to, you’ll know what type of content will persuade them to finalize the purchase!
3. Decide What Type Of Content To Produce
Did you know there is a huge selection of content types you can choose to capitalize on?
There are the more common types such as blog posts, videos, images, and email newsletters, but other worthwhile types (albeit rather time-consuming and costly at times) include long-form articles, original research, and case studies.
When deciding on the content types you want to take advantage of, consider which ones will best enable you to share your business’ overall story, further contribute to your mission statement, and most effectively engage and attract the buyer personas you develop.
For example, if a portion of your target audience is working, middle-class, single mothers who may not have copious amounts of free time to indulge in long blog posts or articles, perhaps utilizing a concise, non-time-consuming format is best such as an infographic or video.
Ultimately, you want to deliver the right content type for your customers that works for them and not against. This will not only demonstrate your care and concern for your audience but also encourage conversion from passive visitors to active buyers.
Another prime resource to utilize when choosing constructive content types for your content marketing strategy is Buzzsumo. With their Content Analyzer tool, you can search your business’ domain and, using the filters on the left sidebar, assess how strong each content type performs. Maybe How-To articles draw in a large number of engagements for your website.
Equipped with this information, you can now focus on how to properly craft How-To articles to promote your products, services, and overall business. Additionally, you can research other domains or topics within your niche to determine what has worked for others. You may even discover a profitable content type you’d never thought about!
4. Choose Your Content Publishing Channels
Once you’ve discerned which content types will most benefit your business, it’s time to choose where you should publish your content.
While your website should be one of your main content channels, there are a handful of other channels that are highly rewarding in terms of extending your reach and growing your pool of potential consumers, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Youtube.
Each channel serves a certain type of content, so make sure to choose the most beneficial for your content type. For example, if one of your main content types is blog posts then Youtube isn’t a suitable content channel for you.
On top of this, you need to consider where the majority of your target audience “hangs out.” If you’re hoping to attend to business professionals then LinkedIn is likely a good option to investigate.
On the other hand, if you’re aiming to engage a young, female audience, and your content focuses on lifestyle issues then Pinterest is the better move.
Two stellar tools you can gather this information include employing your buyer personas and Buzzsumo. When collecting information for your buyer personas, include a question about which content channels your customers most often engage.
Once you’ve gathered enough data you should have a clear picture of where a majority of your target audience goes to consume content. Consider utilizing Buzzsumo by searching your domain, domains within your industry, or keywords/topics related to your niche, and seeing which content channel garners the most shares.
Finally, email marketing is still the #1 way of publishing your content because it’s trackable and everyone checks their email at least once a day. Sign up for one of the following free webinars to get started according to your current level of expertise.
- Get Your First 1,000 Subscribers – Beginner
- Earn Your First Dollar – Beginner/Intermediate
- Email Copy-writing Tips – Beginner/Intermediate
- Make More Sales With Funnels – Expert
5. Create And Publish Your Content Calendar
The final question: when will you publish your content? This is where your content calendar comes into play!
Developing a content calendar and creating deadlines for yourself is highly crucial. It not only helps ensure you continually produce and release fresh content by providing you with deadlines, but it also prepares you to publish certain content at the optimal times.
For example, if you want to post an article on strong female role models consider releasing it in March, which is Women’s History Month. This way you put out that is relevant to your audience!
On top of planning according to national celebratory occurrences, you should also schedule the publishing times for your regular content. In order to have an impact on a large portion of your target audience, you need to plan the exact days of the week, and even the times you want to publish your content! This will increase the chances that your content is actually seen by your consumers.
Lastly, you want to have all of your press releases, new product announcements, and anything related to your business included in your calendar. This is probably one of the most important things to plan out when it comes to generating more sales because you want this content to be top-notch quality.
Planning when you want to publish this content well enough in advance will give you ample time to successfully reach this high level of excellence.
There are lots of exceptional tools available to help you create your content calendar too, such as CoSchedule. CoSchedule is highly beneficial if you have a team and want to stay connected with everyone, or if you want to continually track your progress with certain content.
Hopefully, with the advice of this guide, you feel better equipped to create a killer content marketing strategy that accomplishes the goals you set for yourself. Remember, you want to strategize how you intend to utilize your content to share the overall story of your business, generate more traffic to your website, and ultimately increase your sales!
The next step to executing your plan is actually generating and putting your content out there! Consider crafting a content strategy (remember, we talked about that at the beginning of the post?) to map out the specifics of your content creation and management. If you ever need inspiration for your content, here are helpful resources to help you brainstorm:
Sarai Lopez is a senior at Wheaton College (IL) studying Spanish and Communications with a focus in rhetoric & culture. She loves learning, sharing her knowledge, eating just about any sort of chocolate dessert, and listening to all genres of music. One day she hopes to create a children’s animated series as well as open her very own bakery.