How to Develop a Content Strategy: A Start-to-Finish Guide
Think about what will happen if a business creates innovative, engaging content? One thing is for sure, it will help build trust among audiences and yield success in the long haul. That’s why it’s advised that even new businesses should implement a solid content strategy from the very start
This is because you published the kind of content that helps your target audience and convinces them to take action.
But, there is a larger problem to tackle here. In order to achieve the desired results, you must know how to build a content strategy that is going to be successful.
If the content marketing statistics of 2020 are to be believed, 38% of content marketers thought that their content marketing strategy was ‘Average’. Only 9% rated their strategy as ‘Excellent’. The data clearly shows that several businesses are struggling to develop a winning content strategy.
To develop a successful strategy, you are required to set goals, learn about your audience, and map out how a buyer will interact with the content you produce and publish. To help you through this process, we have created this guide.
The Guide to a Creating a Successful Content Strategy
For a better understanding, let us first define content strategy. A content strategy is defined as the ongoing process of converting your business goals and objectives into a plan in which ‘content is used as the primary means to attain those goals.
Let’s take an example to understand the content strategy to simplify things further. Let’s suppose one of your business goals is to increase brand awareness (for the ultimate aim of driving revenue). After you develop a solid understanding of your audience, you can execute this content strategy to reach your goal:
- Focusing on your story: To increase brand awareness, one of the best content topics is your business’s story. Write about where you started, what your beliefs are, how you succeeded, and so on. Because of this content, your potential customers are going to connect with you on a personal level.
- Choosing your channels: Many types of content work well in increasing brand awareness. These include:
Ø Blog posts: Blogs are an excellent channel for driving traffic to your website. They help you become a trustable source in your industry if you keep posting them on a regular basis.
Ø Videos: This type of content can help you in many ways to increase brand awareness. For instance, you can tell your potential customers how you function with the help of videos.
Ø Downloadable guides: We all love anything that’s free, right? If you advertise a free guide that people can download, it will definitely work in your favor.
Now, it is time to know how to create a content marketing strategy. But before that, you are required to answer some questions to nudge your content strategy in the correct direction and ensure it is best positioned to achieve your goals. This means, at this stage, you are required to do some research. After all, research is a crucial step in any strategic endeavor.
Here’s a list of questions to ask:
1. Who Will Be Your Target Audience?
The first question you need to ask yourself is – who will be reading your content? Also, as your content strategy can definitely cater to more than one type of reader, you need to determine the number of audiences you will be creating content for.
Now, you may also wonder how you will deliver content to these respective audiences. But, you don’t need to worry about that. There are so many content types and channels to help you engage every type of customer your company does business with.
2. What Problem Are You Solving?
Ideally, your service or product should solve a problem that you are aware your audience has. Hence, the content you produce should coach your audience regarding that problem which will, in turn, help them recognize and address it.
It is important to note that a smart content strategy helps two categories of people:
1) Those who are still finding out their main challenges
2) Those who are using your product to tackle those challenges.
3. What Makes You Different?
Your potential customers must know what makes you different or better than your competitors. So that you can prove why people should choose you, you need to show them why you are worth listening to. This is where ‘content’ comes to your aid.
4. What Are your Main KPIs?
You are required to evaluate the success of your program before developing a content strategy. Ask yourself questions such as – do you want to generate leads? Do you wish for more page views? Are you looking for a boost in subscribers?
As content marketing is a long-term strategy, it is difficult to track its success. So, there is an entire list of KPIs that helps you know whether you are on the road to a successful marketing strategy. Some of them are listed below:
- Overall traffic: It is essential to track this metric because it tells you the number of visitors coming to your site and the posts that attract them. When you know this information, you then get an idea of the kind of content you must continue to produce.
- Click-through rate of internal links: Click-through rate is important to check as well. If some content has a higher CTR, you must examine it to see what is the reason for its high performance. This information can help you apply the same principles throughout your content.
- Social shares: These help to measure the engagement that your content is creating.
5. How Often Do you Want to Publish?
Ask yourself – how often will you be able to publish? Will it be daily or weekly? What will be your plan of action in a situation where your team is not able to publish the way you had planned?
6. How Often Will You Revisit Your Strategy?
Because of the ever-changing nature of the marketing industry, your strategy must be revisited and tweaked accordingly. Some of the questions you need to ask yourself at this juncture are – how many times in a year will you evaluate your strategy’s success? How many changes would you be willing to make? And so on.
How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy?
Now that you have answers to all the important questions, it is time that you get to know the specifics of how to develop your content marketing plan.
At this stage, it is important for you to know that there is no grand solution that any business can follow when we talk about content strategy. The strategy that you develop will be unique as per your situation. However, there are a few tactics that will steer you in the right direction. Let’s discuss them one by one:
1. Set Your Goals
Start with a definitive objective. Doing so will help you stay focused and prevent you from publishing content just for the sake of it. Also, during this stage, ensure that your analytics are set up. It will allow you to track potential metrics such as social media shares, page views, and e-commerce conversions in your analytics tools.
2. Conduct Persona Research
In order to craft a successful content strategy, you are required to determine your buyer’s persona, which is also called your content’s target audience. This is particularly crucial for those who are new to marketing. When you are aware of your target audience, you are able to produce relevant content that they would want to read and subsequently convert on.
In case you are an experienced marketer, you must revisit your audience parameters annually. This is because your target may have changed. You may have to re-evaluate if you wish to expand your existing target market or target a fresh group of people. Such a step is of paramount importance when it comes to growing your audience.
3. Research the Relevant Keywords
Now that you have clearly defined your target audience, you need to meticulously research the keywords that hold relevance to your target audience. There are a lot of tools to help you find keywords that will ultimately become the backbone of the content that you produce. So, ensure you research keywords that help you get higher SEO rankings for your business.
Let’s discuss some of the ways in which you can research relevant keywords:
Ubersuggest produces keyword ideas from the search suggestions of Google. You can enter a keyword and Ubersuggest will find long-tail keywords of the term you typed in.
Now, you may wonder what are long-tail keywords. These are search terms with relatively low competition levels and search volume. These are longer in length (more than 3 words), such as “inexpensive life insurance for elderly people” and “order vitamin B12 capsules online.”
If you want an excellent recommendation for a paid keyword tool, go for SEMrush. The tool saves a lot of time in your keyword research. Just enter the website of your competitor in Google and examine the list of keywords they rank for. That’s it; you can use this ready list of keywords for your own website.
4. Check the Competition
Once you are armed with the knowledge of your target audience and the relevant keywords, now is the time to analyze your competitor’s content. This means a thorough examination of the keywords and areas they rank for. Check for the topics, length of content, and the keywords on their site and different distribution channels. In case you spot the areas where you can fill the gaps and offer better value to your audience, use it to your advantage.
5. Choose the Right Channels
The countless amount of distribution channels can seem overwhelming at first. However, it is recommended that you choose a few channels for content distribution, such as a YouTube channel and a blog. This allows the company to concentrate on distribution to the right audience using the right channels.
The channels for distributing your content will differ based on your resources and audience. The categories in which most distribution channels are:
- Owned media channels: Owned media are the channels that belong to you, so you have control over your published content. It applies to your site, social media accounts, company’s blog, email newsletters, etc.
- Earned media channels: Earned media channels are also known as shared channels. Earned media is like free advertising. It can range from a press release about your company to a person talking on social media about the products you offer.
- Paid distribution channels: Paid channels cover media that needs payment for distributing content. Usually, they include paid influencer content, social ads, sponsored content, and PPC advertising.
6. Brainstorm Content Ideas
Based on the information you have gathered in order to understand your target audience and competitors, you are now in the position to brainstorm content ideas.
At this point, you can determine the type of content you want. Check what type of content will best serve your purpose.
Tip: For example, if you want your audience to constantly visit your website, going for a recurring schedule of quality blog posts can be a step in the right direction. On the other hand, if you want to showcase how your products work, you can shoot engaging videos for the same.
At the time of brainstorming, don’t be afraid to try something new as long as it is backed by research. Build a list of ways that will help serve your purpose and execute your research. Then, narrow it down to the ones that will ultimately work the best.
To help you further in deciding the content types you can choose to execute your purpose, consider these pointers:
Ø Social media content helps connect with younger audiences
Ø Blog posts work well in informing your audience and driving traffic for your site.
Ø Digital media, such as videos and infographics are brilliant ways to engage the audience in a way that they won’t easily forget.
7. Create an Editorial Calendar
Last but not the least, comes the aspect of publishing and managing your content. With an editorial calendar, you will be able to publish a diverse content library on your site. An editorial calendar will help you iron out the details of when and where the content will be made available. It not only helps you keep track of your content, but also ensures that you are consistent in publishing content.
In addition to this, you need to create a social media content calendar so that you can promote as well as manage content on various other sites.
Tip: It is important to go for evergreen ideas i.e. the ideas that will always be relevant. However, you must not ignore timely topics as they help produce spikes of traffic even when they don’t form the bulk of your calendar. Keep in mind some niche holidays that will be of interest to your audience at the time of planning the calendar.
It takes a lot of planning and brainpower to devise a perfect content marketing plan. To simplify the entire process, ensure that you always focus on your audience and its needs while developing your strategy. Trust us, if you follow this approach, your audiences will certainly reward your website with page shares and views, with many of them ultimately investing in your business.
When you have a solid marketing plan in place for your business, you have already taken the first step towards gaining an advantage over your competitors.
Now, Happy strategizing!