Creating and curating content is important to businesses both big and small. Content builds your voice, presence and reputation online. But it is important to create a content marketing strategy specific to your goals and audience. You cannot just throw any content out there and expect it to work with and for you. You need a plan and a good one.
Whether you are starting a content marketing plan from scratch or just need to refine your strategy, below are some things to consider.
What Do You Want to Achieve in a Content Marketing Strategy & Why?
Most great feats start with a clear intention and content is no different. You could create post after post, but if there is no clear intention, you will not achieve the results you want. We need to start with the end goals and the “why” behind them. A good content marketing strategy can lead to predictable outcomes and scaleable results. This is why content marketing is so powerful.
Offering your audience valuable content builds brand awareness while bringing in leads and customers. But you need to know what you want to achieve.
There is no content strategy without measurement strategy. Before embarking on a content initiative, irrespective of medium or platform, it’s important to know what you want to achieve.
Content Marketing Analyst and Author
Do you want to expand your brand awareness? Bring in a larger variety of clients? Or focus on building brand loyalty? Do you want to grow your email list, help customers know how your product is used or build your social media profiles?
You can have a variety of goals, just make them clear and good. Also, ask yourself why you want to achieve these outcomes. In what direction would you like to see your business grow?
In fact, the golden circle created by Simon Sinek starts with “why.”
If you are having trouble coming up with content aligned with your goals, just allow yourself to create and brainstorm. Then look for ways to bring those ideas back to the goals you have set forth.
What Types of Content Should You Work With?
This question is going to depend on your goals and target audience. The good-not great news-is you have quite a few options. Here’s a quick list of the types of content you can use to market your brand:
- Blog posts
- Social media
- Case Studies
- Webinars & videos
- Slides & PDFs
You will want to select a variety of these options that work in alignment with your goals. There is a lot of content out there so make sure you are producing content of high quality that stands out. At Sprout, we try to cover all the corners of content to make our readers happy and feel like we can be a reliable resource for information in the industry.
Be Ready to Repurpose Content
After you have your content decided, repurpose and share it everywhere your audience is located. The art of repurposing and sharing content starts with understanding your audience.
You need to know who they are and be there. You will also need to vary your content and strategy by platform. As you do this, you must still keep your branding and voice consistent. Your content on social media needs to be consistent with content on your blog, in your videos and any other location.
— Sprout Social (@SproutSocial) May 17, 2016
Part of your content marketing strategy should include repurposing your content to share in a variety of ways while staying on brand. Here is an example of repurposing and sharing multiple content types:
Say you completed an awesome webinar about an aspect of a service you offer. You can take the slides from that webinar and transform them into a PDF for SlideShare. You could then summarize those slides into a blog post. You also have the opportunity to create quote images from that webinar, add them to your blog post and share those visuals across your social media platforms.
Jay Baer used this slideshow to bring awareness to his website Convince & Convert.
You can see how putting effort into one piece of quality content can be expanded into multiple pieces.
How Will You Get the Content Created?
Will you create content yourself, hand it off to your team, hire a designer, a blogger or a social media manager? Part of your content marketing plan will need to include your method or methods of getting content created. Building a small team to help you can be extremely useful.
Here are some job positions that you may want to outsource:
- Graphic designer
- Social media manager
- SEO specialist
- Email marketer
Each member of your team can use his or her expertise to create targeted content in each area that you need. Make sure you are clear with your team on what each member’s responsibility is in the creation process. Knowing what you want to achieve will make the creation process much easier for everyone.
You may need to schedule regular meetings with your team to make sure your content is as effective as it can be. Brainstorm a bunch of content ideas and decide which ones will be the most useful and the easiest to make happen. Implement those and discard the rest.
If you are running a small business and aren’t ready to outsource, you can find online tools and resources to help you learn how to create much of the needed content yourself. You may even want to try user-generated content.
To help you out with your content creation, Social Media Examiner has some content creation hacks worth trying like digitizing old content for nostalgic purposes. If your brand has been around for decades, dig deep to find some of the early branding content to try and repurpose or digitize.
How & When Will You Distribute Your Content?
Once you know who the content is for and have it created, now you need an implementation plan to help you distribute the content. Creating awesome content only to hear crickets when you put it on the web is a bummer. So do not neglect this important aspect of a successful strategy.
You need a plan to make sure your content gets seen and shared. There are a variety of ways to distribute your content. You will want to make sure it is search engine optimized to be picked up by sites like Google. Do your keyword research. Social media platforms will likely be a huge resource for your content’s distribution. You can also reach out to influencers in your field to help.
When you get consistent with publishing your content, your audience will learn what to expect and do some of the distribution work for you. Free and organic content distribution is great, but you may also want to consider some paid ads and opportunities to expand even further.
Another important aspect besides how you will distribute your content is when you will distribute it. This will depend on when your audience is online. It is important that you use a social media calendar and post consistently.
Sprout Social’s publishing tools can help you tremendously with this process. You can easily schedule posts to go out across multiple social media networks. You can also use Sprout to manage your team.
Evaluate & Adjust Your Strategy
You have put in the work. You have developed your goals, created content and implemented a sharing schedule. Now, it’s time to measure the results and adjust. You can check your website’s analytics to see how you are doing with your traffic. Are viewers staying on your site and exploring? Check your video’s watch time to see just how long people are engaged.
For your social media performance, use Sprout’s social media analytics tools to see what content is resonating most with viewers.
Notice the clicks and responses. What results are you achieving with your content? Are you meeting the goals and objectives that you set? Is your audience not only seeing your content but engaged with it? Once you get an idea of what is working best, you can adjust your future content strategy accordingly. Sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to see what works.
But once you know, you will be rocking your online brand and building an audience of followers that is targeted to the content you put out. It is an ongoing process that you will need to revise often to get the best results. Be sure to document your ideas and strategy and distribute it among your team. This will make it much easier to make adjustments when need and will make sure everyone is on the same page.
Putting It All Together
Creating a content marketing strategy may sound daunting, but it does not have to be. There are so many wonderful tools available to make the process easier. Quality content adds so much value to your brand. Track your successes along with your failures. Get feedback from your audience. Build a list of tools and resources that will help you along your content creation journey. Build a system and you will be able to easily create and implement a strategy that works for you and your team.
Content Marketing is a commitment, not a campaign.
CEO at Moondog Marketing & Media
It is not meant as a one time “leave it and done” attempt. It is an ever-growing and ever-changing undertaking. Take the time to perfect the process and the outcome will be worth it.
Lori Hil: Lori Hil is a North Carolina native living abroad, capturing content, and sharing brand love. She mostly writes with a chihuahua on her lap and coffee close at hand from her base station in the Andes. She spends more time on Pinterest than anyone would care to admit and believes in the power of social media to change the world.