9 Steps to Develop Content Marketing Strategy

9 Steps to Develop Content Marketing Strategy

This guide will walk you through 9 simple steps to developing and executing a content marketing plan that’ll help you to take your business to the next level.

Not all businesses have a documented content marketing strategy, and it is a big downside given how prominent this type of marketing is these days.

Content marketing helps with conversions, brand awareness, authority, and other aspects a business wants to accomplish to establish itself as one recognized and trustworthy among consumers.

The question is, how to approach content marketing strategy creation if a business has never done it before?

Similar to other business management techniques, this one also requires a plan. Create one that you can follow thoroughly. Below, you will find the steps to take to create such a plan.

Decide What Your Goals Are

Start with deciding what your goals are and set realistic milestones that you can achieve. Knowing the goals will make them easier to accomplish because you will have concrete stuff to focus on.

In addition, completing each goal gives a sense of accomplishment and motivation, unlike those cases where you do not see progress.

You should outline goals using visuals so that they are presented more clearly. Finding the design tools for this task should not be an issue. You can use something simple like MS Publisher. And if you run macOS instead of Windows, a solid office publisher for mac alternative is Swift Publisher.

Make sure that everyone involved knows their tasks before they start. Communication is relevant as as ever when it comes to discussing goals.

Set Key Performance Indicators

Continuing from the step about goals, a business also has to determine its KPI (key performance indicators).

To put it in layman's terms, in this case, KPIs refer to numbers, such as revenue, website traffic, sales, social media engagement, and so on.

Figure out how many new followers you want on Instagram or Facebook profiles, how many new email signups or higher positions on search engines are acceptable, and so on. 

If a business creates multiple goals and KPIs, then it is also crucial to emphasize tracking of expenses and other resources. Not having actual numbers will lead to second-guessing and potential mistakes in the campaign.

Understand Your Demographics

A clear understanding of your target audience is another crucial element of the plan. Failing to identify the demographic means wasting resources because you will be targeting irrelevant leads.

Different approaches exist to identify demographics, but it is usually recommended to go with three main steps:

  • Collecting demographic data—this includes age, gender, education, income, location, and other relevant information about potential customers.
  • Getting feedback—try collecting data from current customers by asking what they like and what they would like to see improved.
  • Creating buyer personas—flesh out buyer personas to identify your ideal customer and tailor-make content around them.

Of course, with that said, it would be impossible to collect such information without appropriate tools, particularly the demographic data.

Google Analytics and various insight tools that excel at providing valuable data range from free to paid, but you should still find one that is both affordable and provides the necessary future.

The same thing can be said about other tools you might potentially want, such as automated emails to collect current customer feedback.

Figure Out Whether Your Current Content Is Helping or Not

content strategy

It is likely that you already worked on content marketing, but the outcome might have been pretty lackluster because there was no direction to it. Because this particular method requires patience and thorough planning, lacking these aspects often leads to poor results.

Nevertheless, the fact that you have content is a good sign, and it can be a good source of learning. Spend some resources to identify which of your content pieces failed to provide returns and which managed to exceed expectations.

Having a basis from prior experience will let you avoid potential mistakes. For example, if your campaign with an influencer did not work the way you thought it would, it could mean that this particular channel of marketing is not worth it. 

On the other hand, if guest posting on specific niche blogs netted valuable traffic to your website, it means that you can look to try to emphasize that type of content more.

Gaps are going to be inevitable in content when it comes to marketing, and you can expect that to happen even after you create a proper strategy. It is about identifying what works and what does not so that you can adjust and move forward.

Think About Best Marketing Channels

In case you do not have prior content to analyze, you will still need to work on determining appropriate marketing channels. 

One problematic thing about this particular phase of the planning is that you cannot really determine whether a particular marketing channel is good enough or not without trying it, and that means resource dedication.

Trial and error without investing too much can present results that let you determine the general idea. 

Looking at the competition and where they are benefitting the most is an approach worth considering as well, but you cannot base your strategy on another brand because it is unlikely that you will yield the same results. 

In addition, businesses need to consider how various factors affect marketing channels. An ongoing pandemic makes a significant impact on how brands approach their marketing methods. One can also look to holiday seasons like Christmas and build part of the strategy around it.

Consider Different Types of Content

Different content provides different results, but there are a few standout types that seem to be doing quite well right now regardless of one's niche.

First of all, we have videos. Video content is replacing regular texts because the latter is not as effective. These days, people have worse attention spans, meaning that they are less likely to read something. However, watching a video is more acceptable and easier to digest.

Of course, it is important to note that this lack of writing effectiveness should not be a reason enough to abandon the method. You can still find value in something like guest posting on blogs and improve your link-building strategy. 

Well-researched articles and studies are effective as well, just like infographics. Though with infographics, there is still the visual element that plays a major role, so the text is often considered secondary.

Podcasts are another interesting example. Given how prominent listening to podcasts has become recently, it is often that you can hear the hosts promoting various products by giving brands shoutouts. Could podcasts become your go-to advertising channel? Possibly, but you need to try them first.

The bottom line is that the content itself is a complicated matter, and it will take time as well as other resources to determine what works and what does not. If you are planning to create a proper content marketing strategy, prepare to invest and be patient.

Use Content Calendar

content calendar

A content calendar is recommended because it helps businesses track different content types. Handing vast amounts of information and tracking it without a calendar is a challenge, and it makes sense to optimize the process.

Have everything in a single knowledge base, such as Google Docs or Sheets. Those in charge of tracking can then update the results and gather valuable insights into what is working and what is not.

Create, Distribute, and Advertise

Once the plan is in place and there is an understanding of the demographics as well as desired goals, a business can start creating the content and distributing it. 

Early on, the entire thing can feel a bit sluggish, particularly if people working on it have no prior experience. However, once they get the hang of things, the whole operation should become more efficient.

Now, as for the content itself, it is also necessary to decide how you are going to approach its distribution. Is it worth creating a dedicated blog post and publishing articles on it, or does it make more sense to use already established blogs and get in touch with their owners for guest publishing opportunities? Or perhaps it is better to combine the two?

Both options have their pros and cons, and that is just about blogging. Influencer marketing, SEO, PPC, outreach campaigns, and other marketing types require different approaches as well. 

You will also need to consider who is going to create the content. Do you have enough in-house creators, or will hiring freelancers or new people for full-time positions be necessary? 

Do not forget that if your content marketing plans work out, you will likely need to produce even more content to maximize the results.

Track Results and Make Adjustments

The last step is to ensure that you are thorough in tracking the results and monitoring what is making a positive impact and where you are wasting resources.

Measure the results and compare different types of content to determine which of them are net positive and which of them are negative. You can tweak the content marketing strategy by following actual data instead of making guesses. And if you make these tweaks regularly, the content and the overall plan will stay up to date.

Sam Makad is a business consultant. He helps small & medium enterprises to grow their businesses and overall ROI. You can follow Sam on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.

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