How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy That Actually Works

Today’s consumers live in a digital world, which means they can retrieve all the information they want at the touch of a button, putting them in control.

Additionally, they have become immune to traditional outbound marketing methods – such as billboards and TV ads – and they expect brands and companies to tailor their messages based on needs and preferences. individual customers.

Despite the new lay of the land, e-commerce businesses can create content marketing strategies that cut through the noise and help push leads down sales funnels.

Content marketing gets three times more leads than paid search advertising, according to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI).

It costs 62% less than traditional marketing, Demand Metric found.

That’s impressive, but can you say with confidence that you fully understand how it works?

Definition of the term

CMI defines “content marketing” 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 drive action. profitable customer.

I like to boil it down to communicating the right message, to the right audience, on the right channels, at the right time. If you follow this approach, your content efforts will reach your desired audience, and the information you disseminate will be timely, topical, and of high value. This will position your business as trustworthy, insightful and authoritative.

What makes content marketing better?

Traditional marketing refers to outbound marketing, which is seen as the old way of doing things, i.e. targeting a mass audience through tactics such as television advertising, billboards and cold calls.

While this will get your message and brand out in front of a lot of people, the right people might not see it. There’s a lot of this kind of advertising, and consumers have become immune to it. Research confirms this.

Cold calling is 90.9% ineffective, according to the Harvard Business Review.

Eighty-four percent of us advance quickly in TV commercials, an Arris poll suggests.

In comparison, content marketing focuses on businesses generating valuable and insightful content and making it easily accessible to target customers. It is less intrusive than outbound marketing because it forces the customer to come to your business, through online search and social media.

Develop your strategy

To develop a successful content marketing strategy that actually works, you need to go back to basics.

You may already be blogging or vlogging, but without a thorough understanding of your audience and your pain points, your efforts will be wasted.

To help you develop and work from a sophisticated strategy, I recommend that you follow these four steps:

1. Identify

Start by researching your audience, your business, and your offering thoroughly.

Find out what your audience’s challenges are and what they’re trying to accomplish, so you can create content that answers their questions. Next, dive into the content consumption habits of your customers.

Consider how they find information and what types of content formats they prefer. This can be online, on social media or offline through different publications, news outlets or magazines. If they prefer online content, how do they want to receive it?

One type of content that is making waves online is video. This has been a key trend this year and its growth is expected to continue in 2020.

Seventy-two percent of participants in a Wyzowl study preferred watching a video over text when inquiring about a product or service.

Seventy-three percent of marketers surveyed by TopRankBlog used YouTube to distribute content.

Another key aspect of research is what your competitors are doing and what the trends are in your broader industry. This will help you identify hot topics that everyone seems to be talking about and engaging with, and you can share your views on those topics to add to the conversation.

2. Plan

Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to create your action plan.

I recommend creating a three to six month plan, as this will give you enough time to run a campaign effectively and produce enough content to identify the best performing pieces of content.

So what should you include in your plan?

  • Goals – It’s essential to include your goals for your activity in your plan, as this will help you focus your efforts on your end goal. You can break down your goals for individual pieces of content. For example, one piece of content may be intended to increase brand awareness, while another may be specifically intended to encourage people to click through to your website.
  • Audience — If you have multiple audience types, it’s helpful to create specific content for the different audience types you’re trying to engage, as each audience type will have different issues. By breaking down content items by audience type, you’ll establish whether you’ve produced the right amount of content for each group.
  • Monthly theme – Something I use myself in content marketing plans is a monthly theme and topic. Themes can be based on industry trends, seasonal influences, or be divided based on audience issues. They should work as an umbrella for the rest of the content you produce that month. For example, a monthly theme could be “data” and it could be broken down into smaller sub-themes throughout the month, such as “data storage”, “data cleaning”, “data capture”, etc.
  • Quantity of content – Once you have decided on your monthly theme, you will need to decide how much content you will produce for the month. It helps to start with your “pillar” theme and then support it with smaller “cluster” pieces of content. This way, you’ll be able to maximize your content production efforts and break down the biggest content into smaller, smaller chunks.
  • Content formats — Finally, you will need to decide on the content formats you will produce. Depending on your audience’s preferences, you can create a wide variety of content formats, which will keep your audience engaged. You can choose from guides, blogs, vlogs, social media post cards, infographics, templates, checklists, quizzes, case studies, reports, webinars, polls and podcasts. Creating a wide variety of content types for your website will help it attract Google search algorithms and social media algorithms. New and varied content is favored, which means it will be boosted in search rankings and social media feeds.

3. Amplify

Once you’ve planned all your activities, it’s time to start producing your content and delivering it.

Make sure your content has a mix of promotion, information, and knowledge, to teach your audience something they may not already know, adding value. This blended approach will also help position your business as a thought leader and allow you to build credibility and gain the trust of your potential customers.

As for your initial research, you will then need to deliver your finished pieces of content to the channels your audience uses the most. This can be social media, emails, specific posts or direct mail. By using multiple channels of amplification, you’ll create multiple touchpoints with your audience, which will help keep your brand top of mind with your prospects.

If you use online digital channels to distribute your content, remember to use keywords and hashtags when you can. By using the same keywords your audience uses to search for information, you will appear at the top of search rankings. This will improve the likelihood of your content being seen by your target audience.

Hashtags work similarly to keywords, in that they rank content based on searches. On channels like Twitter and LinkedIn, adding three hashtags is ideal, while on Instagram you can use many more.

4. Review and Refine

You should monitor performance after you put your content online and look back on your efforts to see what works and what doesn’t.

See how your content performs on social media. What drives the highest levels of interaction and what does your audience love the most? Review your Google analytics to identify where traffic is coming from and what website visitors are doing when they land on your homepage. Is there a specific blog that people visit the most?

By looking at how people interact with your content, you’ll be able to identify which topics and content formats your audience prefers, and what you should produce more of, giving your audience exactly what they want. wants.

Last words

When done correctly, content marketing can help catapult the brand in front of audiences looking for answers and information about what your products can offer.

It helps to remember that content marketing is not a “set and forget” technique. It is a process that requires regular, consistent and targeted production to increase your visibility and demonstrate your expertise.