There’s no shortage of content marketing strategy opportunities for brands these days.
Whether you’re a marketer for a DTC brand or B2B company, the content formats and types of channels you can use to distribute that content are always evolving. If you want to be sure that your content is successful and keeps up with the ever-changing digital landscape, you need a solid content marketing strategy in place.
According to Content Marketing Institute’s annual B2B Content Marketing report for 2021, 51% of marketers cited strategy issues as a reason their content marketing wasn’t successful.
What’s even more telling: the report also found that of the most successful content marketers, 60% have a documented content marketing strategy compared to 21% from the least successful content marketers.
The data doesn’t lie. If you want to produce successful content for your brand — content that creates inbound traffic, generates sales, increases brand awareness, or whatever your marketing objectives may be — then there needs to be a solid content marketing strategy in place.
Below, let’s dive into why you need a content marketing strategy and the steps to create your content marketing strategy in 2022.
Why is a content marketing strategy important?
First, it’s important to have a solid understanding of what exactly content marketing is. Content marketing is when you use content to achieve your brand’s marketing and business goals. There are countless types of content you can incorporate into your strategy from visual to audio to written, but some common ones include:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
This is only a fraction of the types of content you can produce. You’re probably already producing several of these content types on a regular basis, but the key to a successful content marketing strategy is knowing which ones to focus on.
While you could experiment with a bunch of content types, jump on every social media trend, or post for the sake of posting you have no way to determine whether or not your content marketing is making an impact without a strategy.
That’s where a content marketing strategy comes into play.
A good content strategy considers your audience, first and foremost. Your strategy should take into account what type of content your audience engages with and how you can create content that speaks to their wants and needs. At the same time, the content should help you meet your marketing goals, whether that’s to generate more leads, increase sales, or become an industry leader.
All of that to say, a content marketing strategy is essential to give you a plan of action to reach those goals.
How to create a content marketing strategy
Establish your goals
There are a lot of ways content can help you meet your greater marketing goals. And, when done right, your content marketing strategy should also align with the overall business goals of the company. Here are some common content marketing objectives:
- Increase lead generation
- Establish brand authority
- Strengthen customer retention
Toggl’s blog is an example of a content marketing strategy that’s geared toward building brand authority. Toggl is a time tracking tool and it uses its blog as a way to demonstrate thought leadership around topics like productivity, remote work, and burnout.
Determine the objectives you want your content marketing to achieve before you dive into the details. These goals will help inform which content channels you want to prioritize, the content formats, and the type of content that will resonate most with the audience you want to target.
If this is your first time creating a content marketing strategy, then lean on the company’s overarching marketing goals as a starting point. If you’re readjusting your current content marketing strategy, use your previous content to determine how you want to adjust so that it’s more in line with the new goals you want to achieve.
Know your audience
As a marketer, you’ve heard the phrase “know your audience” a million and one times. We hate to echo something that’s ingrained in you, but the truth is that understanding your audience is essential for a successful content marketing strategy.
Oftentimes, people who follow your brand on Instagram or read your blog posts aren’t necessarily going to become customers right away. Content is used to create long-time brand awareness and build that relationship so that when they’re ready to make the next move, your brand will be top of mind.
If your company already has audience personas in place, use them to create content for your target customer. If your company doesn’t have personas, consider creating some for your content marketing strategy. You can do this by envisioning your ideal customer and their behaviors. This includes their buying habits, where they shop, and where they spend time online.
It’s also essential to figure out your audience’s demographics so you can tailor your content for them. Dive into your social media analytics to see a breakdown of your audience by gender, age, location, and more. This insight will provide deeper insight into who’s currently following you and engaging with your content.
It’s tempting to brainstorm a ton of content ideas and different formats and then see what sticks. But those efforts will be all for naught if you don’t consider what’s a good fit for your audience *before* you come up with content. Determine where your audience spends the most time first, and then figure out how you can create content that aligns with what they’ll resonate with.
Conduct a content audit
Before you create your content marketing strategy, audit the content you already have. When you review your content channels, keep a couple things in mind: What are you currently creating that’s successful? What could use some improvement?
Even if you don’t have a full-fledged content marketing strategy to reference yet, you can review any type of content you’ve produced. For example, take a look at your social media engagement metrics from the past year. Did any particular posts receive high engagement? Consider why it did well and how you can work off of that to come up with more content ideas or even repurpose it into another content format (e.g. repurposing a podcast interview into a blog post).
On the flipside, what could use some work? If you have an active blog, for instance, take a look at the website analytics to see how much traffic the blog posts are driving and if that traffic is converting. Additionally, audit your Facebook and other social media channels to see what you can learn about your current engagement rates.
Use this audit to identify opportunities to improve your content and get a solid grasp on which formats and channels to pursue for your new content marketing strategy.
Establish content channels
The primary content channels for digital marketers are your website, social media, and email list. Depending on the industry you’re in, you may use all of these pretty regularly, especially considering they all work in tandem. But chances are one of these channels outshines the others when it comes to helping you hit your marketing goals. Determine which one you want to prioritize for your content marketing strategy.
Once you have an idea of which ones you want to focus on, you can figure out the breakdown of content creation for each. Many of the content ideas you come up with can likely be repurposed across channels. But the idea behind narrowing your focus is that a bulk of your content efforts will be put into the channel where your audience hangs out.
Brainstorm content ideas
Now for the fun part! Going back to the information you gathered in the previous steps, you should have a pretty solid idea of the content you want to create.
If you still need inspiration, there are several ways you can gather fresh ideas:
- Review your successful content: Take a look at your content that has done well and see how you can repurpose, refresh, or reiterate it.
- Check out your competitor’s content: There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Scope out what your competitors are up to by reviewing their content and social media strategy.
- Ask your audience: The content you’re going to create is for them — why not go straight to the source and ask them what they want to see more of from your channels?
- See what people are searching for: While your content is for a specific audience, it doesn’t hurt to see what conversations a broader audience is having. Use a tool to find trending topics so you can sprinkle them in throughout your strategy.
Create a content calendar
Whether you work at a marketing agency or have an in-house role, you’re going to need a way to keep all of your content organized so you can maintain a consistent publishing schedule.
Fortunately, there are a ton of content management systems and content calendar tools out there to choose from. One of our favorites is Trello. Not only does Trello offer an excellent content calendar tool, but the brand shares great examples of how to use it on its blog.
When looking for the best tool to use, what’s important to keep in mind is that your content calendar should be the central hub for all things content. It should house all of the information you need to create and execute content including the content type, channel, a schedule, who will be responsible for it, what creative assets you need, and make note of any other stakeholders or members outside of the team who may need to be involved.
The key to creating a content calendar is to find a tool or process that offers the easiest way to stay on top of every content piece you produce and distribute it on a regular schedule.
Set up a way to measure
Every good strategy needs a process to measure success. When it’s time to execute your content marketing strategy, you’ll need a way to analyze your content, compare it to the initial objectives you set, and adjust as necessary.
Whether it’s a social media analytics tool, a website analytics tool, or some combination of the two, equip your content marketing strategy with the right tools so you can make informed decisions about your efforts.
Another great way to measure your content is to see how it stacks up against the competition. With Rival IQ, you can directly compare your social media content with your competitors in one landscape. Add all of your competitors’ social channels to your dashboard to see side-by-side comparisons, analyze their top-performing posts, and determine how you can apply similar tactics to your own content.
There are a lot of moving parts that go into a content marketing strategy. At the end of the day, it may take some trial and error to figure out what’s the most successful for your brand.
But with measurable objectives, an actionable content plan, and the proper tools to execute and analyze your content, you’re setting your brand up for success.