Content marketing is all about creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content that is targeted to your customers and is on-brand with the ultimate goal of driving customer action.The best thing about content marketing is it’s sustainable. Unlike advertising and other traditional methods that have a limited time span, quality content can provide a return on investment for years and years into the future.
Craft Your Content Marketing Strategy
Content serves a specific purpose, is tailored to a specific audience, is distributed, and comes in many different forms. In the Define phase, you want to define the following:
- Objectives: What are you trying to achieve? What are your goals?
- Audience: Who are you trying to reach? What does their customer journey look like?
- Channels: What channels will you use to reach your audience? How will you distribute content?
- Resources: What resources do you have? Who will generate content ideas? Who will create content? Who will distribute content?
In the Audit phase, you want to review your current efforts and analyze what is working versus what is not working. To help you measure, you can select key performance indicators (KPIs). Also, you might want to research the competition for inspiration and differentiation. Research your competitors and ask yourself, “What can I learn from them?” and “What can I do better or differently?”
Now, it is time to outline your content. You will want to consider the content topics and format.
When it comes to content topics, I recommend creating a list of FAQs, reflecting on the customer journey, creating a list of keywords, researching the competition, and maybe even using online tools. Download the Content Idea Generator below to get you started.
After brainstorming, it’s time to evaluate the content. List your content ideas and ask yourself:
- Why are you sharing this content? What is the purpose and associated call to action?
- Who are you targeting with this content?
- How will your audience want to consume it (read, watch, listen)?
- What is the appropriate channel for this content?
- How will you measure the results of this content?
If you cannot answer all 5 questions quickly and easily, cut that idea from your list. The key is to remember content is not just a blog post or a video rather content can be consumed in various formats, serves a specific purpose, and targets a specific audience.
How your audience consumes content and which channels you use will influence the format of your content. Case studies, how-to’s, blogs, FAQs, newsletters, videos, templates, worksheets, resources, webinars, guides, lists, podcasts, photos, user generated content, press releases and news, illustrations, infographics, ebooks, and white papers are just a few examples.
Lastly, it is usually helpful to classify the content that is ready to be shared today versus the content you need to start building to share in the future. I’d recommend creating a process so that it is easy to generate content in the future. As an example, create a process for requesting testimonials and sharing them.
Now it’s time to create a plan! Why do you need a plan? Well you need a plan to…
- Be strategic in how you release content
- Be efficient and save time every week
- Avoid content overwhelm
- Make a commitment and follow-through
- Integrate across channels
- Streamline resources- create once, use many
For your plan, I’d recommend the following:
- Content Calendar
- Weekly hashtag themes or monthly content themes
- Content Checklist
Once you have your calendar and checklist outline, make sure you schedule calendar reminders or task reminders to hold yourself accountable to your plan. You can always schedule posts ahead of time, so that you can simply have content creation days.
A few tools that will help you get started:
- Hootsuite or Buffer for social media scheduling
- Canva for creating and sizing content
Monitoring your progress is essential to learn what is working and what you can do better. Monitoring allows you to leverage engagement opportunities, be prepared for reputation management, gather customer feedback, develop a better customer understanding, and build customer loyalty.
Social monitoring is all about identifying and responding to brand mentions. Social listening involves collecting data from social mentions, posts, and comments to gain customer insights so that you can make better decisions. Social monitoring is a micro approach that focuses on the details and is retrospective, while social listening is a macro approach that focuses on the big picture and is prospective.
Lastly, create a plan for evaluation. When I was in the MBA program, my digital marketing professor introduced me to the Digital Marketing & Measurement Model by Avinash Kaushik. This evaluation model was so influential that I practice the first 3 steps everyday for myself and my clients.
When you tie your analytics to your business objectives, it is far easier to build a case for content marketing. First, you identify your marketing objectives outlined in your marketing plan or guide. Second, you specify a specific goal for each objective. Third, you choose a key performance indicator for each goal.
As an example, a brand might use Facebook (channel) to raise brand awareness (marketing objective) by striving to increase the following (goal) and will in turn measure the number of likes and followers (KPIs). You don’t have to follow his process or my recommended process, but the important part is that you somehow define KPIs that you will help you measure your progress.
Bonus: Free Helpful Tools
A few tools that may help you:
Social Listening & Monitoring
Start with the in-platform analytics on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. If you want more, check out free third-party tools such as: Social Mention, Google Alerts, Socialblade, BrandMention’s Social Media Tracker, or Followerwonk.