Podcasts. Videos. Blogs. Case Studies. Content comes in many forms these days — it has come a long way from the age of newspapers and magazines.
No one can deny the importance of content marketing for businesses. According to Content Marketing Institute, 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing to reach their audience and engage with them.
Consistency is key in content production. According to McKinsey, the three Cs of customer satisfaction are "Consistency, Consistency, & Consistency."
But it's easier said than done, and without the right content strategy, it is next to impossible to do content marketing successfully.
This article will explore what it takes to develop a content strategy that actually works for your business.
What Is a Content Strategy?
According to Chris Walker, CEO at Refine Labs, content strategy is "understanding your buyers deeply and then getting focused on telling a business story that drives business outcomes."
Simply put, content strategy is the process of developing a plan to ideate, create, design, distribute, promote, and repurpose content that aligns with your business, goals, and target audience.
Importance of Creating a Content Strategy
Content marketing generates over three times more leads than outbound marketing and costs 62% less.
Having the right content strategy will help you share your brand story and establish yourself as a subject matter expert in the eyes of your target audience.
With a solid content strategy in place, you can create content that helps you achieve your goals and enables you to drive traffic and sales from your content.
Develop an Impactful Content Strategy: 8 Steps to Follow
Here is a list of steps you should follow to develop a content marketing strategy that delivers results. Let's go!
1. Define Goals for Your Content Strategy
This is the "why" behind your content.
There is a specific business outcome you are expecting – if you don't know what that is, you can't measure the success of your content strategy. Your goals will help you know whether your strategy is working and allow you to make improvements accordingly.
But you must carefully choose these goals. Set goals that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound).
A good content strategy answers three basic questions:
- Why are we creating content in the first place?
- What type of content do we need?
- How does that content help accomplish our goals?
Here are some examples of the types of goals you can set for your content marketing strategy:
- Create brand awareness
- Increased traffic
- Better lead quality
- Higher customer revenue
- Improved customer loyalty
Tom Bangay, Director of Content at Juro, believes you should have a set revenue goal to achieve through your content strategy. He says, “If you don't start with the revenue objectives that will ultimately be achieved by executing the strategy, then you're misaligned with the business, and you'll struggle to get buy-in. Content should lead up through mediums and channels to leads, opportunities, and closed revenue — if they don't, you're likely doing the wrong thing.”
2. Know Your Audience
Who are you creating all this content for? What problems are you solving for them? What stage of the buyer's journey are they at?
To create a content strategy, you must know the answer to all these questions by conducting your audience persona research.
Talk to your customers, attend sales calls, understand their pain points, and figure out what they want to hear from you.
John Daniel Boone, Content Strategist at ExaWeb Corporation, emphasizes on the target audience to develop your content strategy. He says, “You have to put yourself in the shoes of the people you want to reach and influence because doing so helps you understand what they want or need. Thinking like your audience helps you make more relatable content that will “click” with your target market.”
By speaking with your ideal customers, you are not speaking out into the void based on your instincts. Audience research will help you build trust and create content relevant to your target audience.
Here's a template for you to help build your personas — HubSpot's persona template.
3. Run a Content Audit
According to SEMRush, 65% of companies that were very successful with content marketing in 2021 ran content audits at least twice a year.
Before rushing into producing new content, know what you already have. Much of your existing content can be republished after a revamp and repurposed into other content types.
A content audit allows you to identify all your various content assets – you can analyze the topic gaps and pick out which content assets are helpful the way they are and which ones need to be updated.
When you've finished your audit, it's time to ask four important questions:
- What sticks?
- What to fix?
- What to remove?
- What more to add?
This analysis will also help you understand your areas of improvement to avoid repeating the same mistakes. You will also know which content formats produce the most results for you and why you are lacking in others.
4. Pick the Right Content Types
Your content audit will reveal what content types drive the most traffic and revenue. By analyzing that, you can decide on some of the most popular content types for your audience.
Some common content types include:
- Long-form SEO-driven blog posts
- Case Studies
- Social Posts
- Email content
Remember that you don't have to create all kinds of content right from the start. If you are starting your content efforts from blogs, take some time to perfect your approach before moving to videos or podcasts.
5. Choose the Best Content Channels
Your content strategy also includes the channels you will be targeting based on where your target audience hangs out.
If your audience regularly watches YouTube videos, you can use this channel to your advantage and drive traffic to your blog and company website.
With tools like Google Analytics and Buzzsumo, you can determine where your content is being shared and from where you are getting the most traffic. Using this data, you can select the top five channels you should focus on.
Again, consistency is key, and you have to create content for some time before you start seeing results.
Alex Birkett, Co-founder at Omniscient Digital, says that the biggest mistake he sees is not committing to the channel. “You can't really dip your toes in content and hope to succeed. It's a long-term channel, so those who commit and know they want it are the ones who end up building an ROI-positive program,” he says.
6. Map Your Editorial Calendar
Now that you know what content you are making and for which channel, it's time to set up a proper system.
For this purpose, map out your editorial calendar. Plot all your content types (blogs, emails, eBooks, podcasts, videos, etc.) across a given time, like the 4th Quarter of 2022 or 2023.
One thing to note here is to try to keep the scope of time small enough for you to stay flexible so you can see which content is performing and double down on that.
7. Publish and Distribute Your Content
Finally, the time has come to publish your content and let it do its magic. But, wait, it won’t magically reach your audience.
You must have a content distribution and marketing plan to ensure that it reaches the right audience.
Ensure that your content is SEO-optimized to rank on Google and other search engines.
Use email marketing to distribute your content to subscribers. After some time, you should track all the relevant metrics to see exactly which content works.
Emily Brady, Creative Content Lead at Sweet Fish Media, says that many people don’t think about content distribution. She shares her advice on content distribution, stating, “The best sites for distribution will depend on your industry and several other factors. Another strategic way to distribute your content is by publishing your articles on large blogs or publications. If you target the right publications, you’ll be tapping into an existing audience hungry to consume the type of content your guests are helping you create.”
How Do Content Buckets Fit In Your Content Strategy?
Still struggling to come up with new content ideas? Don't worry! Content buckets will come to your rescue, streamlining the process for you.
What Is a Content Bucket?
Content buckets, also known as content categories, act as a cluster of content themes to ensure that you cover various topics relevant to your business. While every content bucket is specific to a certain topic, they should all connect to an overarching brand message.
It is critical to keep in mind that these content buckets should all still align with the brand story, building onto it from new perspectives. Such buckets are especially useful for blogs, videos, and social media posts.
Common Types of Content Buckets
- Customer Stories: Customer case studies in the form of articles or videos — you can extract quotes and clips from these to share on your website and social media.
- Tips and tricks: Relevant tips and tricks for your audience — educational content that creates a need for your product.
- Educational Webinars: Bring in industry experts as guests or showcase how your product helps solve customer problems.
- Feature Launch: Blogs, videos, or press releases for each new product feature launch to boost adoption.
- Customer Industry News and Trends: Content linked to relevant news or trending topics.
- Important Days: There are some common national and international holidays as well as some industry-specific days that you should post content for.
- Motivational Content: You can post different quotes or inspirational content on social media — these help build relatability and attract audience engagement.
Semrush: A Successful Example of Content Buckets
Semrush is a well-known tool for marketing insights, keyword research, and overall online visibility. Semrush regularly publishes content for different content buckets covering various content formats. Their blog alone can be an excellent example of varying content buckets.
The Semrush blog covers the following content buckets based on their audience research:
- SEO: Basics of SEO for beginners
- Advanced SEO: Advanced tactics for SEO
- Channels: Explores different content channels
- Content: Tips on content research and creation
- Marketing: Tips for marketing research and strategy building
- News & Research: Latest news in the world of SEO
- Semrush: Product feature tips
These content bucks have various sub-topics, each containing different blogs. For instance, the image shows sub-topics for the content bucket "SEO."
Other than blogs, Semrush publishes a variety of other content formats, including:
- Feature launches
- Academy with different courses
Digital Marketing Strategy: A Step in the Right Direction
Content strategy is the building block of your content marketing strategy and now you know how to create one for your business.