Complete Guide to Your Content Marketing Strategy
by Kathryn Good
A content marketing strategy uses content to attract new customers. Instead of interrupting customers with ads, companies create blog posts, podcasts, whitepapers, infographics, and videos that help educate or entertain customers.
Why Do I Need a Content Marketing Strategy?
Content marketing may seem like a lot more work than purchasing a mailing list, going to a trade show or buying online ads — and, don’t get us wrong, it can be a lot of work — but traditional advertising and marketing strategies are often:
- Too expensive
- Not scalable
Or some combination of all three. For example, for online ads to keep bringing in new leads, you have to keep spending money on them every month.
Instead, content marketing allows you to create content – whether it’s a blog post, white paper, infographic or something else — that stays live on your website. If you write a blog post that has a 2% conversion rate, you can continue to generate leads over and over via that same blog post for years. And that’s just one piece of the content you’ll create with a content marketing strategy. Content marketing is known to be predictable, scalable and cost-effective in bringing in consistent leads.
How Do You Start Building A Content Marketing Strategy?
A content marketing strategy starts with finding the perfect team to build and execute the strategy. How you set up your team will depend greatly on the size of your company, your budget, and your current marketing strategy and team.
No matter the size of your business, you’ll need to create content, which includes both writing the copy and designing the documents. For every piece of content, it will need to be added to the site, optimized for search engines, and promoted on social media and/or via an email campaign.
You can find a one-size-fits-all employee to handle the most basic of content marketing strategies, or you can build a team of dozens, each with a focus or expertise in one specific part of your marketing strategy. For example, you could have several writers, a designer, a social media manager, SEO specialist, and a Web developer, all in addition to your marketing team leader and sales team. The other option is to outsource the work to a marketing agency (that’s already full of experts). Many agencies can handle all aspects of a content marketing strategy and won’t need more from your team than some information and approval on documents.
Creating Content for Your Content Marketing Strategy
The actual content you use for content marketing is the most important part of your entire strategy. You know from our last blog post that you’ll need to hire writers and editors to create the content for your content marketing strategy.
There are tons of kinds of content your writers could create, so where do you start? Here are some of our favorite types to use for content marketing.
- Blog posts
- Case studies
We recommend creating an editorial calendar with a content schedule that uses a variety of the types listed above. You can go with a theme for each month based on your overall marketing strategy or mix it up. Make sure you create content that is targeted to each segment of your customer base, and that covers the various stages of the sales funnel. You need different pieces geared toward people just learning about your industry, people who are comparing prices and benefits and people who are ready to buy.
When creating content, never skip the editing step. If you publish low-quality content, you’ll push customers away instead of bringing them back for more. Once your copy is set, send it to a designer to be laid out. Then, at least one person should proofread it again before it gets posted to your site. Now is not the time for typos or design flaws!
Promoting Your Content
A crucial part of any marketing strategy is the promotion. For a content marketing strategy, that means promoting the content you’ve lovingly created and put online. If you just upload it and wait, you’ll see very slow readership, clicks, and sales. You need to help draw visitors to your site to see the valuable materials you’ve created.
So, what are some ways to promote your content?
- Social media
- Pay-per-click ads
- Social media ads
Linking to your content and/or advertising on social media and relevant sites are great ways to bring new viewers to your site. Once you have potential clients’ email addresses, you can send targeted emails to move them down the funnel with content geared toward making them ready to purchase. You can also send generic emails to promote your broader, top-of-the-funnel materials.
Search engines can also do some of the work for you by optimizing your content. Your SEO specialist should make sure every single piece you produce is ready for search engines. The higher your website appears in search results for your keywords, the more clicks you’ll get.
Choosing Tools for Your Content Marketing Strategy
There are tons of resources available to execute a content marketing strategy. Here is a list of all the tools you will need to tackle marketing tasks:
- Editorial Calendar: Planning ahead is a must. At Keystone, we plan out blog posts six months in advance. To help us work as a team and stay on deadline, we use Coschedule, but using Excel to keep a list of topics and due dates works as well.
- Content Management: A content management system should have tools in place to add blogs and other content to your site. A Web developer can help set up any new features you need or design elements you want. At Keystone, we specialize in Kentico and WordPress, but we have also worked in Hubspot and Shopify.
- Email: There are tons of email marketing programs in the marketplace, and almost all of them allow you to schedule and send emails to different lists and provide analytics on your emails. Keystone’s favorites are Emma and MailChimp.
- Social media: You can manage your social media accounts and analytics directly through the different platforms, and there are also free and paid programs that allow you to schedule posts for all your accounts in one place. Fortunately for us, Coschedule is a one-stop-shop for planning content and scheduling it on social media. Some other apps like Buffer, Hootsuite, and Sprout Social also are popular options.
- SEO: A big part of content marketing is optimizing your content for search engines, and there are a few products that can help you identify keywords. Moz, Google Analytics, and SEMRush are great SEO tools.
Almost all the tools listed above are free or include a free trial.
Tracking Your Content Marketing Progress
Without analytics, how do you know if your content marketing strategy is working? In short: you don’t.
There are tons of metrics you can use to measure your content marketing strategy’s success. You need to track statistics like:
- Website visitors
- Blog views
- Social media following
- Social media shares
- Social media engagement
- Email opens
- Email clicks
- Content downloads
You should set goals for all the metrics you’re going to track and monitor them consistently. You’ll also want to track negative metrics like email unsubscribes to learn more about what your followers do and don’t want to see.
Don’t forget that numbers often don’t tell the entire story. It’s also helpful to have an employee analyze the metrics to find outliers or other issues that may skew the data. Content marketing is a process, so make sure you give your content marketing strategy time to get into its groove.
Developing, executing, and tracking a content management strategy isn’t that difficult if you have the time, knowledge and resources to get it done. If you are struggling with this important aspect of your business, let us help.