Editor’s note: This post was updated October 2018
Whether this is your first foray into content marketing or you’ve been using it for a while now, it’s always a good idea to make sure your content marketing strategy is robust and up-to-date.
With so much branded content online, consumers have learned to tune out the noise and only engage with the most useful, relevant content. As a result, businesses must now put the consumer experience at the heart of their content marketing efforts.
This means having a content strategy that is results-driven and customer-centric.
If currently building or updating your content marketing strategy, read on to learn how to create a high performing content marketing machine.How to Build a High Performing Content Strategy Click To Tweet
What is Content Marketing?
First, it’s important to understand the fundamentals. Content marketing is not advertising your business through content. Effective content marketing is about creating and promoting content that attracts, inspires, entertains, and engages a clearly-defined audience.
So, where does strategy come into this?
What is a Content Marketing Strategy?
Your content marketing strategy is the strategy that connects your business objectives and content marketing.
For example, your content strategy might find that there is a lack of awareness for one of your product categories and present several options for addressing the issue. Your content marketing would then help drive more awareness by creating posts or videos about that product category and sharing it across relevant channels.
Or, think about it this way…
Imagine not having a content strategy.
Creating content on random topics and random times with no clear goal in mind…
Sounds like a recipe for disaster. Sure, there’s a chance you could strike content marketing gold, just the same as there’s a chance I could close my eyes, start digging and strike literal gold.
Your content strategy is the guiding vision that determines how you’ll use content to support your marketing goals.
Why Does a Content Strategy Matter?
Content marketing can produce impressive results.
But simply churning out blog posts and ebooks isn’t the secret to content marketing success.
The key to successful content marketing is developing a great strategy that serves the broader business objectives and then creating truly high-quality, interesting content that aligns with that strategy.
There are 5 broad steps to creating a content strategy:
- Step 1: Plan with Purpose
- Step 2: Know Your Audience
- Step 3: Create Great Content
- Step 4: Distribute Content
- Step 5: Measure What Matters
Step 1: Plan with Purpose
With online advertising becoming more expensive and organic engagement becoming more valuable, an increasing number of businesses are dedicating more of their marketing budget to content marketing.
But there isn’t a universal template for a strong content marketing strategy.
That’s because a great content marketing strategy is unique to your business’s goals, audience, brand story, and channel mix.
That said, by having a solid content marketing strategy in place, businesses can improve brand awareness, engage their target audience, and generate more qualified leads.
Choose Your Goals
Whichever formats your content takes, it needs to align with your long-term marketing and business goals. Make sure every blog post, video presentation, and newsletter are in alignment. Remember, content marketing is a commitment, not a campaign.
For example, you might want to build trust with a customer segment; or perhaps you’re trying to get a certain number of consumers to sign up for an exclusive offer.
When you know what you want to achieve from the outset, you can focus on producing highly effective content that gets the results you want.
If you haven’t done one before, a good place to start the planning process is by doing a content audit. Content audits allow you to review the content you have published and look for opportunities for improvements or content gaps to fill.
Get Everyone on Board
Before producing any content, everyone on your team needs to know the objectives. This is especially important if you need to justify your content marketing budget to company executives, as it will help you present your results later.
You also need to define your brand’s personality so that everyone communicates in a consistent voice. Identify your strengths and promote them throughout your content. Your content represents your company, after all.
Create a Calendar
To plan effectively, you’re going to need an editorial calendar. It doesn’t have to be carved in stone or anything flashy; a simple excel sheet will do, and this can be shared with other colleagues.
This means that everyone can be involved in the content marketing process, through planning, research, creation, and distribution stages.
By sticking to an editorial calendar, you can ensure your audience gets the right content that consistently meets their needs. You also have the flexibility to publish extra content whenever necessary to tie in with any unexpected news stories or special company offers.
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Step 2: Know Your Target Audience
Before you start creating content, businesses need to think about not only which audience to target but also which channels to distribute and promote the content.
It’s not enough just to produce content demonstrating that you understand customer problems and have products or services that can help, because, without proper targeting and distribution, the content doesn’t even reach the potential buyer.
Understand Your Audience
Before you begin creating any content you need to understand your audience. Try answering these questions:
- Who are you targeting?
- What do you want them to know?
- Which format best communicates this message?
- Where is the audience you want to target?
By having a solid understanding of your target audience will make it significantly easier to create content that resonates with that audience.
Target with Precision
The most successful pieces of content are created for a specific audience with a specific need. In other words, before creating any piece of new content, you need to know its purpose and destination.Before creating any piece of new content, you need to know its purpose and destination. Click To Tweet
Targeting matters because the audience determines how the content should be written.
The tone and complexity of each message will vary, depending on the type of customer you’re trying to reach and where they are in the sales cycle.
Step 3: Create Great Content
Creating a diverse mix of content is crucial if you want to stand out from the crowd and get noticed by potential customers and search engines.
But it’s not always easy.
Creating great content requires having a deep understanding of your industry and a generous amount of writing talent.
Quality Comes First
Your content represents your company.
If you publish second-rate content, it can reflect poorly on your brand.
In fact, “good” content isn’t even good enough.
Publish extraordinary content and people will remember you, recommend you, and come back to you time and time again.Publish extraordinary content and people will remember you, recommend you, and come back to you time and time again. Click To Tweet
If you don’t have the time, resources, or personnel to create content in-house, then consider hiring one or more expert freelance writers.
Coming Up with Content Ideas
Coming up with a consistent stream of useful and interesting content ideas isn’t easy.
Fortunately, there are plenty of sources you can check for inspiration.
Here are 3 places to start:
- Your customers
- Your competitors
- Industry publications/news
Asking your customers about what challenges they’re facing or what they’re interested in reading about can provide a wealth of content ideas. Similarly, you can look at what your competition isn’t doing or if they have any content gaps you can fill. Finally, large industry publications and news sources are a great source for high-level content ideas.
Types of Content
We often hear businesses ask about which types of content work best. The trust is, there isn’t one right answer. Instead, your content strategy should incorporate multiple different types which can be shared on a variety of channels.
Here are a few common types of content...
User-generated content can include consumer opinions, reviews, and polls. Benefits: You let your audience know that you care what they think, and you can spend more time on other tasks.
Blog posts can include industry news, product updates, opinion pieces, and personal stories. Benefits: They help nurture a community around your brand. You get consumer feedback and free market research.
Infographics can include research data, interpretations, and explanations. Benefits: They generate traffic, help build links and credibility, and they’re highly shareable.
White papers can include explanations of complex topics, research findings, and solutions to customer problems. Benefits: They boost credibility and generate quality leads.
Case studies can demonstrate the value of your product or service. Benefits: They boost credibility and provide social proof.
Videos can include product demos, interviews, tutorials, animations, screencasts, testimonials, and more. Benefits: They’re great for bringing more personality to your brand. They’re also highly shareable.
Press releases can include company and industry news, product releases, and event announcements. Benefits: They improve brand visibility, establish you as an industry expert, and generate web traffic.
Slide Presentations can include tutorials, tips, and communicate complex ideas. Benefits: They help generate leads, drive traffic, and build natural links.
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One of the nice parts about content is that it can be repurposed into many different forms. Use data to create a striking infographic, transform a blog post into a slide presentation, or turn market research into an animated video. Have an open mind, get creative, and one piece of content can produce a whole family of material.
The Benefit of Repurposing Your Content
Whenever you create a new piece of content, you want it to be as evergreen as possible.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen.
Techniques, tips, and tricks can become outdated.
The format you delivered the content in can become boring and overdone.
Or the topic may just become irrelevant to your audience.
Repurposing your old content gives you an opportunity to enhance that content so it’s once again relevant.
Through redeeming content that may not have been as successful as you hoped, you can expand your reach, attract new audience members and give old customers or clients a new piece to engage with — all without needing to start completely from scratch.
However, if you’re repurposing your content, you need to be strategic about the changes you make. If a piece was not popular the first time around, you’ll want to carefully consider what changes may be necessary to make it more successful.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind…
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1. Expand Listicle Pieces
Listicles are great because you’re able to deliver a lot of content in an easy to absorb way. However, listicles rarely allow you to get too deep into a topic with just one piece. This can leave your readers itching for more.
To repurpose that listicle into many different new pieces of content, consider creating a unique article, video, or post for each bullet. This can allow you to create a mini-series about the topic, pushing your reader to even more information and keeping them engaged longer.
2. Consider a New Format
Blog posts are one of the easiest content forms to create, but they don’t always get the most attention. If you’ve created a piece that isn’t getting a lot of views, consider reintroducing the information in a new way.
If you’ve already created an article or blog post, consider creating a video or infographic to go alongside it. These supplemental pieces of content can attract new audience members and give a more visual appeal to your info.
3. Remove Outdated Information
If you have content on your website, you want it to be as up-to-date as possible. If visitors are still landing on those pieces, you don’t want to be giving out wrong or inaccurate information. This means you need to consistently comb through old pieces to find the necessary updates or changes.
When creating content, keep future changes in mind. For instance, if you know that you’ll probably need to change a piece a few months down the road, set yourself a reminder. You can also attempt to avoid adding info that is too time-sensitive. However, you should always put the quality of the content first — even if it means doing a bit of extra work.
The next step is distributing content to the right channels and targeting the right people.
Step 4: Distribute Content
One common piece of content marketing wisdom is to spend 20% of your time writing and 80% of it promoting.
Where you share your content will largely depend on its type and your target audience. It’s important for the previous three steps to guide how and where you focus your distribution efforts.
We’ve put together a more comprehensive list of places you should be sharing your content, but here are few to consider:
- Social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn
- Presentation sharing sites: SlideShare and Authorstream
- White Paper sharing sites: Cio Whitepapers and Bitpipe
- Video sharing sites: YouTube and Vimeo
- Image sharing sites: Pinterest and Instagram
- Blog sharing sites: Medium and LinkedIn
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Step 5: Measuring the Results
When you’re looking back at how well your content performed, what you measure makes a big difference. For that reason, it important to measure the right results.
Measuring the Right Results
Measuring the right results means evaluating your content in the content of the large business goals.
Was your goal to increase awareness for your brand or a particular product? Then organic and referral pageviews are going to mean a lot to you.
If engagement was your goal, then you’re going to but more weight on metrics like bounce rate and time on page.
For ecommerce sites, you can even see how many sales a piece of content drives.
Here are a few examples of metrics you can use to measure your content marketing efforts:
It doesn’t tell the whole story, but it’s a good start. At least you know how many people are finding you via search engines.
Although you can see which content gets the most traffic, try not to jump to conclusions; a high traffic count doesn’t always mean the content is valuable to your audience. That depends on other factors, such as conversions and how long people stay on a page (see below). Take note of non-branded organic traffic; this is traffic coming from people searching for your products or services, as opposed to your brand name.
Time Spent on Page
Look at time spent on individual pages compared to the site average. If the time-on-page is higher for one page, the content could be more valuable.
Look at how many people complete transactions on individual pages. What you consider a transaction is up to you. It could be a purchase, filling in a form, or a click on a download. You can set up goals in Google Analytics based on your parameters.
Promoting content on other sites (social channels and blogs, for example) should result in referral traffic. Where are most of your visitors coming from? It could be Facebook, LinkedIn, or another online platform. Knowing where your content resonates the most can help you locate more qualified leads.
This metric is important for understanding how your content is performing across social media. Find out which pieces of content get more reaction, or on which online channels your business is getting the most mentions. Find out the number of tweets, likes, shares, comments, and more.
Build Your Content Strategy
While that was a lot of information to digest, your work isn’t done there. Creating a high performing content marketing strategy requires time, effort, creativity, and organization. But when done well, a strong content marketing strategy will serve your business for years.
Do you need high-quality content to support your content strategy? Constant Content connects you with thousands of professional writers able to create blog posts, articles, ebooks, product descriptions, and other assets to tell your brand story, drive SEO and win sales.