The internet is full of content, from quirky websites to travel blog posts to delicious-looking Pinterest pictures of food. And while some of it is just fluff, most of what you see online has been created with a purpose in mind: catching your eye.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a strategy that involves providing helpful information to potential customers online. People are constantly typing keywords and queries into search engines like Google and Bing in an effort to solve their problems, answer their questions, and source new products and services. You can take advantage of this and position your brand as a helpful resource by developing and distributing the information they want to see.
From blog posts to eBooks to YouTube tutorials, there are numerous formats that you can create and leverage to attract new audiences to your business. For example, a tax lawyer whose prospective clients are likely searching the internet for advice might blog about tips on preparing for tax season. Or a college planning consultant who knows his clients are having trouble accessing helpful resources might create a video series covering frequently asked questions and host it on YouTube.
Your potential clients and customers are already looking for products and services like yours online. Providing them with the information they need to make more informed purchasing decisions will only benefit your business.
Want to get started? Let’s dive into an effective five-step process for creating a successful content marketing strategy.
How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy in 5 Steps
Follow the five steps outlined below to develop a content marketing strategy for your brand:
1. Determine Your Goal
Like in all aspects of business, your content marketing strategy should be created with a goal in mind. You might choose to create content to:
Increase lead generation. Many businesses develop content with the goal of acquiring new leads and clients—and it works! Brands with this goal in mind should focus on developing content that highlights the benefits of their services or products. It is also important to prioritize adding forms to content that will collect visitors’ contact information.
Improve brand awareness. Content marketing is a great way to increase public knowledge of your brand. Businesses with this goal should create content that appeals to a wide range of people, and limit the sharing of self-promotional material in favor of educating and entertaining their audience.
Drive traffic back to your website. Increasing website traffic is another goal that can be achieved through effective content marketing. Brands can facilitate this by prioritizing the creation of valuable content on their site, and teasing snippets across promotional channels including social media and email.
There are a number of content formats you can leverage to excite and engage audiences, including:
This list is by no means exhaustive and I encourage you to try to come up with even more creative ways to convey your messages to your audience. You just might start the next trend!
2. Consider the Preferences of Your Target Audience
When it comes down to it, an effective content marketing strategy isn’t about you or your brand—it’s about your audience and what’s going to engage them and entice action.
To help you create content that your target audience wants to see more easily, begin by developing buyer personas. Buyer personas—which are created based on data gathered from market research and customer interviews—offer you greater insight into the motivations, behaviors, and purchasing patterns of your ideal customers.
Creating buyer personas can help you optimize your strategy and personalize your marketing efforts. The best part, however, is that the benefits of creating them extend beyond content marketing. Your buyer personas can guide product development, enable email marketing segmentation, and help you come up with new ideas for engagement. Get started creating yours with this free template from HubSpot.
3. Keep Organized with a Content Calendar
Using a content calendar from the get-go can save you time and help you keep your sanity. There are a variety of content calendars available online, both free and paid, including:
Hootsuite: Hootsuite is a freemium social media management dashboard that allows users to schedule and edit posts and track conversations happening around their brand.
Google Docs: Google Docs is a free and intuitive way for teams to organize and track their content marketing efforts.
WordPress Editorial Calendar: WordPress users will especially appreciate this free calendar extension that allows users to schedule and edit blog posts.
Or, if you’re more the DIY-type, you can follow Convince and Convert’s tutorial and create your own content calendar.
4. Develop a Cross-Channel Promotion Strategy
So you’ve created and scheduled your content—now what? The next step is to maximize the visibility of your content by promoting it across various online channels. Channels you might consider include:
Social media: Promoting your marketing content across your social media channels is a free and effective way to entice shares.
Blog: Blogs are a great place to host content other than blog posts, like infographics, reports, and pictures. You can also drive targeted traffic to your content by teasing a part of it in a post on your blog.
Email: Send an email to current and potential clients letting them know about the awesome piece of content you’ve created. You can even offer your email list an exclusive sneak peek of your content to boost interest.
Paid advertising: Put your money behind what you’re promoting by leveraging paid advertising, either through Google or social media sites like Pinterest or Facebook.
5. Review and Refine Your Processes
Content marketing best practices are constantly evolving, and so should your strategy. It’s important to have a goal in mind before developing a strategy, but no strategy is fully-fledged until you have a way to track your progress towards that goal. Many content calendar tools also include analytics, but if yours doesn’t, consider setting up Google Analytics tracking on your site to get a better understanding of the traffic coming your way.