Embarking on a marketing campaign without a solid strategy is like trying to find a destination without directions or a map to guide you. Even though you set off in the right direction, you may soon be lost and in danger of missing your destination.
Successful content marketing is no different. To ensure campaigns perform for a brand, content marketing activity needs to be based on a well-thought-out content marketing strategy.
What content marketing is and why it matters
Content marketing has been a buzzword in the digital marketing industry for several years. Compared to display advertising, for example, content marketing does not disrupt potential customers. Instead, the content is designed to capture an audience’s attention and draw them to a brand’s website, for example.
Content marketing is a great way of generating inbound traffic and user or consumer interest by solving a problem or providing useful information. As a result, content marketing builds trust and increases a brand’s credibility.
Writing a content marketing strategy
A content marketing strategy is a long-term plan that lays out clearly how you will use your content for the maximum benefit of your brand. Successful strategies include several steps:
Like business objectives and other marketing objectives, the goals of a content marketing strategy need to be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. One example would be to set a goal of increasing the amount of traffic your website receives by 10% over twelve months from now.
SMART goals define your finish line. They clarify where your content marketing strategy needs to take the brand. Without clear goals, your content marketing campaigns cannot possibly be successful.
Creating customer personas and buyer journeys
Who are you trying to reach? Creating customer personas means more than understanding the demographics of your audience. As a content marketer, you need to understand your audience’s pain points, challenges, questions and needs about your product. Answering these questions clarifies what content your audience is looking for.
Apart from grasping your customers’ needs, it is essential to understand their decision-making process or customer journey. Most customers go through different stages when they decide to make a purchase.
They recognize a need or desire and research solutions before buying a service or a product. Understanding those stages allows you to address potential customers with the right content at the right time.
Misjudging customer personas or customer journeys may not be detrimental but minimizes the content’s potential impact. Optimizing content delivery and customer journey stages, on the other hand, helps maximize the positive impact content can deliver.
Setting a budget
Content marketing campaigns are among the most cost-effective ways to connect brands to customers. However, cost-effectiveness does not mean there is no need to set and agree on a budget as part of a content marketing strategy.
What constitutes a reasonable budget depends on several factors, including the volume of content needed, which resources are necessary for the project and whether the campaign requires paid media.
If a brand’s content marketing strategy can rely solely on owned media such as blogs, social media channels, and white papers, it requires a smaller budget than a strategy based on substantial pay-per-click advertising or paid social media. Using placed content services also requires a higher marketing budget than relying on owned resources.
Selecting marketing channels
Selecting marketing channels goes hand in hand with understanding customer personas and setting budgets. Since the advent of digital marketing, the number of marketing channels available to brands has soared. This increase in outlets has created both advantages and challenges for brands.
The multitude of digital marketing channels helps brands find an exact fit between product and audience. At the same time, marketers need to research each channel’s audience and stay up to date on audience changes to ensure channel-audience fit. Selecting digital marketing channels as part of a content marketing strategy is critical for targeted content development and exact budget planning.
Marketers must choose between owned, paid, organic and earned content marketing channels. The latter is not necessarily a choice marketers can make. Earned content marketing happens when a brand’s audience shares the company’s content on its platforms. It is how content goes viral.
Selecting the right combination of organic, owned and paid channels is critical for reaching the best possible audience. The right mix of channels will also help a tight content marketing budget extend further and deliver greater returns.
Creating, launching and optimizing content
Smart objectives, well-defined customer personas, a clear budget, and suitable marketing channels are pillars of a high-performing content marketing strategy.
Based on those pillars, the next stage of writing a content marketing strategy encompasses creating, launching, and optimizing a brand’s content. In practice, these are three individual steps. Creating high-quality content tailored to the channel it is intended for is the first step.
Once the content has been launched, digital marketers need to measure its performance against their predictions and the individual campaign’s goals. Even with the highest level of planning and research, it is normal for some pieces of content to perform better than others.
Optimizing a brand’s content marketing strategy is about understanding what works best to achieve the goals you set at the beginning of the process. Launching content and measuring its performance will tell the content marketing team what needs to be changed for future campaigns. This last point is essential: content marketing strategies facilitate long-term planning but are not static documents. They need the flexibility to devote more resources to high-performing content while removing content that is not working.