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Your guide to building a content strategy
Your guide to building a content strategy

In 2017, content marketing is perhaps the most powerful strategy to building a successful presence online for your industry. Brands who craft compelling content deemed valuable by readers experience a whopping 7.8 times more website traffic than brands who don't. Additionally, content creation is ranked as the single most effective SEO technique by 53% of businesses.

These numbers prove the importance of developing a strong content marketing strategy, one that gives solid direction so that all of your content pieces work together to convey your brand messaging. The objective is to provide a 2-part blueprint that will help you develop a thorough content marketing strategy as you gear up for another year.

Once you’re clear on the specific business goals you want to obtain through your content marketing, use this guide to build your strategy to bring your plans to fruition.

#1 Establish Your Buyer Personas

Taking the time to research and understand your audience will play a huge role in your content marketing success. Having a real knowledge of the market you plan to serve in your business will set the foundation to your strategy, allowing you to easily create content that speaks to their problems.

You see, your goal is to be the “solution provider” by sharing valuable, expert advice that addresses the pains, obstacles, and challenges experienced by your market. The better you are at delivering content that solves problems, the more effective your content strategy will be.

Begin this process by establishing buyer personas. The Content Marketing Institute defines personas as a sketch of a target market based on validated commonalities – not assumptions, informing content strategy to drive productive buyer engagement.

Building your buyer personas with enough depth and insight will enable you and your team to generate topic ideas that resonate with your audience and breeds engagement.

#2 Brainstorm Content that Aligns with the Buyer's Journey

Different prospects will certainly be at different junctures within your sales funnel (or buyer’s journey). With that said, you’ll need content that specifically relates to where that individual is in your funnel to strategically move them closer to becoming loyal customers of your business.

There are three stages to the buyer’s journey including the Awareness, Consideration, and Decision stage. Creating content that aligns with each stage results in better sales conversions, improving your bottom-line.

The following details each part and the content types that work best for optimal results. Determine which types of content you want to leverage as you brainstorm during this step.

Awareness – Prospects know they have a problem and are simply researching content. Growing your brand awareness and highlighting that you’re a solution provider is key here. Blog posts, social media content, infographics and whitepapers perform well with this stage.

Consideration – Prospects are actively seeking solutions. The focus is to capture leads as they land on your content and nurture them in your email campaigns. Content types to consider include video series, guides, product webinars, and case studies.

Decision – Your prospect is now ready to make the buying decision. You want to make this an easy transition towards the sale. Convert leads into customers by offering free trials, implementation (how-to) guides, and live demonstrations as your content types.

#3 Plan Content Using an Editorial Calendar

Organising your content ideas and plans on calendar is highly suggested to help execute your marketing strategy. Editorial calendars are valuable assets that will make it easy for you to create and publish your content on time and in alignment with your business goals. The advantages include more traffic to your posts, increased exposure of your brand, more active presence on social media and your blog, and staying on track to fulfilling your content goals.

There are a plethora of free and paid editorial calendar templates available. CoSchedule is one of the top tools that will schedule and publish your content in advance. Google Calendar is a free option where you can easily plan out your content.

Or simply use traditional methods like an 8x11 planner to get you going. The key is to start! Soon you’ll discover the needs of your content strategy and which tool will work best to meet the demands of your marketing goals.

Having a content marketing plan is a must in 2017! According to the Content Marketing Institute, one of the biggest contributors to B2B marketers experiencing success this past year in their content strategy was due to producing higher quality and more efficient content. These achievements result in having a clear content plan that is well executed.

In this two-part series, we will continue to roll out the blueprint to developing an effective content marketing strategy for your brand. If you missed Part 1, click here to access the first three steps of this how-to guide.

#4 Create and Publish Content

Now that you’ve brainstormed content topics and have planned them into your calendar, it’s time for the creation process. There are endless ideas to creating remarkable content.

A good practice is to publish a variety of content types to cater to different learning preferences and test what works well (more on this later). You can share the same message throughout multiple channels to further reach and influence in your niche.

Here are some top tactics to hone when crafting your content:

1) Long-tail keywords – Do keyword research to discover what your audience is using in search. Build content around that, keeping your buyer persona in mind

2) Compelling headline – Use intriguing titles to get readers excited about your message. Numbered lists and how-to’s are cool headline ideas

3) Include SEO techniques – Optimise your blog post content to increase search engine visibility

4) Leverage surveys and social listening to stay connected and in-tuned with your market

5) Use multimedia – Images, videos, infographics, slideshows, GIFs, and audios are all great for boosting engagement and enriching user experience

6) Curate content - This is the perfect way to fill in the gaps in your content schedule. Tools like Feedly are designed for gathering, collecting and sharing the best sources in your industry

7) Shoot for long-form content – Content with 1,500+ words performs extremely well for SEO and social media shares. Consider this word count when producing content to increase engagement

#5 Develop and Execute Your Content Promotion Plan

It's not enough to create content, publish it to your blog or website, and expect visitors to come flocking to your post. You have to get the word out that your content exists to fulfill other aspects to your marketing goals like lead generation and sales.

This is where a content promotion plan comes to play. The good news is, there is an audience waiting to indulge in your content. If it’s valuable, solves a problem, and speaks to their interest, you’ll have no trouble generating readers…but you have to do the work.

How will you get the word out about your content? In what ways can you drive quality traffic that will yield results? The following shares an example of a strategy you could implement for better content promotion:

1) Social Media Promotion

Each network has a different tolerance of how often you should post to your page. In some cases, you could share your content several times on certain sites. Tweeting the same message 2-3 times a day on Twitter throughout the week is a great posting frequency for this site. However, posting once to LinkedIn is sufficient.

2) Email marketing

Keep subscribers connected with your brand by sending valuable content to their inboxes. Do encourage them to share with their networks in your call-to-action to increase exposure

3) Video marketing

Videos have a major impact on converting leads and sales. Social videos, live-streaming, and YouTube views have grown exponentially. Implement sound video best practices to capture attention and engagement when sharing your content on video

4) Google AdWord

For whitepapers or eBook, create display campaigns to raise awareness and remarketing campaigns to retarget abandoned visitors

Content marketing and social media management tools are huge assets to executing your content strategy. Apps like CoSchedule, Buffer, and Hootsuite are user-friendly that successfully help brands fulfill their content goals. More robust, marketing automation tools like Hubspot and Marketo are comprehensive in nature, giving you a more holistic approach to your marketing.

#6 Test, Tweak, and Measure Results

With your content live on the web, how do you know which pieces are creating results…and the ones that aren’t? The last component to building a strong content marketing plan is knowing what’s producing in your content strategy and what needs to be modified and tweaked for improvement. Testing your outcomes position you to focus on the tactics that are working so you can yield even great results.

Therefore testing, measuring and tracking is essential to successful content marketing. To measure your content, here are a few simple questions you can ask to discover what’s effective:

  • What keywords are people using to locate my content?
  • Which content type is read the most?
  • How long are readers staying on my page (what’s the bounce rate)?
  • Which content type generates the most shares?
  • Which content type produced the most social engagement (combination of likes, shares, and comments)
  • How many page views did my content receive?
  • How many leads did my content generate?

Your responses will provide tangible data to use to better your content and tailor it to meet the demands of your market.

Equipped with this strategic plan, you now have a clear blueprint for your content marketing that aligns with your truest business goals. Move forward quickly and in confidence knowing that you can make the necessary adjustments along the way towards success. You’ll enjoy the results gained from executing this plan and your audience will appreciate the value you bring to the table.

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