How to create and plan an effective content marketing strategy

Content marketing strategy

To achieve your content marketing goals, you need a fail proof content marketing strategy. Content marketing itself is a form of digital marketing that uses content to attract and convert leads. The type of content you create and share does not matter, it could be visual or text, but if it gets you your ideal customers, then you are practicing content marketing.

Why you need a content marketing strategy

A content marketing strategy can be defined as a set of actions that can help you achieve your content marketing goals. As a business in today’s digital world, creating and sharing excellent content can boost your credibility, improve brand image, and position you as an expert in your industry. Also, great content creates a loyal fanbase and increases lead generation.

To have effective content marketing, you need a strategy. A well-planned strategy will help you know who your audience is, who your competitors are, what kind of content you should create, what topics you should write on, and how often you should publish.

What information does a content marketing strategy include?

Your strategy should also define each action that needs to be taken to achieve each goal, and all actions taken must be documented, which is what most marketers fail to do. According to a 2015 study by Content Marketing Institute (CMI), only 39% of B2B marketers document their content marketing strategy. While about 47% talk about their strategy.

The same study also revealed that the 40% of marketers who document their content marketing strategy have a more effective content marketing than their contemporaries who do not write it down at all. Therefore, it is imperative that you document your strategy if you want to achieve your content marketing goals.

Main steps for a good content marketing strategy

Generally speaking, a good content marketing strategy involves analyzing your audience, and performing a content audit. This can be best achieved with some keyword research, as well as reviewing your competitor’s content, and reviewing high performing articles on SERPs for top keywords in your industry. Collecting all the data you need to help you draw up an efficient editorial calendar will mean that your business will be well equipped with the tools you need to beat your competitors.

We will now explain in more detail what a good strategy entails:

1. Conduct an audience analysis

Perhaps, this is the most crucial step in content marketing – analyzing your audience. Audience analysis involves finding who you are supposed to create content for. Remember, your content marketing is towards a targeted audience. So, you need to know who makes up that audience.

To do so, conduct some market research, interview prospects, and actual customers, send out surveys, read comments and reviews users leave on your website, and engage your audience online with social media ads.

Use whatever information you have gathered from your market research to build a buyer persona. Once you have a clear buyer persona, you will have a clearer idea of the shape of your content marketing strategy and overall business plan. At this point, you can also decide the tone of voice your content should take. Should it be fun and personable, comical and hilarious or professional and intellectual?

2. Perform a content audit

Now you know who you are supposed to create content for, the logical next step will be to evaluate the content you currently have on your website. Do they speak directly to your targeted audience? Do they solve his or her problems? Do they increase bounce rates because your audience isn’t reading them? Are they structured for your audience?

If your answer is no, then it is time to edit, optimize and fill in the gaps so that your content can be tailored to your ideal customer. In some cases, you might have to do some on-page SEO, which can mean optimizing the content you already have on your site. There are some SEO companies that offer on-page SEO services, which can give you better results as opposed to doing it yourself.

In other cases, you may have to delete entire articles or content and replace them with high-quality, engaging content that is more relevant. The buyer persona you have created will guide you on what to say.

Creating content which is relevant for your target audience will make them trust you and buy from you. They will also spend more time consuming your content; thus, reduce bounce rates and boost your ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs).

3. Perform a competitor analysis

To stand out on search engines with great content, you will also need to perform a competitor analysis for all your competitors – direct and indirect competitors. Your direct competitors are businesses who offer the same services or products as you. For instance, if you a cable television provider, your direct competitors are other cable television providers. Indirect competitors are those who do not necessarily offer the same service and products but instead provide a substitute. Examples of indirect competitors of cable TV providers are streaming networks like Netflix.

When performing competitor research, you will also need to view the competitor content. Start by picking a top competitor to find out what type of content do they write, how often do they publish and do they incorporate graphics in their posts? Also, look at their best-performing pages; the topics, the length, quality, and relevance.

Reviewing a top competitor content gives you an idea of what works for your industry. Then you can use what you have learned from the review to write even better content.

4. Perform a keyword analysis

To conduct an efficient keyword analysis or comparison, you will need an excellent keyword research tool like Buzzsumo or Ahrefs. Pick a competitor that is doing well on search engines and look at their top keywords, this will give you a good idea for topics to write on. Since they are doing great on search engines, then their topics should be relevant to your audience too.

5. Review high performing content in your niche

By reviewing articles in your niche that are performing well on search engines, you will have an even better idea on what works and what doesn’t. For example, if “vintage wine” is an important and very competitive keyword in your niche, study all the first-page results for “vintage wine” on Google.

Study the articles to understand why they are ranked on the first-page result for such a competitive keyword, then take a look at those on page ten and see why they are not ranking well.

Sometimes it could be that longer articles perform better. So, if the average length of all the top performing articles is 1500 words, you should write an article with more words. If the top articles have a lot of images, go further by creating a video and infographics for yours. Are their headlines eye-catching? If so, create an even more compelling headline. Just do better than what they are doing to land on the first page.

6. Create an editorial calendar

The final piece of the puzzle will be to create (and follow religiously) an editorial calendar for your content.

An editorial calendar should include the topics you want to publish, their authors, the date of publication, the monthly or weekly theme for topics, and the distribution channels for published articles. Once you have an editorial calendar, you can fire on with your content marketing.