There’s a lot of digital content out there. According to the 2017 State of the Creator Economy study (SOCE), the average consumer in the US reads more than 200 articles and visits almost 400 websites each month. That means that it’s more important than ever to have a digital content marketing strategy in place.
Incredibly, the amount of available content is steadily increasing. The Content Marketing Institute’s B2B Content Marketing report for 2017 revealed that 70 percent of content marketers planned on creating more content this year than last.
With a strategy, your brand has goals, and has outlined clear ways to achieve those goals. It’s not enough just to create the content. You need to make sure the right audience finds it and shares it, and that you get the response you want from it.
What Is a Digital Content Marketing Strategy?
A digital content marketing strategy isn’t the same as a content strategy. While content strategy focuses on the creation and distribution of content, digital content marketing strategy concerns itself with how a brand can use content marketing throughout a customer’s experience or life cycle, according to i-Scoop.
As you might guess, digital content marketing strategy is specifically concerned with content marketing in the digital realm, such as video, social content, and website content. A successful strategy will examine how your brand’s content marketing can interact with and be used alongside of a brand’s sales strategy, customer strategy, and other marketing tactics.
The Components of a Top-Performing Digital Content Marketing Strategy
Although one brand’s digital content marketing strategy is going to look a lot different than another brand’s (at least on the surface), successful strategies share some components in common.
The key components found in all top-performing digital content marketing strategies include:
A strategy isn’t a strategy without a goal (or, in some cases, multiple goals). According to Fast Company, a goal gives your strategy direction, can help motivate your team, facilitates planning, and allows you to evaluate performance. Having goals in place aids in decision making. When your content marketing team seems to have hit a brick wall, you can take a look at your goals and use them as a guide to help you decide what to do next.
Key performance indicators (KPIs)
Key performance indicators measure what’s going on with your brand’s digital content marketing. According to Pardot, KPIs help to make the intangible tangible. They let you see what tactics work, and which don’t. KPIs used in content marketing can include page visitors, time spent on the page or with the content, number of social shares, number of leads generated, and number of comments or other engagements.
For your digital content marketing strategy to succeed, you need to know who you’re talking to, why you’re talking to them, and what they want from you. No digital content marketing strategy is complete without buyer personas. A buyer persona is a snapshot of a typical customer, or a composite customer created from surveys and research into your existing customers. A persona outlines the concerns of a customer, the problems and obstacles standing in his or her way, and the challenge he or she is hoping to solve (ideally with help from your brand!).
Although a digital content marketing strategy isn’t the same as a content strategy, having a plan or strategy for the content your brand creates should be part of your overall content marketing strategy. Think about the types of content you’ll make, what topics you’ll cover, and where you’ll publish that content.
Content marketing software comes in a variety of forms. For example, you can use a content management system to create and publish blog posts and other written content, a video publishing system to put videos online, and analytics to track and measure your content’s results. Although you can purchase or find free versions of each type of software program, other programs offer a full suite of digital content marketing services in one package.
Examples of Excellent Digital Content Marketing Strategies
What does a great digital content marketing strategy look like? Here are a few examples.
Strengthen brand’s mission: Tom’s Shoes
Tom’s mission is pretty straightforward: The brand has a “sell one, give one” program. It donates a pair of shoes for each pair sold. To highlight this mission and to get people to help others, each year the brand holds a “Day Without Shoes.” The goal is to get people to take photos of themselves barefoot, with the hashtag #daywithoutshoes. For each hashtagged photo, Tom’s donates a pair of shoes.
The brand has a website that lets customers meet the people who benefit from the shoes donated by Tom’s. The strategy’s most successful year so far was 2015, when nearly 300,000 people received a new pair of shoes.
Take a multi-pronged approach: IBM
IBM’s digital content marketing strategy shows that sometimes it pays to appeal to a range of audiences, and to establish your brand as an authority on a range of topics. IBM has a Think Blog, which covers topics such as content marketing and the value of a content marketing strategy. It also has a Watson blog and Social Business blog. Its use of content marketing strategy makes IBM the company reporters often use as an example of who to emulate when putting together a strategy.
How and Why to Develop Your Own Digital Content Marketing Strategy
Why should your brand have its own digital content marketing strategy? Because a strategy lets you make the most of content marketing. Without a strategy, you have no idea what your brand is trying to do. You also don’t know where it’s headed, and what the results are of any efforts it’s made.
The “how” of putting together a digital content marketing strategy is a little trickier.
The first step is to set your goals
Ask yourself why you’re making content, and what you hope to get out of it.
The more tangible and measurable your goals are, the better. For example, increasing leads isn’t a very useful goal. Increasing email sign-ups by 10 percent over a three-month period is. You can measure that goal and know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish.
The next step is to identify your customers
Who does your brand reach on a regular basis? For example, imagine you are a company that sells gluten-free, sugar-free brownie mixes. Your audience might consist of people with celiac disease, people who follow a Paleo diet, or people who just want to eat healthier sweets. Knowing who those people are allows you to ask what they want, and how your product solves their problems.
It’s also worth thinking about where your customers are
Perhaps your celiac audience hangs out on Facebook or regularly Googles, looking for new information on gluten-free recipes. Your Paleo audience might be active on Twitter, and might read blogs about diet and exercise hacks. Your sweet tooth who wants to eat better might be a regular YouTube user. Plan your content based on where it will best reach each segment of your audience.
Each audience type enjoys recipes, healthy living tips, and other advice about eating better.
Next, you want to figure out the logistics of your strategy.
What type of content will you produce? Where will it be published? How often will it be published? How will you measure it?
Once you’ve figured out the answers to these questions, it’s time to put your strategy into practice. Publish some content, get your team to share it, and promote it using whatever tactics you think will work best.
You’re not finished yet, though! Now it’s time to measure. See if you need to revisit certain aspects of your strategy to achieve the goals you set at the beginning. A digital content marketing strategy is a living thing. It will change and evolve as your brand changes and evolves.