What stands between content marketing success and failure? For many brands, it’s creating a content marketing strategy. According to research from the Content Marketing Institute, 62 percent of the most successful B2B content marketers have a documented strategy. And 59 percent of the most successful B2C content marketers have a strategy as well.

Creating a content marketing strategy is more than simply making content and putting it online. Creating a content marketing strategy starts with understanding how you want your brand’s content marketing to work. And it ends with a clear explanation and idea of why each aspect matters.

Creating a content marketing strategy goes beyond creating content. It also defines how content marketing works with any other marketing your brand is doing. You need to understand how you content will engage with an audience or customer base throughout their journey.

Not sure how to go about creating a content marketing strategy?

This step-by-step guide will get you on your way.

5 Steps To Creating A Content Marketing Strategy

Step 1: Have a Goal

You can produce content. You can hire the most incredible team of content marketers. And you can have a clear idea of who your intended audience is. But, without a goal for content marketing, you won’t have any idea what you’re working towards.

So, step one when creating a content marketing strategy is to set a goal. You can figure out what your goal is by talking to other members of your team. You can also consult with others at your company. These individuals can include executives and members of other marketing departments.

The idea is to figure out how content marketing can help your brand reach its larger goals. Then, narrow them down into objectives that you can achieve with content marketing.

For example, company-wide, the goal might be to reach a new audience, such as millennial moms. Your content marketing goal would be to produce content that appeals to millennial moms. That gets your brand on their radar.

Step 2: Define an Audience

Content needs to speak to someone, and it can’t speak to anyone unless you have an idea of who it is you want to address. Defining an audience is the next step of your content marketing strategy.

Defining an audience should go deeper than identifying “millennial moms” or “15- to 18-year-old beauty fans.” You want to dig deep and develop full-on personas of potential members of your audience.

Ask yourself what that audience needs, what they like, love, and hate, what types of content they engage with, and so on. Developing your audience personas will take some research. But, the fuller and more lifelike your personas are, the better able you’ll be to create content that speaks to them.

Step 3: Identify Existing Content and Make a Plan for Content Creation

Step three when creating a content marketing strategy is usually a two-parter. At this point, you most likely have some content about your brand online. Maybe it’s from a previous attempt at content marketing, or maybe you started producing content without a strategy in place.

Part one of step three is to identify any existing content, and analyze it. Did it perform well? Did it get published and quickly forgotten? Could you repurpose it into another format to better connect with your audience?

Once you’ve assessed any existing content, make a plan for future content creation. Identify the type of content you want to produce, based on your audience preferences and the type of content that has done well in the past. You might decide to stick with blog posts, for example, or add video content to the mix.

You can sketch out an editorial calendar at this stage, so that you have an idea of how much content you need to produce, and what type of topics you’ll write about.

Step 4: Define Roles for Each Member of Your Content Marketing Team

Next, it’s time to decide who’s going to do what when it comes to producing, publishing, auditing and monitoring content. You can go purely in-house for this step, or you might decide it’s more cost-effective to work with freelancers.

In many cases, working with some in-house team members and outsourcing certain responsibilities works for content marketing teams. About half of all B2C content marketers and slightly more than half of all B2B marketers outsource at least one content marketing role.

Step 5: Make a Plan for Measurement

You might not get things right at first. It’s important to have a plan for measuring your content’s performance, so that you have an idea of whether it’s helping you reach your goals, or is missing the mark.

In many ways, step five ties into step one. When you’re thinking of your goals, think of how you can tell if you are on track to reach those goals. In the case of the example brand that’s trying to reach millennial moms, it could track traffic to its website from social media profiles that match the definition of millennial moms. It could also look at responses on social media to see if millennial moms are engaging with the content it creates.

One final word on creating a content marketing strategy: It’s not a one-and-done process. As things change within your company, and as the nature of the content marketing landscape shifts, you might find that you’ll have to go back and adjust your strategy. Think of your content marketing strategy as something that will grow and change over time, as your brand grows and changes.

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