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Strategy — it’s not just for chess and football. Having a strategy is also a must if you want to increase your chances of success with content marketing. How important is strategic content marketing, versus just trying something and seeing if it works?

The Content Marketing Institute reports 62 percent of successful B2B content marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. That’s compared to just 16 percent of the least successful.

Strategic content marketing is also important for those in the B2C sphere. The Content Marketing Institute also found 59 percent of successful B2C content marketers have a content marketing strategy.

What Is Strategic Content Marketing?

Merriam-Webster defines a strategy as “a careful plan or method” or the art of devising or employing plans or stratagems toward a goal. Strategic content marketing is content marketing that has a strategy or plan behind it. Often these strategies help a brand achieve a particular goal.

In strategic content marketing, strategy forms the backbone of the entire process. It helps a brand explain why it’s using content marketing. When things start to look murky or unclear, your brand can turn to the strategy for guidance.

The Benefits of Strategic Content Marketing

Strategic content marketing offers several benefits for brands who use it.

Making a strategy for your content marketing does the following:

Identifies who the content is for.

Part of making a strategic content marketing plan is identifying the intended audience for the content. When you know who you are talking to, it’s a lot easier to come up with things to say, and how to say them.

Defines your goals.

What do you hope to gain from your content marketing? Having a strategy in place helps you define your specific goals and ultimately create a plan for achieving them.

Includes a plan for content.

Content marketing is more than just writing up some blog posts or tossing together a few videos. You need to know what types of content will resonate the most with your intended audience, what topics are most appealing, and what you can do to make your content stand out from everyone else’s.

Has a plan for distribution and promotion.

It’s one thing to publish a blog post, but it’s quite another to publish a blog post that people read. Strategic content marketing gives you the ability to effectively distribute your content, so that people actually find and engage with it. It also includes a plan to promote your content so that it reaches as many people as possible.

Allows you to evaluate what works and what doesn’t.

Strategic content marketing isn’t static. It evolves and changes as your brand’s needs evolve and change. An effective content marketing strategy includes the ability to go back and edit as needed. Maybe blog posts don’t get the attention you thought they would. Maybe your videos are way more popular than you dreamed they would be. Being able to adjust your content marketing, and knowing how people are reacting to your content, is essential for success.

How to Plan for Strategic Content Marketing

Putting together a content marketing strategy is an essential part of strategic content marketing. Making a content marketing strategy often means answering several “W” questions — why, what, where, and who?

Here’s a step-by-step guide to making a plan for strategic content marketing:

Set your goals.

What do you want to get out of content marketing, and why is your brand even bothering with content marketing in the first place? Although your goals will be unique to your brand, common content marketing goals generally include getting new leads, boosting website traffic, increasing social media following/presence, and getting new customers.

Choose and define your audience.

Different types of audiences have different tastes and preferences when it comes to content, as well as different needs. Knowing who your audience is and what it wants will allow you to create effective content that’s more likely to be consumed.

Take at look at existing content.

It’s likely that your brand has some amount of content already out in the world. Take a close look at the content and ask yourself if you can use it with your new strategy, or if you can change it or adjust it somehow to work with your new plan. Maybe you’ve realized that videos will be the best way to reach your intended audience, but you already have an active blog. Can you repurpose some of your more popular blog posts into videos?

Make a plan for new content.

Now for the fun part. Think about the type of content you’ll create, who’ll create it, what form it will take, and what it will be about. Here’s where you’ll put together an editorial or content calendar and get into the nitty-gritty of actually producing the content.

Get the content out there.

Distributing content means more than just clicking “publish.” You need a plan for getting the content in front of as many eyes as possible. You can do that by sharing on your social media pages, having influencers share links on their social profiles, or exploring guest posting or link-sharing options.

Evaluate content and adjust as needed.

Once the content has been out in the world for a while, it’s useful to examine how it is performing, and use that information to adjust your strategy going forward. Maybe you’ve stumbled upon a plan that works, and can keep doing more of the same. Maybe you need to adjust the type of content you make, or change your methods of distribution to get better results.

In many ways, content marketing is like a journey. While you can amble aimlessly along the road, having a clear idea of where you’re going and how to get there can make things a lot more enjoyable and more efficient. The same is true with content marketing. You might eventually get where you’re going without a plan, but making a strategy will help you maximize your marketing and reach your goals sooner rather than later.

Want to learn the ins and outs of Content Marketing Strategy?

Download your free copy of Effective Content Marketing Strategies for Marketers & Agencies today!