Content marketing without strategy is a waste of valuable time, money, and resources. This makes strategy the most important component of effective content marketing.
So what is content strategy?
Think of content strategy as a plan for using content to address your target market’s needs throughout the buying journey.
With companies ranking strategy as their biggest content-related challenge, let’s explore what goes into crafting a winning content strategy.
Deeply understand your audience
You cannot effectively market your business without knowing your audience. This is Marketing 101, yet few put in the necessary effort. To better understand your audience, identify your customer personas. Create a clear, detailed description of who they are, their values, their needs, their pain, why they buy, and how they shop. Print it out, stick it on your wall, and make sure all your marketing discussions are derived from these personas.
Develop Different Content to Inform, Influence, and Sell
Effective content marketing adds value through all stages of the buying funnel. It begins with early awareness, then consideration, and finally, decision.
Awareness stage content should help a user solve their problem. Your goal is to intercept the user as they search for ways to reduce pain, then offer free advice via content.
Buyers in the consideration stage are more informed and understand the available solutions. Content produced for this stage demonstrates how your solution can help solve their problem.
In the decision stage, a buyer is thinking about the experience they’ll receive. This includes implementation process, customer support, and the non-monetary costs associated with their decision. Decision stage content explains how your company is the right solution to their problems.
Dedicate time to research your market, procure resources, develop topics, and create a publishing calendar. Only then should you begin putting words on the page.
Resist the temptation to start writing without a solid plan. When you make this mistake, you will end up with a wealth of content, but no ROI to show for it.
Set Aside Time To Revisit Your Strategy
Content marketing is an organic process. Some of your best ideas will develop as you gain more experience, so be ready to revisit and change your original plan. Every quarter, set time aside to discuss your strategy and analyze performance. The digital space moves quick, so be ready to adapt.
Build Off Your Success
Social engagement, click through rates, search engine rankings, content downloads, and blog comments are valuable feedback loops. They will help prioritize your next move.
When a post receives positive social media attention, create a relevant follow up piece. When a blog post gets ranked high in Google, explore ways to make it more valuable and engaging.
Strive For Easy Readability
Quality writing requires both substance and clear delivery. Avoid using large words unnecessarily. Short and concise sentences keep the message focused and easier to read. There are several free tools on the web that can help improve readability. Here are two of our favorites:
- Read-able.com. This tool reports the grade level of your content. Aim for a high school reading level.
- Hemingwayapp.com. This tool highlights complex sentences and common grammatical errors.
Distribute Across Different Channels
Great content should be distributed across multiple channels to maximize its chance of success. Distribution channels include a blog, email marketing, and social media posts. You don’t need to create unique content for each channel. Instead, repurpose content and apply it to each channel.
Content is a long-term play, making patience a competitive advantage. It takes time (not weeks or months, but years) to get noticed and to turn that visibility into business. Companies become frustrated and quit after their content marketing fails to produce immediate results. Their desire for quick wins becomes your opportunity. Go grab it.