As CEO of a digital marketing agency and adjunct professor of marketing at the Haslam School of Business, content marketing is one of my most commonly discussed topics. It often needs to be “demystified” because so many things fall under the content marketing umbrella – social posts, blogs, websites, microsites, case studies, infographics, videos, and so much more. It also has many names – content marketing, inbound marketing, pull marketing… and yet, it all means the same thing.
So, when do you need a content marketing strategy? As soon as the metaphorical pen hits the paper. When you are about to post on social media, write a blog, or create a piece of content like a brochure, catalog, or guide, a business needs a content marketing strategy. At its core, a content marketing strategy incorporates elements of branding that are targeted at a specific audience and are meant to engage, entertain, or inform that particular audience. All content should be created with a sense of purpose, with a measurable goal in mind, and targeting a particular customer or persona. By simply understanding those pieces, you’ve developed a content strategy.
There are 5 steps to creating a content marketing strategy.
- The first step in creating a content marketing strategy is auditing your content – all of it, as it exists now, and reviewing it. Does it resonate? Does it make sense? Is it still relevant?
- From there, set new goals. All goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based).
- Then, identify the KPIs you’re tracking that will help you achieve your goals and measure them.
- Sketch out timelines and tasks in a content calendar. At that point, based on an analysis of the amount of content you need to review, approve, create, and measure, you can create a timeline for updating your strategy.
- Measure and review. Commonly, brands will re-evaluate the strategy quarterly, but should be measuring KPIs at least monthly. This can change depending on the amount of content being created and the urgency of the goals.
Content marketing needs to combine elements of your brand, create some sort of value proposition for your audience, have a relevant and attainable goal in mind, and be unified within your overall marketing strategy. Therefore, it is essential for content marketing to exist outside of the traditional marketing silo. Sales, PR, design, and the C-suite need input into the overall direction of content marketing.
- For example, sales teams exist on the front lines with the consumer, meaning they have insights on common pain points, problems, and needs, which can inform content topics.
- Creative teams use their creativity to think outside the box, create beautiful content, and find artfully elegant ways to present material that can otherwise be boring or bland.
- The C-suite understands the mission and vision of a company, the direction in which it’s traveling, and the strategic goals beyond the day-to-day.
As a result, multiple teams can help drive the overall strategy of content marketing by simply using what they do best and bringing it to the table.
What this does not mean is that everyone gets an equal say in the entire creative process and that loads of barriers need to exist to ensure all teams agree on all elements. It does mean that content marketing strategy becomes more impactful, more useful, and more profitable when it works in tandem with other teams to reinforce materials already in place.
For example, if you create a video for the sales team to use in their pitches, an important KPI might be watch time (how long your visitor watched your video). That’s a KPI that can determine the effectiveness of your video content, but it isn’t your overall goal. A goal might be decreasing close time in a sale by 2 touchpoints or shortening the duration of close time by a certain amount of time (maybe a month). Quantitative measurements allow you to determine success and mark progress toward your goals. As progress is made, noted, and shared, the content marketing process becomes more efficient, useful, and meaningful to teams beyond simply the marketing team. When multiple teams have a voice and an understanding of progress toward company goals, teams feel more connected and the content marketing is more successful.
In summation, I always return to the most important single piece of advice I can give when it comes to content marketing. Know your personas and your customers like the back of your hand. Know them better than they know themselves. When you understand your customer, you know where they spend their time online. You understand what types of content they like, what humor will reach them, what information they will find useful. This informs the way you structure your marketing and advertising campaigns. It helps make decisions about what social platforms to use, what needs to be advertised or promoted, what types of messaging will be effective, and how to use image and video moving forward. It is the single most important determinant of success in your content marketing.
If you need help creating a content marketing strategy for your company or need help executing content marketing materials, reach out to our team and schedule an appointment.