5 Steps to Getting Started on Your Content Marketing Strategy
It’s through content that you provide value, establish your authority among potential clients and customers, and carve out your position at the top of lucrative search rankings. If you want to make the most of your content, though, you need to create and follow a content marketing strategy. This will take your inbound marketing efforts to a higher, more professional level.
After all, anyone can post a picture or write a blog post every once in a while and share it on their social networks. Making a plan and sticking to it, though - that’s what sets apart the pros from the amateurs. This article will cover the five essential steps to getting started on your content marketing strategy. By following them, you’ll be able to establish a solid and clear strategy for marketing your business with content. Let’s get into it!
1. Define the purpose and goals of your content marketing strategy
This is the foundation for your content strategy. What is your content strategy for? Answer that question, and you’ll be able to move forward, plan, and execute it with confidence. Not all content strategies are alike. Is the purpose to inform? To entertain? To persuade? Do you want to be seen as a serious authority in your field, bring a smile to people’s faces, or convince them of something? Your content marketing strategy’s purpose, of course, can be a mix of these, but it should be clear. This will allow you to stay on-message and not drift off by wasting your time and money creating irrelevant content.
The same goes for goals. These are the more grounded, concrete cousins of your content marketing strategy’s purpose. One goal, for example, might be to increase sign-ups to your email list. Another - to increase engagement on one or several social media channels.
Just as defining a purpose and goals is the first step for your overall content marketing strategy, it should also be the first step for every individual piece of content. This brings us to the next step, which is…
2. Audit your existing content
Keeping in mind the purpose and goals of the content marketing strategy that you defined, go through your existing content and analyze it to see what content performed well and what didn’t. This will help you figure out what your audience likes and what doesn’t resonate with them, and allow you to decide what to focus on in the future.
3. Define your target audience
This is a critical step. What kind of audience are you trying to reach? Busy bankers or lawyers won’t have time for light-hearted blog posts or cutesy infographics. You won’t reach them through Instagram. The reverse goes for teens and young people - it’s unlikely that you’ll interest them with in-depth case studies of financial operations sent out through an email newsletter. Define your target audience(s), and you’ll be better-placed to choose the right content marketing approach.
4. Choose your channels wisely
Building on the previous point, the channels through which you deliver your content are just as important as the content itself. It should go without saying that text posts won’t perform well on Instagram. People don’t visit YouTube to read the descriptions under the videos - the focus should be on the video. On the other hand, detailed case studies don’t really work well in video or audio format (such as podcasts) unless they have supporting materials in text and image form. Readers of such studies prefer being able to go over them carefully, at their own pace, and clicking back and forth in a video or audio file is frustrating. That’s why you must figure out the best channels for your content - if you don’t, even the best, most valuable content will sink like a rock.
5. Implement your strategy and analyze the results
A content marketing strategy isn’t worth much unless you implement it, stick to it, and test what works and what doesn’t work. Content marketing strategies don’t have to stay the same for years or even months on end. It’s harder to measure their effectiveness than, say, for a direct-response advertising campaign where the profit you make or the loss you take is very clear, but there are several metrics that you can and should track. Here are a few:
- Traffic: absolute numbers, growth or shrinkage, sources of traffic.
- Social shares: how much your content has been shared across social networks.
- Engagement: comments on your blog, social media posts, emails, etc.
- Visitor Retention: how many visitors to your site are returning readers.
- Click-through Rate (CTR): how many people see your pages in search results vs. how many click through - this can tell you whether you need to tweak and improve your page titles and descriptions.
- Time on Page: how much time visitors to your site are spending on the pages they visit - a short time-on-page for an in-depth 4000-word article should be a red flag, for example.
- Backlinks: the rule of thumb is that high-quality, authoritative, engaging content will receive backlinks to it from across the internet.
- Email Opt-in Rate: if you have a site-wide email opt-in box or prompt, it is very helpful to find out what pages have the most people opting in on.
- Track these metrics and analyze the data, and you’ll be able to make better-informed decisions about whether your content strategy is working or not, and what to change (if anything) in your content development.
A content marketing strategy is an essential roadmap for anyone who wants to get serious about their inbound marketing efforts. By following these 5 steps, you’ll be well on your way to developing a content curation strategy that works for you. Or you can contact us at Pivotal Agency, and we'll make sure to provide you with a comprehensive content roadmap for your strategic needs!