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What is content marketing

Content marketing involves the creation of meaningful, valuable content which resonates with a target audience to facilitate a relationship which inspires brand loyalty and translates into revenue.  In order to implement an effective content marketing campaign which drives results, content strategy is needed.  The strategy considers the objectives of the brand and the campaign, crafting a plan which guides the content, specifying the required results in order to monitor its effectiveness so that the campaign can be iterated or tweaked as necessary.

Content marketing strategy

We take a look at the key elements needed to implement an effective content marketing strategy:

1 – Content Inventory and Content Audit

Is your content up to date and relevant?  What content can you keep, discard, update? These are key questions when it comes to content audit.  Outdated content can be costly.  If a potential customer happens to land on a page where the content is no longer relevant, there is a good chance you will lose the customer, and the business.

To avoid or solve this situation, you will need to do an inventory of all your content, across all your platforms.

Step 2 in this process is doing a content audit.  This means assessing your current content in terms of its success with your audience response and engagement.  Where you find information, which is no longer servicing your brand or your customers, press delete!  On the other hand, if you have popular content that falls into the same, you can merge it into a single format as a long form post, SlideShare or eBook.  This way you’ll streamline your brand content and present up-to-date information which speaks to you customers’ needs while reflecting a brand that’s sophisticated and on the ball.

2 – Define marketing and brand goals

What do you want to achieve with your content?  Achieving brand objectives means outlining the specific goals of your brand and business.  Such goals may include increasing brand awareness, driving traffic, improving customer interaction and support, increasing efficiency of sales process.  All goals are underpinned by the primary goal of converting a potential lead into a paying customer. Goals determine the type of content which will be produced, with different content formats used to achieve different ends.  For example, if the goal is to create awareness with a new audience, content may take format of an infographic which provides insight into the brand and its industry.  A goal to collect data or increase conversions can be achieved with a downloadable whitepaper which is offered in order to obtain contact details and convert the person into a lead.

For this reason each goal will be associated with a specific call to action, encouraging the target audience to follow through on a particular activity, depending on where they are in the buyers journey.

3 – Identify your target audience

Who is your ideal customer, what are their interests and what media do they consume? As with any relationship, there are two sides:  the brand and the audience.  By researching what your customers want in terms of content and which platforms they prefer, you can start to create content which facilitates a solid relationship between your brand and your audience.

Identifying the buyer’s persona is an effective way to create a tangible understanding of you customer in order to deliver strategic brand content.  If you are just starting out, the process can be simplified by clearly defining your target audience and then creating your ideal customer from this target audience.  Questions form an important part of this stage, such as ‘What are your customers’ needs?” facilitate creating valuable content which resonates with your buyers’ values and interests.

In addition, other stakeholders and influencers must be considered when creating your different personas.  By taking time to understand their problems, pain points, what information they want and where their interest lies, content can be tailored specifically to meet the needs of your various personas.

4 – Content Planning and Development

This is the stage where team members come together to brainstorm different ideas, guided by the objectives of the brand and the campaign.  Here both the what, in terms of subject matter, and the how, in terms of format are discussed.  Different content is allocated to correspond with the position of different prospect in the sales funnel.  Content can consist of items which are current and trendsetting, while it is also expedient to create evergreen content which can be used again at various intervals.

It is a good idea to have a central location for content development, so that team members can contribute ideas and strategies.  Online platforms like Google docs can work well or even the company server can be used, making it easy for all members to have access the content planning document.

5 – Alignment of content in a conversation plan

Now that goals are identified, personas have been established, content has been created and different formats have been allocated, it is important to streamline these elements under a single umbrella structure.  This pinpoints buyer personas and their journey along the sales funnel punctuated by the relevant corresponding content which can be best facilitated through the diagram below, to keep track of all elements and variables.

In this way, a strategic framework is created for the design and execution of a campaign that successfully drives conversions and results in real business impact.

6 – Publishing and promoting content

Publishing content is an important part of the process, enabling it to be distributed across different social media platforms.  Aside from this organic distribution, posts can be amplified by strategic paid boosting or promotion via sponsored posts or advertising.

Content can also be published on relevant news or lifestyle sites.  Influencers can also be used, where appropriate, to help amplify the brand content.

7 – Measurement-centric strategy

Effective strategy requires following up with measurement of the content’s impact.  Following up with measurement provides insight about the success of a particular campaign.  If the campaign is fulfilling its objectives, the steps can be iterated.  If not, the necessary tweaking can be made in order to maximise effectiveness.

Google Analytics can be used to establish how content is performing and converting.  Metrics can also be obtained from the different social media platforms so that you are able to establish patterns in terms of which content is or is not working.

Data obtained from metrics can then be used as a guide to direct some of the future content.

In this way changes can be made where necessary, so that the campaign and content are continuously refined, giving the brand the edge to establish a presence and create a deep relationship with the target market.

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