How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy in 10 Easy-to-Follow Steps

develop-content-marketing-strategy

Content marketing has come a long way, offering numerous opportunities to B2B and B2C brands alike.

To truly boost your results, drive conversions and expand upon your current fanbase, you must create a foundation upon which great communications take place.

From there, you can do practically anything imaginable. Push your revenues into the stratosphere. Make your brand a household name. Scale a content marketing agency. The sky is the limit.

But how, exactly, does one get started?

Between identifying an ideal audience, building an online community and inspiring your brand’s advocates, you’ll need to engage effectively. More importantly, you have to create value for your followers.

The most effective content marketing strategies expand well beyond content itself. This is true whether your content takes form as blog posts, YouTube videos, Facebook infographics, or Instagram Live Video stories.

Between creating an initial plan, positioning your brand for outreach and maintaining your fanbase’s interest, there’s a lot to think about.

Fortunately, it’s possible to get started in only a few steps. There are certainly some hurdles to hop, but you’ll find the essential content marketing strategy elements aren’t too difficult to obtain.

And we’re here to help with a ten-step, all-in-one beginner’s guide to content marketing.

Before long, you’ll have an impactful digital marketing campaign build to last — powered by fans which promote your brand perpetually. Before we jump into the steps, though, let’s take a closer look at content marketing, itself.

In doing so, you’ll be better prepared to follow all the steps.

Getting Started: What’s a Content Marketing Strategy?

In 2022 and beyond, content marketing strategies are incredibly customizable as a rule. They’re also very easy to initiate with a little help from seasoned professionals.

So, how does one define ‘content marketing,’ anyway?

Here’s the best way to put it: content marketing is the strategic approach to providing valuable information to your audience.

This information should be relevant, consistent and — above all — reliable. In some way, shape or form, this content should also inspire your audience to become customers, either upon initial content consumption or later down the road.

Interestingly enough, 63% of businesses don’t currently have a documented content marketing strategy.

Unsurprisingly, however, those who do use content marketing, on average, feel they’re more successful. Without an effective strategy, success tends to simply be a matter of luck. Why risk your efforts going to waste?

Also unsurprising is that the same percentage of digital marketers consider content strategy development to be a key educational need among modern marketers.

Whether you’re a fledgling entrepreneur, a small business owner or a B2B guru looking to expand, one thing is for sure: a content marketing strategy never hurts. And having one will likely make the difference between long-term success and tough-to-manage campaigns.

What Makes Content Valuable?

This is a great question, especially considering how often the digital world changes!

By and large, content is present — but it’s also the future. The best content gives an audience information they didn’t already have. Moreover, it gives them the info quickly, and in an interesting way.

It’s important to remember that your online audience already sees thousands of content-driven promotions every day.

Between PPC advertisements, Google search results, product promotions and social media fan pages, there’s a lot of traffic out there, after all.

So, to reach your audience, you’ll need to not only make content that’s interesting but also will entice viewers to stay tuned in the long run.

In terms of product-driven value, content marketing yet again takes the price: As a long-term strategy, content marketing builds ongoing relationships with target audiences.

In contrast to one-off advertising campaigns, even those grounded in trending news, consistent content marketing has long-lasting effectiveness due to one major reason:

It shows you care about your fanbase.

A truth about modern digital marketing is that internet users are pretty used to mundane advertising campaigns.

There’s a ton of noise online, making valuable resources difficult to come by.

We take a page out of Joe Pulizzi’s book, here, when we reference the Content Marketing Institute: The evolution of digital marketing, consistently, has included content, specifically. As such, any digital marketing campaign without content tends to flop — as it doesn’t portray a brand’s story correctly.

Why Do Digital Marketers Need Content Marketing Strategies?

This is another great question, as today’s digital marketers already have plenty of advertising resources.

After all, things like SEO, display advertisements, real-time customer support and product promotions exist. Together, they make for a powerful digital marketing campaign.

This said, they’re not very useful without content.

Why so? It’s because content is the ‘vehicle’ that drives these utilities. An SEO strategy, for example, consists of keywords — and these keywords are presented in website metadata, informative articles, and even video descriptions featured on social media news feeds.

In a lot of ways, your content marketing strategy will be the glue that holds everything together.

Digital marketers serving across all industries have spent years examining the fundamental components of successful content marketing approaches.

They’ve found that, above all, three factors tend to be consistent across every iteration of content marketing approaches:

  • Current consumer pain points about the brands they engage.
  • The current types of content these consumers prefer the most.
  • The purchasing cycle of consumers who finally find brands they enjoy.

So, where does this put us in terms of figuring out the defining traits of today’s leading strategies?

In general, creating your own content marketing map will depend on your brand’s unique place within its industry.

No business is the same, after all, and no industry experiences the same consumer concerns as others. This doesn’t mean you’ll struggle right out of the gate though.

Because the above-mentioned factors remain constant, year after year, it means that today’s successful, brand-specific content marketing strategies tend to grow themselves.

We’ll cover this in more detail, below, but just trust us when we say the following: Your brand’s best aspects, and best content topics, already exist. You just need to unearth them.

Creating Your Own Content Marketing: 10 Simple Steps

Regardless of the digital marketing strategies you plan to use, or already use, content marketing needs to be part of it.

It also needs to exist within, around, before, and after you make any changes to your campaign.

Remember: content is the vehicle that drives each of your initiatives. Without it, even the best digital marketing strategies won’t get far.

Don’t worry, though, because you can create your own content marketing strategy with few resources.

The best thing about content marketing is that it’s self-sustaining: Great content attracts passionate fans — and passionate fans will give you great ideas for more content.

Let’s check out the best way to create a winning content marketing strategy this year. You can do so in just 10 easy-to-follow steps!

1. Define Your Brand and Audience

Surprisingly, the most important part of content marketing is also the most important part of digital marketing: defining your brand and audience.

brand that’s clearly defined is easily represented. You can use your mission, values, and vision to guide the way to effectively communicate with your target audience.

Defining your audience allows you to understand their unique perspectives. You can then use your content to resolve their pain points and position your brand as an ally in their buyer’s journey.

By positioning your brand effectively, you’ll also be able to provide a consistent content experience for your fanbase — even as it grows and evolves.

To do that, always ask yourself the following questions before creating a content marketing strategy:

  • Who are my current and potential customers?
  • Which pain points do my clients want me to resolve?
  • What kind of experience do these customers want?
  • Does your brand already offer this? If so, how can you highlight this?
  • What makes my brand unique from competitors?

Even if your brand offers a unique product, a unique service or both, it can still complement its current approach with content.

The name of the game is “awareness”, as it gets your business into gear to provide the best content possible.

2. Do a Content Audit

Before you can move forward in creating a strategy, you have to know exactly where you stand with your content. And that means performing a content audit.

Many brands shy away from this process. Looking in the mirror and assessing what you see can prove difficult, after all.

But it’s necessary. It’s revealing. It’s revolutionary.

In fact, 65% of brands that show great success in the content marketing world do their content audits at least two times per year.

So, you know that it’s worth the time and effort it takes. Take a deep breath, be brave, and just see what you’ve already put out into the world.

To complete an honest assessment of your current content, you must first lay it all out in front of you. Do this manually or use SEMrushScreaming Frog, or another online tool to grab a snapshot of all your content.

Put it all in a spreadsheet, so you can take notes as you go. An organized approach will pay off in the long run.

Add all the key ranking factors for each piece of content into their own columns. Keywords, header tags, meta titles, meta descriptions, content purpose, buyer’s journey stage, and links should all be present and accounted for.

Then, take a good hard look at every last piece of content before you. Really look at it. Try to put yourself in your customers’ shoes as you do that, too.

While you do that, ask yourself:

  • Is the content doing its job of providing the viewer with actionable, relevant information?
  • Does the content do a better job than the competitors’ in fully addressing the search query?
  • Could you jazz up the content with more imagery, facts and stats, and other bells and whistles?

If you find any areas to improve, get to work on changing it up.

After that, see what’s missing. Use that revelation to decide which types of content you could add to help create an effective content marketing strategy.

3. Set Up Your Goals and Metrics

Even if you really love your content, that doesn’t mean it will perform well in the real world. On top of that, your love could leave you blind about its true ability to wow your customers.

To best reveal the truth about your content performance, you must use key metrics to gauge its success, such as:

  • Keyword Rankings: Where your website lands on the search results pages
  • Organic Web Traffic: The total amount of new and repeat visitors you get from search
  • Time on Site: How long your website visitors spend reviewing each page of content
  • Lead Generation: The number of qualified leads that you get from each page

Don’t forget about social shares as well. When your customers adore your content, they’ll want to share it far and wide.

With that, you really know that you hit the target with that piece. And you can emulate its key features in future webpages, articles, and the like as you build out your content marketing strategy.

Remember to set goals, too. Don’t just hope for the best. Include your goals in the content brief, so your writer knows what to strive for as they create the content.

Decide how well you want your content to perform for each metric. Then, push your goals to the next level every quarter.

4. Research Your Competitors

Do you truly know what your competitors are doing — and how well they are doing it? In particular, have you taken a good, long look at their web content?

If you haven’t taken the time to research your competitors, you don’t have the info needed to create a great content marketing strategy.

In order to be the best in the industry, you have to create better content than your competitors in every way possible.

Your content must be more engaging, more helpful, and more inspirational. Or all your efforts will fall flat as your competitors win over your customers instead.

Fortunately, you can get the inside scoop quite easily. You just need to use competitor analysis tools, like SpyFuBuzzSumo, and SproutSocial.

As you look over the metrics in each tool, it’s easy to see how your competitors approach content generation and distribution.

Use that data to guide your own approach — always aiming to do things just a bit better.

5. Determine the Right Content to Offer

At some point, you’ll be better off if you provide content of all types: whether these exist as newsletters, a web video series, or daily social media snapshots into your brand’s unique products.

To start off, though, it might be better to focus on one type of content, especially if your brand is new to digital marketing, in general.

There are plenty of content types to choose from, and the best brands tend to redefine content itself by mixing and matching these types.

The basic types of content, however, are usually pretty effective on their own. Here are some great options to choose from:

You’ll notice that these content types share a common theme: they’re educational.

Educational content instantly offers something of value, especially if it helps your audience make the most out of your products and services.

Where industry news reports and statistics are considered, the educational content can even promote itself.

6. Build a Content Calendar Publishing

A regular flow of content is key if you want to keep your customers engaged with your brand. And you do want that, for sure. Otherwise, your content could fall to the wayside — and fast.

In their 8th annual blogging survey, Orbit Media found that around 50% of bloggers publish either weekly or several times a month.

And the largest percentage of bloggers who reported getting strong results from their content marketing strategy? A stunning 32% say they publish two to six posts a week.

Keep in mind that the quality of your content could outweigh the need to post frequently, however.

If you’re spending a lot of time on your blog posts, you can likely afford to publish just a couple of times a month instead without compromising on results.

Just aim to keep things consistent above all else.

To do that effectively, build a content calendar. Your calendar should have all the web pages, blog posts, and other content you want to publish that quarter.

Give each piece of content a strict publishing date. Then, hire a writer to hit each deadline without compromise to start seeing great results, too.

7. Create a Content Distribution Plan

What good does your content do if you don’t distribute it to the right channels? No good at all, that’s what.

You must deliver your content to your target audience where they spend their time online. Or they won’t see it.

It’s that simple.

A content distribution plan helps you get around that problem in an instant.

Before you can make that plan, you must figure out which channels your customers prefer most.

If you market to the Gen Z crowd, you’re going to want to focus on TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat, for example. Facebook? That’s their parents’ social media platform of choice.

Upon figuring out where your clients hang out online, decide how to best distribute your content.

For most of it, you’ll want to put it on your own website, of course. But you may also benefit from exploring guest post opportunities as well.

After planning out your initial posting, create your social media distribution plans. Write up an engaging blurb to build interest in the linked content. Use images to your advantage.

Tag any and all you mentioned in your posts, too, in hopes that they’ll share your content with their own circles.

8. Encourage Discussion

Here, social media is your best friend. To establish your brand, you’ll need to offer your value proposition in the place your audience hangs out the most.

So, start by researching your audience’s most-used social media outlet. Then, try to analyze your audience’s preference for content consumption.

This step ties in closely with last step, as it’s capable of creating an interest loop, which’ll entice your brand’s followers to, well, inspire more followers!

This is also where new brands tend to make mistakes, however. They focus too much on their market’s rivals, as opposed to paying close attention to what their fans really want.

To avoid this pitfall, just remember that your brand will be much more competitive if it’s backed by a fanbase that truly cares.

You can encourage discussion, specifically over social media, by doing the following:

  • Learn which pages your fanbase currently follows.
  • Find out what they have in common, then focus on your fanbase’s values.
  • Create a social media content posting calendar.
  • Whenever you post, ask users what they think.

9. Measure Your Results

This step can be a bit intimidating, but it’s totally doable if you can secure the right resources.

Here, it’s a good idea to ask a professional content marketing strategist for help. They’re specialized in the art of content interaction, and they know exactly which statistics to pay attention to.

More importantly, they’re equipped with today’s leading data metrics tools — and they know how to use them effectively.

If you’re keen on measuring your strategy’s results on your own, however, you can do so by targeting the key content marketing metrics listed below:

  • Sharing metrics: How much does each content piece resonate? Which pieces are shared the most?
  • Lead metrics: Which content pieces resulted in the most website visits? What about direct sales? If your brand has a physical store, which content pieces inspired fans to visit?
  • Consumption metrics: Which content pieces were viewed the most? If your content’s consumption can be measured, like with a video’s watched runtime, which pieces kept viewers entertained the longest?

10. Research the Results – and Create More Content

The data you discover from the above-mentioned metrics is worth a lot, in terms of your future content marketing approaches.

Once you’ve gained some insights, you should put them to use by realigning your strategy accordingly.

For example: if your users shared one video more than others, try to determine what set this video apart from the rest.

With any content piece’s effectiveness, whether it’s discovered via more shares, more likes, more click-through or more followers, you can determine its effectiveness by asking the following questions:

  • Was this content piece’s topic different from the others? How so?
  • Was this content piece’s posting date unique? If so, what else happened on this date?
  • Did this content piece share a meaningful message? If so, what does this reveal about your audience’s motivations?

Content marketing requires a lot of upkeep, no doubt. Fortunately, it’s also one of the easier digital marketing strategies to conduct trial-and-error assessments of.

This is because you can change your content marketing strategy’s direction on the fly. If one of your content pieces wasn’t so popular, simply try to create a different message the next time.

If your website wasn’t receiving enough visitors, you can focus more on your brand’s unique offers in your next post.

Creating Long-Term Goals: Professional Content Marketing Assistance

At the end of the day, it’s important to take pride in your brand. It’s also important to transform this pride into something digestible for your fanbase.

Today’s consumers are pretty good at differentiating between high-quality, sincere brands and those who’re simply leaning on current trends to make quick sales.

More so than ever, connecting with these consumers on an ongoing basis is vital to your brand’s success.

Content marketing makes the most out of current trends, memorable past events and education for the future.

To create a content marketing plan build to last, it’s definitely worthwhile to see what today’s leading enterprise brands have done to pave the way.

Even though many of these businesses are grounded in past strategies, they all began by taking the first steps your strategy is about to take, itself.

If you want to move onto the next step, take our Content Maturity Assessment to identify areas where your organization is succeeding — and where there is room for improvement!

Then, get all the high-quality content you need by signing up for a risk-free trial at our newest acquisition, WriterAccess.

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