The discussion on content marketing in our previous blog explained how the concept of content marketing can help build customer relationships, and how a dedicated and loyal following can bring about brand awareness. You must keep in mind that this process takes a lot of planning, researching and brainstorming before you can even begin the actual marketing part. The result of this process of planning is a content strategy. You need a content strategy in place in order to get higher ROI for your content marketing. Jumping on the content wagon and publishing whatever comes to your mind without targeting your audience will take you nowhere, even if the intentions are good.

Why Do You Need a Content Strategy?

  • To Set Goals: To determine clear, reasonable content marketing goals in order to act toward them.
  • To Identify Your Target Audience: You must understand who you are trying to reach in order to make an impact.
  • To Pick Popular Content Types: The research required to make a strategy will help you identify what content your target audience is most likely to be interested in.
  • To Have an Edge over Competitors: Understanding competitor strategies is imperative to building content that is unique to your brand.
  • To Measure and Track: A content strategy helps you measure the success rate of your content and the fulfillment of your content marketing goals therein.

The above factors are not only the reasons you need a content strategy, but also the steps to build one. Let’s walk through these steps so you can create an excellent content strategy.

Step #1: Setting Goals

The goals you set will be based on what your business strives to gain from the investment of time and money you put into your content marketing. So for example, say you are publishing an e-book on a topic that interests your niche audience. What do you ultimately want to achieve from having the e-book distributed? Do you want increased exposure of your site, an increased number of site visitors, more email newsletter subscribers or to make an email list of potential leads? The following are a few generic goals that a business can have:

  • Build brand awareness
  • Change the perception of a given brand/reputation management for your brand
  • Be more socially visible and active
  • Generate direct sales
  • Become a leader in your niche
  • Set yourself apart from competition
  • Increase web traffic

There could be many more goals that are targeted toward a particular product or service. It is better to make short term goals and fulfill them first, then gradually make more broadly classified goals. This will give you some preparation time to achieve bigger ROI from your content marketing. For instance, say you are a startup. Your goal could be to make a hundred potential customers aware of your brand within a week. Prepare content accordingly and note the total reach of your content and the amount of targets achieved.

Step #2: Understanding your Potential Customers

Your content has an audience. Meeting your goals revolves around the decisions the audience makes after reading your content. So, it becomes really crucial to know your target audience’s demographic as well as their online behavior (since we are talking about digital content). WooRank gives you some insight on your website’s visitor demographics, as shown in the screenshot below:

WooRank Website Review showing information on website visitor demographics

Apart from this, it is imperative that you use customer surveys to understand what your target audience wants from you. These surveys can be offline or online but since we are dealing with digital content, you can conduct online surveys via the following mediums:

  • Email
  • Website
  • Social media

There are many online survey service providers, such as SurveyMonkey, PollDaddy, QuestionPro, SurveyGizmo and more. Apart from surveys you can also utilize simple, cost-effective research by looking at product mentions, keyword mentions and even brand mentions on various social media platforms, to better understand your customer base. Have a look at product forums or forums based on your keywords and look at what is being discussed. Take a look at review sites and get to know what kind of feedback customers in your industry give to the world.

First you must segment your potential audience based on the step in the sales funnel they are in. This will help you strategize what content is marketed to each audience type. For example, the following categories might make up your customer sales funnel:

Sample sales funnel for segmenting audience

When marketing to the demographic in the first step, you could check the trends in the industry that are visible on online platforms, such as forums, blogs, social media and online communities. For subscribers, site visitors and customers making a purchase you could have an online survey to better understand what they are looking for. For existing customers, you could have an online survey with an incentive and a feedback form. There are plenty of ways to connect with your target leads in the various steps of your sales funnel. Choose ways that are user-friendly and respect your customers’ time. You can also offer incentives to your readers/customers for taking a survey.

Step #3: Competitive Analysis

WooRank Website Reviews allow you to enter three competitor sites, as shown below:

Competitor analysis with a WooRank Website Review

You can use WooRank, or other backlink analysis tools available on the web, to go through the backlinks achieved by your competition. What type of content are they marketing? Who links to their content more than to yours? Do they have more mentions on Twitter or Yelp? Do they have more backlinks from their YouTube channel? Do email newsletters bring in site visitors? Digging deeply into your competitors’ content strategy also gives you a good visualization of where your prospects are found on the web.

Step #4: Content Creation

There are many factors to consider when it comes to content creation. These are as follows:

  • Type of content
  • Target audience
  • Frequency
  • Content research
  • Budget
  • Promotion

We have spoken about the type of content that can be used to reach out to your prospects online in our previous post on content marketing. Determining your target audience was covered in steps two and three above.

The time spent on your content research and the number of times you deliver the content per week must be scheduled. Having a huge gap between content delivery does not give your customers the impression that you are a serious brand, so it is best to be consistent. You could use an editorial calendar to schedule your content. This will help not only to plan the content in the future but also to track and archive content that has already been released. Organize your content based on dates, themes, events, distribution channels and so on. For instance, at WooRank we use Trello to schedule our blogs.

Assign the content creation and research to more than one staff member in your company. You can even outsource the content creation, especially when it comes to making videos, infographics or even a mobile app. Your budget for content comes into play when it is not done in-house. You must keep track of the money and time spent on creating the content and your returns in terms of ROI. Seeing how well your content reaches your customers makes it easier to achieve your content goals, as discussed in step one.

Develop a variety of content so that it does not get monotonous, both for you and your customers. Lastly, you need to know how to promote your content well. Timing is everything and trendy marketing strategies keep you in sync with your audience. Promoting content can hit multiple target goals, i.e. not only does your content reach your target audience but it also builds quality links back to your site. If your content is interesting enough to be shared on social media it will bring in social signals for your site that will also improve your site’s SEO.

Step #5: Measure and Track Content Reach

Gone are the days when you had to struggle to keep tabs on offline marketing messages and responses. With digital content you can track everything, from sending the content to the action taken by the user on your site. Measuring your content marketing success must be high on the list of things to do concerning your content strategy, as it helps you improvise with your strategy to make it better and helps you learn from your own consumer behavior.

The tracking parameter differs depending on your goals, for example, if your goal is to drive more visitors to your site, you measure the increase in traffic to your site within a certain period. Tracking visits to your site can be done by two awesome free Google tools– Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Make the best use of them so you know where traffic on your site is coming from.

You can track email content by integrating tracking codes through Google analytics. Alternatively, if you have an email provider, choose one that gives you extensive tracking results in the same platform. Integrate social media onto your site to track the social shares of your site. Some important metrics to measure in order to see the effect of content marketing on your site are bounce rates, website traffic, number of pages visited, time spent on the site, conversion rates and subscriptions.

Let us know in the comments if you have used these five steps to build your content strategy or, if you have done something differently and had success, we would love to hear that as well.