Do you have a documented content marketing strategy? If the answer is no, you aren’t alone. New research by the Content Marketing Institute says just 37% of us have a documented content marketing strategy. 38% have an undocumented strategy and the rest have no plans to create one or won’t do so for the next six months. That’s a serious opportunity to raise your content marketing game missed, with the study also concluding that organisations with a documented strategy record consistently better results from their content marketing efforts.
Knowing that you need to sit down and produce a strategy can be intimidating – 67% of respondents say they don’t plan to create a strategy because they have a small team however, with a little help, it isn’t that difficult to put pen to paper and create your content framework. Over 9 in 10 businesses perform content marketing of some kind – so whether that’s blogs, articles and white papers, LinkedIn updates or social media posts , if you create or outsource content creation, having a documented strategy is simply a smart way to ensure you get a better return on your investment.
We’ve already seen that having a documented strategy in place means you’re much more likely to generate better content results so, let’s take a look at how you can put one in place, no matter how small your marketing team or how tight your budget.
Your document should comprise five core elements – tackle each one in turn to make the task more manageable.
Have you been investing time and resources creating content without any meaningful motivation over and above you know it’s something you should be doing? If so, this first element will help you to hone in on the why propelling your content. This section is a crucial part of your strategy because it will anchor all of your content creation, promotion and measurement activity further down the line.
Consider this part of the strategy your business case for investing in content and approach it as such. What is it you’re hoping to get out of your content activity? What contribution will content make to your organisation’s wider goals? How will it help you get to those overarching business targets?
All strategies need to document what the end game actually is. When it comes to your content strategy, that means laying down your content goals. Should your content assist with lead generation for example? Build brand awareness? Create brand advocates? Nurture leads? Help to generate site subscriptions?
Once you have a rough shortlist of content goals, use the SMART system to fill in the blanks. It’s helpful to document the potential obstacles that stand between you and those goals so you go into the content creation process well-equipped and set up for the best chance of success.
Defining your audience is a really useful part of a documented content strategy and something you’ll refer to over and over again as your content marketing activity kicks off.
You may already have created buyer personas for your business. If so, these can be placed within your content strategy. If not, you’ll need to consider things such as:
• What does your audience look like? (age, gender, profession)
• Where can they be found online?
• What are their preferred social media networks?
• Who are their influencers?
• What are their interests?
• What problems are they looking to solve with your product or service?
Having these personas within easy reach means you can easily check if your content is on the right track when you begin brainstorming possible content ideas and then proceed to the creation process.
An important part of your strategy is defining what you actually want to say with your content. You could take this a stage further and split your intended messaging into a number of sub-sections which tie back to the different parts of your sales funnel or user journey. You may want to include things such as how your differ from the competition and the problems your product or service solves. It’s helpful to refer back to your buyer personas here, to keep your messages focused on known customer desires and pain points.
Having a list of things you need to communicate via your content will make your content planning and brainstorming process easier too as you’ll be able to link ideas and assets to key messages.
In order for your content to achieve the goals you set in element two, it will need to be published and promoted. In this fifth core element of your documented content marketing strategy, you should think about where your content will live and the channels you’ll use to make it accessible and visible to your audience.
You may have some budgeting decisions to make if you plan to use paid channels such as content networks like Outbrain or printed newsletters to push your content out.
Think about cross-promotion here too. The Content Marketing Institute’s research shows email, blogs and social media channels are the most effective methods of content promotion – but you don’t need to use these in silos. Instead, cross-promote your content with links from blogs to a related video on YouTube or Instagram TV for example. Both the most successful and least successful content marketers agree that email performs best when it comes to content promotion – meaning you should think about how you can utilise this medium and use it to drive traffic to your other assets, such as your blog or social media channels.
These five sections form the foundation of a documented content marketing strategy and serve as a very useful starting point if you haven’t documented your strategy previously. It’s important to note that your strategy should be a living thing, referred to and updated often. As such, there’s lots of scope to add to it with any additional information that will help you reach your content goals. Other sections to think about include measurement and how you’ll track the effectiveness of your content. You may find it helpful to incorporate a content marketing plan defining the types of content you want to create or an audit of past content here. This is your document and ultimately, it should help keep you on track for content marketing success.
Need some help? Our content marketing team loves developing modern, flexible and effective content marketing strategies to perfectly fit your business goals, resources and budgets. Contact us today to find out how we can help you get your content marketing strategy documented and paving the way to bigger content marketing success.