If you follow digital marketing or search engine optimization trends, you’ve undoubtedly heard again and again that content is king. Unfortunately, some small businesses—and even some marketing firms that should know better—simply create content for the sake of creating content rather than creating the right kind of content to get results. This is why every business that markets their services and wares online needs to start with a cohesive content marketing strategy.
1. Understand What a Content Marketing Strategy Is
First, let’s split some hairs—content marketing strategy vs. content strategy. Same thing, right?
With content strategy, your goal is creating fantastic content. With content marketing strategy, your goal is to sell a product or service. That doesn’t mean that your goal with content marketing strategy isn’t to create great content, but it does mean that there will be some significant differences in your approach. You’re not trying to get people to your website to view your content so you can make ad revenue, you’re trying to generate interest and sales in what you have to offer.
Depending on your business, your needs, and your goals, your content marketing strategy may lead directly to a sale or you may want to build a loyal audience for your content and, in turn, a loyal customer base.
2. Set Your Goals
Now that you understand what a content marketing strategy is, it’s time to set your goals. Do you want your content to funnel potential customers directly to a sales page? Is your goal to sign people up for your newsletter? To build your brand? SEO? Your goal might even be to tackle all of these!
By determining your goals, you can develop a strategy to help you achieve them. Without setting goals, you might create terrific content, but it’s doubtful that it will give you a return on investment to make your efforts worthwhile. It’s important to hone in on those objectives and never lose sight of them.
3. Think About How Your Content Can Help You Meet Your Goals
There are many ways that you can go about doing this. It can help to create an ideal customer avatar and start from there—ask yourself what your customers would find useful, what might convince them to use your products or services, where they’re most likely to find your content, and even the type of voice that would resonate with them.
This is also where you think about the types of content you plan on creating and calls to action that will help you achieve your objectives. Doing some competitor research can be helpful here, but don’t duplicate what they’re doing—you have no idea if their strategy is working and it’s better to be a first rate version of yourself than a second rate version of someone else. Your audience will appreciate your authenticity!
4. Create a Plan
Starting content marketing without a plan is like going on a cross-country trip without a map (or GPS on your phone). You might start out strong, but you’ll eventually lose your way. Consider investing in a content calendar like Coschedule to keep you on track across all of your platforms and plan out your content at least a month in advance.
If you don’t plan on doing your own content writing, consider hiring a digital marketing agency to take care of the task for you. A professional writer is an asset to your team and their services will set you apart from your competition. Anyone can repeat keywords ad nauseam, but it takes talent to create compelling content that truly engages your audience.
5. Don’t Rest on Your Laurels
Content marketing will always keep you on your toes. Search and social media algorithms change frequently, as do tastes and trends, so it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest digital marketing best practices and adjust your strategy as needed.
If your content isn’t helping you meet your goals, it’s time for a different content marketing strategy. Make sure you have your analytics set up so you can look at not just overall traffic, but also your conversions. This allows you to easily determine the ROI you’re getting from your content marketing strategy.
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Linda Musselwhite is an author, speaker and co-owner of Musselwhite Marketing (est 2009). Linda’s previous positions as Human Resources Administrator. Combined with extraordinary customer service makes her the obvious choice of day to day operations for Musselwhite Marketing.
Connect with Linda on LinkedIn.