Looking for the key to success in 2020? A tried-and-true tactic to build new relationships, nurture current connections, grow awareness, educate your customers, boost your digital presence, drive sales, foster leads, and stay competitive? Content marketing is your secret weapon.
Earlier this year, we touched on the importance of having a content marketing strategy, a detailed plan that establishes the process of creating and distributing valuable, high-quality content to engage, intrigue, and inform current and potential customers.
As both B2B and B2C consumers surround themselves with more content—and more avenues to access it—than ever before, the need for a holistic content strategy will only continue to grow.
But for so many brands, the idea of building a content marketing strategy still feels unfamiliar and overwhelming. In theory, you know what it is and why to do it. But who has the time to build out a brand-new strategy from scratch? And once it’s built, who has the time to implement it?
The good news is, if you are regularly putting content out into the world via your website, social media, thought leadership, community relations, and public relations efforts, chances are good that you already have the makings of a content marketing strategy.
With a few additional steps, you can take these building blocks and map out a cohesive content marketing strategy for the year ahead. Here are six high-level tactics to help you get started:
- 1. Define both your business objectives and your content marketing goal: What is it that you want to achieve with your content? Before organizing the content you currently have and identifying the content you need to create, your first step should always be to identify the business objectives you hope to impact through content marketing. Clearly stating these will help you measure success appropriately and serve as a strong launching pad in then defining your content marketing goal(s).
Clearly stating your goals—such as increased website traffic; email list growth; increased social shares and engagement; or a more consistent thought leadership presence—will allow you to be intentional in future content marketing decisions and give you a solid “why” for every piece of content and every tactic that gets worked into your plan.
- 2. Get to know your audience: Now that you have your why, identify your “who.” Who will be engaging with your content, and what type of content do they actually want to consume? Talk to your current customers and ask them directly. Then, take the time to build out personas based off of their answers.
This point right here can be a key differentiator between your content and the content of your competitors: A 2018 report from the Content Marketing Institute found that, while well-researched audience personas can help teams create quality, successful content, only 42 percent of content marketers are actually talking to their customers to understand their needs and the type of content that they’re looking for.
- 3. Build your content pillars: Now that you have set your intention, know your audience, and have a better understanding of the content that they’re interested in, you can start building out the types of content you plan to produce on a consistent basis. Using your goals and audience as a guide, these “content pillars” will serve as a foundation for your content marketing strategy. Existing and yet-to-be-created content should fall under at least one of your content pillars.
For example, a sustainable fashion brand looking to grow its customer base and build brand awareness might have content pillars that look something like this:
- Interviews with industry experts
- Tips and tricks for integrating slow fashion into overall clothing buying habits
- Sustainable fashion basics
- Industry news and trends
- 4. Organize your existing content: It’s time to take a second look at the content that you already have. Organize it in buckets according to your content marketing goals, your audience, and your content pillars, and think about what you might be able to repurpose. This step provides a much-needed visual that will allow you to identify gaps in existing content and plan out future content. Hopefully it will also serve as a welcome reminder of all of the work you have done so far.
- 5. Identify the channels you will use to distribute your content and decide on a consistent distribution frequency: The most successful content marketing strategy is a consistent one that puts content in front of your audience in a format where they are most likely to consume it. Decide on a frequency for each channel that is sustainable for your team—that might mean three social media posts a week and two blog posts per month, or three social media posts a day and one blog post per week. Making a concerted effort to stick to your intended content distribution schedule will help build trust and reliability around both your brand and your content.
- 6. Develop a measurement plan: What does content marketing success look like for your business? Having a measurement plan in place from the beginning gives your team opportunities to check in on progress, learn from your current content strategy, and make adjustments along the way to ensure that your content is achieving its intended objectives.
Have questions about building out a thoughtful, holistic content marketing strategy for 2020? Give us a call.