What Is A Content Marketing Strategy & How Do You Create One That Works?
Why would a restaurant or car repair shop spend time and energy on content marketing efforts? We understand that it could be confusing, so let us explain how a content marketing strategy can help your small business thrive — no matter the industry.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the strategy of creating and promoting content that benefits your target audience. It might not explicitly promote your brand but shows potential customers that you’re an expert in your field and a resource they can rely on during their buyer journey. Similarly, posting new content can generate interest in your product or service.
Why Do You Need A Content Marketing Strategy?
Returning to that first question: why would a local restaurant or repair shop need a content marketing strategy? For starters, it builds your audience. While not as active as other digital marketing strategies, content marketing shows readers and viewers that your business is a trusted source of information in your arena.
But don’t let your content marketing efforts go to waste. Each piece of content should have a specific purpose — and be designed for a specific audience. Taking the extra effort to ensure the content is not only helpful but desired by your audience makes all the difference.
Creating An Effective Content Strategy Step-By-Step
A content marketing strategy that actually works won’t just pop up out of nowhere. It takes research and planning to start your content strategy (well, that’s if you want it to be effective). Let’s take a look at the steps you should take to find your strategy.
1. Know Who You’re Talking To
Any marketing tactic will fail if you have no idea who you’re trying to reach. The first step is to do some research on both your own customers and the industry as a whole. Get to know who you’re trying to sell to (target audience) as well as their interests and what they don’t like, etc. (buyer persona). Lead generation becomes so much easier when you have a grasp on the people who are interested in buying whatever you’re selling. The best content is informational and relevant to your audience — so know who they are.
2. What Does Your Audience Want To See?
Once you understand your audience and buyer persona, it’s easier to understand the type of content they want. For example, a target audience of new parents wants content related to caring for newborns.
Making content for the sake of making content is a waste of time. Get a grasp on who you’re talking to, know their pain points, then make quality content that they actually want to see.
The Customer Journey
Where are they in their customer journey? Think of it as a funnel. At the top of the funnel (with the largest number of people) are people who are aware of their pain points but don’t necessarily know what to do about them yet. The middle of the funnel (the number is getting smaller) are customers who know their pain points and are considering ways to resolve them. At the bottom of the funnel (you guessed it, a smaller number of people) are those actively looking for a resolution — and they’re ready to purchase. Successful content marketing generates content to address the buyer at each stage of the funnel.
3. Try Keyword Research
Keyword research can come in handy at this point in the process. Use search engine optimization tools to see what people are actively searching for on the internet, then create your own content that fits these searches. That’s right; your content marketing campaign can fit nicely into your SEO strategy to drive traffic to your site with high-quality content that you know people want to see — because you did your research. Backlinks are another way that the search engines can help boost your content with other sites helping to increase your website traffic.
4. Establish Content Marketing Goals
Anyone can create content, but successful content creation works toward a larger goal. Are you establishing brand awareness? Are you focused on lead generation? Do you just want to inform your audience on how you can help relieve their pain points? Before you can start content production, know your goals. They will even affect the type of content you want to make as well, so this is a crucial step in the process.
5. Know Where To Publish
You may be thinking, “Publish? Already?? When am I supposed to create the content!” You heard us. Before you even plan what you want to publish, you should know where. It may seem counterintuitive, but content production should be heavily dependent on where it will live. Are you making content for your site? Are you recording a podcast? Are you looking for more engaging content on social media? Where your content will live at the end of the day should be first in mind before you start burying yourself in content you don’t know what to do with.
Social Media Channels
Social media channels are great as part of your content marketing strategy. Not only can you promote your content on the channel, but the posts themselves are also considered content and help build your brand awareness.
When it comes to social media, you need to think even further. Each social media platform has its own customers and demographics. What works on Instagram (where everyone shares their drunken vacation pics) won’t perform well on LinkedIn (where everyone has to act professionally). What social media apps would your target audience have downloaded? That’s where you want to post.
6. Take the Time to Build Your Content Calendar
A content marketing program can fall apart like a wet drive-thru napkin without any kind of editorial calendar. Planning out what you’ll post and when takes the headache out of it later.
So, what is a content calendar? We thought you’d never ask! A content calendar (also called an editorial calendar) is, you guessed it, a calendar of content. You’ll plan out and schedule what you want to publish, when, and where it’s ending up. These calendars are great for planning content about holidays and special events ahead of time — unless you love to panic right before a holiday weekend because you forgot that one blog post you wanted to write.
Your calendar doesn’t have to be planned out for a year or anything. In fact, it might be better to start with a quarterly calendar (or monthly if you’re intimidated). This way, you can plan for posts in advance while still keeping them fresh and current.
7. FINALLY — Content Production
Now that you’ve done your research and created your content marketing plan, it’s time to make some great content! Thanks to your calendar, you don’t have any guesswork and should know what type of content you’re producing.
But, what is that content? It can be anything. Based on who your audience is and what your goals are, you should have an idea of what to produce. The key to a quality content plan is diversity. I don’t care what it is; no audience wants the same content over and over again. Try different formats and types of content. If you’re bored making the same stuff again and again, guess what. Your audience is bored, too.
Think of the Possibilities!
- Case Studies
- Email Marketing & Newsletters
- White Papers
8. Content Audits & Metric Tracking
How will you know if your content marketing plan is actually working? Collect data like impressions, conversion rate, open rates, view counts, downloads, or any other KPI (key performance indicators) based on the type of content.
Analyze these metrics during a content audit to determine what your audience likes best. What format has the most engagement? What about the subject matter? Audit your content thoroughly so you can adjust your content plan and make it the best you can.
Who Has The Time For All This?
We do! We know that managing a content marketing strategy sounds exhausting. So, let us do it for you! At Lift Marketing, we can manage your editorial calendar so that you don’t have to sit up late at night thinking, “what should I make next?” Our content team can help you reach your business goals, so give us a call.