By textbook definition, content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. However, in reality, it’s much more than that.
The right online content marketing strategy can increase website traffic and engagement, build relationships with customers and influencers, and boost your brand visibility, trustworthiness, and authority. Utilizing this method is an incredible way to make your business stand out from the competition and draw in customers when they are ready to buy.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into the elements of a successful content marketing strategy and how to create one that works for your business. We’ll also provide dos and don’ts to help you avoid common pitfalls.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 73% of B2B marketers and 70% of B2C marketers use content marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy.
What Is a Content Marketing Strategy?
When it comes to content, you need three things: a content marketing strategy, a content strategy, and a content plan. While most people often interchange the terms, these are distinct concepts with different purposes.
Content Marketing Strategy
A content marketing strategy encompasses the goals and objectives you want to achieve through your content creation efforts. It helps set expectations for how your team will create and promote content, define success metrics, and measure progress toward those targets.
Your content marketing strategy is your ‘Why’. It’s the purpose behind creating content, who you’re trying to reach, how you can help your target audience, and what you hope to achieve after your audience has read your content.
Content marketing also involves content distribution and promotion tactics like SEO, social media, email marketing, and more. A successful content marketing strategy should incorporate all these elements to give your audience the best experience possible and reach them in key moments throughout their journey.
Your content strategy delves deeper into content creation, publication, and governance of valuable content. It’s the process of planning, creating, managing, and optimizing content for maximum impact. It’s your game plan for using content to reach your target audience and achieve your goals.
For example, suppose your content marketing strategy is to draw in more leads. In that case, your content strategy might include publishing long-form blog posts around topics related to your services.
Your content plan is a bit more tactical. It documents how you will execute your strategy and who on your team will handle each task. It also outlines the editorial calendar and details how each content will be promoted, where it will be published, and how long it should remain live.
Now that we understand the difference between these three, we can have a clear focus on how to build an effective content marketing strategy.
Why Have a Content Marketing Strategy?
Imagine you’re about to embark on a long road trip without the GPS turned on. That is a waste of time and money, as you’re likely to make many wrong turns and end up in the wrong place. The same goes for content marketing — if you don’t have a clear content strategy and plan, measuring success and making meaningful improvements over time is next to impossible.
Having a roadmap in place helps you pinpoint where you stand now, set realistic goals for the future, and develop an actionable plan to meet those objectives. It also helps you make data-driven decisions so you can capitalize on opportunities and avoid costly mistakes.
A documented content marketing strategy that is well thought-out helps align your marketing efforts with your business goals. It is easy to get generate content ideas, but it is difficult to determine which ones will resonate with your audience.
Without competitive market research and a content strategy that supports this, you’ll end up with blog posts unlikely to drive traffic or generate leads. A content marketing strategy will help guide your efforts, ensuring that you create compelling content that’s engaging, useful, and caters to every stage of the buyer’s journey.
Let’s dive into an example close to home. This website (It’s a Writer’s World) was originally launched back in 2009. If you use Way Back Machine, you will notice how random my content topics were. It’s just a site with mixed content that discusses everything under the sun. And to my defense, I did that on purpose.
In 2009, my goal for this website was to turn it into my writing portfolio—something to show my clients my writing style, my writing flexibility, and the level of research I do for the content.
However, as I started to use this website more and more, my goal shifted from becoming an online portfolio to displaying my knowledge and expertise in SEO and content marketing and introducing the services I provide. Recent content I have been publishing was more focused on SEO and content marketing topics, which to my surprise, have gained me success in terms of generating valuable leads.
Another key benefit of having your own content marketing strategy is improved efficiency. When you have a plan in place, it’s easier to allocate resources accordingly. You can create content more quickly because you already know what type of content needs to be created and how often. It also makes measuring success easier since you compare your results against predetermined goals.
For example, if you decide to launch a blog, you can track the monthly blog posts published along with key performance metrics such as average time on page, bounce rate, and conversions. You will know what works and what doesn’t, which can help you optimize your content for higher engagement.
Lastly, with a content marketing strategy, you will be better equipped to handle the ever-changing digital landscape. You can easily evaluate new industry trends and pivot your content strategy if needed while keeping up with the competition. For example, suppose you identify virtual reality is a growing trend. In that case, you can tap your team to create relevant content and determine the best way to incorporate it into your content marketing strategy.
Content marketing requires effort and commitment, but having a documented strategy in place will help you stay focused and consistent in your marketing efforts. It ensures every time you create content, it drives towards a specific goal, eliminating wasted content marketing efforts and helping maximize your ROI.
25 Clever Content Marketing Examples with Amazing Results
Here are 25 brilliant content marketing examples that other businesses used to produce great benefits.
Elements of a Powerful Content Marketing Strategy
There are a few key components to a successful content marketing strategy: audience personas, brand story, content marketing mission, business case, and an action plan. Each of these elements should help you create content that resonates with the right audiences and drives them to take action. Let’s break down each of these components.
The first step in creating a powerful content marketing strategy is understanding your target audience. This means developing audience personas that outline your ideal customers, what they care about, and how they interact with your brand. By creating detailed personas, you can tailor your content to meet their needs and preferences, making it more likely that they will engage with your brand.
To create effective audience personas, gather data on your existing customers. This could include demographic information, such as age, gender, and location, as well as psychographic information, such as interests, values, and behaviors. Use this data to create fictional profiles representing different segments of your target audience.
For example, selling fitness equipment might create personas for a busy professional who wants to stay in shape and a retiree who wants to maintain mobility. You can also be very specific and create personas for different types of fitness enthusiasts, such as athletes and gym-goers, along with other essential data such as age, location, and income level.
Once you clearly understand your target audience, it’s time to develop your brand story. This narrative defines your brand’s values, personality, and mission. Your brand story should be authentic, compelling, and consistent across your content marketing efforts.
To develop your brand story, define your brand’s purpose and values. This could involve asking questions like “Why did we start this business?” and “What do we stand for?” Use this information to craft a narrative that resonates with your target audience and sets your brand identity.
For example, if you sell eco-friendly cleaning products, your brand story might focus on your commitment to sustainability and creating a healthier planet. Therefore, you can create content that educates your audience on the importance of green living and encourages them to make environmentally-friendly choices.
Content Marketing Mission Statement and Value Proposition
Your content marketing mission statement is the specific goal you want to achieve through your content creation. This could be anything from increasing brand awareness to driving sales or building customer loyalty. Your mission should be tied to your overall business and objectives and be measurable so that you can track your progress over time.
To develop your content marketing mission, start by defining your business goals and how content marketing can help you achieve them. For example, if your goal is to increase sales, your content marketing mission might be to create educational content that helps your target audience understand the benefits of your products or services. Be specific and measurable so that you can track the success of your content marketing efforts.
Business Case and Content Marketing Goals
Your content marketing strategy should be tied to your overall business case. This means understanding the financial and strategic impact that content marketing can have on your business. Creating a business case for content marketing can secure the resources and buy-in needed to execute your strategy effectively.
To create a business case for content marketing, start by identifying the costs and benefits of your strategy. This could include the cost of creating content, the potential revenue that content marketing could generate, and improve brand awareness and customer loyalty. Use this information to create a business case that outlines the ROI of your content marketing strategy and the impact it will have on your overall business objectives.
For example, suppose your goal is to increase brand awareness. In that case, you could calculate the potential cost of running a blog or using social media platforms and compare it to the reach and engagement it can generate. This data can give you an indication of how effective your content marketing efforts are likely to be.
Once you have created a business case, set clear goals for your content marketing strategy—these goals should be measurable, achievable, time-bound, and match your business case’s objectives. This will help you track the success of your content marketing efforts over time and make sure that you are creating content that resonates with your target audience.
An Action Plan
Finally, to make your content marketing strategy a reality, you need an action plan outlining the steps you will take to achieve your goals. This should include a detailed timeline, a list of resources and digital tools that you will need, and specific metrics that you will use to track your progress.
Creating an action plan will help you stay organized and ensure your content is on-brand and consistent with your mission statement. It will also give you a framework to measure the success of your content marketing efforts over time. As part of this process, create a content calendar and assign tasks to team members, so everyone knows what is expected of them.
Make sure to cover the following while content planning:
- Brainstorm creative content topics for each marketing campaign
- Decide which types of content you will create to best reach your desired audience.
- Select the platforms for content distribution.
Content marketing is an effective and cost-efficient way to drive traffic, generate leads, and build brand awareness and relationships with potential customers. By creating a content marketing strategy tailored to your business objectives, you can ensure that your content resonates with your target audience and produces tangible results.
How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy
Strategic long-term planning can help you prepare for potential difficulties and efficiently allocate resources. Follow these steps to create a content marketing strategy that will boost engagement and drive business growth:
1. Define your goal
It is crucial to define your goals before crafting a content marketing plan. Without clear goals, creating a strategy that aligns with your business objectives is challenging. Your content marketing goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
For instance, a software company may want to increase website traffic by 30% in the next six months by creating valuable blog content that solves customer problems. Another example is a fashion brand that aims to generate 50% more leads in the next quarter by developing engaging social media content that showcases its products.
Defining your goals enables you to identify your target audience, develop relevant content, and choose the right channels for distribution. It also helps you measure your progress and determine if your content marketing efforts produce the desired results.
When developing your content marketing plan, consider the following questions:
- What do you want to achieve with your content marketing efforts?
- Who is your target audience?
- What problems do you want to solve for your audience?
- What channels will you use to distribute your content?
- How will you measure your success?
By answering these questions and setting SMART goals, you can create a content marketing plan that delivers measurable results and drives business growth.
2. Determine Your Audience
Understanding your audience is critical to the success of your strategy. Before creating any content, it’s essential to identify your target audience’s needs, interests, and pain points.
Developing buyer personas is an effective way to understand your audience’s demographics, behaviors, and motivations. However, it’s crucial to remember that your audience isn’t limited to just buyers. Your audience also includes individuals who interact with your brand before they make a purchase.
For example, a fitness brand’s target audience includes people looking to buy gym equipment or supplements and those seeking workout inspiration, nutrition advice, or fitness tips. By creating content that addresses these topics, the brand can attract potential customers before they begin the buyer journey.
3. Run a content audit
Conducting a content audit is a crucial step in evaluating the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy. A content audit is a process of reviewing your existing content to identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.
By conducting a content audit, you can:
- Create an inventory of your content: Make a list of all your existing content, including blog posts, social media posts, videos, infographics, and other types of visual content.
- Identify top-performing and low-performing content: Reviewing your existing content can help you identify which pieces of content are performing well and which ones are not resonating with your audience. This information can help you make data-driven decisions about future content creation.
- Identify gaps in your content: A content audit can help you identify gaps in your content creation process. You can use this information to brainstorm content ideas that address your audience’s needs and interests.
- Improve content relevance: A content audit can help ensure your content is relevant and up-to-date. You can remove outdated content or update existing content to reflect changes in your industry or audience needs.
The best tools to use in your marketing content audit include Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Ahrefs, and BuzzSumo.
4. Choose a content management system
Content marketers should be careful in selecting a content management system (CMS) so that they can be able to manage content effectively. A CMS allows you to create, publish, and track your content in one place, streamlining your content management process.
When selecting a CMS, it’s important to consider its features and functionalities. A good CMS should include content creation and publication tools and analytics capabilities to track your content’s performance.
WordPress is one of the most popular CMSs, offering many features and tools. I prefer WordPress as it is SEO-friendly and has plenty of available plugins (free and paid) to help you enhance your content formats. It is also easy to use and can be used by beginners.
5. Determine your Content Formats
There are various options for content you can create, from written content like ebooks and blog posts to audio content like podcasts, as well as visual content and video content marketing. However, you don’t need to create all types of content.
Start by creating one or two core types of content that align with your content marketing strategy and goals. For example, a fitness brand might publish blog posts, infographics, and videos featuring exercises, diet plans, and nutrition advice.
Once you’ve determined your core content formats, consider ways to repurpose and reuse them in other content formats. For example, if you create a blog post about the benefits of yoga, you might repurpose it as an infographic or video tutorial. This can help you reach new audiences and get more mileage from your existing high-quality content.
Types of Content
There are several types of content you can use in your content marketing campaigns:
- Blog posts
Blog posts are essential to any content marketing strategy as they provide businesses with a platform to share informative and engaging content with their audience. By creating relevant blog posts for their target audience, businesses can establish themselves as thought leaders in their industry, drive traffic to their website, and ultimately generate leads and sales.
One of the key benefits of blog posts is their ability to provide valuable information to readers. By creating blog posts that address common questions or pain points that your audience may have, you can position your business as an expert in your field and provide real value to your audience. This can help build trust and credibility with your audience, ultimately leading to increased sales and customer loyalty.
Blog posts are also easily shareable, making them an excellent tool for businesses looking to increase their online visibility.
Podcasts have emerged as a popular form of content marketing in recent years due to their ability to engage audiences in a unique and compelling way. By providing audio recordings of conversations or interviews with experts in your industry, podcasts offer an immersive and convenient way for audiences to consume your content while on-the-go.
One of the primary benefits of podcasts is their ability to create a personal connection with your audience. By providing a platform for experts in your industry to share their insights, experiences, and stories, you can build a sense of trust and rapport with your listeners. This can help to strengthen your brand and position your business as a thought leader in your industry.
Podcasts are also highly shareable content, making them an excellent tool for increasing your online visibility.
Videos have become an increasingly popular and effective form of content marketing due to their ability to engage viewers and convey complex information in an engaging and easy-to-understand way. Whether you want to showcase your products or services or explain complex concepts, videos are a versatile and engaging medium that can help you achieve your marketing goals.
One of the critical benefits of videos is their ability to capture and hold your audience’s attention. Videos are a highly visual and interactive medium that can quickly communicate your message and engage viewers in a way that written content often cannot. This makes videos a powerful tool for capturing the attention of your target audience and driving engagement with your brand.
In addition to being highly engaging, videos are also highly shareable. This makes them an excellent tool for increasing your online visibility and reach.
Infographics are a powerful and visually appealing tool for content marketers to simplify complex topics and convey information in a visually compelling and easy-to-understand way. They effectively communicate complex data and statistics using charts, diagrams, illustrations, and other visual aids to make the information more digestible.
The advantage of infographics lies in their ability to simplify complex data and present it in a visually appealing format. They allow you to break down complex concepts and statistics into smaller, more manageable pieces of information that are easier to understand. This can be particularly effective when dealing with dense or technical subject matter that might be difficult to understand without the help of visual aids.
eBooks are long-form content that provide readers with more in-depth information than blog posts and articles. They are designed to offer a comprehensive overview of a particular topic, providing the reader with detailed insights and actionable advice that they can use to improve their knowledge or skills.
One of the main benefits of eBooks is that they can be used to capture leads. You can build your email list and nurture leads through your sales funnel by offering an eBook in exchange for a visitor’s contact information. This makes eBooks a powerful lead-generation tool for businesses in various industries.
Another advantage of eBooks is that they offer a more immersive reading experience than shorter forms of content like blog posts or articles. They allow you to delve into a topic in greater detail, giving the reader a deeper understanding of it. This can be particularly effective when dealing with complex or technical topics requiring a more in-depth explanation.
- Social media updates
Social media updates are a crucial aspect of any content marketing strategy as they allow businesses to engage with their audience more informally and interactively. Through social media updates, businesses can share news, updates, and information about their products or services and engage with their audience by asking questions, responding to comments, and creating a sense of community.
Social media updates can also build relationships with your audience by providing valuable and relevant content. By sharing interesting articles, infographics, and videos related to your industry or niche, you can position yourself as an expert in your field and build trust with your audience.
Another advantage of social media updates is their ability to provide businesses with valuable insights into their audience’s preferences and behaviors. By analyzing engagement metrics such as likes, shares, and comments, businesses can better understand what types of content their audience finds most exciting and engaging. This can help businesses to refine their content marketing strategy and create more targeted content that resonates with their audience.
- Case studies/success stories
Case studies and success stories are powerful forms of content marketing that can be used to highlight customer achievements and demonstrate the effectiveness of your product or service. They offer a unique opportunity to showcase how your business has helped real people solve real problems, providing tangible evidence of your value proposition.
One of the main benefits of case studies and success stories is their ability to build trust and credibility with your audience. By sharing stories of how your product or service has helped others achieve their goals, you can demonstrate your expertise and establish yourself as a trusted authority in your industry. This can help to increase brand awareness, attract new customers, and retain existing ones.
Another advantage of case studies and success stories is their ability to provide social proof. When potential customers see real-life examples of how your product or service has helped others, they are more likely to trust your business and feel confident in their decision to purchase from you. This can help to reduce buyer hesitation and increase conversions.
Case studies and success stories can also educate and inform your audience. By sharing detailed information about your customers’ challenges, the solutions you provided, and the results they achieved, you can help others learn from their experiences and make informed decisions about your product or service.
- White papers
Webinars have become an increasingly popular form of content for businesses and marketers alike. They offer a unique opportunity to connect with a large audience in real time, providing a more engaging and interactive experience than other forms of content.
One of the main benefits of webinars is their ability to reach larger audiences. Unlike in-person events, webinars can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection, regardless of location. This allows businesses to reach a wider audience and connect with potential customers who may not have been able to attend an in-person event.
In addition to their reach, webinars offer real-time engagement with your audience. This means you can answer questions, address concerns, and provide valuable insights in real-time. This interaction level can help build trust and credibility with your audience, leading to increased engagement and conversions.
Webinars are also a great way to showcase your expertise and thought leadership. By sharing your knowledge and insights on a specific topic, you can position yourself as an authority in your industry and provide value to your audience. This can help to build brand awareness, attract new customers, and retain existing ones.
Finally, webinars are a versatile form of content that can be repurposed and shared across multiple channels. For example, you can record your webinar and share it on your website, social media, or email marketing campaigns. This can help extend your content’s life and reach a wider audience over time.
- Email Marketing Newsletter
Email newsletters are a great form of content for several reasons.
Firstly, they provide a direct line of communication between businesses and their audience. Email is a personal and direct way to communicate with subscribers, allowing brands to build relationships with their audience and stay top-of-mind.
Secondly, email newsletters are highly customizable and can be tailored to specific segments of your audience based on their interests and behaviors. This makes them an effective way to deliver personalized content that resonates with subscribers, which in turn can lead to higher engagement and conversion rates.
Thirdly, email newsletters are a cost-effective way to distribute content. Compared to other forms of advertising, email newsletters have a relatively low cost per conversion and can yield a high return on investment.
Lastly, email newsletters can serve as a hub for other forms of content, such as blog posts, videos, and social media updates. This can help businesses drive traffic to their website and increase engagement across multiple channels.
No matter the type of content you create, ensure it is well-researched and provides value to your audience. This will help ensure that your content stands out from the noise and helps you reach more people.
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6. Brainstorm Content Ideas
Once you’ve developed a content marketing strategy, the next step is to brainstorm ideas for your content. There are several ways to come up with content ideas.
One way is to use keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner and Ahrefs Keywords Explorer. These tools can help you identify keywords related to your brand or industry that people are searching for. You can then use them to create content topics around these keywords.
Another way is to look at your competitors’ content and identify opportunities to create similar but better content or go in a different direction with unique ideas. You can also use tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush here to determine what content performs best for them.
Finally, you can look at industry trends and create content around the latest developments in your field or niche. This can help you stay relevant and ahead of the curve on essential topics to your target audience. Buzzsumo is a great listening tool to help you identify trending topics.
These are just a few ways to come up with content ideas. Use them as a starting point to brainstorm your own unique and interesting content. With the right strategy and content, you can create compelling content that resonates with your target audience.
7. Publish and Manage your Content Production
Once you’ve created and edited your content, it’s time to publish and manage it.
Before posting your content on any platform, ensure it’s optimized for SEO. This includes optimizing the title, meta description, keywords, headings and tags, URL, etc. You can also use tools like SurferSEO and Clearscope to help you improve your content for search engine optimization.
You should also be strategic when it comes to scheduling your content. For example, holidays, special events, and weather can affect how people interact with your content. During Black Friday and Christmas, users are more likely to look for content related to shopping and gift ideas. Consider organizing your content calendar around these events to capitalize on the increased attention.
Another thing that your content team should manage is the platform/s you’re using to publish content. If you’re extending your efforts across social media, you should have a well-planned content calendar and a dedicated social media content team for each platform. This ensures that content production on your social platforms continues smoothly.
8. Monitor and Analyze
All content marketers should be data-driven. Measuring the performance of your content production is essential to determining whether it’s achieving its goals and delivering a return on investment (ROI).
Depending on your goals, you can monitor and analyze your content strategy in several ways. For example, if you’re focused on increasing traffic to your website or blog, track metrics like page views and unique visitors.
To boost engagement, measure metrics like likes, comments, shares, and mentions from your social media followers. You can also look at the number of people clicking through links to your site or other content pieces.
Finally, use tools like Google Analytics to measure how visitors engage with each piece of content on your website. This allows you to identify content that resonates with your target audience and make improvements in the future.
By monitoring these metrics, you can track your progress and make adjustments to optimize content production. This helps ensure you get the most out of your content strategy.
Case Study: Photo Editing Service’s Organic Traffic Grows by 32.87% in 5 Months
This company was struggling with its organic traffic and getting new leads. What’s more is that they are planning to lower the costs of their Google Ads campaign—which is currently the main driver of their customer acquisition. So, they needed a more cost-effective way to grow their customer base and generate enough leads cheaply.
In a Nutshell
Producing high-quality content is the foundation of any successful content marketing strategy. You can create relevant and engaging content that resonates with your target audience using the right tools and techniques. This helps you build a strong relationship with them and achieve your goals.
Effective content marketing strategies should include researching the market and competitors, brainstorming ideas, optimizing content for SEO, managing your content production, and monitoring metrics. Key business objectives should always be taken into account when developing content strategies. By following these steps, you’ll be able to create content that engages your target audience and helps you stand out in a crowded market.
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Content Marketing Strategy FAQs
What are the 5 rules of content marketing?
The 5 rules of content marketing include: knowing your audience, telling stories, optimizing for SEO, consistency and relevance, and measuring success metrics.
What is the most important step in content marketing?
The most important step in content marketing is researching the market and understanding your target audience’s needs and wants. This helps you create content that resonates with them and helps you achieve your goals.
What are some content marketing goals?
Content marketing goals vary depending on what you’re trying to achieve. Common goals include increasing website traffic, boosting engagement, generating leads, driving sales and revenue, building brand awareness, and establishing thought leadership.
What are the most important metrics for content marketing?
The most important metrics for content marketing depend on your specific goals. Some of the most common metrics for tracking success include page views, unique visitors, likes, comments, shares and mentions from social media followers, and click-through rates. Analyzing these metrics can help you understand how people are engaging with your content.
What is the best way to manage content production?
The best way to manage content production is to create a content calendar and task management tools. This will help you plan ahead, stay organized and consistent, and ensure that all deadlines are met. You should also use tools like project management software or document collaboration platforms to keep track of tasks and collaborate with other team members.