Content marketing begins with strategy. Publishing content on the web with no direction is a waste of resources. Every business needs a documented content strategy to align teams with objectives and simplify the content creation process. However, the process of developing a content strategy can be daunting since consensus suggests it requires a considerable amount of time.
Consider the following: According to the Content Marketing Institute’s business to consumer (B2C) annual content marketing research report, only 39% of respondents said their organization was committed to having a documented content strategy. In addition, its business to business (B2B) content marketing study revealed that 65% of the most successful B2B companies have a documented content strategy.
The latter report illustrates the importance of having a content strategy and, fortunately, developing your own can be done relatively quickly. Today I’ll show you how to develop your content strategy using the following steps:
Define Your Goals
Developing an effective content strategy is easier when you have a goal, and defining objectives creates focus. Having goals will guide your content strategy, and you can start by answering the following questions: Why are you developing a content marketing plan? Why do you want to produce content?
Typically, businesses have two primary content marketing goals. One of them serves the target audience and the other meets business objectives. To identify your goals, start by creating a content mission statement. This is a statement of purpose or why you’re becoming a content producer.
Your mission statement should be brief and highlight the intended audience and the benefit you’ll provide. For example, “We create content to help do-it-yourselfers who enjoy woodworking build things,” is a simple but trajectory-guiding content mission statement.
Now, define the goal of your business. What do you want your company to gain from producing content (e.g., improve sales, increase email subscriptions, etc.)?
Identify Your Audience
The next step is to know your target audience. This will help you compile topic ideas and keywords for your content strategy. You probably already have a clear picture of your intended audience. However, I’d also recommend that you create some customer personas. This refers to fictional representations of your target customers, and you’ll need demographic data to create accurate personas.
Gather some demographic data by using analytics from various touchpoints such as social media, your website and email subscriptions. You can also use customer feedback questionnaires to gain even more insights.
Here are some key demographic data you can use to create customer personas:
• Average income
• Gender distribution
• Education level
The kind of data gathered will depend on your organization’s requirements. You should be able to confidently define your audience with the information uncovered from this process.
Research Content Topics With A Data-First Approach
Now that you have set your goals and defined your audience, it’s time to get some content ideas. One of the biggest mistakes many make is randomly choosing topics. Instead, I’d recommend picking data-backed content topics that are going to generate traffic.
You’ll need a reliable tool (I personally like Ahrefs Keyword Explorer) to uncover terms that have search volume. Other great tools for data-backed keyword research include Google Keyword Planner and Uber Suggest. Both are free to use.
With each tool, all you have to do is enter your “seed” or one-word keyword(s) to begin (e.g., plumbing, sinks, countertops). Then, specify the country and/or search engine that you would like to get keywords from. You can then decide on the kinds of keywords you want to start with.
In my experience, the aforementioned tools provide accurate keyword volume data, clicks and average cost per click (CPC), among others. Greater search volume means more opportunities to appear at the top of SERPs (search engine results pages). A great starting point for any business is to create content based on all the questions that consumers have about your products or services. So, prioritize the question-based keywords from your list of data-backed ideas.
Create A Content Calendar
The next step is to create a content calendar, detailing how often you’ll be publishing content. An editorial calendar can make or break your content strategy, so approach it with care. The content calendar keeps your team on track and ensures every piece of content is created and published on time.
Ideally, you should publish at least once a month. However, I’ve found that four times or more per month is best if you have a dedicated team of content creators. I’d recommend keeping things simple. Your content calendar should include the frequency and time of publishing, and the topic to be covered for each day.
Content Strategy Is Necessary
The necessity of a content strategy cannot be overstated. Your content strategy is an informative roadmap that can improve the likelihood of marketing success. The process of developing a strategy forces you and your team to look at the entire picture. Existing content opportunities, format choice and potential return on investment or effectiveness can all be properly weighted when a content strategy is documented.
Worth noting is that content marketing is ultimately meant to increase revenues. However, to do so, companies must provide value that attracts their intended audience. Lastly, search volume is a critical aspect of content marketing. This is because the location, device type (e.g., mobile, desktop, tablet, etc.), and user historical data play prominent roles in rankings. Major search engines use them to determine what users see when queries are processed. Keywords with high search volumes are more valuable because they’ll attract the most organic traffic to your website.
Take the time necessary to know your objectives and audience, make use of economical keywords, and maintain a content calendar. By using the recommendations I’ve provided, practically any business can build an effective content strategy fast.