Contents in marketing are more or less like individual bars of a scaffold. If each bar is constructed in a systematic manner, it is sturdy and safe for work. Having all the arsenals at your disposal without a clear vision of the big picture, and interconnections between individual components is a recipe for a weak content marketing strategy campaign. So how do you incorporate some structure into your content marketing?
What you need is a content marketing strategy that carefully considers several variables and shapes your content to outshine competitors and strike a chord with your customers.
In this article, we will be looking at 10 core content elements of a winning content marketing strategy.
How Does Content Marketing Work?
How does content marketing work? Content marketing works by offering readers informative and useful material that provides insight and value. Using blogs, eBooks, social media posts, graphics, and videos, content marketing attracts potential customers, keeps them engaged, and moves them further along the sales funnel.
Developing a Content Marketing Strategy
In the process of developing a content marketing strategy, there are some fundamental ideas you must pay close attention to, each serving as a unit block that makes up a fully actualized content marketing plan.
1. Define a Roadmap
First and foremost, every member of the team needs to be clear about the brand’s direction and identity (how you’d like your brand to be perceived). This can be achieved by developing guidelines that shape the actions of each member toward the desired goal of the brand, inspiring all hands on deck to act in a united front.
If composing a guideline poses too much of a challenge, take notes from the books of many famous brands you admire. Do wide research, you don’t have to restrict yourself to a brand within your niche. All that matters is finding values that seem to gravitate to the plan you have for the brand.
Other areas of your organization that would benefit from a blueprint are recruitment, employee education, and documentation.
While making additions to your staffing, keep your eyes out for people that are vibrant, Imaginative, and most especially, genuinely interested in the brand. Don’t stop at recruitment, boost the performance of your organization by investing in your team players. Develop a training plan that advances the skill level of your workforce.
Employee training does much more than improve team members’ skill set, it also cranks up the morale of your team, as they develop a higher sense of confidence in their abilities.
2. Reviewing the Progress of Marketing Objectives
It is important for you to track the success of all the different kinds of content related to your brand and test their efficacy. Your contents should be classified into distinct categories, each having its own measure of performance.
Businesses generate content to serve different goals. They can be placed into categories like:
- Consumer education content and brand awareness.
- Recruiting content for HR
- Market Performance content such as promotional content, revenue generation, and response ads.
- Traffic generation on landing pages.
Clearly identify the parameters that indicate success in any of these goals and use them for computation on your desired analytic tool.
3. Customer Profiling
This is one of the most essential aspects of marketing, the consumer. Here, a lot of attention is focused on those expected to interact with the brand. Contrary to what many think, it is much easier for a business to create relevant content for its target audience using narrow demographic criteria.
Customer profiling is a heavy data-oriented process. Collect information on the people you’d like to affect with your brand and document your findings. The data acquired can then be used to create content that is customized to your target consumers and cheat sheets for teammates’ indirect relations with the customer.
Here are some of the demographics to consider while doing your research:
Knowledge of your target customers’ age enormously informs the creative decisions of your content. The use of the age factor is quite obvious in cases like baby photographs for diaper ads, teenagers in acne face washes, and aged people in wrinkle prevention products.
Sometimes, age plays a subtler role in content marketing, influencing the color scheme, language, or tone of marketing materials.
Location is certainly another demographic that can’t be overlooked in content marketing. The effectiveness of location-based marketing is more pronounced in local businesses. Segmenting by location allows you to draw the attention of your customers by generating content that is specific to people within an area. This can be pulled off by citing landmarks, events, or expressions peculiar to people in a particular region.
The influence of geographic location runs very deep because it has a cultural component. Groups within an enclave are usually subjected to its trends, culture, and preferences. Weaponizing your content to affect customer behavior definitely has a significant impact on engagement.
Race and Religion
Race and Religion are thin ice in consumer segmentation, and therefore, must be threaded carefully.
It’s hard to not notice the sensitivity of topics like race, religion, and politics in marketing. These topics are touchy and vulnerable to offensive interpretations. Content marketing attempts to read in a bad light, attract harsh criticism and taint the reputation of a brand.
Regulations, and the masses in general, have become more critical about how ads and other marketing content are perceived, as is noticeable from the increased frequency of bans and lawsuits faced by many brands.
Before any content goes public, ensure that you carry out an exhaustive consideration of your consumers’ religious beliefs, race, and political opinions. This means, looking from the perspective of your target customers, editing, and removing whatever may conjure controversial ideas in their minds.
Watch your Consumer’s Pockets
Neglecting the consumer’s income is a common mistake, which causes a gross misfire in many marketing campaigns. Weighing the current economic situation, your target’s revenue, and the affordability of the product is an important measure of feasibility.
Therefore, organizing a marketing content strategy that fits the income level of your customers is vital. A plan that doesn’t address this factor, will not engage your consumers, no matter how much you invest into creating awareness of the product and making it available in the market.
Some other important demographics are consumer sentiment, market policies, and media preferences.
4. Compatibility of Content with Existing Market Structure
While keeping one eye on the whims and needs of your customers, fix the other on the present market conditions. Keeping up with the dynamics of the market helps you with things like; perfectly timing your content releases, maximizing your content to beat the competition, and aligning your services with the current trend. This also involves comparing your content with competitors to be sure it succumbs to the standard of the industry.
Creative market research is the first step process of understanding your target audience’s mind beyond traditional demographic data.
Brainstorming on this element will help you discover openings in the market to instantiate your brand and make a difference in the industry. For example, finding a weakness in most business’s content in your niche, designing yours to fill the gap, and adding value to your industry. Make it an objective to consistently detect and solve problems in your industry to keep your brand ahead of time.
When we talk about keeping up with the trend, it can be tempting to do too much and dip your hand into all the baskets available. For instance, in the attempt to stay up-to-date on media content consumption formats, you may get too excited and dabble in infographics, video, paid ads, podcasts, and every other available content channel. However, what you should be doing is focusing your energy on not more than two or three channels. This way, your contents have better quality and can be more efficiently managed. Then from here, you may decide to recycle them on other media outlets, for example, transcribing a podcast into a blog post.
5. Creative Process
A working content plan possesses a formula that takes in raw content ideas, drills them through an iterative workflow, and produces an elegant finish at the end of the process.
Here’s what to see if you must design an effective process:
- Bundle your content into categories.
- Assign roles to different aspects and stages for each content type. Answer key questions like: Where does each content type start from? Who should be in charge of strategic resources that nurture the design of content? Who comments, reviews, and approves the final output?
- Organizing meetings with team members and stakeholders to discuss the best possible process for a project. Double-check that no stones are left unturned.
- Document your new process. Create a visual or pictorial representation to ensure everyone has a good grasp of its mechanics.
- Design a training program for your team.
- In the end, test its performance. It is normal, and in fact healthy to detect flaws at the initial stage of a design. Take a few steps back, make adjustments in problem areas, and test again till your new process checks out.
On a final note, go through your process religiously till it becomes second nature. Making a habit of your new workflow shreds away the creative limitation of working with a protocol and gives you and your team room to focus on developing fresh ideas, significantly reducing downtime.
6. Content History Assessment
You know what they say about how you sometimes have to go back if you want to move forward. Chances are you already have some content tied to your brand, either blog or social media posts, landing page texts, and other video/audio material.
Now you’re looking to review your previous content, preserve practices that work, and avoid mistakes.
How do you do this? With a content audit. This process involves:
Making a Log of All your Content Types
There are several staple URL crawlers that will help you analyze and organize your content across the internet such as OnCrawl, Dyno Mapper, DeepCrawl, Apifier, and many more. Some of these crawlers can be extended to analyzing competitors’ content.
Reviewing your content’s performance
Secondly, you’ll be studying the metrics of your content.
Amazon defines metrics as a quantifiable way to track performance and is an important marketing measurement tool for gauging a campaign’s effectiveness.
Weighing the reception of your post on social media is one of the fastest means to determine how the world is reacting to your product. But the only hitch is, how do you go through the vast majority of posts on your timeline, and examine them without bias. Thankfully, Socialays, an AI-based social media assistant solves this problem. The assistant sieves through comments on your posts and gives an objective analysis of the mood of the user, based on the content of their comment.
Here are some other parameters to consider:
- How often the content is shared
- Number of incoming links to the content
- SEO ranking
There are site audit tools that carry out the necessary computations on your content and give these results. Tools like Majestic, Seekweeb, SEOSurfer, AHrefs, and so on.
Identifying your Pitfalls
After running all these analyses, the information gathered should review plenty concerning the usefulness of your contents. Build on your strength to compensate for your weaknesses. Common areas to improve on are:
- The sparseness of niche-specific keywords
- Content is crafted to deliberately appear on Google’s answer boxes.
7. Selecting your Content Types & Platforms
The type of content that serves the propagation of your brand simply can’t be ignored. Although some are peculiar to a particular niche, others are virtually inseparable from every content marketing scheme.
As we mentioned earlier, an effective content marketing strategy is dedicated to one content type first, a brand website, blog, or landing page, and later repurposed for other channels (Instagram, newsletter,.e.t.c.)
When looking for an alternative content type, you want to consider which platform sits well with your consumers.
- Which one is most accessible or comfortable for them?
- Where do they spend most of their online time?
- Which one offers easy content sharing?
Answering these questions will help deduce the best option for your brand.
If you’re still testing the waters and yet to find the home for your social media content. Socialays offers useful analytic tools that help gauge the metrics of your content across multiple social networks.
Besides social media posts, what other potent content types are viable for marketing?
Research shows that video marketing is also extremely compelling. Not only is it engaging, but it also keeps visitors on the site for a long time, and has a high conversion rate.
If you believe you are able enough to yet branch into another content category, infographics should be the third choice. You can create dazzling presentations with Canva and Piktochart.
8. Set a Content Schedule
Consistency is key in content marketing. A successful content marketing strategy is not complete without a content schedule. Adding structure to your marketing campaign is the major purpose of a marketing plan and nothing screams structure more than a content calendar.
There is more than one way to create a content schedule. A content schedule basically means filling up your regular calendar with plan dates and times for creating new content, with due dates for releasing new content. In fact, simply using Google Calendar will do the trick, but that’s if you’re not publishing too much content.
In the case of more complex publication projects, where content might be more than a handful, you’ll need a more savvy calendar specifically designed for content creation. Tools like Asana and CoSchedule, help you navigate between content team management and production workflow seamlessly, plus other additional features.
Deadlines give a sense of urgency and imbibe some hustle into the pace of your work. Although, beware of setting deadlines that are too early for you to handle. You’ll be putting unnecessary strain on your team, in favor of rushed content with a watered-down quality.
9. Crafting Content
By now, it is pretty obvious that content creation requires a lot of groundwork. There’s so much tool analysis, customer profiling, and competition spying before you get to actual content creation. But alas, all the research wasn’t for nothing as you’ll see shortly.
Once you gather all the information, the next step is to choose the content type that you want to create and the platform to publish the content. Now you’re ready to create your marketing content.
Not so fast. You still have to do more research, this time about your content. I know what you are thinking, content marketing is a lot of research. Trust me it will all be worth it when you see the fruition of your labor in lead generations, increased website traffic, and healthy engagement with your product.
Again, you’ll have to glance at your competitors’ content. What are they offering? And can you bring anything fresh to the table?
For this aspect, the only research tool you need is Google Search. Take a gander at what the top results are presenting and see if you can add something extra to top it. If your content is a blog piece, another thing you should check for is keywords that would help your article score high SEO rankings.
Rankings in SEO refer to a website’s position on the search engine results page. There are various ranking factors that influence whether a website appears higher on the SERP based on the content relevance to the search term, or the quality of backlinks pointing to the page.
Phew! You can finally get to the creative part of your content.
Craft content that is a fine embodiment of your brand’s personality.
10. Distribute and Market
“Content is king, but distribution is queen. And she wears the pants.” ~Marcus Sheridan
Marketing strategies should be executed in a meticulous manner. As the final act of your content marketing strategy, it is responsible for delivering the news of your product/service to interested consumers.
The timing has to be right. You might need to use a calendar to organize and help you set all the wheels in motion and get ready for the release date of your content on social media. You may also automate the action by downloading apps if you like.
Lead generation through email listing is one of the age-old methods for reeling in consumers that show some interest for the first time. This is a successful strategy as getting visitors to subscribe means a commitment on their part, where the true conversion of a visitor to a customer happens.
Advocate for Support
Keep influencers affiliated with the content informed about your releases, so they can share it on their social accounts, giving your content more exposure.
At this point, you’ve acquired all the key components that comprise a solid content marketing model. It’s not an easy task, to distill what a product means to its consumers into a blog post, infographics, or 50-seconds ads. However, a content marketing strategy gives you the necessary support and courage to face this undertaking head-on.