Do you ever wonder about why content marketing strategies fail? And, when they fail, what remains to be done except giving up?
Well, there are several reasons but only two of them are really significant and applicable universally. It’s all about consistency and lack of rigidity. In other words, you need to be consistent and focused on what you are doing towards achieving your goals. And, you need to be more flexible and forget about the rigid rules of marketing. Focus instead on being adaptable and organized.
Besides that, there is a set of rules and recommendations that will help you get around content marketing and hopefully, help you create a more successful content marketing strategy. To this end, I have compiled a list that comprises the ten most important steps you should undertake. Let’s take a quick look and analyze the options we have:
1. Set your mission and goals
It is quite obvious that you need to start with a solid base. In order to make sure this base is really what you were looking for, there are several things that need to be set such as:
Define your goals. It may be one single goal or, maybe, there will be more. You can aim to grow awareness on a brand, draw in more customers, increase the customers’ base or just expand your pool of readers. Whatever these goals may be, you need to be aware of them and underline them from the beginning.
You cannot get on a road without knowing where it may take you.
2. Create your persona
The next logical step is to actually define your core values, your visual identity and of course, start your branding / social media branding process based on these two.
A unique and distinguishable persona is important because you need to stand out from the crowd.
Some of the most important things you will need at this point are:
A visual identity. Here, you should have a logo, a bunch of branded colors in relation to the logo and probably a full set of images to start a social media campaign.
A message. Each time you will start a new campaign, you will most probably come up with a new message to address your campaign. Besides that, however, you should also create a slogan that can be tied up with your brand. For example, “Just do it” from Nike or “Das Auto” from Volkswagen. These two are well known, and this is mostly due to the fact that they are simple and easy to understand and remember.
Core values. These are the values that will follow you from now on, the same values that you will advertise to your audience. Based on them, you will also able to better select to whom you are addressing.
3. Define and understand your audience
Before actually starting your campaign, there’s yet another important step that should make the entire process easier and more effective.
I am talking about all the research that you will undergo in order to separate your target audience from everybody else.
Everything we’ve discussed so far will be of help at this point. Why? Well, you need your persona and your goals in order to assess to whom you can address the message and why.
In order to make this process more effective, assign different team members with different tasks such as to compile separate lists of values and traits specific to your targeted audience.
Based on your finding, you can create the buyer persona you seek to attract. It may include information such as:
· Social status
· Economical status
4. Conduct keyword research
Up to this point, you most certainly understand your audience, know who they are and what you have to offer. You also know what you want to achieve at the end of your marketing campaign.
The logical next step is to place yourself in your audience shoes and try to find out a little bit more about their interests.
What do they like? What types of information do they search?
You can answer these questions by conducting a thorough keyword research.
For this, start by creating a list of the most basic keywords related to your brand.
Then, you should expand it based on your niche and of course, the trends of the present online searches. For this, you can use the tools available under the Google Adwords Account or, third parties such as LSI Graph. The later is a more thorough tool since it generates semantically related keywords as well. These are easier to integrate into your articles which will be more adapted to diverse searches this way.
Reasons to conduct keyword research:
Integrating the most popular keywords in your articles is a good decision in terms of SEO. Optimized content will attract more organic traffic.
It helps the targeted audience to easily find what they want and land on your page.
5. Identify effective content
The next important step implies that you should ask yourself the following questions:
“What sort of content will my targeted audience respond to?”
“What would they most likely want to read about?”
Based on the answers you got for these questions, you should most probably be able to design a strategy for creating, publishing and distributing content on all the major platforms you are going to work with. These platforms include your main website, your main blog and of course, all your social media channels that you have deemed worthy to be included in your content marketing strategy.
Types of content suitable for a content marketing campaign:
There are different types of content that you can write and share with your audience. It entirely depends upon the persona and what your audience likes the most.
Infographic Original Source: https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2016/06/content-crave-infographic/
Blog posts. This is probably your first choice when it comes to content marketing. It should be, as everything you share on your own platform will be easier to manage and maintain on the long run. Your own blog or website is the place where you make your own rules, where you have complete editorial freedom and of course, the freedom to make changes not only in content but also in look, feel and design.
Ebooks and guides. Consider the fact that there are a lot of people who are using the Internet mainly for research. Some of them are searching for information professionally while others need to find out more about certain topics for personal reasons. Since people relate and understand visual information better, you can also choose to deliver the same types of information as Infographics.
Case studies. They add value to the content you publish by rendering it more trustworthy. Trust is essential for a marketer, especially when the brand has not reached its full potential yet in terms of influence and awareness.
Webinars. Over 60% of the marketers use them as an effective way of conducting content marketing. They are similar to videos and podcasts and add considerable value to the audience. Moreover, they are most of the times interactive and as a consequence, able to drive in more engagement than recorded content. And yes, they are live.
Podcasts. More and more people are listening to podcasts in 2018. The main reason is that most of the audience is already mobile based. Smartphones come in different sizes but one thing remains true for almost all models: The screens are smaller than that of laptops and desktop computers and as a consequence, they facilitate audio and visual information which are easier to consume than text. Podcasts are therefore a great and effective way to reach out to these audiences and deliver your content even when they are commuting, driving, traveling from one place to another. You can also combine two different delivery channels and catch two birds with one stone by promoting your podcasts on social media.
Videos. Considering that 8 out of ten users watch YouTube videos and that this video platform is, in fact, the second largest search engine after Google, it cannot be ignored by any marketer.
Social media content. Naturally, social media is one of the best channels where you can engage in effective content marketing. You will need however to also create a visual content strategy should you consider using this channel due to the fact that most of the social media platforms are actually based on visual content rather than written text.
You may choose to create all these types of content or you can select the ones that best suit your needs and goals. It all depends on your industry and of course, your targeted audience.
The next step is to….
6. Create a website and/or a blog
Or, if you are already there, create an effective strategy for developing your content.
However, if you do not already have a blog, nowadays it’s quite easy to set up and create one. There are several hosting platforms that are providing the means to set up and run your own blog or website.
Wordpress is the most popular CMS available today. It is also easy to set up and managed, easy to be customized with a branded theme that includes all your branded elements.
It is also important to create an effective strategy for your website/blog and stick to that strategy in terms of content frequency and consistency.
Content marketing is effective on your main website but nevertheless, there are other channels that might help you expand this strategy and find more means to draw in awareness, clients or fans.
To this end, the next logical step is to…
7. Go social
Pair your published content with a fruitful and well researched social media strategy.
There are over three billion active social media accounts to this date. This is more than half of the adult population available worldwide. And, of course, it means that you should be there, creating a social media strategy in order to maximize results.
Pay attention, however, that if you include social media in your content marketing strategy, your focus should be rather on visual content that on textual messages.
80 percent of the marketers are already using visuals in their strategies and we know for a fact that posts with images perform way better than those who are solely based on text.
What do you need?
- Identify the channels that can deliver great results: Facebook is the most popular social media platform but it may not be the only platform you can work with.
And, based on what audiences you seek, it might not even be one of the major platforms you should operate on. Identify where to strategically publish your content before actually starting to work on it.
For instance, 60% of people admit to have learned about products or brands for the first time, on Instagram. It means that people pay attention to what brands share and if the content attracts them, they remember the name and they read more about their products or services.
Identify the audience and the type of information they seek: This one is tied to the above piece of advice. Based on what your research tells you, you can not only choose the channel but also the type of content to publish and the tone of voice.
Develop a visual content strategy: Plan ahead for at least a month. Design your visuals, compile your copy texts, make it easier for you to keep on working even when you are out of new ideas or inspiration.
*** Engage with the online communities**: Answer their questions, always offer something of value in return for their attention. Make them believe you are a part of the community. Make them know you as an expert in your field. Make them want to come back in order to learn more, find their answers and collect new information.
Always keep track with all the major trends and developments in this sector: Social media is constantly changing as new features appear and people adopt them. A great example, in this case, is the Instagram Stories feature which caught on quite quickly and became one of the most effective content marketing channels available in the present.
A clear visual identity: Visual content is the cornerstone of social media. Thus, the need to design a strong and clear visual identity for your brand and be consistent in advertising it to the audience. You can use online tools such as Bannersnack in order to design professional banners and posts based on your branded visual elements and do it at high standards even if you are not a designer.
Engage in Social listening: Observe all social media channels that are relevant to your brand or business and track mentions, comments, discussions, questions and engagements that refer to you.
Tip: When it comes to social media marketing, you can benefit even more if you find the means to include some influential voices in your content delivery strategy. The word of mouth marketing can deliver incredible results should you manage to convince the right people to talk about your brand.
A great number of businesses complain the lack of resources when it comes to content marketing and social media marketing. Influencers, if used properly, they may prove to be an important human resource for your campaign.
Buzzsumo is a great tool that will help you find relevant topics to write about and influencers that could help you market your brand better and more effective.
8. Publish and manage the content
Creating and maintaining a lucrative content marketing strategy means more than producing the content. It may be the core of your strategy but in order for it to deliver the predicted results, it needs to be managed.
What does this mean?
Well, besides the ideas and the skills to transpose them into reality, you are required to be as organized as you can in order to show consistency in your work.
One of the things that might help you is to keep an editorial calendar for both, the website and the social media. Delegate tasks to members of the team, use third-party content organizers such as Trello or Evernote and make sure you are able to always schedule the next days, weeks or months.
Produce and publish evergreen content but don’t neglect the trendy topics. They might not be as effective in attracting readers and fans after a while but the fact that they are popular now may help you expand your audience and achieve your goals easier. It’s always a good choice to combine different types of content.
Also, management of published content should not be limited as to what you are about to publish in the near future. You should always come back to old articles and posts, reevaluate them, repurpose what you can repurpose and update what you can update.
TIP: Correct spelling and correct grammar ar two of the main ingredients of a successful content marketing strategy. It’s important to never neglect the importance of the accuracy of your message and the way it was written. To this end, you can use tools such as Grammarly which are easy to set up and integrate into your browser or your word processor.
9. Analyze the results
Whether you do it weekly, monthly or at the end of each content marketing campaign, you should never let it go without tracking the results.
Based on your previously set goals, evaluate each channel. Evaluate how your different types of content performed, which topics generated the most traffic, engagement, etc. Based on these findings, you will be able to improve your strategy and adapt to the audience.
Analysis can include different content tracking strategies, reading customers’ response and comments, tracking eCommerce stats and improvements.
10. Use the results to improve your strategy
At this point, there are several minor steps you should undergo. The will have a significant impact on your future marketing campaigns.
A. Revisit and revise old content.
B. Eliminate topics and strategies that deliver poor results.
C. Focus on the audience and the content they liked the most.
D. Always be ready to try new things.
There is a lot of information out there on content marketing strategies for beginners and professionals altogether. The first steps in creating your own, however, may seem a little bit difficult as you will need to adapt everything you read about to your own brand. You will need to also be able to get rid of all the background noise before actually getting started.
To this end, I have tried to make your research easier and compiled a short list comprising of the most important ten steps to be undertaken in creating an effective content marketing strategy. They are not infallible, they are not all required in all cases regardless of the industry and the overall goals. However, should you consider following these pieces of advice to the letter, you will most certainly be ready to start your campaigns on the right foot.
Should you know any other important steps or advice that can be part of this list, feel free to share your thoughts and ideas with us.