There is one thing that nearly 2/3rds of top-performing content marketers do, but only 13% of the least successful do. It’s a clear driver of content marketing excellence. Yet only 37% of all B2B content marketers are doing it.
That one thing is to developing a documented content marketing strategy. It’s that simple. Lay out your strategy, write it down, and you’ve drastically increased your odds of running a successful content marketing enterprise.
Documenting your strategy prevents random acts of content. It helps get buy-in from your whole team. Most importantly, it starts your content initiative with measurable goals and a plan to achieve them. It just makes every aspect of creating content and distributing it easier and more effective.
If your team wants to join the top tier of content marketers, it’s time to get that strategy written down. Here’s how to get started.
#1: Start with the Why
Why is content marketing a good fit for your company? Is there an audience hungry for the content you plan on producing? You can answer these questions with customer research—find the unmet needs that your content will meet.
#2: Establish Overall Goals
Once you make the case for your content to exist, get specific on what purpose your content is going to serve. Granted, your content program should serve multiple purposes, everything from attracting attention to securing loyalty. But in the end, it will serve specific business goals: Leads captured, cost per lead, and marketing-assisted sales. Express these goals in quantifiable terms and specify the metrics to measure them.
Don’t worry if these goals shift during the course of your implementation. It’s better to start with a few goals and get moving than to try and painstakingly predict the future. Your strategy can change as it’s implemented, based on response. In fact, it should be evolving constantly for better results.
#3: Document Your Audience
Who are the people
in your neighborhood your content must reach? What motivates them? What role do they have in decision-making? Where do they get their content from? What channels are they already active in? All of these questions will help drive your strategy for content creation and amplification. Develop buyer personas based on solid research.
#4: Plan Content for Each Stage of the Buyer Journey
Call it a funnel, call it a spiral, call it late for dinner—there are generally three stages in the buyer journey. At TopRank Marketing, we call them “Attract, Engage, and Convert.” Most organizations without a strategy tend to invest heavily in Convert-level content. But great Attract-level content with clear next steps can be hugely effective. It’s important to have a healthy mix of all three stages.
#5: Draft Specific Goals for Content at Each Stage
These goals are the stepping stones to the big-picture business goals I discussed earlier. As with the big-picture goals, they should be expressed in quantifiable terms and paired with metrics for measurement. Here are a few quick examples of goals and metrics for each stage:
- Goal: Brand Awareness
- Metrics: Views, Social Shares, Time on Page
- Goal: Search Visibility
- Metric: keyword rankings, content rankings
- Goal: Audience Engagement
- Metrics: Comments, Shares, Clicks-Through
- Goal: Building a Following
- Metrics: Subscribers, Followers on Social Media, Gated Downloads
- Goal: MQL Capture
- Metrics: Gated Downloads, Contact Forms Filled, Leads Converted to SQL
- Goal: Sales Assist
- Metrics: Sales Conversion Rate, Sales Cycle Length, Contract Size
#6: Plan Channels for Amplification
Don’t wait until content is created to figure out amplification. Let your buyer research inform your organic and paid efforts. If you plan on using influencer marketing, this is the time to bake it into the process.
#7: Create an Editorial Calendar
The editorial calendar pulls everything together into one actionable plan: Your big-picture planning, audience research, content mapping, and goals. It’s the central document your team will use for what content to create, when to create it, and how it will be amplified. The good folks at Curata put together a list of editorial calendar templates – experiment with a few and see which one best suits your needs.
These seven steps are a general guide to help get your content marketing strategy documented and running. It doesn’t have to be perfect—and your first draft likely won’t be. It will, however, be a jumping-off point you can return to and continually improve.
Simply by having a documented content strategy, you’re joining the elite top third of marketers. Stick to that strategy, continue to refine it, and you can rise even higher.
Check out this webinar (and accompanying blog post) to learn more about content marketing strategy.