8 steps to developing a successful content marketing strategy

Developing a content marketing strategy for your business is no longer just a ‘nice to have’. It’s the perfect way to get your brand seen by potential and existing customers and allows you to answer their questions, drive traffic to your website and convert that traffic. Without a content marketing plan in place, you can’t expect that potential customers will just stumble upon your website online. Your content marketing efforts will be wasted which means wasted time and resources for your business.

Developing a content marketing strategy for your business is no longer just a ‘nice to have’. It’s the perfect way to get your brand seen by potential and existing customers and allows you to answer their questions, drive traffic to your website and convert that traffic.

Without a content marketing plan, you can’t expect potential customers to just stumble upon your website online. Your content marketing efforts will be wasted, wasting time and resources for your business.

In a recent study, 82% of marketers reported actively using content marketing in 2021, which is a 70% increase from last year. Content marketing has become more important than ever. If you don’t have a strategy, you could miss out on sales opportunities for your business.

Let’s have a look at the importance of developing a content strategy, how to get the most from your content marketing efforts and marketing tactics to get your content seen by the right people.

What is a content marketing strategy?

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as: “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, to drive profitable customer action.”

Content marketing strategies involve the steps you take to research, create, publish and promote content that is valuable to your target audience and provides a solution to their problem.

This strategy should work alongside your business goals. From driving brand awareness to driving customers to convert, content will help you throughout the entire customer journey. It helps you to keep pushing your potential customers towards a sale and helps to keep your existing customers engaged.

Producing high-quality content that keeps your target audience in mind is one of the best ways to make sure your brand is discovered online. In fact, a solid content marketing strategy costs 62% less than traditional marketing but drives 3x as many leads

If you create a piece of content that drives huge amounts of traffic, it will keep delivering for you over time. Unlike paid traffic which stops as soon as you stop paying!

Why is content important?

It can take customers a while to build trust with your brand and to buy from you. 47% of customers view three to five pieces of content from your brand before engaging. So, a well-thought-out content strategy with pieces of content that can solve a pain point your customers have allows you to be there the minute a prospect decides to buy from you.

To get customers to even find your website, you will need a content strategy that’s based on your target audience, the problems they’re looking to solve and the keywords they’re using in the search engines.

Once those customers are on your website, you will need to convince them that you’re the best company for them to shop with. How do you do this? By providing educational and informative content that sets you apart from your competitors.

Content marketing is important for driving traffic to your website, lead generation and then converting those leads into sales. It’s also a great way to keep in touch with existing customers so they will buy from you again.

How to create a content marketing strategy

Creating content every now and again and hoping it will be effective isn’t a good enough strategy. Putting together a focused strategy that considers your target audience and their needs and thinking about how, when and where you will share that content is far more likely to lead you to success.

1. Establish your business goals

As with any marketing strategy, knowing what you want to achieve is key to success. This will help you establish your content's role in your overall digital marketing strategy and how you will measure its success.

The goals that content can help you achieve include:

  • Improving revenue
  • Making more sales
  • Driving more traffic
  • Gaining influence and authority
  • Boosting SEO success
  • Reduce marketing costs
  • Boost social media engagement

Every piece of content you create should help towards meeting your goals. Take a look at you overall business goals and then move on to looking at the part that content marketing can play in helping you to meet those goals.

2. Determine your target audience

Once your goals are in place, the next step to success in content marketing is knowing who your target audience is and how you’re going to reach them.

Create a buyer persona so you know who your existing customers are, what their needs are and what they like will also help you with targeting those who are not yet ready to make a purchase but are looking for a solution.

Make sure you think about your target audience’s buyer’s journey and map your content to these stages. Show potential customers how your product or service can help them so that they’re likely to buy from you when they're ready.

Creating a buyer persona and knowing who your audience is is essential for delivering the right content, at the right time.

3. Conduct keyword research

Now that you know who your target audience is and their problems, you can conduct keyword research to learn more about the exact terms they’re searching for.

This will inform your content strategy as you create and share content that people are actually looking for. Keyword research will help your brand become visible in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and provide you with opportunities to create engaging content.

Keyword research tools such as Answer the Public or SEMrush are great for finding out what your customers are searching for, the phrases they’re typing in and how often they’re searching for it.

4. Audit existing content

Once you’ve done the groundwork, once of the easiest places to start with your content strategy is with your existing content.

Collect all of your existing content together and analyse the data around it to understand more about your audience and how they interact with your content. Learn more about the content your audience likes and the content that generates the best results.

Analysis of your current content should inform your ongoing content strategy and help you to be more successful.

You should also look at how your content compares to your competitors and make improvements where necessary.

5. Create a content marketing calendar

With all of the above steps already done, you can now start to develop your content calendar. Use your buyer personas and keyword research to develop a content marketing plan that helps to solve their problems.

Add your content to a content calendar and decide the format the content will take, how often you will create content, when you will publish it and who will be creating it. Make sure you include a range of different types of content to keep customers engaged.

Creating a 3, 6 or 12 month content plan will help you to align the strategy with your business goals. You will also be able to check in every now and again to find out whether your content is working and what you can do to improve it.

The plan will help you to stay focused on what your goals are and the content you need to create on a monthly basis. Consistency is key to success with content marketing and builds a relationship with customers who will know when and where they can expect your content to appear.

6. Create great content!

Content creation is the most important step. This is what’s going to get you in front of your target audience. But what do we mean by great content? This is content that solves your buyer persona’s problems and drives them towards the next step in the buyer’s journey.

It should be comprehensive, better than your competitors and aligned with your business goals.

You should also think about who is going to produce the content and how you will resource it to make sure the schedule is followed.

7. Plan the distribution of your content  

Once you have a content marketing plan in place and you know who will be creating it, the next step is to think about how you’re going to get your content out there.

Find the channels your target audience is using and engaging with and think about the best type of content for each of those channels. For example, videos are a great format for Facebook and blog posts will work well on LinkedIn.

Make sure your brand message and content is aligned across all of the channels you use as this will cover multiple touchpoints with your potential customers.

Content is a great resource for your paid activities on social media too so you can use your budget to get the content out to more of your ideal audience.

8. Analyse performance

The final but one of the most important steps of your content marketing strategy is analysing its performance. Analysing what’s working and what isn’t is the best way to understand the type of content that your audience likes and is engaging with. This should inform the content you create in the future in terms of its format and where you distribute it.

Google Analytics will show you the content pieces that are performing well and where the traffic to your website is coming from. You’ll also be able to see how long visitors spend reading your content and how they’re leaving your website.

Measuring social sharing activity is also a great way to analyse how your audience is responding to your content and the content they think is most valuable.

Checking in with your content's results helps ensure you’re on track to meet your business goals. It also gives you the chance to tweak your strategy if it’s not driving the results you hoped for.

If you’d like more information on how your content marketing strategy is performing or how it could be improved, you can request a free digital marketing audit

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Blog written by

Lucy Forrest
Digital Account Manager