In my previous blog posts, I’ve explained what content marketing really consists of. I’ve also explained how to create an overarching digital marketing plan. But today, I want to discuss how to create a specific and useful content marketing strategy based on a variety of different goals that you or your business may have.
By the end of this blog post, you will be able to:
1. Clearly outline and describe exactly what you wish to achieve with your content.
2. Develop an effective and simple content marketing plan to achieve the goals set up in step 1.
3. And put your entire content marketing plan onto paper in a way that is easy to achieve and act upon.
All marketing strategies need a plan, you will want to take the precious time to give careful thought to your content in order to create a cohesive and understandable user experience and avoid alienating your audience.
Without considering your direction and goals as a content marketer, you will post confusing or irrelevant information that may throw your niche off track. Essentially, without considering the end in mind, you will fail to see the big picture for your organization’s marketing goals and have a difficult time managing your content marketing goals.
Therefore, the first step is determining exactly what your content marketing plan is going to achieve for your business!
Content Marketing Goals
Let’s discover the various goals that a well-thought-out content marketing strategy can help your business achieve. Pick and choose the ones that you feel will best aid your organization’s growth and long-term vision.
Here is a list of the following goals. We will dive into quite a few of them in more depth in the following section!
1. Engaging Customers
2. Building Communal Trust
3. Improving SEO
4. Brand Recognition
5. Establishing Market Expertise
6. Making Sales
7. Driving Traffic
9. Creating Backlinks to Content
10. Lead Generation
The inherent benefit of many of these points is that they are not mutually exclusive! Put simply, focusing on any of these points can help you encourage growth in the others! For example, creating backlinks helps with your SEO, which inherently helps you build traffic to your website!
Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of these goals to determine which is best for your organization, and how you can go about formulating the content marketing plan around them.
Let’s begin with “Making Sales”
I wanted to start off with the content marketing goal that I feel most people would want to aim for. After all, making sales is the name of the game in any business environment!
Here’s the trick, you absolutely, positively, want your content to sell. But you DON’T want to come across as a salesperson in your content. Coming off as too “sales-y” in your content is a surefire way to put off customers and ensure they don’t engage with your content anymore.
This is why a great brand like Starbucks is able to use an awesome online media presence that creates a desire in their product, but nobody blames them for it because they don’t actively shove their product down the consumer’s throats (so to speak: Starbucks pun).
Starbucks utilizes online “pull” marketing to build desire in their product. If they were to use “push marketing” there would be a greater chance of alienating their consumers or coming across as “pushy”.
Here are a few good ways to use content marketing without coming across as “sales-y”:
CTA’s (calls to action) merely means that you can strategically place a small link or button that funnels people who engage with the content to your website or offer. The point here is NOT to sell within the content but to funnel them to a place where you CAN sell. This is usually done voluntarily as they react to the small and non-pressing CTA that you’ve set up.
2. Q and A’s
Q and A’s are a great way to become more engaged with consumer interests, inform people about your brand and offer, and quell any concerns or problems that people may have with your product or offer to entice a buying decision. All of which can be transformed into your very own FAQ webpage and pieces of content!
Here we can begin to see why these content marketing strategies are not mutually exclusive. Utilizing newsletters are a great way to manage your subscriptions, engage customers, and make sales in the process.
Use CTA’s on your blog posts, newsletters, and customer contacts to ensure that you increase the chance that they will take part in this exposure. Link to new content your organization produces as well as coupons, gatherings, events, demonstrations, and more!
4. Focus on Value
Tip #4 for “selling without selling” is focusing on the value that you provide to your consumers. Never make your content with the goal of selling in mind, otherwise, sales jargon will enter the chat and customers will have a hard time consuming your content impartially.
There is a general rule about selling in content called the 1% rule. Generally, 99% of your content should be designed to inform, engage, and provide value to your audience, whereas 1% should be designed to sell.
This means that, in a 1,000 word article, I am allowed a 10-word sentence to pitch my product or idea. It doesn’t need to be that exact, but you get my point.
Focusing on value means that the consumer will be more engaged during the process of finding relevant information about your brand and will not be put off by the idea of a pushy and “sales-y” company.
5. Create Infographics
Infographics are specially designed photos and images that implement statistics, examples, and testimonials in order to appeal to the logical reasoning behind the purchase or utility of a product or service.
Think about it, consumers make the buying decisions based on emotion but JUSTIFY them with logic. Therefore, the most effective content marketing advertisements are ones that appeal to emotions before providing the consumer with logically justifiable information.
Infographics can help you do that! Emotions are engaging, but logic is not. Therefore promoting the logical reasoning and testimonials in a unique way makes it more noticeable to your consumer base without coming across as “sales-y”.
Now, let’s move on to another content marketing goal that you may have.
Creating A Community
One of the most in-demand marketing goals, especially for new organizations, is creating an online community around their product or brand. This allows them to do a litany of things such as create a subscription list, generate consistent sales, become a recognized brand, and develop loyalty.
Having a community is about creating a direct line of communication between your organization and your target consumers. Here are some tips on how to do that for you to implement into your content marketing plan!
1. Consider and Respond to Feedback
The more feedback you receive from your consumers, the more you will be able to tailor your perfect product or service to meet their needs. This is invaluable to an organization that wishes to remain competitive and relevant in an ever-changing and competitive business world.
Never think of feedback negatively, feedback is always good! When you receive negative feedback, it’s a chance to improve and dominate the market, when you receive positive feedback, it’s a testimonial and good publicity!
As consumers see you responding and adjusting to their concerns, they develop trust, and trust is always equal to sales in business.
2. Grow Your Social Media Channels
The more content you create, the more relevant information that you will have to share with your dedicated social media channels. This can help you create and engage with a community that didn’t already know your brand existed.
As opposed to having a pre-made list full of pre-existing consumers, social media allows you to become an easily findable source for new and returning consumers. This allows you to reach new targets with little extra effort than you already needed to design and send e-mail marketing campaigns.
You can use social media for many things such as discussing new content that you’ve produced, testing new market channels with targeted advertisements, and gathering feedback from consumers.
3. Create a Message
Although it sounds obvious, most businesses fail to create an actual two-way dialogue with their markets. Through your content, you can address a variety of consumer concerns, inform consumers about your product or offer, as well as get feedback regarding their thoughts on your brand.
Creating a community is not about building buyers around your brand, it’s about managing the relationship and creating a dialogue between your organization and the consumer world. Remember, consumers that feel as though the organization is treating them as buyers, and nothing more, will lose trust in the brand.
Let’s move onto another goal of Content Marketing!
Probably the single most important factor of new and emerging brands is the need for traffic to their website, social accounts, or offer pages. Traffic is one of the top goals in most content marketing strategies because traffic means outreach, outreach means advertising, and advertising means money (in most cases).
As a marketer that produces relevant and valuable content, you will be able to catch the valuable attention of search engines and become a well-found website organically and without advertisement costs.
This is the difference between SEO and SEM/PPC. SEO is organic and similar to pull marketing. SEM and PPC are often paid and similar to Push Marketing tactics.
Here are a few strategies for increasing your traffic that you can consider in your content marketing plan.
1. Guest Post on Blogs
Guest posting on a relevant or popular blog page is a great way to earn a backlink and develop brand recognition. Target some of the most influential blogs in your niche and read several of their posts to ensure that your information would mesh well with theirs. This step alone could save you plenty of time in targeting the right blogs.
Remember, content doesn’t always have to remain on your own platforms or channels, it may be as easy as sending the blogger or organization a message and seeing if they are interested in featuring you and your information or expertise on their platform.
2. Video Creation
Video creation is quickly becoming one of the most powerful ways for organizations to increase their outreach, and engage their consumers at the same time. There is a reason that Youtube is the world’s second-largest search engine (right after Google, of course)
Creating a great video is a good way to encourage engagement and re-sharing on various social media platforms. You can also add it to your website, share it in a relevant blog, and much more.
Don’t create a video that is a big sales pitch, just remember to add your CTA or company information to create a path for interested people to follow. The video can be entertaining, informative, or anything else that you feel matches your brand.
Creating a community on youtube is a powerful way to create amazing engagement and get personal with your consumers to increase trust, and consequently, drive sales.
3. Optimize Content
One of the best ways to increase the effectiveness of your online content marketing efforts is to ensure that all of your content is optimized to be found in search engines. Do your keyword analysis online to ensure that you are using the most searched versions of your keywords and be sure not to be too repetitious.
Adding relevant tags to your videos, blogs, and photos is a simple but quick and easy way to boost the visibility of those media channels, and thusly, the visibility of your website in return.
4. Build Relationships with Influencers
In a way similar to guest blogging, building relationships among online influencers that are relevant to your niche and consumer base is a great way to become more visible and increase brand recognition.
This occurs because your brand will, over time, become associated with theirs. This not only increases your credibility and trust with consumers but with search engines and social media as well.
After all, building relationships is the very heart and soul of creating a community and driving traffic in the first place!
Now, let’s dive into how we can put a strategy on paper!
Writing the Plan
Now that you have a good idea as to what your content marketing goals are and the various strategies that you can use to make them work for you, let’s discuss how to effectively communicate this strategy with your team.
After all, if you can’t put it on paper easily and definitively, it isn’t clear enough!
So, what are the core elements of a content marketing strategy? I’m glad you asked!
2. Consumer Message
3. Target Consumer Base
4. Keywords to Target
5. Content Platforms and Types
6. Content Schedule
7. Delegated Duties
8. Reports and Analytics
Your goals are exactly what we discussed in the various lists above. Let’s define which goals are best for certain organizations based on their respective lifecycles!
Increasing Sales: Beneficial for any and all organizations that ALREADY HAVE A CONSUMER BASE. They won’t be beneficial for organizations that are just starting out and want to create some brand engagement and recognition before coming across as “sales-y”.
Creating a Community: Beneficial for new or younger organizations that wish to create brand engagement and recognition before actively “selling” their audience. Trust needs to be built before effective selling can occur. Therefore, this method will only benefit older organizations that are actively trying to break into new markets and extend their consumer base.
Driving Traffic: Driving traffic will benefit both younger and more mature organizations but for different reasons. Younger organizations will benefit if they drive traffic in order to increase brand recognition and outreach. Older organizations will benefit to drive traffic in order to increase potential conversions and sales. This is because older organizations are already expected to have created a community that recognizes their offer, therefore, focusing on converting sales is the more efficient approach. Younger organizations will want to establish a consumer base before focusing on maximizing sales.
What kind of message are you trying to share with your consumer base? Are you trying to raise awareness? Increase sales? Increase your subscriptions and community? Outline the details of a new product or offer? This consideration is going to make a big difference in the way you go about communicating with consumers.
Keep your message in mind as you plan the rest of your content strategy as this will determine what kind of language and demeanor your present in your content.
Target Consumer Base:
Now you need to list exactly WHO you are trying to reach with your content. This should be easily answered in terms of your “market persona” or target market.
Considering who you are attempting to reach will inevitably affect the marketing platform you use and how you create your content.
As I’ve said before, keywords make you more “organically” findable. Although it may not make a huge difference at first (it will make a little), the more relevant keywords you post over time, the more you become a considerable “expert” in the eyes of search engines.
Considering the relevant keywords now will ensure you remain consistent throughout your content marketing process and the results will pay dividends both now and in the future.
Content Platforms and Types:
Now that you have considered some other key content marketing characteristics such as target market, keywords, and message, you can begin to delegate what types of content you are going to produce and how you will distribute it.
Remember, your strategy needs to include your plans for each platform that you use (blogs, videos, podcasts, images, etc. For more on how to create a content marketing plan with these various channels, click HERE!
Now that you have created a content plan regarding the various types of content and their respective platforms, you can begin to paste those things onto your content schedule!
First, consider the nature of re-usable content! Can you transform a blog post into a video? then to an image? Perhaps this will save you plenty of time in creating content for multiple channels!
For example, I usually create 3 blog posts a week, but I use these posts as outlines for my videos so that I don’t need to work as hard to create new material that remains relevant to my niche! I can also convert them into photos, podcasts, and more.
The big questions is, how often do you want to post? And remain consistent.
Assuming you are part of a marketing team, who is going to do what in terms of the marketing schedule? Do you have someone that writes blogs before another person creates the videos? Who is in charge of posting? Proofreading? Editing?
All of these characteristics need to be put in place before you can consider creating a well-organized and, above all, accountable team for content marketing success.
Reports and Analytics
Creating careful reports using analytics and trackable metrics is invaluable to any organization and marketing effort that wants to adapt to make their content more effective in the future!
Some relevant approaches may include monthly website traffic, post engagements, conversions, link clicks and more.
All in all, hopefully, I’ve been able to help make you a more effective content marketer today! As somebody who has done content marketing that has included blog posting, videos, podcasts, images, and more, I know how difficult it may seem to keep up to date and motivated to continue posting.
However, with some grit, tenacity, and willpower, the results will well be worth the effort!
If you are a business leader or aspiring entrepreneur who wants to unleash the power of a content marketing plan and strategy that is custom fit for your organization, don’t be afraid to reach out by clicking HERE! or Schedule an Appointment with me!
Thanks for reading!
Work With Austin
-Austin Denison is a management consultant and coach from Southern California and founder/CEO of Denison Success Systems LLC. He is the author of The Essential Change Management Guidebook: Master The Art of Organizational Change as well as The Potential Dichotomy: The Philosophy of a Fulfilling Life.