Updated: April 2019
Do you have a strategy for the content you are going to share on digital channels in 2019?
While social media trends come and go, one thing is here to stay — content marketing.
“Content is serious business. Smart marketers prioritize time to create inspiring, relevant, empowering, interesting, memorable and impactful content.”
— Pam Moore
If you’re serious about marketing your business online, you need a strategy and a plan to execute it.
A content marketing strategy is a roadmap that not only tells you what you’re going to create but how you’re going to create it, when you’re going to publish it and how you’re going to promote it.
It helps you create more meaningful, engaging and sustainable content.
Smart content strategy is fundamental to creating high-quality content — Sonia Simone
According to the Content Marketing Institute, having a documented (i.e. written down) strategy means:
- You’ll feel significantly less challenged by every aspect of content marketing.
- You’ll generally consider yourself more effective in your use of all content marketing tactics and social media channels.
- You’ll be able to justify spending a higher percentage of your marketing budget on content marketing.
Today I want to share with you my process for developing a content strategy with clients.
You can use this step-by-step process for your own marketing throughout the coming year.
Step #1 Audit 2018 Content
A content audit allows you to review the content you have published and look for opportunities for improvements or content gaps to fill.
Take a look back at what worked for you this year. Which of the content (blogs, videos, live streams, images, etc.) that you created and shared performed the best?
What length of content worked best (long-form or shorter posts?)
Which content bummed?
Pro Tip: Learn from the success of your competition. Run a competitor audit to see which type of content they’re creating and how often are they sharing it.
Do some keyword research
Check Google Analytics for your website to see which keywords brought people to your site.
If you want to rank in Google you have to make sure that you’re using the right keywords. Brainstorm a list of suitable topics related to your business. Then create a list of ten to twenty keywords around which to focus your content.
One of the biggest mistakes I come across is trying to rank for generic keywords with a high search volume. Instead, try long tail keywords.
Long tail keywords are keywords or key phrases that are more specific — and usually longer — than more commonly searched for keywords. Long tail keywords get less search traffic, but will usually have a higher conversion value, as they are more specific. They allow you gradually to get more traffic and to be found by new and motivated audiences.
Pro Tip: Use a tool like Keywords Everywhere, a Chrome extension which returns a host of long-tail phrases based on what people are searching for using specific keywords. The Google Keyword Planner within Adwords is another useful tool to find ideas for content based on keyword search.
Step #2 Identify Your Purpose
Your content strategy is what connects your business objectives and content marketing. Whichever formats your content takes, it needs to align with your long-term marketing and business goals.
Without a strategy, you risk creating content on random topics at random times with no clear purpose in mind.
It’s easy to get caught up in the tactics of content marketing, but without knowing why you’re creating content, you can’t really know what to create for maximum effect.
Why Before How
It’s all too easy to get caught up in the HOW of social media and forget about the WHY.
I really like how Danny Iny describes it.
Which comes first: the picture or the paint?
It seems like a no-brainer. You need paint to make a picture, so you’d think the paint comes first.
But when you want to paint a picture, do you immediately grab your favorite paint color and then try to think of something that you could paint using that specific color? Or do you decide what should be in your picture first, then pick out the right colors to paint it with?
Without a vision and a strategy, tools and tactics are just different paint colors.
Step #3 Set Clear Goals
Arising out of your purpose, setting clear goals will not only propel your strategy forward, but they will also serve as defined metrics when it comes to measuring your progress.
Describe the specific goals and outcomes you’re seeking to accomplish with your social media activity. These should be aligned with your business goals.
Whichever goal you wish to pursue, make it as detailed and specific as possible. The more trackable your goal is, the easier it’ll be in a few months to see if you have achieved it.
Recommended Reading: How To Set SMART Social Media Marketing Goals For Your Business
Step #4 Know Your Audience
Once you have a clear why, your next step is to identify exactly who is going to consume the content you create.
If you want to stand out, don’t try to reach everyone. Work out the target audience you can most credibly help and most easily reach, and drill into their problems and goals so you understand them almost better than they understand themselves — Chris Garrett
Start by finding data on your existing audience. Use the Demographics and Interests sections of Google Analytics and the audience analytics features contained within Facebook Insights and Twitter to help you.
Every piece of content that you create should have an intended audience.
When producing content, your number one goal should be to add value for your community. Content doesn’t work unless it’s targeted. All successful businesses are based on their ability to meet the needs of their audience and content marketing is no different.
Break your audience personas down into demographics as well as psychographics. Their demographics may include, their gender, their age, geographic location, income, and possibly their ethnic or religious background. The psychographic side represents their feelings and thoughts.
The key here is to really know your audience and their pain-points. Start speaking their language when it comes to the problem you’re solving, and how they relate to their pain points. Write content that specifically answers their particular needs and the types of solutions they’re looking for.
Step #5 Determine Your Content Format
This is a two-part strategy. Firstly, you need to go where your audience is consuming content.
Once you’ve identified who your audience is, map this information to social media behaviour.
Identify how, when, and where they like to engage with content, and then plan to create content on your audience’s preferred platform (each platform lends itself more naturally to specific types of content) and preferred way of consuming content.
Recommended Reading: How to Optimize Your Content for Every Age Group
Secondly, you need to take stock of your own resources.
What internal and external resources will you need to run your content marketing engine? Do you have time to write regularly for a blog? Can you create videos or podcasts? Which of your already high-performing content can you repurpose?
Pro Tip: Consider publishing content on Medium. This has been a significant source of readers for me as you can see from the stats below. These are some of my top-performing articles on Medium over the past 12 months.
Step #6 Keep Content Ideas Flowing
Whether it’s an excel spreadsheet, Google Docs, or another note-taking system, create a place to add links to interesting articles, studies or ideas for content to share.
Pro Tip I use Buzzsumo to find inspiration by searching which popular content is most shared right now on social media. These are the topics people want to read about so it’s worth brainstorming ideas around this content.
Step #7 Build A Content Calendar
A content planner or calendar defines your publishing schedule for weeks or months in advance, giving you a quick overview of your content schedule. — Constant Content
A content calendar helps you maintain a consistent content production schedule, enabling you to plan for seasonal content, and annual campaigns.
It also helps you deliver a more balanced mix of content formats, such as articles, videos, and social posts.
Create a calendar to map out content ideas aligned with 2019 holidays and seasonal trends and events. Use holidays as hooks for content and promotions. Often, this content is evergreen so that you can use it year after year.
Add your keywords from Step #1 to keep you focused.
Pro Tip Google Trends which will show you a graph of how interest has increased/decreased over time for a topic in your region or city.
Step #8 Plan Your Promotion
Content has no value unless it’s shared. You need to plan for how you will connect your content with the right audience at the right time.
Instead of treating content amplification as something you only do after the content is created and published, you should incorporate promotion strategies into the content planning and creation process.
Rand Fishkin, co-author of Art of SEO, goes so far as to say: “Before you ever create content, I urge you to ask the critical question: Who will help amplify this and why? If you don’t have a great answer, a specific list of people, don’t create it.”
Pro Tip: You will need to budget for paid advertising, particularly if you want to make an impact on Facebook where organic reach has steadily declined over the past few years.
Step #9 Measure Results
How do you know if all the time you’re investing in social media marketing is paying off?
You don’t know unless you put a system in place to measure to analyze your efforts.
Use built-in tools such as Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics, third-party tools, and measurement of social traffic and conversion with Google Analytics to track and measure your progress.
- Traffic. How many blog or website visitors did you receive from social media?
- Engagement. How many likes, clicks, and shares are your posts receiving?
- Conversions. How many blog or website visitors are completing conversion steps?
It’s time to get serious about your content marketing efforts. In 2019 you must have a content marketing plan that helps you align your content to your business goals. Smart marketers are already working on their plans. Take some time before the year ends to create yours. I’ve guided many clients through this process over the past decade. Reach out to me if you’d like my help to develop your content marketing strategy for the new year.