Guide your marketing with a solid content strategy.
Creating a content strategy will bring results as well as aid important aspects of your business, such as marketing. — Getty Images/katleho Seisa

Have you ever heard the phrase “content is king”? It was popularized in an essay by Bill Gates in 1996, and since then has become a cliche for marketing agencies.

Despite its overuse, the phrase still has validity for small businesses seeking to reach new customers and build relationships with existing ones. Content marketing is a powerful practice that fuels your social media engagement, increases brand loyalty, improves SEO results and can help boost conversion rates.

To reap the benefits of content marketing, however, you must have a strong strategy underpinning what content you will use to reach a certain audience, as well as a distribution strategy that aligns with your ultimate goal. Here’s how to develop a content strategy for your small business that captures all the benefits of content marketing.

[Read more: A Complete Guide to Content Marketing]

What is a content strategy?

Your content strategy is, essentially, your roadmap for developing and distributing content. Content could be blog posts, videos, podcast episodes or any other media asset that your audience can click, watch, read and share.

A good content strategy considers not only what you will create, but the resources, audience and expectations you have for the content that you will share. This plan should also include key performance indicators (KPIs) to help you measure if your content is helping your business achieve its goals. As you go through this process, keep these questions in mind:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What problem does your content solve?
  • How does your content help your brand stand out?
  • How will your audience consume your content?
  • What will make your content successful?

These big picture questions can help guide you through as you go through the stages of developing a complete content strategy.

Step 1: Set a goal

Before you do anything, you must know what you want to achieve by creating content. A SMART goal will help you determine what type of content to create, as well as set expectations for what KPIs will make your content successful. Some common goals for content marketing include:

  • Brand awareness. For example: “Get X new Instagram followers in Y months.”
  • Brand loyalty. For example: “Increase customer referrals by X% in Y months.”
  • Build authority or educate customers. For example: “Improve your search engine ranking to land on X page by Y month.”
  • Customer engagement. For example: “Get X new email newsletter sign-ups in Y days.”
  • Recruit employees. For example: “Increase applications by X% over Y months.”

Of course, there are plenty of other things your content marketing can do — generate sales leads, for instance, or help improve your customer service. Pick one goal and use that as your guiding light for crafting your content.

You don't need to create a ton of different content at first. Start with one or two mediums to see what works.

Step 2: Define your audience

Create buyer personas to understand who will consume your content. “A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers,” describes Hubspot.

Dive into data from your sales history, loyalty program and existing followers on social media to design a profile of your key audience. This buyer persona will allow you to create content that’s relevant and interesting, as well as determine where you will distribute your content.

Step 3: Plan your content

Now that you know what you wish to achieve and to whom you are speaking, it’s time to figure out what the best format is for conveying your message. Your content marketing outreach might include blog posts, videos, infographics, white papers, case studies, podcasts, images or an email newsletter.

You don’t need to create a ton of different content at first. Start with one or two mediums to see what works. Likewise, your content strategy should identify the resources you have available in order to create media assets. Who will create content, how much do they have to spend and what tools will they use to make this content on-brand and unique?

Step 4: Create a calendar

Next, map out a plan for getting your content out in the world. The type of content you’ve chosen to create will largely guide your distribution method. “Content like images and infographics that is highly visual is a great fit for networks like Pinterest and Instagram,” explained The Balance. “Links to blog posts are excellent content to share on Twitter, while white papers and case studies are perfect for sharing on LinkedIn.”

[Read more: How to Develop a Content Distribution Strategy]

In addition to identifying where you will share your content, include a schedule and assign a specific person to make sure content is posted according to plan.

Step 5: Measure your success

Finally, include a plan for measuring the success of your content in your strategy document. What KPIs will show whether your content marketing campaign is working? Some popular KPIs related to content marketing include:

  • Unique page views.
  • Referral rate.
  • Number of downloads.
  • Increase in revenue.
  • Conversion rate.

The KPIs you choose should align with the ultimate goal you set in step one. Remember, your content strategy is a living document: Don’t be shy about making revisions as you learn what works and connect with your audience on a deeper level.

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Published October 21, 2020