Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

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Content marketing strategy doesn’t create itself. It’s the result of clear intention, careful planning, and focused execution. As Carmen Hill, social media and content strategist at Babcock & Jenkins, puts it, “Whether it’s a targeted campaign or a comprehensive program, you need to plant a strong foundation of content that attracts prospects at every stage of the buyer’s journey, seeding awareness and nurturing ongoing interest.”

Here are some of the best practices:

Get Stakeholder Support

Content marketing is not a short-term affair; it’s a long-term commitment that requires continual collaboration and engagement to succeed. This means you’ll most likely need to sell the idea to the executive team, as well as other key people or departments within your organization.

One effective technique for getting internal buy-in begins with not talking about content marketing at all. (At least not initially.) Instead, focus on your stakeholders’ goals and pain points, even their bonus systems – those areas that affect their own success. Then introduce content marketing as a valuable way for them to get better results.

Understand Your Audience

Content marketing isn’t about selling. It’s about educating, entertaining, or otherwise informing your readers in order to earn their trust over time.

To be successful, you need to understand who your audience is – and what they want and need from you – in order to gauge how much viable content you already have and what content you’ll need to create.

Taking a Customer-Centric Approach

To identify the depth and breadth of content that will resonate with your audience segments, it’s essential to focus on what they want. Which means you have to do some research to find out what’s already out there… and what’s missing.

Here are some key elements to get you started.

* Study your website analytics. Your visitors offer a wealth of clues about their needs and interests. Uncover it by looking at keyword performance, internal search data, user behaviour and bounce rates.

* Investigate the social web. This includes blogs, forums, and the ever-increasing networking channels your audience is interacting with. A variety of listening tools – many are free – can help you collect data about the conversations and topics people are discussing as they relate to your company’s products and services.

* Get your hands on industry research. In the age of big data, research studies are being published more frequently than in the past, with many of them at low or no cost. Relevant research results can provide insights into your industry, as well as your competitors.

* Survey your customers. Ask your current customers specific questions about what they’re interested in when evaluating whatever it is that you sell, what features are important, what their favorite websites are, what information piques their interest or breaks the deal.

Identify the Right Content Formula

Content marketing is about helping your current and future customers solve an issue that’s important to them. To do this, your content needs to facilitate conversations among influencers, stakeholders, and decision makers, giving them the confidence to take the next step. If it doesn’t, your content marketing strategy will fail. (Or at the very least under-achieve its goal.)

Plan SEO-Friendly Content

The business success of a search engine company is completely dependent on satisfying the human searcher. As a result, the search engines are constantly leapfrogging each other to deliver better results, creating an ever-shifting landscape that can leave marketers frustrated. Google, for example, typically makes between 500-600 algorithm changes per year. While most are inconsequential, a few are major enough to impact your SEO efforts.

Get Maximum Mileage Out of Your Content

Developing the volume of content necessary to fuel a content program is a challenge. Try using the Rule of 5 – use one piece of content in five distinct ways. Five may not always be the optimal number, the goal is to extend the life of your content by using it in multiple ways, offering it in multiple formats, and distributing it everywhere.

Driving Results

Good content marketing establishes long-term, trusted relationships with current and future customers by regularly delivering high-quality, relevant, and valuable information. In addition, it can bolster your SEO and brand positioning.

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