Content is the backbone of marketing.
Whether it’s a blog post filled with keywords designed to help you climb search engine rankings, or a radio commercial intended to attract new leads, content is the touchpoint between your audience and your business.
To build your brand, establish trust, and ultimately generate conversions, you need high-quality collateral that accomplishes a specific goal.
But this is easier said than done, especially when you consider your overall branding and the need to keep consistency throughout all your marketing materials.
Maximizing your impact calls for a detailed blueprint of content that works toward achieving your short- and long-term goals.
In other words, you need a content strategy.
What Is A Content Strategy?
A content strategy is a tangible plan outlining how you will use content to achieve your business goals. It should include tactics to target your audience at every stage of the marketing funnel, from awareness to loyalty.
By ensuring you’re not just aimlessly creating content for its own sake, it lets you create more effective work that drives action.
For more information on how to analyze your existing content and build a strong content strategy, be sure to check out this content strategy webinar from Copypress.
After you’ve familiarized yourself with the elements of a successful content strategy, it’s time to get to work creating your own.
You could create one from scratch, but there’s no need to.
To save you time, we’ve created a downloadable template you can use. Available as both a spreadsheet and Word doc, it has everything you need to make your own unique content plan.
Download it now in your choice of format and let’s get to work filling it out.
How To Customize This Content Strategy
1. Define Your Core Strategy
Your marketing should tell a story about your brand.
Your content strategy is a roadmap of the plot. Before you dive into creating new marketing pieces, it’s important to define a few key features to ensure everyone, both internally and externally, has the same understanding of your brand.
Begin by listing your brand’s reputation and unique value propositions.
You should also research your competition and examine the type of content they’re using. If they’re having success with whitepapers, there’s a good chance that should be part of your strategy, too.
Once you have done all of this, you should describe the central themes your content will address. These could include:
- Tips, tricks, and how-tos.
- Thought leadership.
You’ll use this information to build the skeleton around which your strategy will take shape.
2. Identify Your Target Audience
Your content shouldn’t just promote your products and services – it should address a need in your audience. It should take their problems into account and explain why you offer the right solution.
But before you can do that, you need to know who you’re targeting. Customize your content strategy by adding information about your primary and secondary audiences.
You should include:
- Demographics – Age range, job title, preferred platforms, etc.
- Psychographics – Interests, hobbies, values, etc.
- Challenges – Pain points, fears, and anything else you can help them with.
You may find it helpful to develop customer personas that describe archetypes for various segments of your target audience.
3. Outline Specific Objectives
The next step in customizing this content strategy template is defining explicit goals and how your content will help you realize them.
These can include both SMART goals and stretch goals – both of which should be as detailed as possible.
SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
These could include getting specific content featured in other publications, generating a certain number of leads within a set time, or producing a set number of new pieces of flagship content.
Stretch goals, on the other hand, are more ambitious. They are often quarterly or annual targets intended to push your team to achieve loftier goals.
In general, your SMART goals will contribute to your stretch goals.
For example, if your stretch goal is to increase web visitors by 150% in the next year, you would want to create a series of SMART goals to break it up into manageable tasks. You might create specific goals for identifying new keyword opportunities, updating existing pages, creating a certain amount of new content, and A/B testing social and ad copy, all using the SMART format.
Make sure to keep your marketing funnel in mind and set goals for each stage.
4. Identify Topics To Cover
Every piece of content you create and share should have value for your target audience. In this step, you should list everything you intend to cover.
Each piece should align with one of the themes you identified in step one.
This list of topics can be as high-level or as detailed as you like, just be aware that doing the work upfront can often save you on the back end.
5. Outline Your Content Mix
And just like no two businesses are alike, no two organizations will use the same content mix. Depending on your unique needs, you may employ formats like:
- Blog posts.
- Case studies.
- Social media.
- User-generated content (UGC).
- Traditional media.
- Direct mailers.
This is far from an exhaustive list of various types of content you can use to help you reach your marketing goals.
You may choose to use many different formats, or just a few. It’s up to you to determine what will work best for you and your needs.
6. Identify Distribution Channels
After you have decided which types of content you’ll be employing, it’s time to figure out where it will go.
Because the best content in the world won’t do you a bit of good if no one sees it, your content strategy will help you avoid this problem by defining which marketing channels you’ll be using – and which type of content goes where.
This helps target the right audience, and by finding the most important places in which your audience engages with your brand, you’ll be able to find new opportunities.
The content you release on each channel should align with one of the goals you listed in the previous section.
7. Determine Posting Cadence
To keep your brand top of mind and maximize your position in search engine results, you’ll want to regularly release new content.
Again, there’s no right answer to this.
Depending on your industry and the competition therein, you may find publishing one blog post per week is enough. On the other hand, you may find you get the best results by posting to social media three times per day.
Depending on your audience’s needs and desires, you may have one channel on which you post regularly, with another that is less frequent.
It’s important to walk the line between reminding customers you exist and annoying them by over-posting.
If you post too little your audience will forget about you. If you release content too frequently, you risk becoming an irritant, which will lead to unfollows on social media and unsubscribes on email lists.
8. Gather Feedback And Adjust As Needed
Everyone has blind spots and biases, which makes it incredibly important to get the opinions of others on your strategy.
Once you have completed filling out this template, send it to key stakeholders for feedback. If you work with a sales team, be sure to get their input.
Ask them if there are any key areas you missed or initiatives from other departments you can latch on to.
Even if you’re a one-person business, your content doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Ask the opinion of a trusted friend who knows your industry.
Obviously, you don’t want to share this too widely – this would allow your competition to undercut you – but it never hurts to have a second opinion.
9. Distribute And Measure Your Content
Okay, this step isn’t actually part of customizing your content strategy, but it’s the most important part of content marketing.
Once you have released your content across various channels, you can start looking into key performance indicators (KPIs) and different metrics to see how it’s performing.
There are four main types of content marketing metrics: consumption, sharing, leads, and sales.
Which metrics you use will depend on which channel a specific piece of content uses and what the call to action (CTA) was.
For example, the success of an outdoor display with a prominent phone number can be tracked using call tracking, whereas a display ad can be analyzed with clickthroughs.
Some of the most common KPIs used in content marketing include:
- Organic traffic.
- Return on ad spend (ROAS).
- Qualified leads (QLs).
- Cost per lead (CPL).
- Cost per acquisition (CPA).
- Social media return on investment (ROI).
Use the information you gather from these metrics to help you determine where your content strategy has been successful and where it has fallen short.
By now, you should have a good and coherent content strategy developed.
But there are a few more things to remember before you go on your way, namely:
Don’t Forget About Search Engine Optimization
Digital will most likely be a key part of most of your marketing initiatives, which means it’s important to keep SEO at the heart of your content plan.
Obviously, this will not apply to strictly offline content, but if any piece of content is going to appear on the internet, it should work with your SEO strategy.
Find content and keyword gaps and plan content based on them. Follow best practices in regard to linking, tags, and site structure.
Reuse Your Winners
If you have a piece of content that performed particularly well, you should get as much mileage out of it as possible.
Look for opportunities to change the format of a piece and republish it on another channel.
For example, you could add some graphics and release your most popular podcast on Buy YouTube Subscribers, or share your most-viewed blog post across your social platforms. This will help you amplify its reach.
Remember Your Content Strategy Is A Work In Progress
A content marketer’s work is never done, but that’s okay.
What you learn today will benefit you tomorrow.
Don’t be afraid to go off-script if the situation demands it.
With that said, you should stick to your content strategy as much as possible.
Using what you’ve created here will benefit you in the long run.
Featured Image: olesia_g/SMM Panel