How to Create a Successful Content Marketing Strategy? 2021 Guide
“Content is king” has been a cliché that marketers or experts claim for years now, but sorry that I have to break this to you: It is not true and never has been.
Content marketing can work wonders for some businesses but can also achieve nothing at all for others. Content, after all, is still just content. It can be entertaining, educational, and even hold the secret to happiness, but won’t transform your business into the brand you hope to achieve unless you add one essential element.
Content marketing is meaningless without a content marketing strategy.
You want to know what content you are creating and why you are doing it. With a well-made and tailored content marketing strategy, the time and effort you spend creating content will get you closer to the business’s objectives.
In this article, I will dive into the content marketing strategy’s definition, its power, and what steps you can take to** create a strategy for your eCommerce business** - a strategy that can win you more loyal customers. Additionally, we will explore some examples of fantastic content marketing strategies and goals for content marketing that are worth pursuing.
Turn your business into a king and use content marketing as a magic sword to make customers follow you. Ready to do that? Let’s get started!
Table of contents:
- What is a content marketing strategy?
- Why should your business have a content marketing strategy?
- Content marketing strategy’s core elements
- 8 Steps to create a successful content marketing strategy
- How to build an audience with your content marketing strategy?
- Types of content marketing
- Final words
What is a content marketing strategy?
For a good starting point, let’s define content marketing strategy in a simple term:
A content marketing strategy, or a content strategy, is a plan for achieving your business goals by publishing, maintaining, and spreading content in a consistent way that can educate, entertain, or inspire strangers to turn into fans. And, eventually, these fans turn into customers.
A bit long for you? Then think of a content marketing strategy as a plan for using content as a primary tool to achieve your business’s goals.
At its core, the content marketing strategy is your ultimate “why.” Why you are creating new content, which audience you are helping, and how you can help them in ways that no one else can. Companies typically use content marketing to build an audience base and to achieve at least one of these positive results: increased revenue, more loyal customers, or lower costs.
For example, your specific business goal may be to increase brand awareness to drive more revenue in the upcoming years. To achieve this goal, you can implement a content marketing strategy that focuses on SEO to increase the official website visibility and drive traffic to your product pages.
Do you know that 70% of marketers are actively investing their resources in content marketing? New businesses may think of a content marketing strategy as ‘nice to have’, but high-quality content is essential to help companies build trust with audiences and compete with other brands in the industry.
More on that in the next section.
Why should your business have a content marketing strategy?
If you are a small business with only a few employees, you may think that your brand’s content marketing is so simple that you don’t need an elaborate plan. Writing a few to-do things on a checklist should get things done, right?
Well, that is one way to begin if you just need to start your content marketing rather than holding things off until a plan comes up. But, at some points, you will have to develop a more comprehensive strategy and document the results, because content marketing is far too important to do things in a half-ass way.
When done well, your content creates brand equity, which means your brand can become more and more valuable over time as you keep delivering well-made content. And the more you help your target audience, the more your brand can gain a reputation as a leader in the industry.
If you can create just one blog article that generates a steady amount of organic traffic, including an embedded link to your free offer inside, will continue creating leads for your company as time goes on — a long time after you click the Publish button.
That is the core way content provides value to your business: Organic traffic - which are people who discover your website on search platforms, like Google, Bing, YouTube, or a podcast, and then go visit your content. One critical reason that makes this kind of traffic different from others is because these audiences are looking for you.
They are actively searching for more information about your business and are much more likely to become a paid customer. These folks have a problem and they expect your business to be the solution they are looking for.
An effective content marketing strategy will be the center-driven force for you to gain a reliable source of traffic and leads while giving the necessary flexibility to experiment with different marketing tactics to generate more revenue. Plus, your content would not only attract leads but also educate your prospects and create more awareness for your brand, thanks to the strategy you implemented.
Organic traffic is also much more cost-effective than traffic from other channels like advertising or sponsorships. Setting up a billboard may not get you as many customers as having a #1 blog post on the Google search results, think about that.
Content marketing strategy’s core elements
An effective content marketing strategy must have these next four core elements to be successful. Let’s see what they are and why they are essential for content marketing and how you can start implementing each of them.
Your brand’s positioning
A clearly defined brand’s positioning will help you provide a consistent experience for your target audience and build the right impression for your brand through all marketing channels.
These next questions will help you brainstorm about your positioning in the market:
What are your brand’s unique values?
Who are your existing and potential customers?
What kind of experience do your customers look for?
What problems can your products help to solve?
How is the competitive landscape?
How do your top competitors market their brands?
What makes your products better than those of your competitors?
How can you highlight your brand’s personality?
Owned media value proposition
To establish your company as a credible content publisher, you need to define the owned media value proposition. What unique values can you provide to the audience with your content? How do you differentiate yourself from other content creators? Why should the audience choose your content channels instead of following other channels?
Start by doing some research about your audience to identify which kind of information they are looking for and the resources they prefer. Then, you can analyze your competitors’ content to find your potential for an editorial niche.
Too often, brands focus on their market competitor and research enough about other content creators. Once you create a strategy to develop owned media, you should view all content publishers in your area of expertise as (potential) competitors. So, even unbranded media like industry blogs, online magazines, or influencers’ video channels should be a part of your competitive research.
Providing value to your target audience is an essential part of a successful content marketing strategy. But in addition to attracting new followers and readers, content marketing should drive your business toward certain goals.
You should identify business goals that your company needs to achieve and figure out how content marketing will help your business get closer to those goals. How many resources do you need to invest to create your content and what results do you expect to get from this?
Documenting your business case will help you understand the benefits, risks, and costs of implementing a content marketing strategy in your business better, then you can convince decision-makers about the value of content marketing for the company.
A strategic plan gives you a clear vision of your goals and what exactly you would do to achieve them. It will force you to think through and plan every step of your content strategy. This plan would help you decide the audience you want to reach with your content marketing efforts, the channels you will deliver that content to them, and, finally, the way you will achieve and measure your desired results.
8 Steps to create a successful content marketing strategy
Now let’s see how to develop a winning content marketing strategy plan with some useful tips that will help you to be more efficient.
Before diving in, I want to remind you that you are building relationships and helping solve problems. If you create value and equip your audience with the information they need to solve the problems they’re facing, your content will eventually succeed. If you don’t, all the fancy headlines, writing, and strategies won’t do a thing.
Better than that, if you can be the one to make your audience aware about a problem they didn’t know about, and provide a perfect solution to them as well, you’ll create customers for life. Even if they find better solutions, you will still have the authority in their minds to be the company who helped first.
Keep that in mind and follow these steps to create your content marketing strategy:
Step 1: Define your mission and goals
A good starting point for your content marketing strategy is to set out a mission statement - which makes it easier for you to focus on what’s important – and what’s not. So you can create content that stays on track with your content marketing strategy.
Your content marketing mission statement would outline your target audience, the benefit they can get from you, and the content you will use to reach them. A formula for your mission statement is:
"We provide the [target audience] with [types of content] to help them [customers' goals]."
You often find the mission statement in an About Us section. You also need to think of the benefits your company gets from creating content, where your business goals come in. Some typical content marketing goals are:
Making more sales
Getting more traffic
Gaining influence and authority
Reduced marketing costs
Social media engagement
Step 2: Determine your target audience
For a successful content marketing strategy, you need to be clear about who your target audience is - also known as your buyer persona - so you can create the right type of content for them.
This is especially important for those who are new to marketing or just starting out. By understanding your target audience, you can produce more valuable and relevant content that they want to read and convert.
This character, avatar, or persona should generally represent the target audience you’re trying to reach with your content. The process of making proactive content decisions should be based on the model you come up with here.
The data you need to create a buyer persona for your target audience is:
What their most urgent needs are
How they feel about the content you currently produce
How you can address their problems using your content
Step 3: Establish your KPIs
The best way to achieve content marketing goals is to make them specific and measurable. So you need key performance indicators (KPIs) to include in your content marketing strategy.
The KPIs will help you know if you have achieved your goals after preset milestones so you can check them off. You will also plan your achievements in terms of revenue, traffic, sales, SEO, traffic, and other aspects of your marketing efforts, such as email marketing and social media.
You’ll also want to pay attention to tracking your spending on different campaigns, marketing expenditure, and keeping an eye on the cost of making sales and acquiring leads.
Step 4: Find the best content channels
As you create your buyer persona, you’ll start to get a sense of where your target audience is hanging out, and where you may already have a successful online presence. It is better to focus on what’s working and grow from there, rather than try to achieve everything at once.
Using a tool like Google Analytics will allow you to see your website analytics, including the main social networks where your content gets shares from. Social media platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, also give insights on your top-performing content in a specific period of time.
With this information, you can decide which channels to engage with the target audience and get shares for your content.
Step 5: Decide on content types
Next, think about the content types you need to create. There are some types of content that every content marketing strategy should include.
Most successful content marketing strategies often rely on having the core content published on your own site which can then be repurposed and re-shared on other websites. Therefore, blog posts become an essential part of the content marketing mix since they can deliver strong results.
Ideally, a brand’s blog posts will be valuable, actionable, and shareable, and can include a range of article types.
But, more than that, be a bit artistic with your approach. What stories will you tell? What kind of tone and voice can customers resonate with? Over time, you will be able to create the perfect messaging and find success with your content marketing strategy.
I will talk about types of content in the below section.
Step 6: Develop a content plan
Planning your content allows you to identify and allocate your resources appropriately, and also see which workflows are performing lower than expected, then adjust your expectations accordingly. This step involves answering questions like:
Who will produce and maintain the content production?
What digital and resources do you need to create content?
How many employees do you need?
What will your content publishing plan look like, including the schedule?
One of the essential elements in this planning step is prioritization. If you can identify the most critical tasks that you must do or things that you can test, you can plan your actions accordingly. By doing this, you will protect your strategy from unwanted fails and find opportunities for experiments with content that can potentially boost your results.
To start, you need to uncover topics that attract your target audience’s interest as they go through the customer journey. This will give you ideas on subjects you should cover, related questions, possible subtopics, and promising headers.
Next, work out the content production process for your company. For instance, if you want to create a typical blog post, you will need to:
Create an outline and have it pre-checked -> Write the blog post -> Create blog images -> Send the post to an editor -> Make necessary changes -> Upload -> Publish.
Finally, one more thing to do before you start creating content is having a content calendar, so you can decide what will be published and when. With the content calendar, you can also monitor progress and streamline communication across team members as you create, edit, publish, and analyze content.
Step 7: Create content
There is a lot of prep work in the content marketing strategy, but now it’s time to actually create some pieces of content. With the research you’ve done, you will have an idea of what type of content to create and what tone you should use.
Make sure that your content can cover every part of your customer journey and support your prospects at each specific stage, then ultimately develop a long-term relationship between your audience and your brand.
Now, let’s pick a title from your content calendar and start producing.
When you are ready to write, you will need to see what content is already out there and how your new content can provide value for the target audience. This means doing a bit of Google search to check out the top content for your topic, then see how you can improve it. You should also do keyword research to identify the key terms for better SEO and improve search rankings.
Then, you can start producing your content. At this point, you need to think about the way to reflect your brand’s personality in the content you create. You may want to be casual like a friend, or super-professional like an expert, or something in between. And you will have to balance between showing your expertise and not turning the audience into dorks.
Step 8: Distribute and analyze
The next key part of your content marketing strategy is distribution and analysis. That’s because you won’t get the results you want unless you handle them correctly.
Providing omnichannel communication to your target audience is the best way to keep your brand at the forefront of customers’ minds. By aligning the brand messaging across multiple channels, your audience will recognize who your brand is and what you can offer.
For example, you can distribute your content like this:
Set a schedule to share your content on social media, either immediately or through drip campaigns.
Use email marketing to send your content to subscribers.
Collaborate with influencers to mention your content and spread the word even further.
Then, you can start assessing the success of your content marketing strategy. In order to do this, you will return to the KPIs you set at step two and see if you are hitting your targets. Your audience’s interest level will give you a clear signal about what attracts their attention the most, making it easier to come up with new inviting content.
Content marketing metrics have four categories:
Engagement: likes, shares, mentions, comments.
User behavior: unique visitors, bounce rate, pages per session.
SEO results: organic traffic, backlinks, dwell time.
Company revenue: conversion rate, number of leads, existing leads affected.
By monitoring your progress, you’ll have the ability to tweak your content marketing strategy at a monthly or even weekly rate, so it’s always up to date.
That’s it! Now you have the steps to create a successful content marketing strategy from start to end.
How to build an audience with your content marketing strategy?
I want to dedicate a section for building an audience because, without an audience, your content basically gets produced for no one to read. Even before you start creating a content marketing strategy, building an audience base may already have started.
The key to build your audience is to write useful and relevant content about specific topics. From there, you can build a relationship and add your unique brand voices to the world.
For example, that is what we are trying to do with the AVADA blog - sharing our knowledge and ideas for eCommerce businesses around the world. Our work drew interested readers and made them stay for more. The audience subscribed, shared, and formed a community of readers with shared interests.
So, the first step is to make sure that your content is high quality and worthy of the audience’s attention. Trust me, they don’t have the time for average content anymore.
But, don’t wait around for your content to get discovered. You need to drive traffic and you should post your content where your audience spends their time browsing.
Another option is running paid advertisements. The benefit is that you can put your content in front of the target audience by spending money on ad placements, but this won’t guarantee people to like or even read your content.
Which leads us to the last way to build an audience, borrowing them from someone else. This means asking people who already have an audience to share your content. Maybe you can write a guest blog post or make them share your content on social media.
Either way, using your network is one of the most fantastic (and free) ways to get a major audience for your content. For some companies, that is all they need to do.
Types of content marketing
Now that we’ve talked through the necessity of a content marketing strategy, how to create one, and the ways to build an audience, let’s see the different types of content marketing.
Blog posts: Blog posts are on a website and should be published regularly to attract new visitors. Blog posts should provide valuable info for the target audience that makes them more likely to share posts on social media and other websites.
Ebooks: Ebooks are often considered a lead-generation tool that potential customers can download after signing up a lead form with their contact information. Ebooks work great with calls to action - directing people to a landing page to collect their contact information and download the ebook.
Case studies: These tell the story of one or more customers who succeeded in solving a problem by buying from your company. They can take many different forms, like a blog post, podcast, ebook, infographic, and more.
Infographics: Speaking of infographics, they can organize and visualize data in a better way than words. If you want to share a lot of data, this type of content is the way.
Templates: You can provide the audience with templates to save them time and turn them into leads - who are more likely to keep engaging with your brand in the future.
Videos: Videos are highly engaging and shareable across social media channels. It requires more investment but is 40x more likely to get shared than other types of content.
Podcasts: A podcast will help the audience find your brand if they don’t have time to read content every day. More and more people are listening to podcasts every day, so your brand has a lot of potentials.
Social media: Repurposing your content and publishing it on various social media platforms can amplify your brand’s reach and deliver content to where your customers are spending their time.
Emails: Written words in emails can also be a type of content with newsletters being the main way for subscribers to receive information. If you want to automate and optimize your email marketing effort, try our app AVADA Email Marketing.
Vlogs: Blogging, but instead of using words, you use videos. This is a fantastic way to build relationships with the audience for being genuine on videos.
Product reviews: Physical products, apps, software, etc. all need reviews for consumers to see. You can create reviews in many forms as well, like a blog post, a video, an email, and more.
By being open to new ideas, you have a plethora of different content marketing types to diversify your efforts. Do some market research as mentioned to find out which platforms your customers are on, then mold your content to their expectations.
It takes time, effort, and creativity to create a successful content marketing strategy. From building the audience for your content to managing your content schedule, setting up your strategy shouldn’t be a hassle if you follow the above steps and explore the necessary resources.
For additional guidance on marketing strategies for eCommerce, see other articles on the AVADA blog for inspiration! Happy reading!