Many new businesses struggle to generate leads. How do you get people interested in your product or service when they’ve never heard of it or don’t realize that they need it? The truth is that it’s not easy. However, you can accelerate your lead generation through a content marketing strategy. It’s the art of creating and sharing valuable content that educates your target audience and ultimately leads them through your sales funnel.
But to succeed at content marketing, you need a content marketing strategy. This gives you the roadmap to go from generating content ideas to distributing finished pieces to your audience.
12 Steps to a Successful Content Marketing Strategy
And yet, according to a survey conducted by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), only 40% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.
If you fall into the same camp, it might be time to get serious about your own content marketing strategy. Here are some steps it should include:
1. Set goals
Every content marketing strategy must start with setting goals. Otherwise, you won’t know when it’s failed or succeeded.
So, ask yourself what you aim to accomplish. Are you trying to boost traffic to your website, increase engagement on your social media accounts, or make more revenue?
Whatever it is, write it down. Create a mission statement that outlines exactly what you want your content marketing to do.
2. Attach KPIs to your goals
Once you’ve established your content marketing strategy goals, make them more specific and measurable with key performance indicators (KPIs). These are metrics you can use to evaluate the performance of your content marketing strategy, such as online views, clicks, and conversions.
Set KPI targets based on your goals so you know what to aim for. This is part of making your goals SMART (i.e., specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound).
Other KPI metrics you might consider is including the number of email subscribers, SEO rankings, and social media shares.
3. Determine your target audience
At this point, you should get clear on your target audience. That way, you know who you’re addressing in your content, which will resonate more deeply.
First, start collecting demographic data on your current contacts: their age, gender, location, income, education, etc. Some of this you can do with tools like Google Analytics that analyze your site visitors. Otherwise, you may need customers to volunteer this information via surveys, contact forms, or testimonials. Asking for specific feedback lets you understand them better.
From there, you can segment your audience into different groups. Then, create buyer personas or customer avatars for each group. These serve as ideal customer profiles that describe their interests, pain points, behaviors, etc. This will make it easier to write content with the right person in mind.
4. Run a content audit
Chances are that your business has already published content before, such as blog articles, social media posts, videos, podcast appearances, and so on. Go through these to assess where you stand. How are you performing against your KPI goals?
By analyzing your historical content and comparing it against your goals (and your competitors’ content), you can better understand what needs to be done.
Use a content audit tool to streamline this process. It can help you identify gaps in relevant keywords you’re not ranking for, questions you’re not answering, and other improvements you could be making.
5. Choose the best content channels
During your content audit, note what channels your content is being shared on most. Is it on social media, forums, or other websites? Again, a web analytics platform can help you do this.
Watch for trends and double down on whatever seems to be working best. If you notice that your content is getting a lot of traction on X (formerly Twitter), you may want to focus on this channel in your content marketing.
6. Decide on content types
Now that you’ve determined the best content channels to target, decide what type of content to focus on. This could be long-form content like blog articles and email newsletters or short-form content like social media posts or TikTok videos.
Other content types include YouTube videos, infographics, webinars, ebooks, and podcasts. Narrow down a few that will most effectively reach your target audience.
7. Generate content ideas
Next, start brainstorming content ideas. A good approach is to identify questions your target audience is asking. For example, you can use Google’s autocomplete feature to find commonly asked questions in your industry or niche.
From there, you can come up with topic clusters or pillars around which to organize new content ideas. The goal is to develop as many content ideas as you can in a structured way.
8. Solidify a content creation process
With your content ideas in hand, it’s time to establish your content creation process. At a minimum, you’ll need staff to manage and create the content. This could include full-time, part-time, or freelance writers, along with a head editor or manager.
You’ll also want to invest in a content management system (CMS) to keep your content organized at all stages of creation. Set up standard workflows for each piece of content, such as outlining, writing, image sourcing, editing, revising, publishing, and sharing.
9. Create a content calendar
A content calendar (aka content plan) lets you plan, track, and set deadlines for different content milestones. Without one, you’re bound only to have sub-par results.
Use project management software (PMS) to set up your content calendar and assign due dates to upcoming content pieces. Ensure each piece goes through the proper approval channels to streamline the publishing process.
10. Create content
Now that you’ve researched and planned, it’s time to create the content. Ensure your content writers address your target audience directly and write in your brand’s voice. Every piece should be original and deliver value. This will help it stand out from the vast amount of similar content already out there on the internet.
From there, ensure content is checked, edited, revised, and ultimately approved. Use a combination of employees and software tools to verify content for accuracy and quality.
11. Distribute and market your content
Once a piece of content is complete, share it! You can do this via email marketing (aka drip campaign) software or manually. Spread the new content everywhere, and don’t be afraid to repurpose content into different forms. For example, you could turn a blog article into a video script, a social media post into an Instagram photo, a white paper into an infographic, etc.
Also, don’t forget to take advantage of any user-generated content like testimonials. Share them on your accounts to create a positive brand image.
12. Measure results and adapt
The last step of the content marketing process is to measure results and adapt accordingly. This comes back to measuring KPIs and noting changes over time — whether positive or negative.
Regularly track website views, social media shares, email subscriptions, etc. From there, you can determine what’s working and what isn’t. You can even run A/B tests to compare two versions of a single piece of content.
The point is to continuously improve your content marketing. Double down on what works and abandon what isn’t. That’s the only sure way to success.
You’ll see your business gradually grow as you refine your content marketing strategy. Your content will attract more readers who turn into leads and, ultimately, customers. Trust the process and watch your company reach the next level!