Any business looking to increase sales needs to implement a proper content marketing strategy. But hold on, what does this mean? Aren’t content marketing strategies the same thing as content strategies, or content plans? In short, no. There are subtle differences between the three, and your understanding of them can greatly impact how you use them. So we’ll explore these differences to showcase the benefits of having a proper content marketing strategy, and give some advice on the best ways in which to develop said strategy.
Content Marketing Strategy Looking at the fundamentals, a content marketing strategy is the “why”, the “who”, and the “how” behind your actions. You use it to consider why you are creating content, who you are helping by providing said content, and how you will be able to help them, as opposed to your competitors. Content marketing is mainly used to grow an audience, potentially resulting in increased revenue, lower costs, and better customers.
So your content strategy is a different beast entirely. It has more to do with how you create and publish content, rather than how you market it. You can use your content strategy to plan and develop useful and usable content, so as to avoid publishing irrelevant information. Content strategies tend to go further than content marketing strategies, as they have more to do with business management and operation than with marketing and sales.
Unlike the previous two, a content plan is about pure tactics. It sets out the exact ways in which you will go about executing your strategy, and dictates who on your team will be handling specific tasks. Your content marketing strategy must always come before you start to develop your content plan, otherwise, you will be running before you learn to walk. Your plan should always include key topic areas you wish to cover, specific content you wish to create, and when and how you will share said content. Always make room for calls to action, as they are vital for successful marketing.
Is a Content Marketing Strategy Really Important?
Well, yes, it is. Annual research has shown that a documented content marketing strategy provides a greater chance of successful content marketing. Effective strategies significantly lower the challenges faced within every area of content marketing, and increase effectiveness when dealing with social media and content marketing tactics. Furthermore, a well thought out strategy gives more weight to the importance of content marketing, thus increasing the need for a higher marketing budget.
What to Include in a Content Marketing Strategy
Your content marketing strategy is the skeleton of your business and customer needs. It outlines a detailed plan on how you will use content in order to address the needs established in your strategy. Your strategy is always unique to your business, but here are some fundamentals to consider, as they may help you along the way:
- Your business case – With a focus on innovation, you need to communicate the reasons behind creating content, the various risks that may arise, and your outlook for success. If you plan correctly, you are more likely to have executive support, and leeway on mistakes, while you develop the right strategy for your business.
- Your business plan – Your content marketing business plan should cover the goals you will set for the content program itself. You should highlight the unique value your content is offering, and explain in detail your company’s business model. Make sure to set out any potential obstacles you may face, and expected opportunities that may arise from the execution of your plan.
- Your audience personas and content maps – Use this opportunity to describe your target audience in detail, listing their needs and what the cycle of content engagement may look like. Include a detailed plan for the type of content you will use throughout the conversion journey, so as to better prepare for meeting your goals.
- Your brand story – Your story is the written evidence of how you will characterise your content marketing , specifically looking at the ideas and messages you will communicate to your audience, and how these messages are different to those of your competitors. You should explain how you see the market landscape changing once you share your brand story with your target audience.
- Your channel plan – Building your brand through various platforms is essential. Your plan should include how you intend to market yourself and your story on these platforms, by providing your criteria, processes, and objectives for each one. You should further plan to connect the various platforms in order to create a cohesive online identity, to increase brand awareness and reliability, which ultimately promotes customer conversion.
Should Other Teams or Departments Read My Content Marketing Strategy?
A business that operates with a transparency policy is more likely to run smoother and more effectively. We recommend that everyone in the business has access to your content marketing strategy, even if they are not involved in the content marketing process. This ensures that no wires get crossed along the way. This is particularly beneficial for larger companies, so as to avoid miscommunication, to limit duplicated efforts, and to keep teams focused on the same goals. However, new businesses can also benefit from transparency, as their content teams will have more definitive guidelines to work with, especially if any of the content creation or distribution is outsourced. The way in which you communicate your content marketing strategy will depend entirely on how things are done in your business. Some organisations will share the full document, while others will develop targeted summaries in line with the specific departments. It is important to consider internal policy, and how the content will affect the person reading it. When Should the Content Marketing Strategy be Updated? While most business planning requires consistency, which is needed in some parts of the strategy, some areas will need to adapt to changes in the market. The areas that should stay consistent include your mission and business goals. These areas so important, that they should be at the forefront of every content decision you make. Why not include them as part of your task acceptance criteria?
On the other hand, you will do well to review and update various aspects of your strategy as time goes on. You need to remember that marketing is never stagnant, and you need to change those areas of your strategy that are no longer relevant. In order to remain on target, consider revising your channel strategy, core topics, and team processes on an annual basis, or as needed – especially if your business is growing.
Developing the Right Content Marketing Strategy for You
In developing your content marketing strategy, it is important to understand why, how, and who will be benefiting from the end result. A thorough plan should include all the relevant details that may affect content considerations, and how the target audience may receive and engage with your brand. A transparent ‘honesty policy’ will help your business to better understand your content marketing strategy, and to work in accordance with the content marketing goals. So when you are getting ready to tackle your content marketing strategy, or to review and change it, why not see what we can do to help?