Developing and implementing an effective content marketing strategy is absolutely paramount to the growth and success of any small business. A watertight strategy can help business owners set actionable targets, create engaging content, build brand awareness and ultimately drive sales. With a wealth of often overwhelming advice online, this practical step by step guide provides actionable tips you can apply to your business today.
BEGIN WITH CLEAR OBJECTIVES & METRICS
When first developing a content marketing strategy, the main priority should be creating a formal document then setting goals to ensure you are proactively meeting your business objectives. Key objectives you could set for your strategy could be doubling newsletter subscribers in 6 months or increasing referral website traffic by 25% in 9 months. Metrics to meet these targets would include referring to free email marketing tools like MailChimp to monitor subscriber growth and conversion rate whilst Google Analytics will provide much needed insight into referral traffic from articles and social media.
DEFINE EXACTLY WHAT YOUR CUSTOMER LOOKS LIKE
Once you’ve outlined the key business objectives of your content marketing strategy, you will need to conduct some market research to define your typical customer. A written strategy should most certainly include descriptive customer personas where everything from their name, occupation, demographic and background is featured to ensure you have built up an accurate image of each customer type. Defining personas helps with content mapping, a popular technique used by marketers to develop a variety of targeted content types mapped to customers at various stages of their buying journey.
SET OUT YOUR EDITORIAL & BRAND GUIDELINES
Now that you have established who your typical customer is, it’s important your brand identity and tone of voice appeals to their core needs. Having a set of standardised brand guidelines to refer to regularly, ensures you are creating content that is consistent with your brand and helps to define a distinctive tone. Brand guidelines typically include colours, fonts and imagery whilst a standard editorial guide usually pertains to grammatical considerations, mission statements and overall tone of voice.
BUILD OUT AN EDITORIAL CONTENT CALENDAR
By now you should have a good idea of what your average customer looks like and what they will come to expect from your brand content-wise. Before creating any content, SEO keyword research should be conducted to get an insight into the popular search terms you’d like to rank for in search engines. By using free industry standard tools like Google Keyword Planner, you will have access to a range of terms that should inspire content ideas when building an editorial calendar. Try to appeal to your different customer personas with everything from infographics, case studies, white papers and videos to keep your content fresh and engaging.
INTEGRATE A POST – PUBLISHING PLAN
An often neglected section of many a content marketing strategy is a post-publishing plan. It is useless to invest time and resources into creating fantastic content if little effort is paid to promoting that content. A social media calendar should be created to complement the editorial calendar and should have a balanced mix of posts that promotes content, engages with customers and drives industry conversation. To further extend the reach of your content, there are several external platforms by which you can amplify your content significantly. Content syndication platforms like Medium, LinkedIn and Inbound.Org are fantastic places for seeding content.
CONDUCT PROACTIVE ANALYSIS AND REPORTING
The final part of any content marketing strategy is perhaps one of the most important of all. To judge the success of your strategy, you must be able to measure that success against your original business objectives. Free tools like Google Analytics are ideal to refer to when monitoring referral traffic, popular content and most importantly conversions. For social media, all the major platforms provide free analytics and popular social media management tools like Hootsuite, are also very useful in providing effective reporting to analyse the strengths and weaknesses in your social posts.
Ultimately, by proactively referring to content and social analytics, you can pin point the areas of your content marketing strategy that require further development to help your business grow.