How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy in 3 Steps

11 min read
Aug 29, 2016
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Lobster pot restaurant how to develop a content marketing strategy


Insolent words, you might say, but I have reasons to think that marketers don’t know how to make a good use of content.

And I’m not talking about blogs written only for SEO or click-bait articles like “Become a Millionaire Thanks to This Crazy Method!” I’m talking about fine blogs with good posts, where authors really try to help their customers, but, somehow, it doesn’t work out.

So, every couple of months someone announces the death of content marketing. Of course, it's not true. Content marketing is the essential marketing strategy and it’s deadly effective if used right.

So, if you want to know how to develop a content marketing strategy, I’m here to help.

Why you need content on your website

It’s quite simple. The more information you have on your website, the more relevant copy, the higher you are in Google ranking. If there is very little copy on your website, it’s invisible for SEO robots. The more relevant content you have on this website, the more attractive it becomes and the higher you rank in Google search.

Easy, right?

I know it’s not. That’s why, if you want to know more about SEO, you should check my “SEO for Dummies” guide. It will help you to make your first steps in the world of SEO optimized content marketing.

But, of course, content is not only about SEO. It’s about brand awareness, driving website visitors, engaging them and turning them into customers. I know it all sounds like slogans, but here’s how it works.

Brand awareness

If you publish high-quality, informative content that people will love, sooner or later they will start to ask a question: “who made it?.” Another reason is that if you’re posting about something that’s related to the product you’re selling, it means that you are an expert in this area and that you can be trusted.

Driving more website visitors and engaging them

Great content attracts readers. If you decide to create your blog to share your passion and experience with Internet users, they will come back to your website looking for more.

But it’s not only about a blog. If you don’t like writing, you can decide to host a webinar and publish it on your website, you can create a video blog, write an ebook and share with your audience, create an infographic. It’s everything about giving people what they want to read that’s related to your industry.

Gaining new customers

If you post case studies, reports or testimonials proving that your product or service is helpful for your customers, it’s very probable that you will encourage others to give it a try. And if you create highly targeted landing pages, you might increase the number of converting leads.

Now, when you know how important content marketing is, let’s learn how to operate this marketing machine.

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nt to sell more? Do you want to place your brand in the spotlight? Or maybe you want to use content as bait for new leads?

It’s important to document all your ideas and findings. It will help you to be on course for the next couple of months – below steps should help you with it.

1. Describe your main goal for next 12 months

The most popular goals are brand awareness, customer acquisition and engagement, lead generation and thought leadership. Think about them in terms of your business and find out which goal fits it the best. You can also include smaller goals that can be achieved in the meantime.

Here are the goals you can use in your content marketing journey (in most cases Google Analytics:

2. Get to know your customers

Figure out who are you going to speak to. Start with spying on your competition (here’s how to do market research): check out what are they posting and what is their audience. Of course, it’s a bad idea to copy content ideas, but it will give you an overview of what your audience likes to read.

The next step will be checking Google Analytics as it’s the best tool for this kind of job. It allows you to find what’s the age, gender, and interests of your site visitors. This knowledge will help you choose right topics for them.

3. Analyze your competitors’ marketing actions

Do they have a blog? What do they publish on their website apart from sales offers? What their content is focusing on? What about their social media channels? Where are they present? How are they promoting themselves?

If you find responses to these questions, it will give you the idea about what are promotion standards in your industry and how you can exceed them.

4. Define all types of content you would like to produce

Now it’s the time when you should decide what kind of content you’d like to produce. You won’t start a vlog, podcast and a blog at once; you need to choose one medium that will be the most efficient for you.

Writing is the main part of content marketing, but multimedia makes it interesting for the even wider audience. Emailing, posting and blogging is engaging, but video, pictures or infographics are also attractive for your readers! You can also add them to case studies and customer testimonials.

The wise idea is to start with creating landing pages. For example, we at LiveChat have checked which industries like live chat the most. Based on our findings, we have created targeted websites for customer service, eCommerce, hosting, forex, etc.

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them on social media (like Twitter or Linkedin) or thanks to software like Buzzsumo.

You don’t have to ask them to promote your brand (no one will agree on that). You can ask them to write a guest post for you instead as they will promote it afterward.

6. Come up with a schedule

You need to post high-quality content so don’t push yourself to post something every day. In the beginning, posting once or twice a week will be OK. It is important to remember though that the more often you publish, the easier it is to keep your visitors engaged on your site.

Another reason why you should have your editorial calendar is that it’s easy to forget about something if you don’t do it on a daily basis. You can use Google calendar or more advanced software like CoSchedule, but the goal is one: publish at least once a week and plan the promotion carefully.

For example, on Monday you can publish a post and post it on social media. On Tuesday you can send an email to your clients or subscribers and on Wednesday - post on LinkedIn groups. If you’re interested in building your presence on social media, you might want to check out this post: A Guide to the Most Popular Social Media Sites.

7. Analyze your budget and resources

Here comes the sobering part of planning your content marketing strategy.

You need to understand that content creation is a full-time job and that depending on what you want to do, it might be costly. If you want to have a blog, who will write posts for it? If you want video content or podcast, who will record it for you? Do you have enough human resources and money? Maybe you can focus on one piece of content and think about the rest later? You have to evaluate your plan.

Once you have finished all these steps, you have your content marketing strategy for the next year. It’s time to get to work! Now we can move to another important step: choosing the right topics that will keep your audience interested.

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The only way to draw their attention is to post helpful and informative stuff.

What your potential readers will find helpful? Pretty much every hack that helps them deal with their everyday ventures. The most common, safe and successful strategy is to choose topics related to the industry in which you’re an expert.

If you are a part of the travel industry, there’s nothing easier than helping people to organize their holidays. If you sell live chat software like we do, you can focus on communication tips and tricks. The most important part is to share knowledge that your readers will later use in a daily life or their business.

It’s also crucial to adapt your language to your audience’s expectations. If you’re selling rock t-shirts, you cannot speak the same way you’d speak to 40-years-old managers. You probably won’t post about how to iron a suit; you will rather focus on what’s interesting for younger, chilled our audience.

There is also no need to be very formal or to use a hermetic jargon (unless this is what your customers expect). In most cases, it is always more fun to read or listen to information presented in a casual way.

Remember that people won’t necessarily like a topic that is compelling to you. You need to do market research, dig a bit to discover the problems interesting for your potential audience. Checking forums, social media discussions, asking questions on Quora – all that will help you to find topics that draw readers’ attention.

Surprising your followers and making your message entertaining is a great way to keep people interested in content you are producing.

Do the research and make sure that dozens of other marketers haven't already presented the topic you have chosen. But if you decide to use it, try to focus on a different point of view.

A great way to show different angle is to make use of your company’s experience and showing how you have managed to deal with problems. The fact that something was already described hundred times doesn’t mean that is cannot be shown in an interesting way.

Step 3: Do not forget about promotion

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First of all – search engine optimization. Choosing right words and adding them to your text will increase the chance that your web page will be easier to found in a browser. Add a couple of keywords and replace less popular phrases with their buzz-synonyms. Thanks to these small actions your content will be positioned better.

A very popular tool for keyword checking is Google Adwords, but you can also choose less complicated, basic tools. Keyword Eye is said to be one of the best AdWords’ alternatives, UberSuggest, KeywordTool or WordTracker are free and very simple to use.

Remember not to focus on SEO too much, because it’s easy to fall into the trap of creating content that is more “likable” by a search engine. The quality always comes first!

Posting links on social media sites is an absolute minimum. Twitter and LinkedIn are great to post business-related links; even Facebook is still quite effective.

The most important part is to garnish your post, so it’s more seductive to your readers. A nice and relevant picture is always a plus, as well as language adapted to your reader’s education and age.

Pinterest and Instagram are also great to post, especially for picture-friendly industries like food, furniture, architecture or fashion. But for other businesses, it is also beneficial too.

Try targeting the right audience while promoting. Covering real estate? Hit real estate bloggers. Focusing on a stock exchange? Reach audience interested in finances.

It’s all about reliability. If people know that you want to share your knowledge and not only get clicks, they will be more likely to open your links.

The range of your promotion will depend on your creativity.

A very important part of promotion can also be email marketing campaign. Gather email from your customers and website visitors and create your email list. Then, every time you publish something, you can let them know about it.

A great way to promote your content is creating interactive presentations on Slideshare. It’s also good to get interested in social platforms like Quora or Inbound as they allow you to share your links with the world.

Man reading ipad coffee

Give content, gain trust

Three fundamentals of successful content marketing are: strategy, right message and promotion.

Sticking to the strategy will help you to manage all actions more efficiently. The right message means choosing helpful topics and serving them in an interesting way. Promotion is essential for drawing attention to your brand and growing your audience.

There’s one tricky thing you need to remember. Even when you apply to these rules, you should not expect that suddenly people will fall in love with your posts and presentations. You should expect that at the beginning there will be only a few visitors and almost no engagement on their side.

But if you are consistent in delivering great stuff, you will notice that more and more people stop by your site and recognize your business. The rule is simple: the bigger authority you’ll earn, the more likely your customers will be to trust you.

Last but not least, you need to remember that content marketing is not an art for art’s sake. The main idea is that content strategy is about giving and educating, that’s indisputable. But you also should expect that it will influence your business in PR and sales areas.

That seems like a fair trade. You share your knowledge and experience to help people and, in return, you are given their trust and loyalty.

That's the beauty of content marketing. The more you give, the more you can get.

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