You know the statistics, and you’ve read the white papers: Traditional advertising is out, and content marketing is in. So, you pour yourself a cup of coffee, roll up your sleeves, and tap out a blog. You’ve taken the first step toward developing a content marketing campaign, but what next? One blog isn’t going to cut it. There’s a lot of content out there, and you need to make sure your audience hears your voice. That requires dedication and a regular stream of fresh material. In fact, companies publishing 16 or more blogs every month get almost 3.5 times more traffic than companies publishing four or less blogs, according to statistics gathered by HubSpot. How are you going to keep up with those demands? What are you going to say? What methods are you going to use to support your blog posts? The answers are the basis for your online content marketing strategy.
Why You Need an Online Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing offers significantly better results than traditional advertising. Internet users now see in excess of 5,000 advertisements every day, leading to a global increase in the use of ad blocking software, meaning 615 million devices now have some form of ad blocker installed. Content marketing flips traditional advertising on its head by providing valuable content that customers want to see, encouraging them to search for your brand. Unfortunately, content marketing involves a little more than occasionally posting on a company blog or sharing a few memes on your corporate Facebook profile. You need to deliver regular content that’s well-crafted, valuable, and easy to find. Hitting all those targets takes time and resources. And if you want to see a good return on your investment, you need to have a good strategy.
Creating a Content Marketing Strategy That Works
Anybody can create content and post it online, but that isn’t the same thing as having a successful online content marketing strategy. If you put the work in, it’s possible to reap the rewards.
Define Your Goals
What are you trying to achieve with your marketing efforts? It may seem like a question with an obvious answer, but it pays to have a strong understanding of your goals for each marketing campaign you run. For example, you may want to:
- Increase the number of click-throughs on your company website
- Encourage people to subscribe to a mailing list
- Target a new demographic on social media to widen your traditional customer base
- Engage with existing customers to improve subscriber retention
A complete grasp of what you hope to achieve is essential for your online content marketing strategy. Without it, you can’t define your metric for success, you can’t evaluate the return on your investment, and you can’t ensure the members of your creative team (including any freelancers) are working towards the same goal. A lack of focus reduces efficiency, and may cost you money.
Do Your Research
It’s tempting to jump straight into creation when you have ideas buzzing around your brain and you want to share them with the world. But before you get started, ask yourself:
Who are you pitching at?
If you already have a customer database, dig into your data to identify the kinds of people who commonly buy your products and services. These people are your core demographic, and if you want to engage with them through your online content, you need to create content they want to see. This style of targeted content resonates with readers, who feel like you’re speaking directly to them about the things they care about.
What do people want to know?
This is the big one. You need to make sure your content is audience-centric. Don’t create content and then look for a market for it; identify a market and then create content for it. It doesn’t matter how well-written your blog posts are if nobody is interested, so always write what an audience wants to know, rather than writing what you want to write about.
What are your competitors doing?
You need to keep an eye on what your peers are up to. No, that doesn’t mean imitating them — but if everyone is talking about a subject, then that usually means it’s worth talking about. Now you just need to find your own unique way of delivering the goods.
Which online platforms should you use?
Blogging is just the start. You need to consider which other social media platforms are good for engaging with your readers. Do you want to tap into the youth culture of Instagram, or do you want to make professional contacts through LinkedIn?
Create Your Content
You know what you need to say, and you know who you need to say it to. Now it’s time to start creating. Quality content underpins everything. The best strategy in the world won’t save your campaign if the content isn’t up to scratch, so every piece must be:
- Well-written: Make every piece engaging. Format it correctly. Edit it professionally. Proofread to catch those errors that undermine the professionalism of your content.
- Factually accurate: If you’re quoting facts and figures, make sure they’re accurate. You need your audience to trust you.
- Useful: Beautiful prose is useless if you aren’t delivering something truly valuable. Keep in mind that content marketing revolves around the idea of providing content that readers need.
Once your first piece of content is ready, don’t stop there. A good online content marketing strategy incorporates a content plan that covers the frequency of your releases and what subjects you intend to cover. Plans are particularly useful if you have to outsource work, as they make it easier to stick to your publication deadlines, as well as providing a complete overview of your marketing approach.
Measure Your Success
Once your content is out in the big wide world, don’t forget about it. Keep your goal in mind, and use whatever metrics you have in place to evaluate your success. Use your findings as part of your strategy to refine your approach, taking advantage of what works and ditching what doesn’t.
Takeaway: A Winning Strategy
Most companies understand the need for content marketing. Statistics from the Content Marketing Institute reveal that only 15 percent of business-to-business companies that don’t intend to develop a content marketing strategy feel it’s not important or not needed. But the demands of maintaining a well-structured strategy leads to 44 percent of companies not develop a strategy due to lack of time, while 67 percent are unable to because they lack the staff. A good strategy helps here, too. With a firm grasp of what you hope to achieve, a detailed content plan or schedule, a brief clearly defining the style and type of content you need, and a metric for measuring success, it’s much easier to employ freelancers for content creation while ensuring everybody is on the same page, working together efficiently towards a common goal.