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Content Marketing Cycle Explained

Content marketers

Every piece of content your brand creates has a life cycle. Every blog, video, infographic, or podcast goes through similar stages from its conception to the time it’s archived. By understanding the content marketing cycle, marketers understand the big picture and can leverage each phase of the cycle to their advantage. 

Here’s a look at the content marketing cycle explained by each phase:

  1. Research your audience

Before you get started, you need to understand who your audience is. Take some time to review your metrics to help you better define your target market. Aside from defining who they are, knowing what challenges they face is helpful. Ideally, your product or service can be positioned as a solution to one of these challenges. 

Tools to help: Hubspot offers a customer persona template you can use to define your model customer. 

  1. Set goals

What are you hoping to accomplish by creating branded content? State the goal or intent of your content marketing strategy, along with KPIs you’ll use to measure your success.

Your goal should be fairly detailed, as opposed to a general goal of “getting more visitors” or “increasing sales.” To help, many marketers set SMART goals; an acronym encouraging them to craft well-thought-out goals. SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable 
  • Relevant
  • Time-sensitive

Write your goals down. It’s important to have them on paper where everyone can see them; otherwise, they’re quickly forgotten.

  1. Plan a content strategy

Before you start brainstorming topics, work through your content strategy. Review 

your sales funnel to identify the stages you’d like to reach customers at. Consider the type of content they’d respond to and the channels you’ll use to publish or promote it. Consider the resources you’ll need to create content and how frequently you’d like to publish it. 

Tools to help: SEMRush has a content marketing strategy template you can use. 

  1. Create content

It’s time to start crafting content, but you need to get organized to do so successfully. Consider using a content calendar to track things like assignment due dates and publication dates. Many marketing teams find project management software helpful to track each piece of content through a defined workflow. 

During the creation phase, you’ll identify keywords, brainstorm topics, assign content to writers, videographers, or editors, and review the content before it goes live. 

Tools to help: Project management software like Monday or Asana can aid in content creation. 

  1. Distribute your content

Publishing your content falls under distribution. Whether you publish an article to your blog or share a video on your YouTube channel, distribution is about more than releasing content; it’s about publishing it on the right channel at the right time. 

Distribution isn’t just reserved for your channels either, it includes paid media. Perhaps there’s an e-book that’s performing well that you’d like to use in a lead gen campaign on LinkedIn. Consider investing some advertising dollars into it to boost its distribution to a broader audience.

Most brands use a handful of owned and paid distribution channels to connect with their audience. 

  1. Engage your audience

Customers who interact with your content are inclined to engage with it. Encourage engagement by responding to comments quickly. Consider taking the initiative and asking your followers what they thought of a recent article or infographic. Start a conversation—that’s really what engagement is all about: getting customers interested and talking about your product. 

  1. Analyze your efforts

Content marketing requires a fair amount of time and money. To ensure your efforts are worthy investments, check your metrics regularly. Revisit your content goals and the KPIs you planned to monitor. 

Which KPIs are brands monitoring? Take a look at these commonly-watched metrics:

To track conversions, marketers watch: 

  • Landing page conversions
  • Return customers 
  • Number of leads
  • Sales

To measure engagement, marketers watch: 

  • Organic traffic
  • Time on page
  • Click-through 
  • Bounce rates

To monitor brand awareness, marketers watch:

  • Social likes and shares
  • @brand mentions on social
  • #hashtag use
  • Comments
  • Referral traffic
  • Backlinks

Use your metrics to make adjustments and optimize your strategy, but keep in mind content marketing is a long-term strategy. In other words, you won’t see dramatic results initially, but your effectiveness should grow over time. 

With the content marketing cycle explained, marketers can see how each piece of content works through various stages, which is important to consider in content logistics. While content creation is essential, planning ushers content from one stage to the next, helping your brand reach customers.

Need a little help with content marketing strategy and creation? can help. Learn more about our scalable solutions.