How to build a content marketing strategy in 6 easy steps

For this white paper, we are looking at how to build a content marketing strategy in 6 easy steps. We will look at what’s happening today and understand some of the reasons behind failed content marketing activities, as well as explain why its essential your business has a content marketing strategy.

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Why do we need a Content Marketing Strategy?

To understand why we need a strategy, it’s best that we take a step back for a minute.

When you started your business, within your business plan you will have made the decision to have a website, or maybe you haven’t yet, 30% of small businesses in the UK don’t have a website (our infographic on 5 big questions to build an awesome website might help).

Your web designer will say to you that you need a blog and you need to write in it (produce content). Okay, that can’t be too hard right?

So then in my experience, content marketing within small businesses typically falls into either of these categories…

1. No content posted or once in a blue moon, often at the prompting of the web designer who is concerned about SEO.

2. Submitting a weekly/monthly blog post, and just sharing it via social media without any engagement, often doing it to keep the web designer happy.

In both examples, the small business and the web designer are missing the point. In today’s online driven world, it’s not sufficient to just have a website and let it sit there doing nothing (Or very little).

You might well be reading this thinking well my website doesn’t do anything for my business anyway, all my business comes via referrals or word of mouth.

That’s okay, But what are you missing out on?

In a recent survey, it was found that 83% of visits to a business came after an internet search!

And come on, you have a mobile phone? Are you on Facebook? Have you used Google to look for something recently? Exactly. You know deep down that your business is missing a big sector in the marketplace.

So, you need a website, because your website will become so much more than just a website. Your website is your advertising brochure, your local newspaper advert, your billboard poster and your salesman. That’s why it’s so important that you keep it up to date and use all the tools in the box to help promote it.

How does content marketing fit into that?

There are two fundamental reasons and they do harp back to what the web designer was saying at the beginning.

• Customers — Every content post is an opportunity for to demonstrate your knowledge, provide thought leadership and basically convince customers that they should be dealing with you.

• SEO — Every piece of content you post on your website (blog, video etc.) creates the opportunity for you to build a page with some links back to other relevant pages within your website. This is good for search engine optimisation, which will help rank your website in organic listings.

Right, so we now have some clear reasons as to why you need to produce content. This is important because these reasons can be used to form the framework needed for your content marketing strategy.

In my opinion, though, most small businesses fall into the traps highlighted earlier because they pay lip service to understand the value that comes from a clear strategy.

What are the benefits of having a content marketing strategy?

1. A strategy will give you a set of objectives that are aiming to achieve

2. It will enable you to understand why are trying to achieve these objectives

3. The objectives will have some KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) allowing you to measure and assess what you are doing.

4. It will provide clarity in terms of the content themes and frequency you need to produce.

What happens when you don’t have a strategy?

Often businesses miss out on these benefits because they jump from the web designer says we need to write blog posts to writing the posts. The results are as follows.

1. Without a benchmark of what good looks like or even some KPI’s to assess performance, motivation dwindles.

2. Often there are no editorial rules in place, so the content produced is to short, not keyword focused and doesn’t do anything.

3. You quickly run out of things to write about.

4. The blog dies a natural death

What does your content marketing strategy need to include?

So, hopefully, by now you have understood why you need a strategy and what happens if you don’t have a strategy. But what needs to be in your strategy?

1. Define what you want to achieve

I am reminded of a quote I came across recently that I think clearly explains what you should be looking to achieve.

“Our job is not to create content. Our job is to change the world of the people who consume it”

— Andrea Fryrear

My take on this is along these lines.

“Our aim, through producing high-quality content is to inform our current and future customers of the benefits of changing/ dealing with us. We will do this by incorporating our expert knowledge, experience and creation of trust as a hallmark of our content.”

In this statement, you are declaring a benchmark for quality and most importantly you are putting the customer first in your content marketing.

You might be thinking, hang on a minute. What about all this SEO?

Googles algorithm is constantly evolving as it aspires to think like its users. Therefore, if you are producing relevant, high-quality content and you achieve some editorial hallmarks (more on this later) that your customers will like, so will Google.

2. Agree on some objective measures

Objectives need to be exactly that, objectives. These should be established using the S.M.A.R.T acronym.

To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be:

• Specific (simple, sensible, significant).

• Measurable (meaningful, motivating).

• Achievable (agreed, attainable).

• Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).

• Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

If you are not familiar with this, please visit this Mind Tools page for more information.

To help you a bit more with this we produced an infographic that lays out 6 key metrics for blog writing success and I would recommend that you use as part of your objectives.

3. Use KPI’s to assess performance

The KPI’s are the numbers that come from your objectives. Often these are difficult metrics to decide upon and there isn’t really a right or wrong answer as to what the numbers should be. I would suggest that whatever your website traffic is now, the KPI will need to reflect some growth in it.

4. Enshrine editorial hallmarks to benchmark quality

This is commonly an area that is missed and most often lost in the rush to get content produced. But I would argue its massively important for several reasons.

1. It allows you to establish brand awareness so that people recognise you.

2. Quality counts and your audience appreciates it

3. Established rules mean that SEO performance triggers are automatically incorporated.

What are these quality hallmarks?

Branding Rules | Logo Position — Font style (where applicable) Colours

Whether you like it or not, your business is a brand. And branding requires consistency to develop and establish brand awareness. That relates to the logo positioning, colours used, and the font types used. You may also decide that you want your business address to appear or your website address. It’s up to you, but just ensure you define a guideline that allows for a consistent approach.

Word Count on Articles

Setting rules for word counts on articles might seem a bit over the top. But there is a reason behind this. As more content is produced it’s important to use all the tools in the box to stand out from the crowd. Short length articles (articles with less than 1000 words) are less likely to attract a strong organic listing, whereas a longer form article is going to potentially rank higher.

This argument is backed up by some powerful data which you can see here.

Keyword checking

Setting out to write a great article means developing a great title or headline. Often new writers construct the title and then write the article. That’s okay but the danger is that the article can often end up not relating to the title. This is damaging for several reasons;

• It damages your article’s SEO rating by limiting page authority

• Readers look for articles by the headline or title, if the content doesn’t relate readers will not read your article

When you write an article, you will start out with a subject and you may well have looked for some appropriate keywords to use. That’s great, but your headline needs to factor in the keywords and you need to check that you have used the keywords within your post. Once you have established the frequency of keyword usage then you can write a suitable headline.

Copywriting Process

As any human will do, you will make mistakes when writing this article. I will have made a few producing this article. Accept this and implement a copywriting process whereby someone with the appropriate skills can proof the copy and make amendments before the post is published. Your readers will pick up on the errors if you don’t and that will damage your reputation.

5. Establish a timely review process

A key part of the strategy must be to assess the performance of your content marketing. We talked earlier about 6 key metrics to measure blog post success and it is very important that you undertake a regular review of the content you are producing.

What happens next?

You now have a strategy in place that defines what you are trying to achieve, some objective measures and some editorial hallmarks that allow you to benchmark content quality. Now it’s onto the next stage which is building a content planner and we will cover this in our next content marketing post.

6. Adapt and Change to keep improving

With the review process in place, you can objectively see what’s working and what’s not working and using the framework of your strategy, you can sense check your content planning and adjust accordingly. The process of content marketing is one that means you must consistently evolve and change to keep ensure you keep making progress.

Summary

At the start I talked about small businesses but, when I look at small, medium and large company websites all too often I inevitably find either no posts or very old posts. Occasionally I find company websites with regular posts on, but when I check their social media channels there is no engagement or discussion about what has been posted so there is very limited value to come from posting.

It reinforces to me that either there isn’t a strategy or there is a strategy but it’s not being managed.

In either situation follow the points I have made to put together a content marketing strategy that will enable you to reach new customers and grow your business.

The key steps are:

1. Define what you want to achieve

2. Agree on some objective measures

3. Use KPI’s to assess performance

4. Enshrine editorial hallmarks to benchmark quality

5. Establish a timely review process

6. Adapt and change to keep improving

Thank you for reading. I would love to read your comments about what you might do differently. Let me know…

Originally published at www.influence-media.co.uk.

Written by

I’m curious about decisions, strategy, and how to live my best life. Follow me as I write to figure it out and share some wisdom along the way.

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