How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy in 9 Easy Steps

Updated: 5 March 2022

Content Marketing Institute research in 2020 shows that 60% of the most successful participants use a documented content marketing strategy. Only 21% of the least successful ones use one. These statistics alone emphasise the importance of content marketing strategies in business.

Let’s define the term and investigate how to develop a content marketing strategy in 9 steps


What is a Content Marketing Strategy?

“At its core, your content marketing strategy is your “why.” Why you are creating content, who you are helping, and how you will help them in a way no one else can. Organizations typically use content marketing to build an audience and to achieve at least one of these profitable results: increased revenue, lower costs, or better customers.”

Content Marketing Institute

How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy

01. Define Your Vision & Objectives

Are you building a new brand? Growing or maintaining the growth of an existing one? Make the content marketing objectives for your brand clear. Describe your vision. A vision of where you want to end up clarifies and defines the steps you should take to get there.

Consider the following:-

  • What to do to build awareness and reinforce positive perceptions in your brand
  • How to increase website traffic
  • The best ways to reach and grow your target audience
  • How to demonstrate your industry expertise

02. Write Your Brand Story

Your brand story is exactly that – a story about your brand. Your brand story should include any facts and feelings that you have about your brand. Design it to enhance the personal relationship between your audience and yourself. Help your audience to understand where your brand originated, where it is now and where you’re going with it. Storytelling is an art and a brand story should grow an emotional bond between your audience and your brand.

Include the following:-

  • Define your brand personality by using a tone that will relay what your brand is all about to your readers. Communicate your mission and vision in a way that will endear your brand to your audience.
  • Be human. Relay your passion by describing challenges and the way you’ve gotten through them in the past. Use emotion to express how you’ve learnt from your journey to-date. Express your dreams and vision moving forward.
  • Base the concept of your story on fact and real life, but don’t be afraid to use fictional characters. Many brands have mascots and including one in your story helps to create a connection with your audience.
  • Enhance the text imagery you create with images and video clips. This improves the impact and authenticity of your brand story.
  • Show how your brand has made a difference in the lives of others and how it will continue to do so. Testimonials and reviews from happy clientele will bolster audience impressions of your brand.
  • Position your brand story to create the most impact. Displaying it on your website’s home page or as a pinned post in your blog can enhance audience interest. Including your story on your social media pages will also increase its exposure.

Printful’s Guide to Brand Storytelling

03. Minimise Risk

Check your proposed content to cut down any risk factors. Make sure that you align your content with the vision for your brand.

Consider the following to minimise risk:-

  • Make sure that your focus messages target your chosen audience. Don’t generalise. Your team needs to understand what is relevant and what is superfluous.
  • Be selective when you choose your content marketing channels. Identify which will promote your vision and benefit your audience.
  • Include authentic, concise and pertinent content that promotes your brand. Release regular brand guidelines to inform all involved about your messages and audience. There should be no grey areas when it comes to content strategy maintenance.

04. Identify Your Target Audience

It is important that you identify the correct audience that you want to target. Maximise exposure to those users that will benefit most from your product or service. Carry out comprehensive user research to enhance the success of your strategy.

Consider the following points when conducting user research:-

  • Take each platform you market your content through into account. Social media content, for example, differs from traditional or website content. Identify which sectors of your audience will find value across different platforms and design your content to suit.
  • Your audience consists of existing and potential customers, and future business allies or collaborators. Consider the differences between these when you conduct research. Define which strategy will be effective for each.
  • Take your research results into account when you build your brand ethic. Define the tone you need to market best to your target audience and engage them personally. Display empathy and highlight the benefits of your brand.

05. Create a User Persona

After you’ve conducted user research and drawn your conclusions, create a persona. This should define your primary user and assist to highlight which strategies will work best to reach your target audience. Promote your brand with empathetic and authentic content to build your rapport and drive conversions.

Take the following into account when you build a user persona:-

  • Give your persona a name and a face to enable your team to see your audience in a more personal light. This will enhance the accuracy of your targeted content.
  • Assign your persona a job title. List the responsibilities of such a title and identify how your brand assists with simplifying these.  
  • Include demographics in your persona. Including gender, age, ethnicity, education, marital status, location and interests increases persona accuracy. When you define your persona you improve insights into your target audience. Zone in on what your audience’s “needs” and “wants” are and how your brand can best benefit their lives.
  • Highlight your persona’s family, social, economic and technological environment. You are more able to assess your audience’s wants and needs if you have a background to focus on.
  • Format your persona in a simple, easy-to-read manner. Display clear details for quick reference.

User Persona Example (Image: Justinmind)

06. Map Your Content

Once you have a user persona, identify how your content will best impact your audience by building a content map . This helps you to understand where each stage of your content engages your audience. Map out how each piece of content promotes your brand and how it connects your audience to the next stage of your sales funnel.

Content Mapping Steps (Image: Alexa)

07. Re-read and Edit Your Brand Story

Once you’ve created your user persona, mapped your content and grown your knowledge of your audience, review your brand story. It will amaze you when you see how much you need to reword and restyle. Greater audience awareness identifies changes needed in the tone of your content. You will also identify new keywords you should focus on.

08. Develop a Media Plan

Devise a media plan consistent with the content marketing strategy you’ve developed. The user research you’ve done has improved your understanding of your target audience. This knowledge will will assist in identifying how you develop your media plan, and which media you’ll use.

Consider the following when developing your media plan:-

  • Include specific campaigns on platforms or channels that gain the best exposure. Concentrate on their goals, timelines and budgets.
  • Time individual articles and posts to best reach your target audience. Research which times of the day and days of the week to post or publish. Optimise your content’s exposure with strategic posting. 
  • Familiarise yourself with the different types of media. Decide which will give you the most positive brand impact generally, and for specific campaigns.
  • Create quality content but don’t flood the media market. Less is more. Releasing effective content at opportune times impact more than a barrage of meaningless brand content.

09. Consistently Measure Your Strategic Success

Keep a close watch on the success of your strategy and track your formal and informal campaigns. The quantitative feedback you receive allows you to make appropriate adjustments where and when needed. Analytical sites and software helps to assess strategic consistency and real-time engagement data.

A Quantitative Feedback Example (image: researchgate)


Summary

A good content marketing strategy means being consistent with your brand principles, and your goals and vision. Others sectors of a strategy may need occasional updating so assess these through a constant scrutiny of analytics and click-through rates on adverts, emails or website forms. A professional content marketer can assist you with this assessment.

Developing a content marketing strategy might seem like a lot of work but if you adhere to the steps mentioned, you will have your finger on the proverbial pulse that is your content. Decisions you will be more informed, knowledgeable and beneficial to the growth of your brand and your conversion rates. You’ll also be on the right side of the statistics!

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