Content is king – which means content marketing is one of the most influential and long-standing ways to attract, share, and engage with a limitless and scalable audience.
Before we get into the how-to of content marketing strategy planning, let's start with the basics: What is content and what does it achieve?
Content is anything you publish that people can interact with. In the internet age, this includes blog posts, social media posts, video content, podcasts, and even presentations and infographics. But the internet didn't invent content — it’s been around for decades. In traditional publishing, brands and companies create ad content for TV stations to broadcast and sponsor big games to get their content in front of people.
While the internet has made it easy to create and publish content using the ubiquitous smartphone, for savvy and strategic businesses and brands, the goal remains the same – to get their message in front of as many people as possible to gain attention and grow their customer base.
Effective content, therefore, starts from the publisher's intent, which is best laid out in a content marketing strategy. Before hitting publish on any content, you want to ensure you have clear goals, distribution channels, and an audience in mind. This article discusses all these and more. In it, we'll discuss:
- What is a content marketing strategy?
- How to create content marketing strategy
- How to use content marketing
- Useful content strategy tools
What is a content strategy?
A content marketing strategy is a detailed plan for creating, publishing, and maintaining relevant content to attract, engage, and provide value to your target market in the form of education, entertainment, or both.
The best content strategy encompasses and synchronizes everything you publish. This includes blogs, social media posts, and brand announcements. Content strategy influences all marketing activities and guides marketing teams to unify their activities to achieve their goals.
It's important to note that content strategy is not only about what you publish. It is also how you publish, e.g.:
- Frequency: How often do you post?
- Channels: Where do you post?
- Tone: How do you talk about your subjects?
Intentional or not, your content marketing strategy shapes the way customers view and experience your brand over time. This is why it's crucial to plan and write a content strategy to support your marketing teams in representing the business well and achieving set goals. A few things to include in your content strategy are:
- Editorial calendars
- Customer and market segments
- Multi-channel marketing plans
- Roles and responsibilities of the marketing team members
From the start, work towards creating a balanced content marketing strategy by including content that sells and content that helps. A good rule of thumb is to work with the 80/20 principle — 80% content that helps and 20% that sells.
How effective is content marketing?
Good and relevant content brings in returns in perpetuity. This can be through attracting and converting new customers, referrals, fans, brand advocates, and returning customers.
As of 2022, surveys show that 84% of organizations have an active content marketing strategy, and three out of four marketing teams believe content marketing is useful. 79% of companies use content marketing to generate quality leads, and the content marketing industry is expected to grow at a 15.73% rate over the next couple of years.
In simple words, content marketing works. It puts your brand in front of potential and existing customers and increases the chances that your product is one of the first to come to mind.
How to create the best content marketing strategy
The first step to creating the best content marketing strategy is identifying and understanding your target market or audience. Spend time listening to and understanding their needs so you can use content to answer their questions and position your brand as a solution. Other important tips for creating an effective content marketing strategy include:
Understanding brand positioning
Clearly defined brand positioning helps you build the right image of your brand across multiple channels, providing a consistent experience for prospects and customers regardless of where they come across your content. Thinking through the following will help define your brand positioning:
- Market: Define your ideal customer personas. Who are the people who buy and use your product? What are their needs? What do they engage with, e.g., educational or entertaining content?
- Product: What is your business or product's unique value? What problems do you solve? What makes it a better choice than other similar products? How can you highlight your unique qualities? How best can you communicate your edge to customers?
- Competitors: What is the competitive landscape like? How do your key competitors market their products and engage with customers? What marketing strategies have worked best for them? What hasn't worked?
Create realistic goals and KPIs
As you get clearer on your brand positioning, you can start to set relevant and realistic goals and KPIs to align marketing activities and track progress as you go. Depending on your marketing goals and priorities, you'll have different metrics and KPIs for different goals and content types.
For example, if your marketing goal is to increase sales and conversions by 10%, tracking the number of likes you get on social media isn’t useful. Instead, monitoring metrics directly related to conversions, such as page views, link clicks, and bounce rate, would get you closer to your goal. Important content marketing metrics to look out for include:
- Interactions and social sharing: When viewers or visitors to your website engage with and share your content, this increases your reach and shows that you are meeting their needs and providing value.
- Page bounce rate: Monitoring bounce rate shows the percentage of readers or website visitors who spend only a short time on your content before leaving. A high bounce rate may indicate that your content isn't helpful to your target audience.
- CTR (click-through rate): Click-through rate shows the number of times that links in your content are clicked on compared to the total number of content impressions.
- Average time spent on page: How long people spend on your content is a strong indicator of the value it provides. It's also helpful to determine the type or focus of content you need to improve or double down on.
- Quality of inbound links: Backlinks place your brand higher on search engines. However, the quality of these links is just as important (if not more important) than the quantity. Search engines judge inbound links from high-quality websites as trustworthy and recommendable compared to low-quality websites.
Categorize your marketing goals into short- and long-term groups and prioritize the most critical metrics. Once you're clear on the main goals and KPIs to track, you can consistently measure the marketing analytics using a marketing project management tool.
Research your target audience and their needs
At this point, you know a bit about your target market. However, learning more details helps enrich your content marketing strategy.
During brand positioning, you may have conducted high-level market and customer research. Now it's time to speak to customers, organize focus groups and polls, and get to the core of their needs and expectations.
To create content for a particular customer persona, you must have real and accurate information about their challenges, habits, and preferences. If you have more than one customer persona, write them all out and create content for each one. This way, when people find your content, they feel as if it was tailor-made for them and their particular needs.
Establish the best channels for the content
Your content marketing strategy varies based on your target audience's key features, e.g., their demographic, psychographic, behavioral, and firmographic characteristics.
Study their habits and choose channels where they can find and interact with your content without hassle. If your audience prefers long-form blog posts, you may opt to publish your content on your website or a publishing site like Medium or Substack. If your audience likes quick bites and trendy content, you may opt for establishing a strong presence on Twitter.
Your chosen channels will fall into one or more of the four key content marketing channels explained below:
Organic content marketing brings people to your website by providing value to them rather than directly advertising your products. An effective organic content marketing strategy would include SEO to convince search engines that your website is useful and relevant to your market.
An organic content strategy often takes time to bring in results and should be executed with the utmost care, as it can have a very long lifespan compared to other channels (e.g., paid channels). Organic content is where you create lasting sources of traffic and information about your brand and products to help transform users into potential clients. Examples of organic content include:
- Website and blog content
- Thought leadership posts
- Social media posts
Paid content is content you pay a third party to publish. It's typically used to promote your business, products, services, or organic content to drive more traffic and increase conversions.
Paid content does not last as long as organic content but may bring quick results, like page views, increased impressions, and link clicks. Search engines and social media sites offer paid media advertising solutions you can choose from to achieve your marketing goals, e.g., Google's Pay Per Click (PPC), Facebook ads, LinkedIn sponsored content, etc.
Another rising form of paid content marketing is by working with influencers who can share your products with their audience to increase exposure and traffic to your website and products.
Owned content encompasses your unique brand assets. This is the content you have complete control over, e.g., your website, blog content, and social media posts. Owned content is an extension of your brand or business. Prospects and customers can find the most accurate information on your owned content channels.
Owned content channels represent your business and product and are often the best channels to announce company news, share internal changes, and cultivate your brand tone, voice, and reputation.
Earned content can be the most influential form of content. It is most similar to paid content, except that you must earn it instead of pay for it.
How can you earn content? By providing value and establishing a reputable brand and product that convinces people to share your content, even without asking them to. In other words, earned media is word of mouth, resulting in voluntary sharing with social networks, referrals and recommendations, and positive reviews and testimonials.
Establish which type of content will work best
Figuring out the type of content to create should largely depend on your audience and budget. Ask yourself:
- How do they currently find information?
- Where do they have conversations and seek solutions to new problems?
- How tech-savvy are they?
- Do they look for in-depth answers and solutions or band-aids until they encounter a new problem?
These questions help you determine what to prioritize at the start and whether to invest in certain types of content, e.g., a live webinar or a short blog post. Consider your budget and resources before committing to creating a particular type of content.
- Will you be able to sustain your content marketing strategy once you begin?
- Do you have the resources and skills to repurpose and share your content across multiple platforms, or is it best to focus on only one type of content?
Below we have listed the most common content types for marketing teams of any size to start with:
Blog posts are content published on a company website. They help explain a product, share information relating to it, and provide value to website visitors. When creating blog posts, it is best to maintain a regular publishing schedule, as this creates consistency for your visitors and boosts rankings on search engines.
When you publish regularly, you can cover more useful topics for your audience and gain traction as a leader within your niche. In a debate between quantity and quality, always go with quality blog posts as they bring in the best results over time. Timeless and valuable blog posts attract readers and website visitors long after publication. Experiment with the length of your posts to see if your audience prefers to consume longer or shorter content.
Thought leadership posts
Thought leadership content helps solidify your authority in your industry and niche. Let's imagine you run a company in the productivity and time management space. Publishing content about your daily routine, habits, and science-backed tips to improve productivity at work would add immensely to your overall content strategy.
Thought leadership content is based on personal experience and knowledge. By sharing your takes on how to improve or manage issues in your space, you create valuable content that continues to attract visitors to your site.
Thought leadership posts may be published on your website or in industry-leading publications and magazines. These sites would then link back to your website and product, adding strong backlinks that boost your search engine ranking and credibility.
Ebooks are more in-depth than blog posts. After reading a blog post on your website, visitors may want more information. Ebooks are the perfect way to deliver it. They are easily downloadable by clicking on a call-to-action button or completing a lead form. Being downloadable creates a feeling of ownership for readers. They now own this piece of content with answers to their problems.
Ebooks help generate leads and establish to the marketing team which segment of your audience is particularly interested in your products and solutions. Ebooks are generally middle of the funnel content, which simply means that they help to convert the traffic you generate into leads and begin a relationship you can nurture.
Video content can be educational, informational, or entertaining. They may also be short-form, such as Instagram Reels, or long-form, e.g., YouTube videos.
Creating video content is a great way to engage your audience and show a more human side of your brand. Unlike blog posts and other written content, videos are often presented by a human being, fostering trust and building rapport with your audience. Even in cases where the videos are animated and narrated by a voiceover, they are still more personable than written content.
An added benefit of videos is that they are shareable. You do not have to host your videos on your website as they are heavier than text and can make your website run slower. Instead, you can host them on a platform like YouTube and share them easily on your website and other social media accounts.
White papers are detailed reports that inform readers about an issue and present your company's point of view or solution. They help readers understand a subject and gather more information to solve a problem, whether they decide to use your product or not.
Marketing teams can use white papers to highlight the features of a new product and how it helps to solve a specific issue. Most marketing assets are flashy and attractive, with an obvious aim to attract and convert new leads. White papers, on the other hand, provide factual or technical evidence about problems and your organization's solutions.
A slide deck is a visual presentation summarizing a talk or presentation. They can be used to support storytelling and as content marketing material to share the key takeaways after an event or educational marketing activity.
Slide decks are similar to "image carousels" often shared on social media sites like Instagram. These carousels summarize the main points of any subject in an attractive and easily readable way, making it easy for viewers to gain knowledge quickly. Content marketers can use slide decks as visual marketing presentations or tutorials on using your product or service.
Case studies, also called customer success stories, shine a light on your organization's processes and solutions by sharing successful customer projects. They help to build trust and credibility in how your organization works. Their purpose is to show how your product or service helps real customers succeed.
Demo content is created to show prospects and new users how to use your product. They help demonstrate product or service use cases relevant to the prospect or customer's needs. For example, Wrike's demo shows why Wrike is the most versatile work management platform for teams, regardless of size.
Demo content uses placeholder customer data to show an active working process of the product or service. It’s a great way to automate the first stages of the buying process where prospects are looking to find out more about your product. It also allows prospects to test the product in a safe space before buying.
Create a content strategy process
It's finally time to create your content strategy process and put together all you've learned above into action. Foolproof your content strategy process by following the five steps below:
Brainstorm and research your ideas
Ensure your ideas align with your target audience and can produce results that are in line with your marketing goals.
Create a content strategy roadmap
Create a concrete roadmap for how you will achieve your overall marketing goals. Break this into mini-projects and actionable tasks with due dates that your marketing teams and any external collaborators can understand and follow.
Finalize your resources
Now it's time to bring together all the resources you'll need to execute your content marketing strategy. These can include everything from editorial calendars to templates to bring harmony and cohesion to your entire strategy. Ensure your team members know where to locate and store marketing materials for easy collaboration.
Set deadlines for publication
When you're sure you have all you need, including content marketing tools for managing your ongoing projects, begin to assign tasks and due dates to team members and their supporting teams. Make sure to organize your projects so that each one feeds into the next.
For example, you may create a white paper to launch a new product and then write a series of blog posts from the white paper. Each blog post can be turned into a video you can share on social media to attract even more shares.
Track the results
Once your marketing activities are in motion, it's time to set up and track the results based on the metrics and KPIs set earlier. You need collaborative marketing project management software to compile, display, and distribute scheduled marketing reports to keep the entire team on the same page.
Why use Wrike as your content strategy tool?
Planning and organizing your projects is critical to success when executing a content marketing strategy. It doesn't matter how detailed your strategy is if it is not properly broken down into actionable projects and tasks on a clear and synchronized timeline.
Wrike provides a secure collaborative project management tool for internal teams and marketing agencies to plan, launch, execute, and track marketing activities. You can gather market research, put together a content roadmap, and detail all aspects of your content marketing strategy in one place. Here’s how to put together and execute your content strategy using Wrike:
Build a content roadmap and break it into actionable projects and tasks in Wrike. Create folders for the different projects, e.g., social media posts and blog content. Within these folders, you can create tasks, such as post creation, publishing, promotion, and analytics.
This helps you stay organized and align goals with day-to-day operational activities. You can easily track your progress on all ongoing projects and stay aware of what's coming next. Make sure you invite team members and share relevant projects and tasks.
Automate simple tasks
Use Wrike to automate repetitive yet necessary tasks like assets and work approvals, sending scheduled marketing reports, and reminding team members of upcoming tasks. Wrike integrates with other useful content marketing software tools, including WordPress, Hubspot, Eventbrite, and MailChimp, making it easy to compile insights and automate overlapping tasks.
Categorize different types of content
Categorize your content types using folders and subfolders for clarity. For example, you may have a folder for Instagram marketing management and subfolders for Reels, Posts, and Stories.
Enable effective channels of collaboration
Invite team members and collaborators to the projects they're involved in and enable adequate levels of access and permissions they need to complete their tasks. Whereas an editor may need higher permissions levels to grant approvals and sign off on completed blog posts, contributing writers may only need access to submit and review their content.
Use our array of free creative templates
Using templates cuts work time down significantly and helps maintain a structure and process for handling tasks and creating new content. Ensure you take advantage of Wrike's complete library of templates, including content calendars, communication plan templates, and even one for content marketing operations.
Assign tasks to team members with clear deadlines and notifications. You can set up a shared dashboard for the team to stay up to date on the most important priorities and upcoming deadlines. When there are subtasks and dependencies on a specific task, the assigned team member has added incentives to deliver their work on time, keeping your projects on schedule.
Finally, monitor ongoing campaigns against set metrics and track your results in Wrike to gain actionable insights into how various aspects of your content marketing strategy are performing. Wrike delivers comprehensive real-time data from your integrated marketing tools and Wrike itself.
Are you ready to create a content marketing strategy to set your business up for more marketing success? Get started with a free two-week trial of Wrike's marketing management software today.