A content strategy is an important part of your marketing efforts. Whether you only run a small blog, an ecommerce shop or something bigger, without a solid content strategy plan in place, you are only shooting in the dark. Don’t expect to hit anything like that. This post, will help you learn how to create a content strategy that will help you succeed on the Internet and beyond. With this knowledge in hand, you’ll be able to create content that is more relevant and useful to your audience.
Why is Content Strategy Important?
Creating content just for the sake of creating it, won’t cut it anymore. More content doesn’t mean this content will actually be useful to your target audience enough for them to become leads, customers and advocates of your business. You need to have a content strategy in place for this to happen.
Content strategy is a part of your overall marketing plan that serves to deal with different types of content media you create and own. This can include written content such as blog posts, landing pages and whitepapers or visual content such as videos, infographics or images, just to name a few.
In fact, if you need further proof of how important developing a content strategy is, consider the research Content Marketing Institute (CMI) is doing among Business-to-Business (B2B) companies every year. 37% of respondents have a documented content marketing strategy.
In other words, those that don’t have a content strategy are stumbling in the dark, while those that do know exactly where they need to go and what they need to do in order to reach their goals.
How to Create a Content Strategy? Step by Step Guide
Now that you hopefully understand the importance of having it, let’s take a look at how to create a content strategy. Of course, depending on your size, industry, audience and some other factors, this may look slightly different for everyone, but here’s at least a basic idea. You can use this to build upon further.
- What is your goal?
What are you trying to accomplish with your content? Why do you need a content strategy in the first place? Without having clear goals you strive towards, your plan will likely lead nowhere and producing content will prove to be a waste of time.
- Who is your target audience?
Who are you creating content for? This is your target audience. Make sure you clearly define your “buyer persona”.
I’ll go deeper into what a buyer persona is in one of the future posts, but for know, we can use this definition from HubSpot, which says:
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.
Whether you’re just starting out or have been creating content for awhile, knowing who your target audience is will help you content that is relevant and useful to them.
- Determine the type of content you will create
People usually start with blog posts. But perhaps this isn’t the type of content that resonates with your target audience in the best possible way. This is why it’s necessary to know your target audience enough to know the type of content they like the most.
You don’t have to stick with blog posts. Your content can be more visual, like YouTube videos, handy infographics, or you can create a podcast and interview influencers in your industry or write an ebook and be an influencer yourself. The possibilities are almost endless when it comes to the type of content you can create.
- Come up with some content ideas
At this stage, you can start brainstorming some ideas for your content. “Surprisingly”, you can find these pretty much anywhere, not just online. Read books and other people’s blogs for instance. Or you can also get ideas from the comments on your own blog or in places like online forums, Quora or Reddit.
One place that I often go to when I’m stuck for ideas is Buzzsumo. It’s great for researching your next content as it provides a list of articles on a given topic that are getting shared on the Internet the most.
- What content management system (CMS) to use?
You need a place where you can manage your content. That is a content management system or CMS for short. For instance, this blog is created in WordPress. It’s the most popular, but you can also use Coschedule, ModX, Joomla, Drupal and many others.
- Don’t forget to audit your content from time to time
From time to time (at least once per year) you should step back and review your content strategy. Is it providing the results you were hoping for? Can you do something differently to improve the content you are delivering to your audience?
Never be fully happy with your content, always aim to make it better for your audience.
- Create, publish and organize your content
We’ve finally come to the fun part. Now that you know what type of content will resonate the best with your target audience, it’s time to create and publish it. But this isn’t where your content efforts end. You also need to organize your content. An editorial calendar is a great tool to keep your content on the right track and you should also have a social media content calendar to help you promote your content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, Pinterest or any other social your audience might be on.
This all may look like a lot to take in, especially for someone who is just starting to create his content and may not have a target audience figured out yet, but hopefully this post will give you a good idea how to create a content strategy that’s going to be effective and hits the right notes with your audience.
Do you have any comments on how to create a content strategy or some questions? Let me know in the comments below.