22nd November 2022

How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy

Aran Noden

If your business has identified content as a key avenue for your marketing activities, you should prepare a content marketing strategy. Creating a content marketing strategy is critical, as it will focus and structure your activities, allow you to set goals and metrics by which your success can be measured.

There are many different ways to approach a content marketing strategy, but there are some fundamental elements that it should include. At I-COM, we have nearly twenty years of experience in content marketing and while our methods are constantly evolving, the foundation of our work has always been to deliver what our clients need as part of their content marketing efforts. Here, we will explain where you should begin with a content marketing strategy, how to populate it with activities, and how to evaluate it honestly so that you can celebrate your successes, or learn how to improve your efforts next time.

Set your content strategy objectives

The first step in your content strategy should be to set specific goals. What do you want to achieve with your content strategy? Ideally, these goals should act as key performance indicators (KPIs) that are precise, measurable and realistic. This will focus your strategy and help you to decide on the ideas or activities you want to pursue. It will also enable you to monitor and evaluate your success, learn from mistakes, identify and address gaps in your team’s capacity to carry out activities, and help you to build up a base of evidence to inform future content marketing strategies.

If you are unsure how to set content marketing KPIs, you can start by looking at areas where your business is falling short. Has website traffic remained steady over the last 12 months, or has it fallen? Has your website dropped on the Google Search results page for relevant keywords? Are fewer people searching for your brand by name? This kind of research can help you to maximise your impact by setting clear priorities, and it is simple to measure progress in all of these areas.

It is also important to ask whether increasing your content marketing efforts is the right approach to deliver on the KPIs you want to meet. Content marketing is fantastic for top of the funnel KPIs such as boosting traffic, generating engagement, raising brand awareness, and increasing the visibility of a website in search results - these will feed into the success further down the funnel, or, when users are ready to convert and have trust and confidence in your brand. For KPIs set nearer the bottom of the funnel (i.e. generating immediate revenue when launching a new product), you may need to consider additional marketing channels in alongside content marketing, particularly if you have not been investing time and effort into your content creation thus far. Simply posting a blog out of the blue upon the launch of a product will not make much headway - this is why an ongoing content marketing strategy is important.

At I-COM, our strategies will usually include multiple KPIs in collaboration with our clients - we propose a combination of activities that work in tandem to deliver the desired outcomes. There are often multiple ways to approach a marketing goal, and deciding which one will work best gets easier with experience. However, if you can follow the simple tips in this blog to give your content marketing structure, you can test it out, see what works, and improve on it next time.

Identify content opportunities

There are many different types of content you might develop for the purposes of marketing your business. At I-COM, clients’ specific aims influence the types of content we produce. If a client wants to generate more traffic to their website, we might create new on-site content that is keyword optimised using SEO research to draw in the target audience. If the client wants to increase brand awareness, we may reach out to external websites or print media with a written commentary or article, or launch a pay-per-click advertising campaign.

While a combination of complementary activities is often best, it is important to stay focused, and you can do this by working within limitations. When generating ideas, the sky is the limit and you should be as creative as possible, but when it comes time to plan them into a content strategy, you should try to stay realistic about what you can achieve. Your budget and the KPIs you have set should help to set parameters for the content strategy and output.

At I-COM, we have a team of professionals experienced in a range of disciplines in addition to content marketing, including pay-per-click and paid social advertising, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), website development, Public Relations (PR), and more. This means that we can develop a holistic approach where activities support each other and we have a range of expertise that we can apply when deciding what types of content we should produce.

As mentioned above, much of this comes down to experience - we’ve been in the business for years and we know what types of content will best deliver on the KPIs we have set. If you are unsure, you can research what has worked for competitors, or simply try things - as long as you have measurable KPIs, you can quickly evaluate which activities work for you and which don’t, and incorporate that knowledge into your next strategy.

Monitor trends and develop ideas

Your final step in developing a strong content strategy - aside from implementing it by planning and executing the activities - will be to get specific about the ideas that will underpin your content. If you have decided that one blog post per week, backed by keyword research, will generate a steady stream of content that will grow your website’s audience, you must now decide what topics those blogs will cover. Depending on how long you intend for the strategy to run and how much content you want to produce, you may need a lot of ideas.

However, bear in mind that you should aim to publish a consistent stream of content rather than a glut - Google can only crawl so many pages each month and there is a risk that if you publish a lot of content very quickly, it may not be indexed in search results until much later anyway.

It is best to generate content ideas before you start implementing your strategy. Trying to develop a new idea each week is difficult, and can cause delays. If your strategy gets off track, it could lose momentum, and this will make measuring the activities that have succeeded much more difficult. Ideally, you will be able to identify a connection between your activities and any performance improvements your business enjoys, and consistency aids this process.

Researching keywords, analysing competitors and monitoring trends are all good ways to generate ideas. This is just one of the ways that I-COM’s departments support each other, but you can develop this capacity within your business on a smaller scale. Not every decision needs to be backed up by hard data - instead, you can use your customers’ social media posts, the common questions your sales team has to answer, and even content that your competitors have generated to inspire ideas for your content strategy and target audience.

Once again, monitoring the performance of content that performs well for you and learning from it is the best way to develop future strategies. If you need support with any of the stages listed here - from technical support and research through to content generation - contact I-COM today to learn how our marketing services could help. Call us on 0161 402 3170 or fill in our online enquiry form.

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