How to Develop a Winning Content Marketing Strategy: A Definitive Guide

Whether you are a seasoned digital marketer or just starting out, you have probably heard the famous saying, “content is king”. However, as marketing today moves away from traditional approaches, content is king continues to seem vaguer.

You and us can both agree that content is indeed the king but not all content is king.

Hence, enter content marketing.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, “content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

With content marketing in the mix, and based on the content marketing definition above, we can safely adapt to a new statement, “valuable content is king.”

Content marketing covers a lot more than just a blog, from textual to visual content you publish on your website and to the emails you send out.

In this definitive guide, we will look into each area. So, let’s dive right in.

Why Do We Need a Content Marketing Strategy?

Digital marketing can be overwhelming, and it is easy to lose sight of your vision for the business or brand because there is a lot of content to share and work with.

A content marketing strategy helps you avoid marketing your brand in the air, instead, you only work towards providing value that your audience can gain from and is available to them precisely when they need you.

But how would content marketing help you or your brand? Good question.

Here are some amazing benefits of content marketing.

#1. Builds Credibility

Unlike the early days of the internet or e-commerce, online consumers do know what and who to buy from. As a result, your brand needs to be credible and trustworthy.

Consistently sharing valuable content with your potential audience gives them a sense of your knowledge of the space or industry you are in.

Since you can provide value, your audience gradually begins to find you credible and eventually find themselves to be comfortable becoming a customer.

#2. Google Loves Quality Content

Without an ounce of doubt, you know your potential customer is on Google. For example, if your potential customer is looking for a law firm, would they be able to find you in the initial SERPs?

Having a blog helps you get there.

If you are persistent with creating quality and valuable content, Google will begin to rank you higher since it best serves the individual searching on Google.

Advice: It is less likely to rank on Google with one blog post in a year.

Google's Best Practices - Content Marketing Strategy Guide
What Google wants …

#3. Lead Generation

With a strong content marketing strategy, you are likely to rank higher on Google and Bing along with having a higher engagement rate on the social media platforms. These results encourage the potential audience to find you easily and reach out to you based on your credibility and value.

As a result, you get leads.

#4. Returning Customers

If you consistently run a blog or create weekly valuable videos, your audience is likely to return looking for more value.

Look at Gary Vaynerchuk! The guy has never told anyone in his audience ever to “go buy this.” All of his content focuses on the value he brings to his audience.

Gary Vaynerchuk - Content Marketing Strategy Guide
GaryVee – Content marketing at its best.

#5. Conversions!

A strong content marketing strategy helps you convert potential customers into a buyer. Here is an example.

Jeff searches for backache on Google and lands on a blog post you published on your website about your chiropractic practice. By the end of the blog post, Jeff found it to be valuable. Now, from your CTA at the end of the blog, Jeff lands on your homepage, where you have a limited-time offer running for a 30-minute session with you.

Jeff already finds you credible, and with a limited-time offer, Jeff begins to consider booking the appointment.

Your consistent content marketing efforts are paying off because Jeff also discovered how others have reviewed your practice on social media.

Result? Jeff booked an appointment for next week.

What Are Some Types of Content Marketing?

Although content marketing is a marketing approach, understanding the types of content marketing is critical.

Each type of content marketing serves a different purpose, but ultimately, all types are pointing in the same direction – your goal. Depending on your business, industry, or audience, you can take your pick with the type, not to forget, it can also be a mix.

Some commonly used types of content marketing are:

Blogs

Hubspot Blog - Content Marketing Strategy Guide
HubSpot blog – a must-read!

It can be hard to think of a website that does not have a blog on its website (unless you go looking for it). However, not all blogs are active.

Blogs are a great way to attract potential clients. It is your space to create user-centric valuable content answering questions your audience is asking.

Quality blog content is generally the number one key to better SEO practices. As we mentioned earlier, Google loves quality valuable content and as you move higher in the search results, you generate more traffic.

To integrate blogs into your content marketing strategy, it is essential to take extra measures to write good blog posts and focusing on specific long-tail keywords.

Videos

Compared to blogs, videos have a higher engagement rate.

90% of users consider videos to be helpful during their decision-making process.

According to Grey Sky Films

For instance, if you run a store for fitness supplies, images would attract customers, but videos will convert them. Watching a video gives the audience the ability to visualize themselves using your fitness equipment better.

More so, videos also set the tone for your business which elevates your business in the minds of your consumer.

Infographics

Infographics are fun. You get all the essential information with visuals on one screen! You do not have to read several pages to get to the point.

E-Books

The way we like to think of eBooks is that they are simply longer blogs that provide detailed value to your audience.

eBooks are usually free to download but in order to do that, a user provides you with their relevant information including their name, business, email address, and phone number (optional).

With this information, you can communicate with your audience on a personalized level helping you improve your brand and conversion rate.

Case Studies

Case studies are pieces of content that explain your past buyers’ journey with your business.

Let’s say you are in the online marketing business and a potential customer visits your website looking for social media marketing and browses through your case studies.

Looking at your success with past clients, it will give potential customers the confidence they need to decide and hire your firm.

How to Develop a Winning Content Marketing Strategy?

#1. Visions, Goals & KPIs

If you are starting to put together a content marketing strategy without a specified goal; STOP. One of the primary reasons why content marketing is a successful marketing approach is because it generates results.

Some common goals can be:

  • Lead Generation
  • Conversions
  • Brand Awareness
  • Email Subscribers List
  • Traffic

However, prior to you putting together a content marketing strategy, you must have a goal.

Once you have set your goals, you need KPIs. Some performance indicators help you analyze your data, but it is often that we get asked, ‘how do we quantify our goals if this is the first time, we are entering the market?’

To me, this is a very valid question.

It can be tough to predict a number. Any business owner would want to get 1 million visitors in the first month, but that is not realistic. Our advice is to put down an achievable number till you have enough data to measure your performance.

Therefore, if your goal is to generate traffic from your content market strategy, start with 100 visitors to the website in your first month.

Either you will over-achieve this number or not get close to it, but having a number or a KPI gives you a direction, which is very important.

#2. Study Your Audience

Let’s consider a scenario. You are starting a makeup business but you have not included Instagram, TikTok, or Pinterest as part of your content marketing strategy. You are also planning to share memes, but they have little connection to the makeup industry and more with current affairs.

Do you see the disconnect?

Studying your audience is a key step to creating a content marketing strategy. This usually starts from pinning down who is your ideal audience, including gender, age, location, to platforms you are likely to find them on.

A useful practice to include in your content marketing strategy is to develop user personas.

User personas are fictional representations of your audience member but in detail.

Here is an example.

User Personas - Content Marketing Strategy Guide
User Persona – SingleMindConsulting – Content Marketing Strategy

#3. Type of Content Marketing

There are various content marketing types as mentioned earlier, but if you are trying to produce all types with a small or no team at all, that is ambitious.

Instead of trying to do everything at the same time, try breaking your content marketing strategy into multiple steps.

If you are a good writer, include blogs but if you are not sure about designing content, you can leave out infographics at first.

When you are trying to do too much at the same time, you might not get anything at all. Hence, break it into phases. For phase one, you can start with blogs and videos, and when your content marketing strategy kicks off, you can include other types as you move along.

#4. Brainstorm Content Ideas

According to HootSuite, there are 140 million businesses on Facebook. That is a staggering number, and with so many businesses producing content, your content needs to stand out.

One common mistake we see businesses or entrepreneurs make is to start producing content without researching the topic.

Prior to creating valuable content, here are some questions you need to ask:

  • What kind of content resonates with my audience?
  • What topics is my audience likely to search for?
  • What is trending in my industry?
  • What keywords can I use as part of my content?
  • How likely is my audience to find this meaningful?

Content can be hard to produce, but the right piece of content can take your business a long way. One critical element is research. There are several tools you can use to generate content ideas (discussed later).

#5. Distribution Mechanism

By now, you already know your goal, audience, the type of content marketing you will use, and have also brainstormed some ideas. But how do you distribute the amazing content you are about to create?

When it comes to distributing your content, you will think of all the social media platforms and search engines, and rightfully so. However, all social media platforms come with their own demographics. For instance, if you are selling products or services that men are likely to purchase, have Pinterest as part of your content marketing distribution plan will be ineffective.

Over 70% of users on Pinterest are women, and as a result, your business may see less traction there.

When choosing your distribution mechanism, researching social media statistics, and keywords is essential.

#6. Paid Ads (Social Media & Search Engine)

We see paid ads as an extension of a business’ distribution mechanism. Paid ads help with generating the initial boost and driving eyes to your content when you do have enough reach to be discovered organically.

Although to run ads, it is essential to have content, but with the amount of traffic on social media platforms and competition on search engines, paid ads can help get you closer to your game faster.

#7. Measure & Refine

Measuring your content marketing strategy is not part of your development phase; however, it is critical to implementing a content marketing strategy. By this point, you would already have content published and distributed to various platforms, and you have possibly received feedback and engagement on some.

When you measure your content marketing strategy, you are automatically capable of refining your strategy. You will be able to pinpoint areas you need to improve and areas you need to focus on.

For example, if a piece of content that was trending and relevant generated better results, as opposed to content which you publish after the trend was over. You would want to focus on the former.

With these notes, you can go back to your content marketing strategy, and make relevant changes.

Bonus: Useful Content Marketing Tools (FREE)

#1. Tools for Content Ideas

When you start creating content, you will need new ideas every day, and for some industries, you will need them every hour. You never know where your next content idea will come from.

One of our go-to tools is Google Trends and LinkedIn.

As for other resources, we often spend 30 minutes in the morning reading through Quora, Reddit, and Apple News. Depending on what you are following on these platforms, you are likely to get content from those industries only. However, these platforms give you a fair idea of what people are talking about.

If you are creating a blog post, Google’s Keyword Planner is another tool to check out. Often used for analyzing keywords and competition, Google also gives you related long-tail keywords which are questions your audience is searching for.

#2. Tools for Analytics

As we mentioned earlier, when you create a piece of content, you want to measure it in order to refine your strategy.

Google Analytics is a wonderful tool, and if you are unfamiliar with how to use it, Google Academy has FREE certifications for Beginners. It is insightful, and you walk away with knowing how to use Google Analytics.

If you are focusing on the SEO element, Google Search Console, is one handy tool. From indexing content to analyzing SERPs, it offers everything.

Although not completely FREE, BuzzSumo is another great content marketing tool to use. If you search a domain or a link in BuzzSumo, it lets you analyze their performance on the internet.

You can move onto other paid analytics tools like SEMRush, later.

#3. Tools for Content Management

Recently on LinkedIn, we included Buffer as one essential tool all digital marketer needs to use initially. If you are working with various social media platforms, Buffer will help you schedule content on each platform under one roof.

As an alternative to Buffer, you can look into HootSuite as well.

For email marketing, we often recommend MailChimp. It is an easy-to-use email marketing platform that allows you to track results and send emails.

#4. Tools for Content Creation

If you are creating content for your own blog, your blog would be your content creation tool. But, if you are looking to venture out into creating other types of content, some tools that you can benefit from would Prezi, Canva, and SlideShare.

Prezi allows you to create attractive presentations like media kits and can be shared via the cloud.

If you are not comfortable with exploring Adobe now, however, would like to create appealing content, Canva is your best bet. Canva gives you various features and templates for almost all social platforms and emails to design your content.

If you are making your own presentations, then you should look into SlideShare. It allows you to view, upload and share your content.

Conclusion

“Content marketing is a commitment, not a campaign.”

– Bob Nardelli, CEO of HomeDepot.

This is one of my favorite thoughts on content marketing.

We know when you start marketing your business you want instant results, and you have also seen a tremendous boost in your competition’s results.

Content marketing strategies are usually designed as a long-term marketing approach, as opposed to being a shot at overnight success. Persistently creating valuable content that your audience can resonate with and keeps coming back for is a win. Once your brand establishes a voice in the market, you will begin to see a snowball effect in the result.

Best of luck.

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1 reply on “How to Develop a Winning Content Marketing Strategy: A Definitive Guide”

  • Tonia Birk Merdith
    February 16, 2021 at 1:27 pm

    Incredible points. Solid arguments. Keep up the amazing work.

Comments are closed.