Content Marketing

The Complete Guide to Developing a Content Strategy

The Complete Guide to Developing a Content Strategy

Content marketing is the advertising of the future.

In an age where consumers are tired of traditional marketing, content offers them something of real value.

Great content can bring potential customers to you, in large numbers. When executed well, it can not only bring large volumes of traffic to your site but convert that traffic into sales leads, new customers and more revenue. Furthermore, content marketing does all this at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising and works for both B2C and B2B businesses.

content strategy guide

However, in order to create and publish effective content in a way which will engage your audience and build your brand, it is essential to have a strong content strategy. In this post, we provide a step-by-step guide to creating a great content strategy to help you to grow your business.

What is a Content Strategy?

A content strategy is essentially a strategic plan which lays out how your business is going to use content in order to achieve your goals and objectives.

A content strategy should cover essential aspects such as:

  • Your goals and objectives for your content and your content marketing
  • Who your audience is and what they look like
  • What platforms and content types you will use
  • How you are going to create the content
  • When and how often you plan on putting out content and how you will distribute it

We will go into more detail on each of later in this post, including how to maximise each aspect in order to develop a content strategy which will bring your business the most success.

Content Strategy Definition

It can be easy to confuse the terms ‘content marketing strategy’, ‘content strategy’ and ‘content plan’. Although there is some overlap in what these terms mean, there are also important differences.

Check the definitions below to make sure you are clear on what exactly these important terms mean.

Content strategy – This is your approach to using content, making sure it is high-quality, and distributing it. It will go into greater detail than your content marketing strategy.

Content marketing strategy – This is your overall strategy for why you are putting out content, what you are hoping to achieve by doing this, and your goals and objectives. Examples of this could be growing your audience to bring in sales leads, or boosting revenue for your business.

Content strategy definition

Content plan – This gets down to the nuts and bolts of how you will execute your content strategy, detailing specific tactics and assigning roles to team members. Your content plan will follow on from the goals and approaches laid out in your content marketing strategy and content strategy.

Why Create a Content Strategy?

A content strategy is essential to ensuring that your content is effective, focused and best suited to achieving your goals and objectives as a business.

You should treat your content as any kind of project. And like any kind of project in business, it is crucial to have a clear overview of what you want to achieve, how you are going to get there and what methods will best take you there. A clear strategy helps you to stay focused, stay on track and ensures you put your efforts into tasks which will best get you where you want to go.

Additionally, a strategy allows you to check your progress and assess whether your project is on track, on schedule and whether your approach is working.

Having a documented content strategy has been shown to be linked to more successful content marketing. According to the Content Marketing Institute, “62% of the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy vs. 16% of the least successful.”

62% of the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy vs. 16% of the least successful.

However, research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs also shows that only 37% of businesses have a documented content marketing strategy.

content marketing strategy

How To Develop a Content Strategy

Despite the importance of developing and implementing a documented strategy for your content, many marketers and businesses lack the knowledge to be able to do this. More research from the Content Marketing Institute shows that 64% of marketers feel they need more training in how to build a scalable content strategy.

Content marketing strategy

That’s why we’ve created this guide, to help you to understand the key parts of developing a content management strategy. We help our clients to build successful content strategies as well as delivering quality content for them – that’s our main focus at Connect London.

What does a content strategy look like? Below we look at some essential aspects and steps in developing a successful content strategy.

Define Your Mission

Like any kind of strategy, your first step needs to be to define your objectives. The objectives of your content strategy are the “why”: why do you want to create and achieve content? What do you want your content to do for your business?

Defining your goals is essential to being able to achieve them. You need to know where you’re going before you can work out how you’re going to get there.

Defining your goals is essential to being able to achieve them. You need to know where you’re going before you can work out how you’re going to get there.

To define your goals and objectives, a good start is to write out a mission statement for your content. This should be one to two sentences and cover what you want your content to achieve for your organisation. It can briefly cover your audience, the type(s) of content you will use, but most importantly it should describe the value your content represents to your audience.

The value of your content is essentially the benefit your audience gets from it. As with many areas of marketing, this usually comes down to the problem that your content is going to solve for your audience. For example, if you run an IT company offering tech support to SMEs, the problem your audience may have could be a lack of understanding of technology relevant to their businesses, and your content will solve that problem by educating them.

Define Your Goals and KPIs

content marketing goalsYour mission statement reflects the needs of your audience and therefore the value of your content. This is very important, however, it is equally important to define the value the content has for you as a business. That is, what your business seeks to achieve through content marketing.

The goals of your content strategy may include:

  • More sales
  • More revenue
  • Expanding your customer base
  • Building your brand
  • Reducing your marketing budget
  • All of the above

Objectives of your content, which will help you achieve these goals, could be:

  • Increasing traffic to your site
  • Generating sales leads
  • Better SEO for your site (thus increasing traffic)
  • More backlinks to your content
  • Better Social Media engagement
  • Building customer loyalty

In order to be able to track your progress towards these goals, you also need to set key performance indicators (KPIs).  KPIs are clearly defined targets which measure your progress towards the goals and objectives you have set. They commonly (though not always) are specific figures or quantities and generally have set timelines, for example, “increase revenue by 30% over 12 months” or “gain an extra 5000 Social Media followers in 3 months”.

Define Your Audience

To be able to produce effective content and distribute it appropriately, you need to know who you are creating it for, thus it is important to define your audience.  The more specific you can be in your target audience the better: content marketing is most effective when targeted at a single niche market segment.

The idea of your content “solving a problem” for your audience can help you define who your audience may be. Is there a niche audience, relevant to your business, and currently with a problem which isn’t being addressed by existing content available?

Is there a niche audience, relevant to your business, and currently with a problem which isn’t being addressed by existing content available?

On the other hand, your target audience may be defined by your business needs. Which existing or potential customers do you want to engage with the most in order to build your business? Ideally, your target audience will reflect both of these things.

Many marketers also create an “avatar”, or several, in order to better define their audience’s needs and tendencies. An avatar, also known as a buyer persona, is a typical or ideal individual in your audience. It can be helpful to think about who that person is and what their lifestyle is like. From this, you can predict what types of content they are looking for, what platforms they use and when they access it.

Choose Content Types and Channels

Content marketing is about much more than just blogs – there are many different types of content that you can create. Some of the most popular and effective types of content are:

  • Blog articles
  • Social Media content
  • Email newsletters
  • Videos
  • Blogs

Don’t be scared of embracing more than one or two of these – this Content Marketing Institute report showed that the average North American company uses eight different types of content as part of their content marketing. Different types of content can work together to increase impact – sharing your blog posts on Social Media is a basic example of this.

Content marketing tacticsIt is also important to keep in mind that along with various types of content, there are also multiple channels or platforms that you can use to publish your content. As part of your strategy, you will need to define which channels you plan to use, whether it’s your own website and Social Media accounts or external channels such as other websites and blogs.

You can even use others’ Social Media content to promote your business: one of the trends we have seen in 2018 is the increasing collaboration between Social Media “influencers” and companies to promote their products.

Defining your audience will go a long way to helping you work out which types of content and which channels to use. You will want to target those which your audience is likely to use the most. Of course, you will also need to consider which types of content best help you to achieve the goals you have defined in your strategy, as well as practical factors such as the expertise and resources available to you.

For more information on how to effectively execute different types of content, see this guide.

Create a Content Calendar

Having a formal content calendar is an incredibly useful tool to keep your content strategy on track and ensure all your content is created and published on time, meaning that you are more likely to achieve your goals.

A content calendar is any kind of document which plans out what you are going to publish, where and when.

Of course, there are many ways you can manage this, a couple of good options being:

  • Google calendar: add the dates you want to publish content into a shared calendar and include information such as the type of content, channel and topic in the calendar entry.
  • Use task management tools like Asana to not only set out dates and content information as above but also assign them to members of your team.

content marketing tools

If you have a particularly complicated or large-scale content strategy, you can also use custom content planning and scheduling tools such as CoSchedule or HeyOrca.

Create Quality Content

Having goals, objectives and plans in place are important, but of course, you also need to make sure that content is not only created, but produced to a high enough standard to achieve your content strategy goals, whether this is driving sales, building your brand, or something else.

Most companies are not fortunate enough to have the skills and knowledge in-house to create the kind of content which will attract attention and grow the business. However, the rise of content marketing in recent years means there are plenty of companies and individual contractors offering copy-writing and content marketing services.

Some factors to consider when hiring content creators and copywriters:

  • Are they able to develop and suggest strategic content topics?
  • Are they able to create SEO friendly content to bring traffic to your site?
  • Can they deliver reliable, consistently high-quality content?
  • Will the content be tailored to your audience and the goals of your content strategy?
  • Are they able to add visual and style elements to enhance the content?

At Connect London, we structure our services with all this in mind and create content which pre-sells your brand. If you are interested in learning more, contact us for a proposal.

Conclusion: Developing a Content Strategy

content marketing strategyContent is one of the most useful tools available to businesses today to build their brand, attract new clients, drive sales and grow their business.

The world’s biggest brands are using content marketing these days, but that doesn’t mean that it is only for the big guys. Small to medium businesses can also be highly successful in their use of content marketing. It is one of the most cost-effective ways to market your business, and publishing great content doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming.

By developing a strong content strategy and making sure you hire the right people to deliver great content for you, you can use content marketing to expand your customer base, build your brand, and achieve exponential business growth.

Connect London was created to address the need for well-written, concise SEO friendly content. We help our clients use quality content and effective content marketing strategies to grow their businesses – find out how here.

Tom Buckland

Tom Buckland is the founder of Connect London - A content marketing & writing agency based in central London.

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