10 Steps to Develop a Winning Content Strategy

In the ever-changing digital landscape, having a solid content strategy can spell success. Here’s how to develop a content strategy planning process.
10 Steps to Develop a Winning Content Strategy

Content is a single word with different meanings and connotations. But in a nutshell, content is everything that your audience interacts with. This includes your landing pages, videos, blogs, company information, and more.

Today, businesses use content to increase brand awareness. The secret to success is to have a solid content strategy. But what exactly is a content strategy?

There’s no one blueprint for creating content. In this article, we’ll look into what content strategy is, why you need it, and how to develop a content strategy planning process.

 

What is Content Strategy?

Content strategy is about understanding why your content will be created. Take into account your business goals as well as what your audience wants and needs. Your strategy must focus on creating content that is useful, informative, and valuable to your audience.

With a solid content strategy, you can reach out to your target audience and urge them to take action to boost your business. To successfully achieve this, you’ll need to:

  • Define your goals
  • Set your KPIs
  • Know your audience
  • Review published contents
  • Invest in a good content management system
  • And more

 

Why Do You Need a Content Strategy?

You need a content strategy to define your marketing goals and set priorities. It also helps make sure that you attract the right audience – those who will convert to customers.

With a content strategy, you can guide your audience throughout their buyer’s journey. By helping them make informed purchase decisions, it’ll improve customer trust and loyalty.

That said, content strategy is essential in converting your audience into customers and keep them coming back for more.

 

What to Consider When Developing a Content Strategy

 

1. Demographics and Psychographics

Who are your target audiences?

It’s important to understand and have empathy for your audience. In doing so, you can develop a strategy that solves their problems and provides them value.

What if your business has more than one type of customer? It’s good to create different strategies that cater to the needs of more than one type of reader.

 

2. Positioning

What makes your products and services stand out from the competition?

Your content must highlight what makes your business unique.

  • Show how your product or service is beneficial for your audience
  • Explain how it adds value to your readers’ lives

To convince your audience to buy your brand over competition, you need to prove that you’re worth listening to.

 

3. Branding

How do you want your brand to be perceived by your audience?

When developing a content strategy, you need to figure out your brand voice and personality. For instance, do you want to adopt a professional tone? Or do you want your audience to view your brand as casual, fun, or witty?

The key is consistency. Create a content strategy that allows you to apply this brand personality in all your content, including blogs, newsletters, social media posts, advertising, and more.

 

4. Marketing

The next factor you need to consider is marketing. How do you plan to promote your content? What platforms do you wish to use?

Just like how content can be published in different formats, there are also different channels you can publish to. For instance, you can publish on:

  • Business website and blog
  • Social media like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter
  • Through newsletter or email marketing

Your marketing efforts should also reflect your business goals. Plus, when choosing marketing channels, you must also take into account your customer demographics.

 

5. Analytics

When developing a content strategy, you need to set your key performance indicators or KPIs. In doing so, you’ll see the changes throughout your content marketing campaign.

So how do you measure your success?

  • You can use Google Analytics to see how your content is performing
  • If you’re publishing on social media, you need to analyze your social metrics and insights
  • Use conversion analytic tools to assess the success of your marketing campaigns

Are you ready to develop a winning content strategy?

 

10 Steps to Develop a Successful Content Strategy

 

man writing his goals

Step 1: Define Your Goals

What do you hope to accomplish with your content strategy?

Defining and understanding your goals is a great starting point for developing a content strategy. In doing so, you’ll easily determine what steps to take to achieve them.

The most typical goals include:

  • Increasing revenue through your content marketing strategy
  • Boosting SEO ranking
  • Get more traffic to your website
  • Improve social media engagement

However, setting vague goals isn’t the best way to go. You’ll need to come up with SMART goals:

Specific

The goal must be exactly what you want to achieve. It’s okay to start with a general goal, but you need to make it into a more clear goal as you progress.

For example, “boosting SEO ranking” is a rather general goal. To make it more specific, you can write it this way: Improve SEO efforts through the use of Surfer SEO to boost the website’s ranking to the top 3.

Measurable

You must be able to track and quantify the success of your content strategy. To do so, your goals must be measurable. We’ll talk more about setting measurable goals later, but first, here’s an example:

You can set a measurable goal this way: “To boost website traffic by 5% using SEO.”

Attainable

Don’t make the mistake of setting goals that are too hard to reach. It’ll only create a stressful environment for everyone involved in your content marketing plan. That said, your goals must be realistic.

So consider your budget, resources, and abilities. Do you have the money, time, and skills to accomplish these goals?

For example, your goal is to boost your website traffic by 30% during the next month. However, based on your previous analytics, your average growth is only 3%. That said, a more attainable goal will be trying to increase web traffic by 4% to 8%.

Relevant

Your goals must be in line with your business goals. A goal will not mean anything if it will not add value to your business.

For example, one of your business goals is to increase sales. Then one of your content strategy goals is to boost website traffic. So ask yourself, will an increase in website traffic lead to more sales?

Time-Bound

Lastly, your goals must be time-bound. Give your goal an appropriate time frame or deadline.

For example, you can set a business goal to increase web traffic by 4% in two months. This motivates you and your team to work towards your goal while staying on track. Without a timeline, your team will have a hard time prioritizing goals.

 

Step 2: Set your KPIs

As previously mentioned, your content strategy goals must be specific and measurable.

But how do you measure the success of your strategy?

By setting key performance indicators or KPIs. These are a set of metrics you can use to determine whether you are on the right track towards achieving your goals. Additionally, these metrics will help determine your growth.

Typically, KPIs are specific numbers you wish to achieve. Here are a few examples:

  • See an increase in website traffic and engagement with your online content
  • Get more newsletter signups
  • Improve conversions and hit a set revenue target

There are different ways to measure success. Here are some of the most common key performance indicators you need to watch out for:

Lead Generation

One of the many reasons for content creation is to attract people who will eventually become your customers. This is called lead generation. To acquire leads, you can use forms, white papers, and content downloads.

To measure the success of this content marketing strategy, you’ll need to measure how many leads you’ve acquired. Not only that, you’ll need to pinpoint how many leads originate from specific marketing content. In doing so, you’ll know which types of content are doing well.

Unique Website Visitors

This is a good KPI for measuring the success of generating leads. It also helps you determine whether your content strategy plan, such as sending out newsletters, effectively drives people to your website. One of the most common web analytics tools you can use to measure this metric is Google Analytics.

Social Media Engagement

This KPI involves tracking the number of likes, shares, clicks, and comments to your social media posts. Low social media engagement means your audience is not paying attention to your content. This means you need to improve your content marketing strategy. You can use marketing tools such as Sprout Social to measure this metric.

Conversion Rates

One of the many reasons for developing a content strategy is to boost sales. That said, you’ll also want to measure your conversion rates. In doing so, you’ll be able to understand whether you’re content is enough to guide your audience through their buyer’s journey. Low conversion rates will help you determine where you’re losing valuable leads.

Cost Per Click (CPC)

Are you promoting content through pay-per-click ads or sponsored social media posts? One way to track your return on investment is by measuring your cost per click.

 

Step 3: Determine your Target Audience

A content strategy is effective only when you know who your target audience is. This means determining the following:

  • The type of websites they are visiting
  • What content they are engaging with
  • Which social media platform are they most active in.

You can use marketing tools such as Google Demographics and Interests to determine your audience’s websites most likely visiting. Or you can use Google Analytics to know which content they’re engaging with.

But how do you know who your audience is?

Collect Demographic Data

First, you need to collect demographics on your website visitors, social media followers, and subscribers.

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Nationality
  • Education
  • Income

You can use Google Analytics to find this information. Simply go to Audience>Interest>Overview. 

Social media platforms also have integrated analytics. This shows the demographics data based on your followers and audience.

Use Customer Feedback

Another way to get to know your audience is through customer feedback. Listen to what your audience has to say. Their comments can give you insight about:

  • What their pain points are
  • How they feel about your content
  • How your content can help them with their problems

This information will help you understand your audience better. Additionally, you’ll be able to create a more detailed customer profile.

Create Buyer Personas

Once you have collected data from the first two sections, you can now create a buyer persona.

A buyer persona is also known as customer profiles, meaning they depict a target customer. It is a research-based profile that describes who your ideal customers are. It also depicts your customers’ pain points and decision-making process.

Through a buyer persona, you can understand and empathize with your audience. You’ll know:

  • What piece of content will resonate best with them
  • How you can help them
  • What will make them care about your message

 

Step 4: Review Your Published Contents

Do you have previously published content? If so, you’ll need to run a content audit. This includes your blog posts, social media posts, videos, podcasts, white papers, and more.

This is the next step to developing a great content strategy. By conducting an audit, you’ll determine what types of content are doing well. Plus, you’ll figure out how you can improve your content strategy as well as set new goals.

But where do you start?

  • Log all pieces of the previously published content. This includes blog posts, guest posts, social media content, and so on.
  • Assess their usefulness and success by analyzing KPIs like engagement, likes, shares, and comments.
  • Identify content gap.

Additionally, you can also compare your content with that of your competitors. See what kind of content they are making and determine the newest trends and latest buzz in the market.

What marketing tools can you use to conduct a content audit?

  • Semrush: You can use this to analyze content and determine which areas need improvement.
  • Ahrefs: This tool is perfect for analyzing competitors, tracking your rank, as well as monitoring the web for opportunities. You can also use the “Content Gap” feature to help you uncover words that your competitors are ranking for, but you aren’t.
  • Screaming Frog: This is a good tool for analyzing your content page titles and descriptions. It is also helpful in finding duplicate pages.

 

Step 5: Invest In A Good Content Management System

Some small to medium-sized businesses (SMB) overlook a content management system (CMS). They choose to plan, produce, and publish their content manually. But as their content marketing strategy grows, it’ll become unmanageable.

That said, you need to have a system in place. A content management system will help you in creating, managing, and tracking your content. Some content management systems will also help you analyze content to determine whether you’re reaching your KPIs.

Here are a few more reasons why you need a CMS:

  • Create and manage content without coding
  • Easy collaboration between teams
  • SEO features and extensions
  • Predesigned templates

What are the most popular CMS platforms today?

  • HubSpot CMS: With this system, you can build a secure and powerful website optimized for search engines.
  • WordPress: This is a self-hosted CMS platform that powers millions of websites. WordPress offers thousands of themes, plugins and can be used together with third-party sites.

 

Step 6: Determine the Best Content Channel

As part of your content strategy, you need to determine how you’re going to distribute content. Which platform will help you reach a wider audience?

Here are some of the most common content channels you should look into:

  • Company website
  • Guest blogging
  • Social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube
  • Podcasts
  • Email campaigns

But don’t let these channels overwhelm you. You can choose one or two channels to focus on. The important thing is to distribute to the right audience through the right channels.

The first step is to look at your web analytics. For instance, you can use Google Analytics and go to Acquisition>Social>Overview. This will show the social networks where your content is being shared.

Once you have this data, you’ll determine which social channel your audience is most likely using. Plus, you’ll figure out where you have a strong online presence and focus on them.

 

Group of workers having brainstorming session

Step 7: Brainstorm Ideas For Content Creation And Decide On Content Types

The next step to your content marketing strategy is to decide the type of content you need to create and publish. That said, you need to brainstorm ideas.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few tools to help you get the ball rolling:

  • Buzzumo: This marketing tool will help you discover new content ideas. You can also check what’s trending in your industry. This tool offers several research tools, including one that measures social media engagement. This will help you see what content type will do well.
  • Feedly: This marketing tool will also help you keep track of trendy topics in your industry. You can also search for content ideas via news sources, Twitter feeds, or the Feedly RSS extension.
  • Blog Post Headline Analyzer: If you have a headline in mind, run it through this tool from CoSchedule. It provides feedback on length, word choice, grammar, as well as keyword search volume.

Decide On Content Types

Now that you have an idea of what to write about, it’s time to decide on content types. There are different types of content, and here are some of the most common ones:

  • Articles: This is perfect for informing your audience about the latest company news, product announcements, and more.
  • Blog Post: Blog content can take on different forms, such as how-to, list, question, why, etc. The goal is to publish a blog post that is actionable, valuable, and shareable.
  • Video Marketing: This type of content is perfect for showcasing company culture or behind the scenes. You can also use it for product advertisements, product demos, or customer testimonials.
  • Infographics: Use this if you want to share easy-to-understand visual information. This is considered the most-shared type of content.
  • Newsletters: When you want to keep your audience updated, send them newsletters. This piece of content could be about a round-up of your latest blog posts, or current company events, and more.

You can use Buzzsumo to determine whether a piece of content will deliver strong results. With this content marketing tool, you can search for a topic you want to write about. You’ll then see sharing statistics. So, for example, you can determine whether long-form content will do better than short-form content.

 

Step 8: Plan Ahead with a Content Calendar

One of the most common mistakes of content marketers is the lack of planning. That said, creating a content calendar is an essential part of your content strategy.

But what is a content calendar?

It helps your team plan and organizes your future content. The goal is to make sure that all your marketing efforts are aligned. Lastly, it helps you keep track of your content and make sure that content production is consistent. That said, this calendar must be easily accessible for your team.

A content calendar also comes in different forms.

For example, a social media editorial calendar will include the planned content that will be placed on different social media channels.

What information should be included?

It must contain details of where and when the content will be published. Consider adding the information listed below:

  • Topics with an assigned owner
  • An assigned writer or content creator, editor, publisher, and scheduler
  • List of channels where the content will be published

There are different content marketing tools you can use for this. You can use Google Calendar to track, analyze, and color-code your marketing campaigns.

Another option is to use Trello to schedule content, such as holiday-related content.

 

Step 9: Create Your Content, Distribute, and Market

Research

Use the research you’ve gathered in the previous steps to start creating your content.

For example, you discovered that how-to and list type articles are more popular with readers. With this knowledge, you brainstorm the title or headline and then schedule it in your content calendar.

Create Content

Now it’s time to write or create content.

The content must reflect your brand’s personality. So, for example, if your brand has a friendly, casual personality, your content must also have this tone and voice.

Additionally, keep in mind SEO-ranking factors to optimize your content. Your content is only useful if it reaches your audience, and one way to do that is to rank on search engines.

Related: How to Create Unique Content for Blog

Promote Your Content

Promote your content on your website, social media, and through email newsletters.

Most importantly, your content must point towards your website. Use your content to increase traffic and achieve your goals.

For example, your social media posts must direct the audience to your website. Your newsletter must also have an effective call-to-action to encourage the reader to visit your website.

 

Step 10: Measure, measure, measure

Remember when you’ve set your KPIs early on? It’s time to take a look at them and compare them to the actual numbers. In doing so, you’ll be able to assess the success of your content marketing plan.

Take a look at what changed. Are you hitting your targets?

Here’s how you can measure your KPIs:

  • Use Google Analytics to determine the performance of your content.
  • You can also use Buzzsumo and other social analytics tools to check the social media engagement, social sharing activity, backlinks generated, and more.
  • Another option is to use SEMRush to assess the search rank of your content.

 

Conclusion

Winning over your audience doesn’t happen overnight. Developing a content strategy requires time and effort. These steps will help you create a great content strategy that will provide your audience with real value to build a long-lasting relationship with your brand.

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