By now you’ve undoubtedly heard of content marketing, and you may even be blogging for your business, but do you really know what it is or how it can help you get ahead? Content marketing is a nuanced, integrated marketing strategy designed to help you connect with your target customer base. There’s more to it than just publishing a blog post and sending a tweet. Follow along with these seven tips to help take your content marketing strategy to the next level.

What is Content Marketing?

The first thing you need to understand about content marketing is that it is not a quick-fix that will generate more leads for your business  overnight. In fact, content marketing is the least selfish strategy in your arsenal, because the goal is provide relevant, interesting information that provides value to your target audience, ultimately building brand preference, but not necessarily right away.  While calls-to-actions and internal linking are an integral piece to the content marketing puzzle, what’s more important is that you are presenting the right content to the right people at the right time.

How do you do this? You can start by  building an effective content marketing strategy.

How to Build an Effective Content Marketing Strategy

State Your Goals and Define Your KPIs

Before you start blasting blogs out onto the internet, you should understand why you’re doing it. Is the goal to improve brand awareness?  Elevate your position on SERP? Generate leads? Once you’ve identified the overarching goal of your content marketing strategy, you can set achievable business goals and define KPIs to measure the success of your efforts.

For example, if your goal is to improve brand awareness, you will want to measure engagement metrics, like pageviews,  time on-site, and number of new-versus-returning visitors to your blog page, as well as the number of “impressions” or shares your content produces on social media.

Get to Know Your Audience

Now that you know the “why” behind your content marketing strategy, you need to know who you are speaking to. At G5, we like to help our clients develop a deeper understanding of their target audiences, which is why we’ve put together this helpful Data Driven Persona template. This is the framework you need to really get to know your audience. More than just demographics data, like age and gender, it also provides deeper insights into your target customer’s motivations, as well as what drives their purchasing decisions.

Analyze Your Content Needs

When it comes to content marketing, you shouldn’t feel  pigeonholed to just blogging and social media — and not just because there are so many other options for content you can create. You need to be aware of how and where your target audience consumes their content and at what stage in the buyer journey is that content most effective.

For example, blogs are a great awareness piece of your content marketing strategy, but a blog post alone is unlikely to turn a prospect into a customer. You need more to convince them. Gated content, like infographics, ebooks, and newsletters which collect lead information are excellent for speaking to potential customers in the consideration phase of the buyer journey.  If they like you enough to give you their email address or phone number, then you know they are more willing to form a relationship with your brand. For the final  decision phase, content like videos, white papers, or case studies can help you seal the deal with new customers.   

Evaluate Your Competitors

Evaluating your competitors’ content strategies isn’t just about keeping up with the Jones’s; it’s actually a very smart business move. Before you craft any content, sneak a peek at your competitors’ websites and social media pages. Make note of any apparent strategies, like who they’re targeting and how often, as well as  how much engagement their content is generating. These top-level insights can help you identify gaps and opportunities where your content can thrive.

Create a Content Calendar

No content marketing strategy is complete without a content calendar — and you don’t need a fancy tool to get it done. Excel or Google Sheet works just fine. For optimal performance, you should include these elements in your content calendar:

  • Campaign
  • Publish date
  • Content type
  • Buyer stage
  • Target persona
  • Value proposition
  • Channel

Remember, consistency is key. We like to map out our strategy in three to six-month increments. This gives the content time perform and allows us to make timely course corrections   

Amplify, Amplify, Amplify

It’s not enough to create awesome content. You need to promote it. Social media, newsletters, and even influencer marketing are great for amplifying your content. Look back to the target personas you crafted earlier. There should be information in there that tells you where to promote your content and when.

For example, if your primary target audience is Baby Boomers on the verge of retirement, you wouldn’t amplify content on Snapchat or Instagram. You would want to promote it on Facebook, the medium where they are most likely to see it and interact.

Measure Your Results

There is ample opportunity for you to review the success of your content marketing strategy. As a practitioner, it is easy to review the performance of your content on a weekly basis.  By looking at engagement metrics, you can see  if there is an immediate demand to produce similar content. From a management perspective, month-over-month content performance reviews will help you determine the staying power of any specific piece of content. Does it maintain its relevance, or has it lost traction over time? Quarterly reporting, however, gives you the most accurate

representation of content performance over time. From these reports, you can determine what’s working and what’s not, and then apply those insights to your next content calendar.   

 Remember, It Takes Time

Not seeing results right away? That’s okay. Content marketing is a process. Think of it like getting in shape. You don’t just get to go for a run one day and wake up with six-pack abs the next. You have to put in the time to see the results.  What works  is dedication, commitment, and consistency.

Want to know more about how content marketing can help your business get ahead? Speak with one of the professionals in G5’s cross-functional content marketing team.