OK, so you’ve bought into the concept of content marketing, now what? You’re probably overwhelmed with trying to create blogs, whitepapers, eBooks and figuring out how you are going to share them via social media in hopes of attracting valuable leads. While it may be tempting to dive right in, creating a clear content marketing strategy is essential to your success. A well thought out strategy can bring in qualified leads and save you time in the long run.

Focus on these areas to start planning your content marketing strategy:

Set Realistic Goals

Setting goals will give you focus, motivation and help you to measure progress. Consider these five questions when setting your content goals:

  1. What are you trying to accomplish using content marketing?
  2. Are you simply jumping on the bandwagon or have you identified a purpose for including content marketing in your overall strategy?
  3. Are you focused on filling the sales funnel with leads? Interested in being a thought leader in the telecommunications or cloud space? Both?
  4. What does success look like? What does each goal help you achieve?
  5. What is a realistic time frame of success?

Make sure your goals are SMARTSpecific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Refer back to them often and update as necessary.

Build Your Content Team

You might be sizing up your team right now, thinking, “who can I recruit to write content?” Your head engineer may be a freaking genius, but if he doesn’t have the time to write the article on the latest and greatest product, it won’t happen. While some companies may make content marketing look effortless, the truth is, it’s hard. The time it takes to research, write, optimize, publish, and promote your content is intense. One person typically can’t do it all unless it’s their full time job.

If you decide you have the internal resources needed to manage content creation, make sure team members know what is expected of them. If you don’t have the necessary manpower, do you need to hire a full-time person? Leverage an outside agency? Bringing in an outside team may be the answer. Not only can an outside source create industry-specific content for you, some can also help you to create an overall content marketing strategy.

Assigning content development to someone in the organization that either a) doesn’t want to do it or b) is unqualified will result in failure. Ensure your success in content marketing and build a solid team or hire an expert to help you out.

Pack Your Content Toolbox

Now that you’ve identified your team, what tools will they need to succeed? We don’t have to tell you that technology can help automate this for you. Here is a list of tools that can help jump start your marketing efforts:

  1. Marketing Automation Platforms – Platforms like HubSpot and Marketo allow you to create content, share it, set up landing pages to convert leads and analyze the results all in one place. You can also set up email campaigns to target leads or existing customers. Best of all, you can connect these platforms with your CRM to increase efficiency.
  2. Project Management – Creating and publishing content requires a lot of steps. Project management tools like Teamwork, Basecamp, and Trello keep everyone on your team organized and on track to meet project deadlines.
  3. Social Media Management – Hootsuite and Buffer save you time by scheduling multiple Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ posts at your desired day and time.
  4. SEO Tools – Google Keyword Planner lets you view monthly search volume estimates for keywords and Screaming Frog scans your website like a search spider would so you can identify ways to improve your SEO.
  5. Data Tracking Tools – Google Analytics dissects valuable website data including site visits, page time, pages per visit and percentage of new visits allowing you to identify trends.

An outside agency will be able advise you on what tools will best fit your needs and your team will need to designate someone to leverage these tools for you and stay up to date with new technology and understand how these applications work together.

Create Your Content Plan

Once you’ve gathered a competent team and identified resources necessary to succeed, it’s time to outline an easy to follow plan to help you succeed.

  1. Identify your buyer personas – Establishing this foundation will remind you who you are creating content for and that your potential buyers should be at the heart of your strategy.
  2. Determine your keywords – Utilize SEO tools to identify the keywords buyers are searching for and incorporate them in your content pieces. This will help your buyer personas find your content.
  3. Create a content calendar – Make a game plan for the type of content, frequency, targeted keywords and who you will be writing for. Planning months in advance will allow you to be more strategic.
  4. Distribute content – Once you have great content created, you want to make sure it gets into the hands of your buyer personas. Share via social media, email newsletters and other websites. Don’t forget to include a call to action for valuable content, like eBooks, so that you can collect their information and follow up.

Measure, Tweak, Repeat

You’ve put in a lot of work creating and implementing your plan. Now it’s time to measure your results, learn from what you’ve accomplished and continue to improve upon your plan.

Leverage analytics to see what content is most popular and which platforms are getting the most traffic and converting the most leads. If a particular topic or style of content gets more traffic, modify your plan to include more of that. Where do most visitors to your content come from? If you find one source is driving more traffic, continue to publish here.

Read the comments left in blog posts, LinkedIn group posts, Twitter replies and Facebook shares to see what your readers are saying. Their questions and comments may give you clues to topics that could be developed into additional content.

Once you have analyzed your metrics and collected feedback from reader engagement, use this information to continue to improve your strategy.

Conclusion

Your content marketing strategy should be a living, breathing plan that evolves as you learn more about the wants and needs of your buyer personas. Once you create your plan, you can’t set it and forget it if you want to see results.  If you follow these guidelines, you should have a content marketing strategy that doesn’t suck and will result in new lead generation.

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