What is a Content Marketing Strategy?

Featured Image for content strategy by Megan Zander

You have a website, you have social media profiles, and you have a blog, but what are you doing with them? If I’m building a content marketing strategy, I’m asking a lot of questions. What kind of content are you sending out into the great void that is the internet? Who does it need to reach? Where? And WHY?

I have a lot of questions. It’s my job. I’m a marketer”.

The process of content creation can be stressful. Let’s take some of the confusion out of marketing processes by defining the different strategies within marketing. More importantly, let’s discover what they mean to the impetus of your organization: your business strategy.

What Does It All Mean?

A marketing strategy is an actionable plan to secure, maintain, or grow a targeted market share directed by an organization’s business strategy. From an overhead view, a marketing strategy might include these phases, in order: a) research current and future markets to create a target audience; b) create a marketing mix to reach that target audience; and c) monitor the marketing mix as it is engaged to gain insight into what is working for the end goal. That’s the overly simplified description, anyway.

A marketing mix might include print, television, or digital advertisements, direct mailing, email marketing, or experiential marketing. All of these would be pieces of a marketing mix and all of them need to be strategized to optimize their efficiency and effectiveness in reaching your target audience and getting them to engage appropriately.

“Content marketing is the digital love-child of social media marketing and viral marketing with a dash of syndication and a whole lot of SEO.”

Content marketing is not a new notion. The idea that great content can create a two-way conversation with your audience has been around since the creation of social media. But, it is steadily becoming a must-have in every marketing team’s mix. Content marketing is the digital love-child of social media marketing and viral marketing with a dash of syndication and a whole lot of SEO. So, what is content, exactly? Well, that question has a very simple and a very broad answer. Content is everything that is consumable by a target audience: images, videos, blogs, podcasts, infographics, copy, and so much more. Web users come to the web seeking information and your content can provide them the information they seek. Just sending a lot of content out there (content marketing) is not a bad thing, but being strategic will help you and your team effectively allocate your resources and meet the goals of your overall marketing strategy.

Content Marketing Strategy

Now here’s the information you really need. A content marketing strategy is a plan of action or policy designed to achieve the major overall aim of your content marketing.

“Identify goals. Document tactics. Execute strategy. Measure results.”

It starts with a lot of questions about your audience:

  • Who is the target audience? Who do they communicate with? Who do they know and respect?
  • Why do they do what they do? What is their motivation? Why would they like your offerings?
  • Digitally, where is the target audience, when are they there, and how long do they stay there? Where do they live? Where do they shop? Which social channels do they prefer? When is the best time to reach them?
  • How do they communicate? What words do they use often? What are their search habits?
  • What kind of content do they need?

…and then it moves on to using the answers to these questions to create paths to the audience that will (ideally) facilitate measurable successes. These paths could be social channels, company blogs, or syndicated sources that report on your company’s successes or events, among others.

“Define what ‘success’ is according to your marketing strategy as a whole.”

What Are Your Goals?

An effective content marketing strategy would define what “success” is according to your marketing strategy as a whole. Is success, to your marketing strategy, simply visibility and engagement? Does your marketing strategy need the content marketing piece of the mix to create conversions? If so, what is a “conversion” in relation to your goals? Examples of conversions could be: a target audience member clicking on a link from a social posting and becoming a user of your website or app; a blog reader signing up to receive your newsletter; or, it could be an end user making a purchase on your ecommerce site. Conversion rates are important to a content marketing strategy as they will help the strategist tweak initiatives as needed and create new paths and content types if the current ones aren’t working. Without something to measure the strategy by, there is almost no real value in it.

What Is Your Timeline For Execution?

The content marketing strategy should also include a timeline and a way to manage the initiatives within it. If this is your first attempt at designing a content marketing strategy, fear not. A good preliminary strategy might outline initiatives for a single quarter of your calendar year with a goal of simply starting a conversation with your audience. Getting content out to your target audience can be difficult. The type and quality of the content must be consistent and useful to those you are trying to reach. It must tell the story of your organization. It must be fresh and interesting without being off-brand. It must be shareable so that influencers within your target audience will, one day, find it and market it for you. It must keep users on your digital properties long enough and often enough to create authority.

Send questions regarding content strategies and tactics to meganzandermarketing@gmail.com.

Originally posted June 8, 2016: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-content-marketing-strategy-why-important-megan-zander