Information has always been an essential element in the digital ecosystem, since the advent of the internet and the first websites. In the last 20 years, however, there has been an explosion of digital platforms, and people’s appetite for content consumption has surpassed imagination.
From innocent cat videos, consumed out of the need for amusement, to complex documentation, required as a preliminary step in making a vital business decision, content is an essential element in the 21st century digital ecosystem.
The explosion of content consumption in recent years has almost forced businesses to adapt their promotion methods to the new paradigm in order to continue to meet their business objectives.
Although it has been around for over 100 years, Content Marketing has become a really popular new term in the last 20 years, with this change in people’s consumption habits.
Where a century ago, content marketing meant that John Deere was publishing “The Furrow” magazine and Michelin was making waves with its 300+ page guide, today content marketing strategy has moved into digital and offers huge advantages and benefits to audiences and brands that choose to promote themselves through this service.
We will discuss this strategy below. Specifically, in this article, we will talk about:
- What is Content Marketing Strategy
- Why a Content Marketing strategy is important for a business
- The 10 steps of Content marketing strategy
This guide is comprehensive.
So, without wasting any more time, let’s start with:
What is Content Marketing Strategy?
One of the fundamental characteristics of content marketing is its unique positioning in the marketing services sphere.
Whereas other marketing services propose a direct, intrusive approach to promoting products or services, content marketing proposes a strategy that focuses on providing a positive experience by solving a need that the potential customer has, a need that they are trying to solve by following an information process.
In a simplistic way, the process is as follows:
- Potential client has a problem
The customer doesn’t know, at this stage, that your product or service is the solution to their problem.
- Access the Google search engine…
… in the hope that he will find a possible solution to his problem.
- Get an article on the first page of Google
There you are, who anticipated this problem and offer, in a blog article, the solution to his problem by highlighting the advantages, benefits and how your product or service solves his problem.
Therefore, by the official definition:
“Content Marketing Strategy looks at the ways in which content marketing can be used strategically at the different stages a potential comparator goes through, on the way to a purchase, but also in the post-sales stages that define their relationship with the brand.”
In principle, the stages that a potential customer goes through are called the Buyer Journey and are highlighted by the Content Marketing Funnel shown below (Free to Download – Right Click + Save Image As):
The stages that a customer goes through, from the moment they become aware that they have a need, to the actual action of solving that need, are highlighted in the funnel above under the modelAIDA.
AIDA is an acronym that defines each step a person takes in the purchasing process:
- Awareness (Awareness – first contact with the brand)
- Interest (Interest – potential customer gives preferential attention to your offer)
- Decision (Decision – the potential customer is convinced that your offer is the right solution and decides to proceed with the purchase)
- Action (Action – the potential customer adds the product to the cart and makes the payment)
Of course, the complexity of this process differs from niche to niche, product to product, or business model to business model.
For example, in the case of a business promoting premium products, in the Business-to-Business (B2B) trading system, the Content marketing funnel will be more complex.
In this case, as premium products or services with a high value are involved, but also taking into account that the target audience is normally characterised by a high level of education, the potential customer will spend more time to thoroughly research the advantages and benefits of the offer.
The same cannot be said for a business that trades in consumer products, such as footwear, for example.
In this situation, the potential customer will decide much more quickly to move from the Awareness stage to the Action stage.
They just need to get in touch with an advertisement, a well-made landing page or a properly displayed product that they like.
That’s not all, though.
The above displayed tunnel only defines the steps a person goes through in the pre-sales stage.
Well, in a content marketing campaign, the buyer journey doesn’t stop at the purchase step.
The relationship between brand and customer must continue into the post-sales stage, which is at least as important as the pre-sales stage.
Because it’s in the post-sales steps that you really get the benefits that a content marketing strategy can offer, benefits like loyalty and evangelism
Here’s what the Content Marketing funnel looks like post-sales (Free to Download – Right Click + Save Picture As):
Determining the path the potential customer will take to purchase, and how this marketing strategy can be used for each step of the buyer journey, is one of the steps in building a content marketing strategy.
That’s why I think it’s time to talk about these steps.
Well, the technical steps you need to take in creating and implementing a Content Marketing strategy are as follows:
- Setting SMART objectives and KPIs (Key Performance Metrics)
- Establishing a Buyer Persona and locating the target audience
- Establishing distribution channels for your content marketing campaign
- Choosing the types of content to be used
- Performing a content audit on business platforms
- Competition analysis
- Content calendar
- Setting the Content Marketing Funnel
- Implementing performance measurement solutions
As you can see, implementing a content marketing strategy is a complex process, which is why it’s good to ask ourselves the question before setting off:
Is a content marketing strategy important for a business?
We say yes, and the arguments are pretty clear.
Just as a football team doesn’t take the field without a well-developed game plan, it’s not advisable to implement a content marketing campaign without a clear strategy.
Content marketing strategy is vital because it gives you the clues you need to follow an educated, informed process.
More importantly, a well-thought-out strategy offers you benefits that go beyond the content creation process, while also supporting the processes of distribution, choosing the right channels, locating the right audience, measuring results effectively and optimizing.
In addition to these benefits, a content marketing strategy is vital to a business because:
- It ensures cohesion in the content marketing campaign
Today we have a multitude of channels and platforms that allow us to publish and distribute content where our audience is.
However, implementing content marketing campaigns “blindly”, without following a clear marketing strategy, will only consume your time and money.
A clear strategy sheds light on the whole process, giving you the insights you need to sustain an effective campaign, tailored to your distribution platforms and, most importantly, in tune with the preferences of your target audience.
- Contribute to creating a strong brand identity
Building a strong brand identity has never been more important than it is today. The extremely high level of competitiveness on the business market requires a determined focus on what brand identity means.
Potential buyers have plenty of options from which to choose their desired product or service, so marketing strategies that focus on price discounts and other product-focused marketing gimmicks get lost in the competitive noise.
That’s why companies today are turning their attention to developing a unique personality, focusing on strategies that sustain and develop relationships with potential customers at the brand level, thereby boosting performance metrics such as brand loyalty.
In this context, Content Marketing is the winning card, thanks to the unique features this service encompasses.
- Maximize profit
Content marketing strategy has medium to long term applicability, which means you won’t get the results you want in a week.
If you have a little patience, however, and meticulously follow a clear strategy the results will be extremely rewarding and will be seen in the growth:
- brand awareness
- traffic on the site
- number of customers
- degree of brand loyalty
…but also in improving reputation, and in decreasing the investment of money and time required for promotion.
- Sustine other marketing services
As a highly flexible service, it can be used in a mixed advertising and promotion strategy, integrated with other services such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media Marketing, Google Ads or Email Marketing.
By implementing a content marketing strategy alongside these services, you will practically stimulate better results for your other services as well.
It is important to keep in mind one important thing in this step, namely that a strategy is effective when it closely follows the overall business strategy.
From here, you should also know that a Content Marketing strategy is only effective in the ecosystem of a business’s promotional strategies when the overall business strategy is compatible with the content strategy.
Here we go!
Content marketing strategy is not the same as content strategy!
While content marketing strategy looks at how a company can use content marketing in the various stages a potential customer goes through on the road to conversion, content strategy is an overall plan that sets out whether and how content can be used in every aspect of a business to meet business objectives.
We have more clearly explained the difference between the two types of strategies in the article about what is content marketing, published on the re7consulting blog.
Why is content marketing effective?
In recent years we have seen a major shift in consumer behaviour. Consumers are responding less to traditional marketing than ever before, thanks to ad removal options and more selective ad behavior.
Smart marketers say it takes innovation and talent to respond to new trends in the online world. The most successful content marketing campaigns reach their audiences through new methods of advertising, with persuasion that goes beyond the traditional boundaries of simple ads.
By creating content about topics that interest the target audience, companies are able to attract new potential customers. Once these potential customers interact with their content, there are several ways to convert them into customers. Simply put, promotional content promotion is no longer an effective strategy. Using content marketing, the long-term strategy will deliver results, if formulated correctly.
Media agencies have taken the lead in imposing a new content marketing strategy, creating original content to answer audience questions, provide solutions to problems, increase website traffic and ultimately drive sales.
Now that we’re clear on the importance of having a clear strategy in a Content Marketing campaign, let’s move on to:
The 10 steps of Content Marketing Strategy
We have located 10 steps to implement in an effective Content Marketing strategy.
These steps will give you the insights you need to get an overview of your target audience, the most relevant channels and the types of content you need to use to achieve your goals.
You will also implement a well-developed Content Marketing campaign management system, as well as a system for measuring the results achieved.
The first step in the strategy is:–>
Setting targets and KPIs (Key Performance Metrics)
Choosing objectives to achieve with a Content Marketing campaign will be done taking into account the business objectives.
Therefore, it is necessary that the process you follow must include strategic thinking, thus aiming directly at SMART objectives.
Surely SMART can be translated exactly like that and understood as being smart in choosing goals, in SMART, in this case, is an acronym that represents 4 essential steps in goal setting.
So, the goals you set should be:
- Time-Bound/Framed in a Clear Time Period
Some of the goals you can achieve in a content marketing campaign are:
- Creating useful and valuable content
- Building an online audience around the brand
- Positioning yourself as an authority on your business niche
- Brand visibility
- Google visibility
- Getting backlinks for SEO
- Generating traffic
- Attracting potential customers
Well, then what’s the deal with KPIs?
Well, KPIs (Key Performance Metrics) are the concrete goals that you attach to your overall objectives.
For example, if my goal is to increase the number of people who visit the company’s website, the KPI targets an X% increase in website traffic measured in Google Analytics.
If the goal is to increase visibility in Google, the KPI will aim to rank the site in the first position in Google for X keywords
Establishing a Buyer Persona
How can you be sure that the solutions you offer reach the people who really need them? Answer: you can’t be sure; not without making an ideal customer profile.
Buyer Persona is the result of painstaking research into the ideal customer typology for a business.
The process of creating this profile involves assigning financial, demographic, psychographic or behavioural indicators to a fictitious actor who represents the ideal customer of the business.
This profile helps you understand the right audience, giving you the opportunity to tailor your content marketing strategy to your ideal customer profile.
Here is an example of a Buyer Persona for a Coffee Shop:
You can also make your own Buyer Persona, with the help of this free tool offered by HubSpot.
Target audience location
Once you have your ideal customer profile, you get the clues you need to determine where your target audience spends most of their time, how much time they spend in those places, and how they choose to spend that time.
Of course, locations can be physical, but we’ll focus today on the digital locations where your target audience can be found, thus getting to step #4 in setting your content marketing strategy:
Establishing distribution channels
Once you’ve achieved your ideal profile and established where your target audience spends most of their time, establishing channels for content promotion and distribution is a breeze.
In digital, the most popular platforms are social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube or Tik Tok. Also, Google is perhaps the most important platform through which you can reach your target audience.
Choosing which content types to use
There are plenty of content types available and ready to be integrated into your strategy to achieve your goals in a content marketing campaign.
Among these, we only mention:
- Blog articles
- Press releases
- E-books (.PDF files)
- White Papers (.PDF files of ample size)
To get the best results, choosing the most appropriate content types should take into account the ideal customer profile, the type of platform, and the stage the potential customer is at in the Content Marketig funnel (you probably noticed in the pre-sales funnel displayed above, on the left, effective content types at each stage in AIDA).
You can also get another hint on the most effective content types to use in your strategy by:
Consulting a content audit on business platforms
This involves analysing the content published to date on the distribution platforms you have chosen to use in your current marketing strategy and pinpointing those types of content that have achieved the best results.
Also, through this research you can locate the so-called “Gaps” in the structure of the content published so far. You will then be able to fill in with content those areas that you have missed so far.
Filling the ecosystem present on the business platforms can also be achieved by:–>
Looking at what competitors are doing to create content and how they choose to use content in their strategies can provide you with a very useful set of insights:
- you can locate areas where you are deficient
- can create content that adds to content already published by these
- you can see what types of content worked best for them
Once you’ve done the previous steps and, in your strategy there are, so far: customer profile, distribution platforms and content types to use, it’s time to move on to the next step, which is:
This content calendar is a decisive support in the efficient implementation of your content marketing strategy, as it helps you to keep a clear track of your content creation and media distribution activities.
Download the FREE Content Calendar we use in our agency, to get a better understanding of how it works.
The first step in setting your Content Marketing strategy issetting your marketing funnel, which we have already discussed earlier in this article.
At this point all that remains is to get the campaign underway, but not before taking a little time to:
Choosing and implementing performance measurement solutions
Depending on the chosen distribution platforms, you can use:
- Facebook & Instagram Insights
- Facebook Pixel
- LinkedIn Analytics
- Google Analytics
- Google Ads
- Google Search Console
- SEO Monitor
- Newsletter Analytics (integrated into mailing tools such as MailChimp, MailJet, etc.)
- Various other tools, depending on the platform used.
Also, in marketing you need to take care to integrate the right measurement tools in each step of the funnel used in your content marketing strategy, in order to always have an overview of the steps your potential customers are taking, but also to be able to implement retargeting and remarketing strategies where appropriate.
5 Benefits of Content Marketing
There are many advantages you can benefit from if you apply a correct and consistent content marketing strategy. Let’s see some of them:
- It establishes your notoriety and pushes your business to the forefront.
Why should customers choose your products or services over those offered by your competitors? One of the main reasons is that you have demonstrated that you are an expert in your industry. That’s why companies include blog articles, post interviews with successful entrepreneurs for news sites and get more exposure than ever on social networks. All of this helps position the business as an expert, which obviously leads to trust. Content marketing is a perfect way to educate and inform, while demonstrating that you are an expert and that your products can be trusted.
2. Attract potential new customers
Think of your content as a giant magnet. When it’s written well, it will start to attract new customers. One important thing to remember is the relevance of the content in any wesbite. If your content attracts the wrong potential customers, then it’s the wrong strategy.
3. Encourage more followers on social networks
Content marketing and social networks are a perfect match. You write the content and then use social networks to distribute it. The potential customers you attract using this method will start following your company and products on social networks, and the popularity benefits are obvious.
4. Improves search engine optimization (SEO)
Content marketing plays an essential role in SEO. By creating content and using content marketing strategies, you will increase the chances that a search engine will show your content to people searching for similar products or services.
5. Encourage sales
Yes, content marketing brings profit.It is one of the most common marketing strategies nowadays. The benefits of a well-executed content marketing strategy include sales, driven by the targeted audience found through this method.
A content marketing campaign is a complex and time-consuming process, but the results you can achieve, if you implement the right content marketing strategy, are extremely beneficial to your business.
Consumer behaviour nowadays has changed a lot and, thanks to the increasing level of competitiveness in the market, people know they have a choice. Thus, the online buying process is often preceded by conscious information sessions, therefore, by following the right Content Marketing strategy, you can be the one who gives the potential customer all the reasons to be convinced that your offer is the right one for him.