The main reason you need a content marketing strategy is because content marketing is not an island.
Content marketing is an umbrella term. This means that it can be used for numerous reasons and can mean many things to many people. It’s less tangible than search engine marketing, for instance. This is exactly the reason why you need to think about the strategic role of content marketing within your organization and its ecosystem. Without a content marketing strategy, you risk focusing on the content – and content strategy – too much and not seeing the overall goals anymore. In fact, this is one of the most crucial and deadly mistakes in content marketing. Unfortunately, this disconnected view on content marketing happens very often and leads to a focus on the wrong things.
In an age where everything gets integrated and because content marketing – and social media marketing – is a huge umbrella terms this mistake of content-centricity cannot be made.
Finally, by looking at the role of content marketing in a strategic way, that’s integrated with overall marketing and customer goals, you don’t need to get buy-in for content marketing or even make the case. You’re most of all being a smarter and more effective marketer. In social media marketing, executives needed to approve budgets that were sitting somewhere else. In content marketing that’s less the case as it’s connected with many other marketing goals and is not something “additional”. This doesn’t mean that a solid content marketing plan does not often require additional budgets, but you’ll sell more business and a better brand perception to the C-suite, not necessarily a content marketing strategy.
In the ‘modern’ approach, where more people look at the role of content in branding, reach, engagement, social and SEO. especially in a pure branding, reach and engagement approach, organizations look less at buyer personas but rather at audiences. Nevertheless, such a view requires a content marketing strategy as well. Unless your company lives from website traffic, a pure publishing model without an overall strategy makes no sense. It’s also advisable to not look at content marketing from the pure social and search context.
The steps in a strategic content marketing approach
While a content marketing strategy first looks at the strategic place of content marketing in the overall marketing process, there is also a planning and organizational dimension, mapping the different steps regarding content planning, mapping, creation, etc. In this sense, a content strategy involves various components. In most cases several of them come back but here are some common questions to answer or tasks to fulfil in a content strategy.
Let’s detail the content marketing strategy a bit more with a quick list of things to do.
- Analysing what content is needed to fulfil different business goals across the customer journey or for branding purposes (often overlapping, each touchpoint has a branding dimension as well).
- Making an inventory of existing content and other resources or pieces of information that can be turned into content.
- Setting up the proper content planning, collaboration and scheduling processes.
- Developing a narrative that considers the brand’s promise and unique value proposition. Link the brand with the business goal and customer intent through content. Establish the tone of voice, style (guide), etc.
- Automating specific marketing processes, often triggered, using the right content at the right time on the right place.
- Planning a content strategy for different channels. OK, channels are never the priority but, on the other hand, each channel has specific characteristics, technical aspects, usage patterns, etc. Twitter is not Google is not email is not LinkedIn is not a webinar or a trade show.
- Making sure the content gets found by and shared with the different buyer personas and target audiences.
- Defining content-specific metrics and KPIs you will need to see if the overall marketing/business goals as defined in the marketing strategy and ideally for your marketing ROI
- Creating, sourcing, aggregating, curating, optimizing content: or just getting it done using the tactics that work best.
- Defining a proper mix that fits the goals and the customer journey, regarding formats, channels, etc.
- Providing the content in different formats, each with their specific calls-to-action, depending on individual stages. Offer a variety of content types and formats. Not for the sake of it but because different segments and personas have different needs. Furthermore, if you can avoid message fatigue, several touchpoints are good, certainly also from a brand perspective. There is nothing wrong with repetition, variety, choice and multiple formats. If it’s relevant.
- Mapping content to pin points, questions and buying cycle. Elaborating on the buyer personas from a content strategy perspective. Look at the buyer journey but also the sales cycle (and, as opposed to popular belief, both are not aligned or the same).
- Planning campaigns in the overall marketing strategy whereby various content marketing tactics can be combined.