Content marketing is the art of business storytelling, and the best art isn’t created overnight. It takes time, careful thought and precise execution to craft a compelling content marketing strategy for your business.
In order for your content marketing to generate the most results over the long run, it must focus on cultivating a highly targeted and engaged audience, building lasting relationships and converting those leads into loyal customers.
Many businesses rush to develop a plan and, in turn, aren’t all that strategic. If your company is looking to develop a content marketing strategy—or even update an existing plan—make sure it’s not missing any of these six key elements:
1. Get to Know Your Target Audience
One of the first, and most important, steps to creating an effective content marketing strategy is defining your target audience. An effective way to do this is by creating a buyer persona, which is a composite of who your business is targeting. It may include job title, job function, primary needs/challenges, and even gender and education levels.
By creating a buyer persona, your company will gain a deeper understanding of its target audience. Once that’s established, businesses can more strategically tailor their brand voice and content to the customer they’re trying to attract.
For example, let’s say you work at a manufacturing company and need to boost product sales. You can create buyer personas based on those who would be most interested in your products, such as architects, structural engineers or project managers. Factors that are likely to be of high concern to this target audience are the latest building materials, design trends and sustainability practices. If you know the common challenges these individuals face, your content can provide helpful solutions that meet their needs.
2. Diversify Your Content Types
Once you’ve identified your target audience, it’s important to remember that everyone consumes content in different ways—which is why you should diversify the types of content you’re producing. Although publishing blog posts is a great first start, it shouldn’t be the only content you create. If your products and/or services are better demonstrated visually, video can be a powerful marketing tool. In fact, 85% of businesses use video content as part of their marketing efforts.
Diversifying content types also means diversifying how your content is delivered. For instance, video, infographics and images generate higher engagement on social media. If your target audience is typically on the move, consider starting a podcast to serve as the soundtrack of their commute, or to play in the background while they cook or clean.
3. Incorporate Social Media Marketing
With social media deeply integrated into daily life, it should be a key element of any content marketing strategy. An active presence on appropriate social media channels will help build relationships with your target audience and key influencers, boost engagement with your brand and enable direct customer service. Plus, promoting content across social media will help drive traffic back to your website.
Starbucks is a great example of creative social media marketing. On its Facebook and Instagram channels, the coffeehouse chain shares user-generated content—such as photos of customers holding their caffeinated beverages in environments like a busy city sidewalk or a national park. On Twitter, Starbucks promotes mindfulness, like “Coffee break = screen break,” in addition to timely company announcements and events. These posts don’t always direct back to the Starbucks website, but they build customer engagement and promote brand awareness.
4. Create Custom Landing Pages
A landing page is a vital component of promoting a brand, improving SEO and increasing traffic to your site. Oftentimes, a landing page is the first page that a client will see after clicking on an email link or social media post. To be effective, it must contain clear, succinct content that relates directly back to the original source, be optimized for specific keywords and contain a compelling call to action.
When used correctly, landing pages can help engage your potential customers and increase web traffic. In fact, 68% of B2B companies use landing pages to generate new sales leads for future conversion. A great example of a successful landing page is Slack, a software platform that simplifies business communication, making it easier for colleagues to quickly message one another without making a phone call or drafting an email.
5. Develop an Integrated Content Marketing Strategy
When developing a content marketing strategy, your brand must be consistently and seamlessly carried throughout all of its marketing vehicles—such as its website, social media, newsletter, marketing collateral and multimedia. Anyone involved in promoting your brand’s content should be on the same page and working toward the same goals. In doing so, you reinforce your brand’s key messaging and create better brand recognition.
IKEA is a perfect example of this. With a goal of showcasing how customers can design an entire room easily and affordably using IKEA products, the furniture retailer ensures that all mediums—from TV ads, to blog posts and social media—are tied into this promotion.
6. Measure Your Results
Once you’ve produced high-quality content and promoted it to your target audience across various platforms, you’ll need to track and measure your results against your goals. According to a recent study by the Content Marketing Institute, B2B marketers have consistently cited brand awareness as their top goal over the last decade, with lead generation and engagement following not far behind.
Website traffic is the metric that B2B marketers look to most often to measure content marketing success. Sales lead quality and higher conversion rates are also highly considered. Whatever your goals may be, measuring your results allows you to learn what your target audience responds to best and use that information to continually improve your content marketing strategy over the long run.