Content marketing strategy

You can also log your content with the Content Audit tool from SEMRush. To do this, set up a project and select the section of your site you want to audit, such as your blog. Once you select the URLs, press the Start Content Audit button.

content marketing strategy emotional keyword list

Step 2. Establish Your KPIs

The KPIs will help you know when you have achieved your goals by providing milestones you can check off. They’ll include what you plan to achieve in terms of revenue, sales, traffic, SEO, traffic and different aspects of digital marketing like email marketing and social media metrics.

As mentioned earlier, for a successful content marketing strategy, you’ll need to be clear about who your audience is so you can create the right content to reach them. There are three actions you need to take.

You’ll also get insight into their key interests. To find this information in Google Analytics, go to Audience » Interests » Overview. You’ll see the market segments your web visitors fit into.

content strategy framework- ga audience interest overview

monsterinsights homepage

content marketing strategy example - facebook page insights

content marketing strategy example - twitter analytics

wpforms homepage

When you have demographic data and customer feedback, you can create or flesh out buyer personas. Buyer personas, also known as customer avatars, describe your ideal readers and customers so that you can target content better.

Why Content Marketing Strategy Is Important

In fact, Content Marketing Institute confirms this fact year after year with their Annual Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends Report . In 2021, 57% of content marketers still say they do not have a documented content strategy , yet those who do have a content marketing strategy consistently rate their efforts as far more successful than those who don’t.

In addition, the pandemic has made updating content marketing strategies even more critical. 70% of content marketers with a strategy report that the pandemic has impacted their content marketing strategy in a moderate to major way.

Percentage of B2B Marketers with a Content Marketing Strategy, 2021

These facts and figures also echo what we see every day at Convince & Convert, where we create content marketing strategies for some of the best-known brands in the world . And that’s exactly why we’ve put together this guide that outlines our methodology for creating a content marketing strategy. In addition, we have a handy content marketing strategy template help keep you on track and in alignment. You can download the PDF template here.

Content Marketing Tactics Conclusion

If you’re not seeing the results you want from your content marketing, then there are lots of different tactics you can use. Not every tactic will suit your business, so test to see which ones work best to engage your audience.

Consulting with Neil Patel


Neil Patel

He is the co-founder of NP Digital. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies. Neil is a New York Times bestselling author and was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 35 by the United Nations.

Content marketing strategy

At DigitalMarketer, for example, we produced an article to raise awareness (top of the funnel) for our marketing certification programs. This article was specifically targeted to our "Employee" avatar who has the intent of acquiring skills that will land them a better job.

Why do you need a documented content strategy

Defining and deploying a content marketing strategy

Content marketing strategy

It needs a strategic approach and that’s what a content marketing strategy is all about. Content marketing fits in a broader integrated marketing approach and needs some strategic consideration. However, just as is the case with other marketing techniques (email marketing or social media marketing, for instance) the content marketing strategy needs to be integrated in a broader strategy.

A content marketing strategy (not to be confused with a content strategy) analyzes the different ways content marketing can be used across the buyer’s journey, the customer life cycle and/or the different customer experience touchpoints but it goes beyond that. Essentially a content marketing strategy looks how content marketing (not content) can be used in a strategic way as such and for and with other marketing, customer and sales strategies.

The 5 Elements of a Powerful Content Marketing Strategy

An effective Content Marketing strategy should have these five core elements to be successful: audience personas, brand positioning, owned media value proposition, business case, and an action plan. Let’s see why these elements are essential and how you can start implementing each of them.

Elements of a content marketing strategy

1. Audience Personas

You can’t really tell the story of your brand if you don’t know who you are telling your story to. That’s why your first step will be to identify the audience you are attempting to target with your content. There are multiple ways to do this:

Once you have your audience in mind, you can use our free Personas tool to put them into writing. You’ll want to be able to clearly and succinctly communicate who your audience is to all stakeholders and anyone involved in brand messaging. Start by exploring these persona examples for your inspiration.

2. Positioning Your Brand and Story

Use this information to shape the main pillars of your brand story. A brand story is a summary of your company’s history, mission, purpose, and values. It can help you choose the right direction in your content marketing strategy, identifying to right messages and topics to translate with your content.

3. Content Marketing Mission Statement and Owned Media Value Proposition

To establish your brand as a credible content publisher, define your owned media value proposition. It’ll help you find a differentiation point in your content strategy and compete more effectively. To do so, answer the following questions:

4. Business Case and Content Marketing Goals

Identify business goals your company needs to achieve and figure out how content marketing will bring your company closer to those goals. How many resources do you need to invest in your content strategy and what results do you want to generate?

5. Action Plan

Finally, you will list out your main content marketing campaigns and projects on deck for the year and add them to your content plan. Think about how they will achieve the content marketing goals you’ve previously set for your business.

To decide on your optimal content formats and channels, you’ll need to look at your historical content performance and further analyze your audience, which we’ll discuss later. If you need inspiration, check out our 2022 list of the most remarkable content marketing examples.

7 Steps to Creating a Complete Content Strategy

Long-term planning allows you to anticipate challenges and allocate resources effectively. Laying out these seven steps will help you develop and implement a content strategy aligned with your marketing and business goals.

As mentioned earlier, you must document your plan. This could be a slide deck, a Google document, a spreadsheet, or another format that works well for your business model and can be easily shared with all essential stakeholders.

Step 1: Determine Your Audience and the Story You Want to Tell with Your Content

While your buyer personas will form the base for your content strategy, your audience isn’t solely made up of buyers. Audiences include people who begin interacting with your brand long before they intend to make a purchase.

Besides, becoming a valuable source of information can help you build a community of brand advocates who will spread the word and strengthen your thought leadership. We sometimes call these people “reader personas", highlighting that it’s all about delivering value to your audiences vs. pushing your products or services.

How to identify the audience for your content marketing strategy

Red Bull is an excellent example of a brand that creates content for audiences, not buyers. Red Bull’s owned media doesn’t focus on its product; it covers topics the audience is interested in, like extreme sports and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. You can easily identify the target audience—young and adventurous people, passionate about sport and an active lifestyle.

Red Bull showcases the importance of integrating your brand story into every content piece and every message sent to your audience. Remember about your mission, where you stand, and why you are sharing content in the first place. Creating this unique voice and character can help you stand out in the age of “content shock.”

The Empathy Map

How to build an empathy map

The “Jobs to Be Done” Framework

For example: When I work, I spend too much time completing all my tasks, that’s why I want to find a tool to improve my time management, so I can spend more time with my family.

Once you have an understanding of the prospect’s current problem, the solution they need, and the result they envision, you can create compelling content that can transform them from newcomers into your brand advocates.

Step 2: Analyze Historical Content Performance and Establish Your Content Marketing Goals

Such metrics might be primary: e.g., revenue generated by content marketing or organic traffic and the number of leads. Others might be secondary: e.g., organic traffic, ranking, and shares.

Remember that we all live in a world of limited resources. Your goals and plans are closely tied to the available budget and capacity of your team. So, make sure to take this into account when setting your targets.

content marketing goals in 2022

But we encourage you to always look at the bigger picture and see content marketing as an integral part of your overall marketing strategy. An example of an overarching goal could be: “In 2022, we want to achieve a 20% increase in revenue created by organic content and generate 15,000 MQLs with a budget of $30,000.”

Pro tip: Take the buyer’s journey into account when setting your content strategy goals. For example, in B2B, the sales cycle tends to be much longer than in B2C. So, multitouch attribution would be more optimal when analyzing your content performance and defining your KPIs (key performance indicators).

Goal-Setting Frameworks

Let’s look at some progressive goal-setting frameworks that can help you at this step. While you may be more comfortable with traditional goal-setting frameworks like SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) goals, flexibility is key to setting realistic benchmarks. Consider using the framework CLEAR, which can help you become more agile in a fast-changing environment.

SMART goals vs. CLEAR goals

With this approach, you can target an ambitious result, but set a minimum threshold for reaching the goal. Progress indicators (0–100%) allow each team member to see how attainable each goal is and understand what remains to be accomplished.

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Awareness Evaluation Conversion

A cold prospect cannot evaluate your solution until they are first aware of the problem and your solution. And conversion is impossible until the prospect has first evaluated the possible courses of action.

Blogs are fantastic facilitators of awareness, but they do a poor job of facilitating evaluation and conversion. And, at the risk of pointing out the obvious, evaluation and conversion are super critical to your business.

The Content Lifecycle

Most businesses will post content to a blog and to social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. Once you’ve mastered these two content types, you’ll want to add more top-of-funnel content to the mix, like a podcast or a print newsletter.

Whole Foods Example

Kitchen Designs Example

Facebook Ad Template Example

CloudMargin Example

Your lead may be reading your blog and downloading lead magnets (and it will help convert her), but you’ll need content that helps her decide between you and your competitor to move her through to purchase.

Customer Success Example

QuickBooks Example

But Quickbooks could earn some points by comparing their tools to their competitors’ tools as well. For instance, a Google search suggests that a comparison sheet between Quickbooks and their competitors (such as Xero) is another piece of content that should be on the radar of the Intuit content marketing team.

Google Xero Example

Xero Example

More Customer Stories Example

Xero BOFU Example

FreshBooks Example

The truth is the most lucrative content assets you’ll create (if you have an existing business) are assets that meet intent at the bottom and middle of the funnel. Optimize for this existing bottom and middle of funnel intent before going to work on generating awareness at the top of the funnel with an expensive and time-consuming blog roll out.

That’s not to diminish the power of a business blog. Over the last 24 months, we’ve been adding content assets (articles and podcasts) at the top of the funnel and we’ve increased website traffic (think awareness) by 1053%.

Facebook Lead Ads Example

When a prospect visits a piece of content (spends time) they have raised their hand and indicated interest. And, because of the magic of ad retargeting you can follow up with these prospects with a relevant ascension offer without even acquiring their contact information.

Ad Retargeting Example

(If you’re wondering, "Who in the hell would watch that boring video?" the answer is anyone who is interested in buying a coffee grinder and, particularly, anyone interested in buying THAT coffee grinder. Anecdotally. I bought that coffee grinder after watching that demo just a few weeks ago. The grinder does a great job grinding coffee and that video does a great job at cross-channel content marketing at the bottom of the funnel.)

Content marketing strategy

A strong content marketing strategy should give you focus, not lock you into less-than-awesome ideas! The key to a great content marketing strategy is being able to tweak, break, and chuck parts of it as you learn more about what works and what doesn’t.

Content matrix ignore

10 steps to creating an effective content marketing plan

1. Set goals & KPIs

Every strategy begins with goals. What do you want to achieve with your content marketing? According to a recent survey of B2B marketers, 80% said that content marketing helped them successfully achieve the goal of creating brand awareness, 75% for building credibility and trust and 70% for educating their audiences.

b2b marketing goals

Some common goals are listed in the image above and if you need more help, check out our social media goals template to help you. For every goal, you’ll need at least one KPI to know how well you’re working towards those goals. You can explore useful social media KPIs to track goals like reach, engagement, conversion and consumer loyalty.

2. Decide on target audiences

The next step is to decide on your target audiences. Oftentimes, this already coincides with your buyer personas or social media personas. If you have multiple audiences, like most businesses do, then you’ll be matching up content topics and types to each one.

social media persona

3. Audit your current content

How do you know where to go if you don’t know where you’re starting from? An audit helps answer this question, making it easy to assess your content.. To start, you’ll want to document all of your existing content. If there’s an overwhelming amount, set a limit such as 3 months or a year. You need to have a data set that gives a good look into what you’re publishing.

Running a content audit on your blog posts may help you find content you didn’t know existed. It may also help you identify duplicate content on your site. For social media posts, you can use Sprout Social’s social media audit template to help you assess content that is published on your social media platforms. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can add in a competitor or two to help benchmark your content marketing.

4. Identify the best content channels

For extra data, take a look at your website’s analytics to see where the referral sources are coming from. Are people getting to your blog post via a newsletter or social media post? Do they find you more via search? Knowing where your audience is coming from will help focus your efforts on those channels.

social media unfollowing infographic

5. Decide on content types

Not all content types are created equal and there are several different content formats to consider when planning your content marketing strategy. Some perform better on certain channels while others are more expensive to create. Common content types include photos, videos, blog posts, podcasts, infographics, and user-generated content.

content marketers social media goals

b2b marketing funnel

6. Determine budget, tools & resources

7. Create a content calendar

A content calendar is vital to your strategy. You need a place to plan your content out. At the very least, it should be able to track the topics and content you want to post and when. An enhanced content calendar will also track the status of each piece of content, the distribution of it, who’s working on it and its eventual performance after marketing it.

8. Create content

Now it’s time for creating the actual content that you’ll be sharing. At this point, you should have a good idea of what content types and channels you’ll be using. This means that the next is content ideation, development and curation.

9. Publish & promote

After the calendar is set and the content is created, the next step is to publish and promote it to the various channels you decided to focus on. If you’re promoting on multiple channels, it’s best to have one tool to get a clear, bird’s eye view of your publishing calendar.

social media content marketing plan

Sprout’s social media publishing tools were created with the busy marketer in mind. Use the publishing calendar to plan and schedule out your social content. The Asset Library offers you easy access to brand-approved images and simplifies asset management in one location to access.

sprout social asset library

3 Content Marketing Strategy Mistakes

3 Content Marketing Strategy Mistakes

1. Pitching Instead of Educating Deeply

It would be a mistake to use content to pitch a product or service directly since people who read/view our content usually aren’t ready to buy. They can draw the conclusion that you sell something as they read more of your content. Plus, if you hook them into subscribing to your email list by giving away an ebook, you can continue the conversation with content first, but you can sprinkle a pitch or two in your emails to them.

Focus on educating the potential consumer, and over time, they will reward you. Give a lot of value away via longer-form content. Don’t skimp. Because there is so much competition, you must find a way to stand out in terms of quality and comprehensive information.

2. Choosing Quantity Over Quality

Choosing Quantity over quality

Yet, it’s surprising how few organizations focus on quality. There is a palpable pressure to regularly pound out content, but is that really that effective? We recommend you create less content if that means you can take more time to create something robust and invaluable to your reader. Then spend extra time promoting the heck out of it.

3. Following “Best Practices” Without Data to Back It Up

The problem with that is there are so many “best practices” offered by lots of “experts.” Some of them are true gurus; others are charlatans. Plus, what worked for someone else may not apply to your situation exactly.

That’s why it’s better to look at case studies in your industry that have tangible stats and figures on their performance. This tends to winnow out strategies that won’t work for you or are just someone’s opinion. Then figure out how to modify them for your own company’s purposes.

Step 17: Estimate your content capacity

If you’re outsourcing this part to a team of experienced content marketers, content production might follow a reliable timetable. But if your team is just getting into content marketing, this can be a tough one. This is where it helps to ask for advice from people with experience.

The key here is to find a level of content production your team is confident they can take on, and then go for it. If you end up with lots of unfinished tasks at the end of the month, you can adjust expectations. If you finish way ahead of time, you can either ramp up production or invest in even higher-quality content.

Pro-tip: a spreadsheet may come in handy here! You can create columns for content type, estimated hours, quantity of pieces, and finally a total. This can help you build a few possible breakdowns of your content capacity.

Content capacity worksheet

Step 18: Map out your editorial calendar

It’s time to map out your editorial calendar for your content marketing assets. This is where you plot your blog posts, emails, ebooks, podcasts, etc. across a given patch of time, be it months, quarters, or semesters.

One thing to keep in mind: you don’t necessarily need to plan out every single piece of individual content on this calendar from the get-go. But it will help to map out how those content themes from Step 14 and the content types you listed in Step 16 will be spread across the next time period.

Protip: It’s easy to forget social media posting schedules here (since blogging and email take up a decent amount of brainspace). You may want to map out some of your social content schedule on the editorial calendar. Your social media conversations will understandably be more fluid than blog posts or emails, so this doesn’t need to be the end-all social media schedule. It’s just something to consider, as you may find it helpful just so you can see it in context of the rest of your content production. =)


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