August 04, 2015

What Exactly Is a Documented Content Marketing Strategy?

If you’ve attended a content marketing seminar, read articles on content marketing best practices or peppered social media experts with queries on effective content creation, you have most assuredly come across one common theme: Every content marketer needs a documented strategy.

The research also bears this out. In fact, according to CMI’s 2015 Benchmarks Report, 60 percent of marketers with a documented strategy believe they are effective in their content efforts. That same study, however, reveals that only 35 percent of these marketers have such a road map. With that in mind, let’s look at a few of the absolutely essentially components of a documented content plan:

Clear Business Goals: One of the biggest mistakes content creators make is even beginning to think about developing, producing and distributing marketing materials without a clear understanding of what they are trying to achieve. Business goals should inform every aspect of content marketing, from the intended audience, to the types of assets that will be prioritized, to the channels that will be used to disseminate the content. Business goals can be both qualitative and quantitative. For instance, you may decide that generating more leads and improving your SEO ranking are priorities, and those objectives are measurable with the right analytics tools in place. You may also want to establish your business as a thought leader in your industry, which can be more difficult to quantify but is beneficial nonetheless.

Specific Target Audience: Producing engaging content is extremely difficult if you don’t know who you are trying to engage. The tone, style and approach you take in creating content will all be impacted by your target audience; therefore, understanding who these people are and what they want is critical. And it’s not enough to say that you are targeting “members of the C-suite.” You should specifically identify your readers’ business pain points, the pressures they might be feeling in their jobs or lives day to day, and what action you want them to take after they consume the content.

Long-Term calendar: You may have heard the saying that content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint; while admittedly a bit corny, it also happens to be true. Effective content creation cannot be done on an ad hoc basis. Content marketing is about integrating various assets to reap maximum effectiveness from each, which is not possible if you are trying to make decisions in the spur of the moment. For example, if you are planning to send an email marketing message out at the end of the month that prompts readers to click a link and download a white paper, you need to be sure that white paper has been conceptualized, researched, written and proofed by the time that message goes out. With so much going on in marketing departments today, that kind of future-facing thinking is simply not possible without a calendar that lays out a schedule for every piece of content well in advance.

If it sounds like creating a documented content strategy is an involved process, that’s probably because it is. Crystallizing a plan takes time and critical thinking, but it also increases your chances for success and saves time on the back end, as all aspects of the strategy are clearly spelled out ahead of time, leaving execution as the only remaining step. The development stage can be overwhelming, especially for those unfamiliar with the process—but there is expert help available. To learn more about how a content strategy vendor can help you create a winning plan, reach out today.

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