New year, new year content?

You want to start creating content to boost your online marketing, but where do you begin? This content strategy 101 will give you a place to start and see you through the stages of content development.

I’ve written about content marketing before and when adopting a content marketing strategy, there are 8 steps to content strategy 101 which we’ll explore.

8 steps to content strategy

8 steps to content strategy

1. Define your content strategy goal

For any marketing plan, step 1 is always the same: define your goal. With your goal clearly defined, you’ll be in a better position to develop a content strategy that works.

What do you want to accomplish with your content strategy? Consider possible goals before starting to write, snap or post.

Content strategy goals

Content strategy goals

2. Establish your target audience

Once you know what your goal is, you can start to define who you want to reach with your content. This step is equally important because your target audience is another factor that dictates the type of content that will most effectively accomplish your goal.

One useful way to approach this is to create one or more buyer personas. To create a buyer persona, you’ll use the information you already have about your audience or customer base to create a representation of your ideal customer. You may have to start out with a fairly rudimentary buyer persona, but over time you can improve the accuracy of your persona as you gain more information about your audience.

If you don’t have enough information to create buyer personas, you can still create a basic profile of your target audience by thinking about a few factors such as:

  • The age of your target audience. Are you targeting teens, young adults, or seniors, for instance.
  • Your audience’s income can be important, particularly if you’re selling expensive luxury branded items.
  • The types of work your audience does. For instance, if you’re offering B2B products or services you’re likely to be targeting people with specific job roles.

3. Find your audience

Once you know who your audience is, it’s time to find where they hang out online. For the most part, this is a fairly simple thing to figure out.

If you’re a B2B enterprise you’re likely going to be focusing on LinkedIn; for most other purposes, Facebook is a good starting point.

Twitter is a valuable tool in all instances, whether you’re operating a B2B enterprise or are focusing on building a consumer audience.

4. Define your content needs

The type of content that best suits your strategy will depend a lot on the goal of your strategy as well as your audience, and the subject matter of the content. For instance, while blog posts are a kind of format that are great for all audiences, case studies and white papers are typically focused more towards B2B audiences. 

Content types also consider whether your focus is on topical, news issues, planned events, responding to question or content that can be used at any time.

Content types

Content types

5. Develop content ideas

When you’ve established who your audience is and the type of content you want to provide, it’s time to figure out what you want to say. The simple way to approach this is by creating a mind map of your topic and branching out from there. You may want to start off simple by writing a short series of blog posts about basic topics in your field. This is handy because it can help you refine your writing style, and also provides you with evergreen posts you can link back to when you start creating more specific content.

Creating content on a regular basis can start to seem difficult after a while. Many people find they start to feel that they’ve run out of things to say, even on a topic they know well. It can be useful to see what’s in the news, or look at what other people are saying. Can you put your own unique spin on an existing idea, or examine an old problem in a new way?

Don’t forget you can switch up your content formats too. If you write a series of blog posts on a specific subject, for instance, consider collating them into an ebook and offer it as a free download.

6. Publish and promote your content

The next step is to get writing and publish your content. The most popular choice for a content management system is WordPress, but there are others, such as Joomla! and Drupal, that have their own sizeable userbases.

When you publish content, remember that it’s important to promote it, too. Typically you’ll publish content on your own site, and then use social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to let your audience know.

7. Evaluate your results

No strategy is complete without some simple but effective ways to measure your success. Page views are important of course, but it’s also important to know how those page views are generated. Are people finding your content via social media, and if so, where are they coming from? Are your posts being liked or shared, or generating comments?

Most importantly, how do your results measure up in terms of your content strategy goal? Sometimes this can be a difficult metric to measure; for instance if your goal is to become an industry expert, it’s hard to gauge from metrics how successful you are.

8. Refine your strategy

This is the last step of developing a content strategy, but it’s also where the real work begins. Your content strategy isn’t something you develop and then follow to the letter for the rest of time—it’s something you develop and then continually refine and improve.

It’s a test and learn approach which means that you’ll revisit many of the steps in this strategy, as your business changes, as you launch new products and services, or as you target new audience sectors.

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