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How to Build a Content Strategy that Delivers Results

More than 60% of businesses are investing in content marketing. Why? Content marketing increases your visibility in organic search, engages your audiences, evokes strong emotions, inspires customer loyalty and can improve sales.

Unfortunately, many marketers still don’t use content marketing strategically. According to CMI, 63% of companies don’t have a documented content strategy.

So, how do you build a content strategy that drives results? Read on!

Build Solid Buyer Personas

Before you even start building your content marketing strategy, you first need to get to know your audiences. Start by interviewing your customers. They like being heard and will gladly share information with you, especially if you offer incentives. Balance your research with existing customers and others that haven’t bought from you yet. Your newsletter subscribers and leads are perfect for this kind of analysis.

Segment your customers according to their demographics (age, gender, income, ethnicity, marital status, education, occupation), as well as their buying habits, attitudes, personalities, lifestyle, and values. Based on this data, you should create detailed buyer personas.

A buyer persona is a generalized representation of your target user that reflects their goals, behaviors, habits, needs, and problems. Creating thorough profiles of your customers helps you identify relevant commonalities in your buyer groups and help you address them effectively.

There are many tools that will help you visualize your customer data and build detailed buyer personas including HubSpot’s Buyer Persona Template, Marketo’s Marketing Persona Cheat Sheet, or Digital Marketer’s Customer Avatar Worksheet.

Define the Goals of your Content Strategy

Content marketing can boost your online presence in myriad ways, including increasing brand awareness, retaining customers, generating valuable leads, maximizing website traffic, growing sales, or simply positioning you as an industry leader.

Logically, depending on the goals you set, your approach to content marketing will change. HubSpot emphasizes that the strategic use of different content asset types helps marketers guide their visitors through different stages of their buyer journey, towards making a purchase.

For example, the content used in the awareness stage should educate a reader and grow their awareness of your brand. This is where you could use whitepapers, eBooks, checklists, or informative webinars. The evaluation stage informs a user about how you can help them solve specific problems and this is where case studies, FAQ pages, demo videos, or product webinars would work. Finally, to encourage a customer to finalize their purchase, you need to provide them with free trials, live demos, or consultations.

Create a Content Marketing Calendar

A content calendar is not just a list of all topics you’ve thought of. Instead, this is a comprehensive document that helps you strategize and execute your blogging efforts in a timely manner. It lets you plan every piece of content in advance and choose how it will be laid out over the next few weeks. This is where you will emphasize the type of content you want to publish, when you want to publish it, as well as how much content you will create daily/weekly/monthly.

It’s important to maintain blogging consistency when updating your editorial calendar. For example, Mondays are a perfect time to engage your users and increase your social shares, while throwback Thursdays are great for sharing your behind-the-scenes photos to humanize your brand and build personal relationships with your target audiences.

Experiment with Different Types of Content

Inexperienced marketers usually focus on text-based blog posts. What they forget is that their audience has different preferences. Some of them are visual learners, memorizing images and video content faster than text. There are also those who prefer audio over text or video. Therefore, to cater to wider audiences and inspire them to convert, you should diversify your content marketing strategy.

Creating highly authoritative blog posts that bring value to your target readers and build trust with them is one of the key content marketing tips you will hear from digital marketing experts. These could be content forms like lengthy articles, case studies, comprehensive guides, checklists, in-house research, or eBooks. Always pack your posts with personal experiences, fresh research and statistics, your clients’ stories, and actionable tips. This is valuable content that increases your industry credibility and, as such, drives massive shares, organic backlinks, and referrals.

Also, create visual content like infographics and videos that make your data easier to digest, as well as highly engaging podcasts that are widely popular among mobile users that don’t have time to read your 5000-word guides. Finally, there are interactive forms of content like quizzes that will humanize your brand interactions and personalize user experiences.

Set Your Brand Voice

What makes Coca-Cola more popular than its competitors? The answer is simple – this is not yet another company selling carbonated drinks. Pay attention to its slogans and messaging and you will see that they, in fact, sell the idea of friendship, joy, and happiness.

To make your content marketing efforts recognizable, you need to establish your tone of voice and align it with your buyer personas. Consider their preferences, see what brands they trust, what language they use, and try to adapt your storytelling tactics to their need. Most importantly, make sure your language reflects your brand’s core values, goals, and missions.

Be it quirky, fun or professional, your tone of tone of voice should be used consistently across your blog, social networks, and email newsletter. You want your readers to recognize your style of writing immediately, without even seeing your name.

Optimize for the Right Keywords

Creating high-quality content is not enough to get yourself noticed. To do so, you need to blend your content strategy with different digital marketing initiatives. And, keyword optimization should be your starting point. 

Remember that we’re living in the mobile-first era where stuffing your blog posts with a bunch of exact-match keywords doesn’t work anymore. The rise of voice technologies has made users’ interactions with search engines more natural – they now use questions and whole sentences when searching for specific information. Precisely because of that, you need to understand your customers and focus on building an intent-based SEO strategy.

Simply put, you need to understand your users’ keywords and know what kind of results they expect to see when they search for these phrases. So, in addition to some traditional keyword research tools, use some alternative sources of customer information. For example, Buzzsumo or Google Trends will inform you about the hottest industry topics, while Answer the Public uses Google and Bing’s databases to predict the question your users will ask.

Track Results and Tweak Your Strategy Continuously

Even though content marketing is not rocket science, it’s far from being easy. It requires lots of research and strategizing. Most importantly, similar to other aspects of digital marketing, content strategy is all about analyzing your performance. This is the only way to understand what tactics work for you and focus on them in the future.

Your content marketing KPIs will vary based on the goals of your strategy. For example, if you want to maximize brand awareness, monitor metrics like organic traffic, page views, social media engagement, or referral links. To increase link generation via content, focus on KPIs like form completions, email subscriptions, blog subscriptions, email open rates, email click-through rates.

To track the right metrics, first familiarize yourself with the industry benchmarks and set goals based on them. Only by choosing realistic and measurable goals will you be able to determine which content marketing tactics resonate with your audiences and focus on them.

This is the only way to build a flexible content strategy that delivers growth and results.

How do you optimize your online presence using content marketing? Share your ideas and best practices in the comments.

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