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Why and How to Develop Your Content Strategy

Content is king, which makes your content strategy the parliamentary system. 👑

Your content strategy “governs, manages, and guides the principles of your overall content marketing.” (Practical Content Strategy & Marketing)

Developing a content strategy is the way to keep your kingdom running smoothly.

Consider this: As of January 2019, there were over 1.94 billion websites on the internet, and over 4 billion internet users.

Those are big numbers.

Let’s put it this way: over 4 billion people are clicking around online every day, and are landing on sites that are either

  1. confusing and haphazard, or
  2. providing structured, valuable content

Which sites will keep those billions of people coming back for more?

via GIPHY

Content Marketing vs Content Strategy

Before we go any further, let’s clear things up. Content marketing and content strategy are not the same thing.

Content marketing is creating, publishing, and distributing your content to your target audience.

Content strategy is the foundation and system behind successful content marketing.

Why is Having a Content Strategy So Important?

Developing an effective content marketing strategy is the key to content marketing success. According to a Content Marketing Institute study, 65% of the most successful content marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.

So, you’re in good company. 🤝

Having a content marketing strategy can help to clarify your business’s primary goals. Your website content strategy will also make it easier to figure out what kind of content you should focus on.

CMI’s study shows us that 81% of Business-to-Business content marketers find that having a documented content marketing strategy aligns their team around a common mission. 73% of those B2B content marketers also said that their content marketing strategy helps keep the team focused on priorities.

Having a clearly defined content strategy will help you answer these essential marketing questions:

1. Why are you publishing content?

Content drives everything. Why you’re publishing content is more important than what you publish. What goals do you want to reach through your content?

2. Who are you trying to reach?

Who is your target audience? What type of content does your ideal customer want to see? Refer to your buyer personas and create content for those people.

3. What kind of content will you publish?

Will you be publishing short- or long-form blog posts? Informative, well-researched articles? Maybe you’ll post reviews and comparisons, or case studies — or a mix of a couple of different content formats.

4. Who is going to create and manage your content?

Are you a one-person show? Can you hire a content writer and a content manager to help you develop and maintain your content strategy?

5. Where will your content have the most impact?

Refer to your company’s overall digital marketing strategy. Will you publish your content solely on your own site? Consider reaching out to relevant brands and businesses, and form relationships with them. Seek guest posting and backlink opportunities to reach a broader audience.

6. What are the next steps? How will you implement your strategy?

Investing time and resources into your content strategy will help you reach your goals with less anxiety and scrambling. Part of your plan will be to develop a step-by-step process, create a schedule, and assign tasks.

Consider providing content marketing training to your team as a part of your overall strategy. My Profitable Content Marketer Skills Cheat Sheet is a content marketing plan that will give you and your team actionable steps to take to master your content creation strategy and marketing.

6-Step Framework to a Profitable Content Strategy

Your digital content strategy is essential to your content marketing success.

But as you’ve learned by now, it’s not as simple as just adding blog post titles to your calendar. 😬

There’s a lot that goes into developing a profitable content strategy. Here, I’ve outlined the six steps to building a content strategy that gets results:

1. Get Set on Fundamentals

Get back to the basics! There are three things to know here:

1. Your Content Goals

This goes back to answering the question, “why are you publishing content?” What goals do you want to reach through your content? What do you want the outcome to be after someone reads your content?

Do you want your readers to participate in something like signing up for a mailing list, engaging on social media, or registering for a webinar?

Do you want your readers to purchase something? Maybe you’re an eCommerce site, and you want your readers to convert to buyers.

Do you want your readers to download something like an eBook, some branded resources, or premium content?

Do you want your readers to inquire? Maybe your goal is to have readers fill out a questionnaire so you can build a new buyer persona. Or, maybe you’d like them to schedule a call or a consultation.

2. Your Content Differentiation Factor (CDF)

Your content differentiation factor (CDF) is sort of like your unique selling point (USP) — only not. 🙃

You can learn how to identify your CDF in my Content Marketing and Strategy Course. In a nutshell, though, to know your CDF you need to answer these questions: What sets your brand’s or business’s content apart from the competition? What is your “It” factor?

Determining your CDF will help you stand out from the rest of those 1.94 billion websites. You’ll know how to write content that grabs your readers’ attention, gains their trust, and builds authority for your brand or business.

3. Your Topic Area

The topics you write about have to be relevant to your content goals. If they’re not, you might as well be writing a personal journal. I know — there’s nothing wrong with journaling, but we’re talking about B2B content strategies here. 🤷🏻‍♀ 

An excellent way to nail down your topic area is to use my three-bucket topic strategy.

Every piece of content you write should fill one of these three content goal buckets:

  • The SEO Rankings Bucket
  • The Sales and Connections Bucket
  • The Brand Awareness Bucket

If your content topic doesn’t fill one of those three buckets, it’s not going to benefit you or help you reach your goals. Pick a new topic!

Once you know these three things — your content goals, your content differentiation factor, and your content topic area — you can move on to the next steps!

2. Bridge the Audience and Sales Gap

Understanding your audience is “the crucial first step to building an actionable content strategy.” (The 6-Step Framework to a Profitable, SEO-Optimized Content Strategy)

Refer to the buyer personas you developed with your initial marketing strategy. Better yet, build a couple of new buyer personas, specifically with your content strategy in mind.

Remember, you need to know who your audience is, and you need to understand how your audience thinks. What makes them tick? What are their pain points? What sort of content is going to direct them to a sale?

Once you understand your audience — and you know what type of content they’re going to respond to — you can bridge the audience and sales gap.

Map your buyer personas — and the content you’ll write for them — to the buyer’s journey:

  • Awareness: In this stage of the buyer’s journey, your audience will be interested in content that is educational or helpful. Think videos, infographics, and guides.
  • Consideration: Readers in the consideration stage have had their interest piqued. Now they’re more inclined to read sales-oriented content like white papers, reviews, testimonials, and case studies.
  • Decision: In this stage, your audience is ready to either go for it or walk away. They need to see content that urges them to act: prominent calls-to-action, persuasive conversion copy, and instructions on how to take the next steps.

3. Know Your SEO

Of course, I have to mention the benefits of some good ol’ SEO.

Knowing and understanding how SEO fits into your content strategy is key to having a content strategy that works!

First, set your overall content goals.

Then, you can start thinking about which SEO strategies and techniques to implement, depending on your content focus. Identify relevant keywords and phrases to use in your content, and include those keywords in your content strategy.

A note on keywords:

Broad keywords, which are typically 1-2 words long, are competitive — almost too competitive in some industries.

Long-tail keywords, however, which are typically 3-5 words long, tend to be less competitive and have the potential to reach customers who are ready to buy. With long-tail keywords, your chances of reaching customers who are looking for an answer to a specific question increase, too, which translates to relevance, authority, and visibility.

I could go on and on about optimizing your content and your marketing strategy for SEO. Suffice it to say, SEO optimization is an incredibly important process and a powerful tool for any business with an online presence.

4. Build Online Authority

You have to know what to focus on to get the results you want from your website. To build online authority and grow your brand through your content marketing strategy, determine your core content, and build a house around it.

Yes, really. A house. 🏠

The foundation of your content house will be built by:

  • Knowing your audience
  • Identifying your core content
  • Building a content persona
  • Discovering long-tail keywords

The structure of your content house will be formed with:

  • Original, expert-level content
  • Keyword-optimized blog posts and landing pages
  • A content strategy that includes producing ongoing, long-form content

The roof of your content house will keep everything nice and safe when you:

  • Measure, track, and maintain your content and content strategy

See? A house!

As you put your content strategy together and get to work building your content house, take your time, and take it seriously. Creating high-quality content that meets the needs of your audience will pay off in the form of backlinks, site traffic, brand growth, and conversions.

5. Create Content that Converts

This goes back to the fundamentals of your content strategy. To create content that works — that converts, you need to first understand your content goals, your content differentiation factor, and your content topic areas.

Once you’ve got that down, do some keyword research and look for long-tail keywords to optimize your content for relevance, authority, and visibility. Then, you can create your content schedule and commit to a workflow that will help you reach your goals.

When you’re developing your content marketing strategy, focus on quality over quantity, and answer these questions:

  • Who are you trying to reach through your content?
  • What type of content does your audience want to see?
  • What goals do you want to reach through your content?

6. Budget, Promote, and Maintain

Now we’re in maintenance mode. It’s time to start budgeting and to put your content strategy to work.

Here’s an example budget I put together for reference, that capped at $3,000:

You don’t need a massive budget for this. If you’re going to spend a dime on your content strategy, spend it on creating new high-quality content, or enhancing existing content. Budget for major content activities, for promoting your content, and for maintaining your content strategy and keeping everything up to date.

If some aspects of your strategy are too in-depth or will take up too much of your time, there are content marketing companies out there that can help!

Develop Your Content Strategy from the Ground Up

So, what’s your next step?

My six-week Content Strategy and Marketing Course is a great place to start. The content strategy course walks you through each step to build your content strategy from the ground up and includes lessons on how to create high-quality content that converts.

Bookmark this article.

When you’re ready to commit to developing an effective content strategy, refer to the steps outlined above, and you’ll set yourself — and your site — up for success.

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