How to create a content marketing strategy
No two content marketing strategies are the same – at least they shouldn’t be. At a high level, “blogging” is a strategy, as is “video marketing.” But digging deeper into the tactics, timelines and targets of those strategies reveals that there is a lot of variability and subtleties in play.
To develop a content marketing strategy that’s uniquely designed for your brand, its goals and its capabilities, here are some starting points and simple examples:
- Identify short- and long-term business goals.
40% increase in customer subscriptions in the next quarter.
- Establish how the marketing team can help deliver on those goals.
Create middle-of-the-funnel content that’s helping push prospects closer to a conversion.
- Understand which buyer personas you’re targeting with your content.
Who within your target audience has purchasing power to become a paying customer?
- Decide which types of content are preferred by those buyers.
Does this persona mostly consume short articles or do they prefer video demos and face-to-face meetings?
- Select promotions and distribution channels your target audience uses.
Are they active on specific social media platforms or are they relying on email or search engines to gather information?
- Map conversion pathways to the customer journey.
At which stage of the funnel are you hoping to increase conversions and remove any final customer obstacles?
- Design calls-to-action and event triggers for tracking and measuring performance and goal completions.
To properly attribute success and identify dropoff, create clickable CTAs that lead to dedicated landing pages – and track those clicks, links and actions with code and integration into your analytics dashboard.
- Create a template, model or workflow that organizes and facilitates the execution of the above steps.
Use agile methodology, project management software, creative agency vendors or other “systems” to coordinate your campaign.
While these steps serve as a skeleton for your marketing framework, the actual “how” of ideating, implementing and executing the specifics of your strategy are up to you, your budget and your tools.
Content marketing in the sales funnel
The sales funnel is the elemental foundation of marketing and sales alignment. For any business, knowing how your funnel takes shape, how each stage performs and where improvements can be made empowers you to create content that’s more likely to resonate – and convert.
What Is a Content Marketing Funnel?
A content marketing funnel is a framework that allows organizations to guide their audience through the buyer’s journey using content and its associated distribution channels.
You may have heard of terms such as TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU with respect to marketing or sales funnels. In this section, we’ll look at these terms and how they relate to the stages of the buyer’s journey.
Stage 1: Top of the Funnel (TOFU)
This stage is equivalent to the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey. In this stage, the buyer is aware of their problem and looking for a solution. Sometimes they know something’s amiss, but they can’t figure it out on their own.
Your goal at the TOFU is to help them identify their problem or make them aware of your solution, while implicitly driving brand awareness. You don’t want your brand name to be in their face, but your goal should be to educate and inform and help them solve their problem. It is also essential to give them a genuine reason to pick your solution compared to competitors’.
Since the prospect will actively be looking for a solution, you must know the terms and phrases they use to describe their pain points. This will help you create a keyword-driven content strategy. The content formats that work the best for this stage include blog posts, videos, podcasts, downloadable content, and social media.
Example: Moz is an SEO software that helps with keyword research, site audits, link building, etc. Moz has created the Beginner’s Guide to SEO to attract an audience from the awareness stage to acquaint them with SEO and how they can implement it on their website.
Stage 2: Middle of the Funnel (MOFU)
Once the user enters the consideration stage, they know your product and are evaluating your offerings against your competitors. The content created for MOFU should be centered around the queries the prospect might have about your offerings. The goal is to convince them that your product is the best fit for their requirements.
Keep in mind that the buyer still hasn’t made any concrete decision, and any attempts to make a hard sell might tick them off. Examples of content for MOFU include case studies, product videos, and webinars, product FAQs, datasheets, buyer’s guides, etc.
Example: OnePlus, a smartphone company, has created an elaborate product specification sheet on its website, which users can go through to understand the product.
Stage 3: Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)
In the purchase stage, the prospect has decided to go ahead with your offerings. To successfully facilitate the purchase process, you need to make it as smooth as possible, and content helps significantly in this case.
The BOFU is a convergence of various marketing and sales activities supported by content. It consists of free trials, discounts or coupon codes, social proof (testimonials, ratings, and reviews), and a seamless sales process. You can also support it through lead nurturing (email marketing and remarketing).
Once the prospect becomes your customer, your content strategy should assist them during onboarding. The purpose is to build a retention and referral process that can work passively through the content.
Example: Netflix, on its registration page, has laid out the pricing details for its different plans to help users understand the features for its pricing slabs. Apart from this, Netflix also provides a 30-day trial to enable users to get the hang of the platform.
Content marketing distribution strategy
How you distribute, promote and amplify your content has a direct impact on how your messaging is received and how far it reaches.
Simply having the right distribution channels in place isn’t necessarily enough to make your content achieve its full potential. You also need to optimize those specific channels to ensure they’re being maximized. For instance, if you want to increase your email marketing conversions but don’t have email lists segmented effectively by audience variations, you could be targeting too many people at once – and converting no one at all.
Based on industry studies and experiments we’ve run internally over the past years, we’ve discovered that there are 10 super important distribution strategies to implement before your content launches.
The top 10 marketing distribution strategies are:
1. Ideate distribution channels at the same time you brainstorm content ideas.
This makes every asset completely aligned and on brief with what you hope to achieve.
2. Fix all indexing issues and mark up your site with proper schema.
Organic search as a distribution channel only works if search crawlers can accurately interpret your site and serve it to users in SERPs.
3. Segment your email lists and set up custom marketing triggers.
Email marketing can get very complex very fast, but it’s the perfect channel to control nearly every aspect of what happens at all times. Be as detailed as possible, and track every event, trigger or action – then feed that data back into your next email campaign.
4. Solicit micro influencer contributions.
Authorities in your space who share your content are your marketing allies, and they can signal boost your content to heights you could have never achieved alone. Ask them to contribute a quote to your next article, appear on your podcast or collaborate on joint ventures.
5. Measured paid distribution.
Pay-per-click advertising through search engines and social media platforms can be costly without appropriate oversight and targeting. When done right, however, you can reach more users, more quickly than relying solely on organic marketing. Be tactical with your investments and use paid media distribution as a smaller percentage of your budget.
As consumers who were once narrowly described as “readers” or “viewers” become “listeners,” podcast marketing has taken root. The number of people consuming audio content has doubled in recent years, and those who listen to podcasts weekly do so for more than 6 hours a week. This is a huge audience you can’t ignore.
7. Use browser notifications where applicable.
You can send targeted messages to users on your site with the click of a button, and if they hit accept you’ve immediately added another person to your email list. Browser notifications only take minutes to design and you can generate a lot of activity quickly. Just beware of the click quality you receive.
8. Maximize email signature real estate.
If you’re already sending out emails, why not make your email signature more actionable? Include contact info, clickable CTAs, product catalogs, links to recent content, etc.
9. Guest blogging for backlinks.
With quality backlinks being a top Google ranking factor, posting on credible, high-DA sites can send additional referral traffic your way and, over time, boost your own site’s DA.
10. Webinar marketing.
Virtually any type of content can be converted into a webinar. The narrated, slideshow, Q&A format increases viewer engagement, generates leads via registrations and makes your content multifunctional.