How to Develop a Content Strategy: A Guide from Start to Finish

Whether you’re just starting out with content marketing or have been following the same approach for a while, it never hurts to rethink your content strategy plan – to make sure it’s current, innovative, and interesting for your prospects and customers, no matter when or how you want to buy.

The first step to competing and actively engaging your audience is with a solid, smart content marketing plan.

If you’re having trouble planning for the year ahead or need new ideas for your plan, read on.

In this post, you will learn what content strategy is, why your business needs a content marketing plan, and the steps to take to create your strategy. We’ll also examine some examples of effective content marketing strategies for inspiration.

What is content strategy?

A content strategy is a strategy that takes your business goals into account and then uses content as the primary means of achieving those goals.

For example, your business goals include increasing brand awareness (to ultimately generate more sales). To achieve this goal, you can implement a content strategy that focuses on SEO to increase website visibility on the SERPs and drive traffic to your product or service.

New business owners may assume that a content strategy is “nice to have” but not necessarily an early stage. However, producing high quality content to meet business needs can help companies build trust with new audiences and ultimately be successful in the long run.

In essence, a good content strategy is often the basis for your attraction and enjoyment phases on a buyer journey. Not only can you get new prospects for your brand, but you can also use a content strategy for sales promotion and overall customer satisfaction.

Plus with 70% of marketers actively invest in content marketingIt is often important that you develop a good content strategy in order to survive in your industry.

There are a few questions you need to answer when developing a content strategy. Let’s get into that now.

1. Who reads your content?

Who is the target audience for your content? How many audiences are you creating content for? Just as your business may have more than one type of customer, your content strategy may appeal to more than one type of reader or viewer.

By using a variety of content types and channels, you can serve different types of content to each type of audience you have in mind and engage everyone in your company.

2. What problem will you solve for your target group (s)?

Ideally, your product or service solves a problem that you know your audience will have. By the same token, your content will coach and educate your audience through this problem as they begin to identify and address it.

A solid content strategy supports people on both sides of your product: those who are still figuring out what their main challenges are and those who are already using your product to overcome those challenges. Your content reinforces the solutions you offer and turns your customers into more qualified users of your product.

3. What makes you unique?

Your competitors are likely to have a similar product to yours, which means your potential customers need to know what makes your product better – or at least differently. This is where the content comes in.

To prove why you are worth buying from, you need to prove why you are worth hearing.

4. Which content formats do you focus on?

What forms will your content take? Infographics? Videos? Blog posts? Now that you have identified the issues on which you want to take a position, it is necessary to determine which formats to budget for so that you can best express that position.

5. Which channels do you publish on?

Just as you can create content in different formats, you also have different channels to post to. Channels can contain their own properties, such as your website and blog. and social media properties like Facebook and Twitter. For more information on the social media content strategy, see the step-by-step guide later in this article.

6. How do you manage content creation and publication?

Figuring out how to create and publish all of your content can be a daunting task. For a content strategy, it is important to know who is creating what, where it will be published and when it will go live.

Today’s content strategies prevent clutter by managing content from a thematic point of view – as explained in the video above. Planning an editorial content calendar for topics is an easy way to visualize your company’s message and assert yourself as an authority in your market over time.

Why Marketers Need To Build A Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing helps companies prepare and plan for reliable, affordable sources of website traffic and new leads. If all you can do is create one blog post that has steady organic traffic, an embedded link to an e-book or free tool will continue to generate leads for you over time – long after you hit publish.

The HubSpot blog team found that this is key to increasing traffic to the Sales blog over time. Read more about the blog strategy here.

The reliable source of traffic and leads from your evergreen content gives you the flexibility to experiment with other marketing tactics to generate revenue, such as: B. Sponsored content, social media advertising, and distributed content. In addition, your content not only helps generate leads, but also helps inform your potential customers and increase awareness of your brand.

How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy

Now let’s get into the specifics of creating a content marketing plan. Curious to see how Aja Frost, Head of Content SEO at HubSpot, puts our content strategy together? Before jumping into the tactical list, check out the video below.

1. Define your goal.

What is your goal in developing a content marketing plan? Why would you want to create content and create a content marketing plan? Knowing your goals before you start planning will make it easier for you to determine what is best for your strategy.

Download this goal planning template to help you identify the right content goals.

2. Do a people research.

To develop a successful plan, you need to clearly define the audience for your content – also known as the buyer personality.

This is especially important for those who are just starting out or are new to marketing. Knowing your audience can help you create more relevant and valuable content for them to read and convert.

If you’re a seasoned marketer, your goal may have changed. Would you like to address a new group of people or expand your current target market? Do you want to keep the same target group? Reviewing your audience parameters through annual market research is critical to growing your audience.

3. Perform a content review.

Most people start out with blog posts, but if you dare and try to produce other content, consider which ones to create.

For example, if you have blogged weekly for the past year, creating an e-book that ties all of your blog posts together into one ultimate guide is one way to offer information in a different format. We’re going to go through different types of content that you can use further down the list.

If you’ve been in business for a long time, review your content marketing efforts and the results from them over the past year by performing a content audit. Find out what you can do differently in the coming year and set new goals for yourself. Now is a good time to align your team’s goals with the rest of your company’s goals.

4. Select a content management system.

Have a system in place to create, manage, and track your content, also known as a content management system (CMS). Some important parts of content management include creating content, publishing content, and analyzing content.

With HubSpot CMS you can plan, produce, publish and measure your results in one place. Another popular CMS is WordPress, which you can add the HubSpot WordPress plugin to for free web forms, live chat, CRM access, email marketing, and analytics.

5. Ideas for brainstorming content.

Now is the time to come up with ideas for your next content project.

Here are some tools to get the wheels turning:

HubSpot’s website grader

HubSpot’s website grader is a great tool if you want to see where you are with your digital marketing. From your blogging efforts to your social media marketing, Website Grader will evaluate key areas of your marketing and send you a detailed report that you can use to tweak and improve each area.

This tool can help you find out how to make your website more SEO friendly and discover new content ideas.

BlogAbout

With the unique content idea generator from IMPACT, BlogAbout, you can get your thoughts going. This tool works a bit like Mad Libs, but instead of jokes, it shows common heading formats with spaces for you to put in whatever topic you want.

This brainstorming technique will help you put general ideas into context that will appeal to your target audience. Once you have a headline that you like, BlogAbout can add it to your “notebook” to save your best ideas.

HubSpots Blog Ideas Generator

Get year-long blog post ideas with HubSpot’s Blog Ideas Generator. All you have to do is enter general topics or terms that you want to write about and this content idea generator does all the work for you.

Feedly

The Feedly RSS feed is a wonderful way to keep track of trending topics in your industry while also discovering content ideas.

BuzzSumo

Discover popular content and content ideas on BuzzSumo. This company offers a range of market research tools, one of which uses social media shares to determine if a piece of content is popular and popular. This information, in turn, helps you identify which content ideas would work well if you were to create content about them.

Blog Post Headline Analyzer

CoSchedule’s Blog Post Headline Analyzer tool analyzes headings and titles and provides feedback on length, word choices, grammar, and keyword search volume. Once you have an idea, run some title options through the Headline Analyzer to see how you can bolster them and to keep your idea moving forward in the brainstorming process.

6. Determine what types of content you want to create.

There are a variety of content options that you can create. The following section discusses some of the most popular content formats marketers create, including some tools and templates to get you started.

7. Publish and manage your content.

Your marketing plan should go beyond the types of content you create and also cover how your content is organized. With the help of an editorial calendar, you are on the right track to have a balanced and diverse library of content on your website. Then create a social media content calendar so you can promote and manage your content on other websites.

A lot of the ideas you think of will be evergreen – they’re just as relevant in the next few months as they are today. That being said, you shouldn’t ignore current issues either. They may not make up the majority of your editorial calendar, but they can help you generate spikes in traffic.

Most people expect to include popular holidays like New Years and Thanksgiving in their marketing efforts, but you don’t need to limit yourself to these important marketing dates.

If there are niche vacations that might appeal to your audience, it might be worth it to post content on your blog or social media. Check out this ultimate list of social media holidays – keep an eye on them as you plan your calendar.

Examples of content strategies

To understand what a content strategy is, it will probably be helpful if we examine some examples of real-world content strategies based around a few different business goals.

First, let’s examine one Example of a content strategy for SEO purposes (with the ultimate goal of attracting new prospects for a website).

I’m a huge fan of Evernote’s blog, which has a wealth of knowledge about productivity. The blog post, How to stay disciplined in tough times, made me laugh – then incentivized me to grab a pen and write down some of the tips I liked the most.

But why does a company that sells a note taking app write about discipline?

That’s how I found their website when I searched Google for “How to stay disciplined”.

Evernote is a great example of a content strategy that is used to generate new leads. People interested in reading productivity-related content are likely the same people interested in downloading Evernote’s note-taking product (because what’s better than a to-do list to help you keep you on the job?).

On the contrary, if Evernote’s marketing team were just creating content to drive traffic – like posting “Our 10 Favorite Beyonce Songs” – it wouldn’t be considered a content strategy at all. it would just be satisfied.

A strategy must align content with business goals. In Evernote’s case, the strategy aligns content (blog posts about productivity) with the business goal of attracting leads (people interested in taking notes) to their website.

Let’s look at another example to see how good it is The content strategy can help companies to promote sales.

Consider the following scenario: A prospect calls a sales rep at Wistia and asks questions about Wistia’s video hosting service. While speaking to her, the Wistia sales rep learns that her company is using some other tools to convert leads into sales … including intercom.

Bingo.

Once the call is over, the sales rep sends a follow-up email to the prospect with a blog post Wistia’s integration with IntercomThis allows Intercom users to further personalize messages to prospects based on video surveillance data they collect through Wistia.

This is a great example of how you can use a content strategy as a sales enablement tool. At first glance, it might seem strange that Wistia has dedicated content to another business tool. However, this content is a great resource for the Wistia sales team, especially if potential customers have concerns about how the Wistia product will integrate with their existing software or processes.

Now that we’ve examined some examples of content strategies, let’s look at different types of content marketing.

Types of content marketing

  1. Blog posts
  2. Ebooks
  3. Case studies
  4. templates
  5. Infographics
  6. Videos
  7. Podcasts
  8. Social media

These are the eight most popular types of content marketing that you can create for your readers and customers.

1. Blog posts

If you haven’t noticed by now, right now reading a blog post. Blog posts live on a website and should be published regularly to attract new visitors.

Posts should provide valuable content for your audience that will tend to share posts on social media and other websites. We recommend that blog posts be between 1,000 and 2,000 words long. However, you should experiment to see if your audience prefers longer or shorter readings.

Check out our free blog post templates for great guides, lists, curations, SlideShare presentations, and newsjacking posts on your own blog.

2. Ebooks

E-books are lead generation tools that prospects can download after submitting a lead form with their contact information. They are usually longer, more in-depth, and published less often than blog posts designed to attract visitors to a website.

E-books are the next step in the inbound marketing process: after reading a blog post (like this one), visitors may want more information.

That’s where Calls to action (CTAs) come in and direct people to a landing page where they can submit their contact information and download an e-book for more valuable information for their business. The company that produces the e-book has a new contact person for the sales team.

3. Case studies

Case studies are your opportunity to tell the story of a customer who managed to solve a problem by working with you. A case study is perhaps your most versatile type of content marketing, as it can take many different forms – some of which are on this list. Right, case studies can take the form of a blog post, e-book, podcast, or even an infographic.

Your goal in a case study is to show the people considering your product that the proof lies in the pudding. Before choosing a client for a case study, you should determine what form the testimonial should take and in which area of ​​your company you want to add value.

4. Templates

Templates are a handy content format to try out as they generate leads for you while also adding tremendous value to your audience. If you provide template tools to your audience that will save them time and help them succeed, they’ll be more likely to get involved with your content in the future.

5. Infographics

Infographics can organize and visualize data more convincingly than words alone. These are great content formats to use when trying to share a lot of data in a way that is clear and easy to understand.

When you’re ready, you’ll have our templates for creating beautiful infographics in under an hour.

6. Videos

Videos are a very appealing content medium and can be shared on social media platforms and websites alike. Videos require more time and resources than written content, but as visual marketing grows in popularity – after all, it’s 40 times more likely to be shared on social media than other types of content – a medium it can be worth experimenting.

HubSpot Research recently found that video was the most preferred form of content. Video also attracts people’s attention more than any other content format.

7. Podcasts

Starting a podcast helps audiences find your brand when they don’t have the time or interest to read content every day. The number of podcast listeners is growing – in 2018, nearly a third of the US population listened to a podcast in the last month.

If you have interesting people to interview or host conversations, consider podcasting as another content format to experiment with. (Here’s our comprehensive guide to starting a podcast.)

8. Social media

If you’ve regularly published content on your own website for a while, it may be time to think about distributing your content on other websites. This can mean converting content into new formats and posting it on your blog, creating original content specifically for external websites, or posting website content on various social networks.

However, posting on social media is critical to increasing your brand’s reach and delivering your content to your customers who you know are spending their time. The social networks that companies frequently post on include:

When opening a business account on any of the social networks mentioned above, it’s important to post the type of content your followers expect. For example, on Instagram, users want photos, videos, and graphics that reflect current events, show user-generated content, or even go behind the scenes of your business.

On Facebook, your options for what to post open up a bit: not only can you share your blog posts and website content, but you can also post native Facebook videos, product promotions, and original memes that resonate with your customers Find. You can also interact with other companies that target audiences similar to yours.

While the goal on social media sites like Instagram or Snapchat is to create a closer connection with your audience, your goal on platforms like Facebook and Twitter is to grow that audience, drive traffic to your website, and have conversations in To begin your industry. Do basic market research to find out what platforms your buyers are on and tailor your content to meet their expectations.

When you’re ready for more ideas, there are a variety of different content types to diversify your content marketing.

It takes time, organization and creativity to develop a successful content marketing strategy. From building the foundation of your content marketing plan to adding tools to better manage your content, determining your strategy for the new year is no problem if you follow the steps and explore the resources here.

Use HubSpot’s marketing plan generator to create a 12-month strategy in just minutes.

Have fun creating!

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September 2018 and has been updated for completeness.

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