How to develop a content marketing strategy

noticeboard with a sign saying 'content strategy'

We often refer to an inbound content marketing strategy as hiring a 24/7 salesperson who doesn’t sleep and never actually tries to sell but has loads of people calling and enquiring months, even years, after communicating.

It’s not surprising therefore that content marketing is becoming increasingly important in a company’s overall marketing strategy, especially in the B2B world when the purchasing journey is often much longer. Content marketing also enables you to build a stronger relationship with your customer, which is crucial in the financial services sector, where trust is even more important due to customers’ heightened financial and emotional investment.

Whilst the majority of companies are doing some form of content marketing, 63% don’t have a documented content  marketing strategy.  However, the most successful  B2B content marketers are far more likely than their less successful peers to have a documented content marketing strategy (65% vs 14%).

A content strategy enables you to ensure that what you are creating is relevant to your audience, to the channel you are using and ensures it works towards your overall marketing and business goals.

If you haven’t done so, it’s time you created your content strategy. Here are 8 elements to include.

What your content marketing strategy should include:

1. Objectives and KPIs

The content strategy first needs to outline your objectives. Generally, two of the core marketing objectives will be to:

  1. Improve your organic SEO – enabling prospective customers to find you when they need you which is much more valuable than an outbound lead generation as they already have a need
  2. Position you as a thought leader with a genuine desire to add value, rather than just sell. This helps to improve positive brand awareness, putting you in a much better position when a prospect’s need is identified

However, it’s important to outline any specific KPIs you want to achieve e.g. drive more traffic to your website, generate more lead data, improve conversions, increase social following etc. Outlining these upfront will also enable you to measure the effectiveness of your content later on.

2. Audience personas

These personas focus on your audience’s specific media and content habits, enabling you to understand what content to produce, and where and when to share it.

Use social and Google Analytics, focus groups and existing customer and prospect data insights to understand:

  1. Where are they in your buying funnel?
  2. What are their media habits?
  3. What channels are they active on?
  4. When do they access content?
  5. What their needs are and what content they might be looking

3. Existing content and SEO audit

If you’ve already been creating content, carry out an audit of what you have so far. Which, if any, of your audiences is this content relevant for? What pieces were most popular? Also, review competitor’s content. What are they writing about that you aren’t? Can you see any blogs/posts that readers have engaged more in?

This will help in planning future content and understanding which pieces, if any, can be repurposed.

You should also incorporate an SEO audit on your site to identify any technical SEO issues occurring on your existing posts that can be rectified. 

4. Preferred content types

Use the insights you’ve gained so far about your audience, channels and existing content to decide and outline what type of content you want to create.

Most successful strategies include a core set of blog posts featured on your own site, which are then supported with other content types and shared through other channels.  Video content should also be an essential part of any content strategy, as audiences are 10 times more likely to engage, embed, share, and comment on video content than blogs or related social posts.

If you want to ask your prospects to provide their data in order to access your content, therefore generating potential leads, you will need to create larger thought leadership and research pieces. This ensures there is a big enough value exchange to encourage readers to give up their data.

5. Channel plan

Again, with the information gathered so far you should begin to have an understanding of what channels will resonate best with your audience and content types.

In a B2B world, you will likely find your audience on  LinkedIn, so this should form an important channel, alongside your website and potentially relevant trade media partners.

6. Content themes and pillars

Once you know what you’re creating you can start to think about what topics you want your content to feature. Some tools that can help you to brainstorm content ideas include:

  • Google trends – to understand what content topics people are searching for on google, including trends across different months and upcoming topics
  • HubSpot’s Blog Ideas Generator – enter general topics or terms you’d like to write about, and this content idea generator suggests post headlines
  • Feedly – use this RSS feed to keep on top of topics that are trending in your industry

From here, aim to identify 3-4 overarching themes which you can use for your content pillars. This will help you ensure all future content remains relevant and in line with this overall strategy, and help Google see you as an expert in this topic.

7. Content calendar

Once you have your list of topics you can complete a content calendar. This should include the:

  1. date of posting
  2. proposed channel
  3. content title
  4. proposed audience
  5. relevant content pillar

This helps you to clearly see whether you are posting regularly, reaching all your audience segments, making use of all your channels and creating content that is a good mix of all your pillars.  It also helps you ensure you don’t forget to post!

Don’t forget though that your content needs to be current. You need to be able to adapt and create new content in line with any breaking news stories and/or legislation changes.

It is important therefore in your strategy to agree to any sign-off process in advance, as compliance could slow down the creation and posting of these topical pieces if they need to approve every piece.

8. Measurement and refinement

Finally, don’t forget to outline how you will measure the success of your content against your KPIs. Chances are you will need to utilise social and Google Analytics to understand metrics such as views, shares, comments and website engagement. Don’t be afraid to edit and refine the strategy as the campaign progresses.

Now that you have your strategy, read our next post to find out to create great content or find out more about content topic clusters and pillars and how they can help your SEO.

Read our case studies to see how we developed a content strategy, regular creation and gated thought leadership content for lead generation for Benenden Health.