Expert commentator | Smart Insights | Mon, 14 Nov 2016 11:00:00 +0000

The growing deluge of content means you’ll need a plan to cut through the noise in 2017

In digital marketing, you’ve probably come across the statement “content is king” several times. Make no mistake that content is the lifeblood of every essential online marketing activity. Be it social media marketing, email marketing, SEO, or paid advertising – none of these departments will succeed without the development of quality content.

A study by Demand Metric reveals that 78% of CMOs believe that custom content is the future of digital marketing.

However, successful content marketing is an intricate process that requires a lot of research and planning. Below are the crucial steps you need to prepare your content marketing strategy for 2017:

1. Specify Your Business Objectives

In every business endeavor, you need to set specific goals and objectives that will guide your day-to-day activities and ensure you’re right on track. First off, make sure you identify the goals you intend to accomplish with content marketing. Do you want to increase the number of subscribers for your newsletter? Do you need content to fuel your link-building efforts for SEO?

By now, you should already have an idea on the objectives you need to accomplish with content marketing. The next step is to document these goals in a readable and organized format. For this purpose, most marketers go the simple route of using a spreadsheet software.

To help track your goals, be sure to include a means of measurement or benchmarks. For example, if your goal is to build a following on social media, make sure to include the specific social networks and number of followers you want to attain. Don’t forget to elaborate how your business will benefit once a particular objective is met.

2. Develop a Core Message

A lot of online marketers overlook the importance of defining a core message in a content strategy. Bear in mind that a key message is necessary to make your brand distinguishable in a world full of content producers. Staying true to a core message also ensures the value that your content provides.

An excellent way to define your core message is to create an editorial mission statement that identifies who you are as a company, whom you are trying to reach, and what you can offer them.

To create an editorial mission statement, you need to identify three things:

  • Your target audience
  • The “deliverables.”
  • What the audience needs to achieve

For example, suppose you own an SEO blog looking to provide the latest SEO tips and strategies for online entrepreneurs. Then your editorial mission statement should look like:

“SEO Blog (replace with your blog’s name) provides online entrepreneurs (your target audience) with the latest strategies, tips, and news (the deliverables) to help them remain competitive in the ever-evolving landscape of SEO (what the audience needs to achieve).â€

Take note that an editorial mission statement also keeps your content team in sync. It helps make your brand identifiable even though you have multiple writers for your content.

3. Analyze the Competition

Believe it or not, competitors are valuable assets for any business. With the right approach, they are a goldmine of opportunities to identify what your business needs, what it lacks, and what you can do to improve.

A practice known as competitive auditing, can identify the strengths of your competitors and find a way to turn their weapons against them. That means assimilating their strategies and aim to outplay them at their own game. Furthermore, analyzing your strongest competitors will also give you an insight on what your target audience wants.

With tools like BuzzSumo, you can instantly search for the most popular content in your industry or find the best-performing content that your top competitor uses. If you want a tool that’s more suited for analyzing competitors, a better option would be SEMrush, which monitors real-time data such as your competitor’s keywords, URLs, and live traffic.

When analyzing competitors, you need to look for specific details that give them an advantage over your brand. Pay attention to factors such as their headlines, content types, distribution channels, and how often they publish new content.

4. Use the Right Tools

What good is a content marketing strategy if you do not have the tools needed to put your plans into action? If you actually want your content to stand out from the rest of the competition, then there should be no room for subpar tools in your arsenal. However, you still need to take your situation into account when selecting tools.

For example, be sure to pick a content management system or CMS that suits your style, budget, and marketing goals. Bloggers, in general, recommend using WordPress since it is free to use, flexible, and has a smooth learning curve. It also gives you access to even more tools — also known as “plugins.”

Take note that you commonly find a list of specific tools in guides and tutorials on how to start a blog. Although there are no “one-size-fits-all” solutions that fit everyone’s needs, any content marketer requires a particular set of tools for core activities such as email marketing, web security, SEO, analytics, and so on. A rule of thumb is to keep things simple and use only one tool for each particular content marketing activity.

Also, pay attention to the type of content you want to provide. Remember that there are specific tools that can help you build slideshows, infographics, and explainer videos. Be sure to identify all the tools you need as early as possible. Doing so will enable your content development team to be familiar with each tool in the soonest time.

5. Keep an Editorial Calendar

Always remember that all content marketing strategies are governed by time. It is an indispensable resource that you need to manage effectively to maximize marketing success. That is why an editorial calendar is considered as a must-have component of an efficient content marketing strategy.

Keep in mind that an editorial calendar not only ensures the timely delivery of content, it will also keep your team on the same page by letting everyone know what to prioritize. To develop an editorial calendar, you must first identify the ideal frequency for publishing each type of content. For example, your plan can be to post two blog posts per week, two infographics per month, and one case study every three months.

You can use an editorial calendar platform like CoSchedule to manage your time and your team better. This will help you organize workflow structures to streamline the content development process. In addition to scheduling posts, it will also help you automate social media sharing and tracking.

Conclusion

Nothing in online marketing is meant to be simple- the same goes for content marketing. By following the steps above, you can lay the essential foundations that can keep your brand relevant for months to come. Just remember to be on the lookout for new strategies and trends that may arise unexpectedly. You never know when one of your competitors discover a new content marketing breakthrough that will unlevel the playing field.