Develop a Winning Content Strategy in 7 Steps

Jul 12, 2023 | Content Marketing, Digital Marketing

If you’ve spent enough time exploring marketing methods and strategies, you’ve probably heard the phrase “Content is King!” This adage is decades old and still holds true today. Many companies use content marketing to get something out there – literally anything.

They end up with impractical, lacklustre content on their websites and social media platforms that no one wants to read. 

A winning content strategy is the other side of the coin. It means there are always two sides to content creation. A successful content strategy is as vital for achieving business goals as it is for meeting customer needs. That’s the simple, big picture of content marketing. However, if you’ve questions about the details, this article is for you.

First, we’ll define what a content marketing strategy is. Then, we’ll briefly discuss the critical steps to creating a winning content strategy. Ready? Then let’s get started:

Winning Content Strategy

What is a Content Strategy?

Every successful brand – without exception – has a solid marketing strategy. Content strategy is perhaps the most critical component of that marketing approach. It lays out a detailed roadmap for how, where and why you connect with your audience and viewers through content.

A winning content strategy is more than just curating hot trending topics. It includes customer persona, editorial calendars, review guidelines, journey maps, etc.

Content strategy indirectly shapes many other aspects of a business, including brand image, community base, content culture, and communication and presentation style.

A strategy provides a framework for tracking your overall performance, measuring content marketing ROI, maintaining customer loyalty, and ensuring continued business growth. While developing a content strategy may seem costly initially, it’s a long-term investment that will increase conversion rates and deliver greater business value.

Do You Need a Content Marketing Strategy?

Since you’re here reading this, you already have the answer. But here are a few other reasons to keep in mind:

  1. A recent survey revealed that 90 percent of businesses currently use content in their marketing efforts, and 78% of CMOs  confirm the positive impact a solid content strategy has on success.
  2. Without a content strategy, your business’s SEO efforts will not yield optimal results. SEO can increase traffic to your website, but without a content strategy, it’s incredibly challenging to engage and convert your visitors.
  3. A winning content strategy can help your business generate leads and increase revenue.
  4. You can create an active and supportive community around your brand by consistently producing high-quality content.

How To Create a Winning Content Strategy?

Here are seven steps to get there:

#1 Everything Starts with Your Goals

There is smart marketing and there’s blind marketing. The difference lies in the objective. Before you start a marketing, advertising, or sales promotion campaign, you need to ask yourself some questions: What are your goals? How do those goals contribute to your vision of business growth? And how can you achieve them?

Setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals (SMART) is a good start when planning a winning content strategy. 

Your goals paint the big picture of the journey ahead. But they should also include a detailed plan for timing, practical tools and tactics, and optimal workflow. These goals are, in part, a response to the challenges you face and, in part, designed to take advantage of gaps and opportunities in the market. Overall, setting goals aims to clarify the vision and mission of your growth.

#2 Know Your Audience (Better Than Themselves!)

One of the most central elements for aligning content strategy is knowing who’ll read your content. Who’s your so-called “target audience”? How many are there, and do they share specific relevant characteristics? Chances are, your business is targeting more than one type of audience. Therefore, your strategy must be optimised to cover a broader spectrum.

A useful way to define your content audience is to categorise your “buyer persona.” Persona research also leads to more relevant and valuable content that viewers want to read and act on.

If you’ve spent a lot of time promoting to a specific audience segment without achieving the success you want, it may be time to shift your focus to a new buyer type. Or, at least, you can expand your current target market and reach out to new potential buyers who may better appreciate your products.

Here are 4 most effective tools for creating your client personas:

  1. Make My Persona by Hubspot
  2. Up Close and Persona
  3. User Forge
  4. Smaply

#3 Map Out the Buyer’s Journey

After you’ve identified different audience segments, it’s time to map out each persona’s customer journey through the buyer funnel. The way content is presented, viewers’ online behaviours and their needs and interests can help sketch out a clearer picture of their conversion. A winning content strategy must solve specific issues in the conversion funnel.

For example, a piece of content can be designed to capture people at the beginning of the conversion path by choosing a general topic. Another social media post might include information about the latest product releases, discounts, etc., to engage customers. Another blog article could fill the gap in between, providing the audience with the necessary data for their research and decision-making process.

The content strategy must find tailored goals for each stage and create content based on specific problems and opportunities. Click To Tweet

Remember that converting curiosity into a purchase decision isn’t automatic. It takes careful planning to lead buyers down the right path.

Winning Content Strategy

#4 Analyse Your Current State

One of the most effective ways to ensure an effective content strategy is to conduct a regular content audit to identify, take inventory, and evaluate the effectiveness of all existing content. A content audit will help your marketing team find gaps in current content and the content most customers need.  Reviewing and evaluating your content can also help detect underperforming content. If revisions and rewrites are not getting the job done, do not hesitate to walk away. Remember that the most important lesson during the audit is to recognise your weaknesses and opportunities.  A thorough research and audit process also includes gathering information about your competitors’ content strategy. Competitive analysis can be a powerful tool in your marketing toolkit. Here are the four most effective tools and websites to help you with competitive analysis:

#5 Design a Comprehensive Content Creation Process

If only quality content could create itself! Unfortunately, it doesn’t; It takes a clearly defined, polished and structured content strategy to develop quality content. The correct methodology isn’t something that can be found and followed but something that is earned over years of experience and trial and error.  That said, the process must include several key aspects, including researching keywords, optimising topics and titles, editing and proofreading, selecting media, adjusting the layout, and SEO optimisation. Each task should be monitored and evaluated by the content manager to ensure a smooth and efficient workflow. Most major brands have learned the importance of having a reliable team of editors. Editing is more than checking grammar or adjusting paragraphs. It’s about assessing whether or not a single piece of content will help improve the brand’s image. Another critical requirement for large-scale content production campaigns is a robust content management system (CMS). Whether it’s blog posts, audio, video, PDFs or virtually any form of content, a CMS allows you to create, organise, publish and store them. There are many great CMS tools to choose from, but here are four proven platforms:

#6 Streamline Your Workflow

Streamlining your content efforts will eliminate unnecessary steps and manual work. The best place to start is by creating an editorial calendar to define your content pipeline’s what, when, where, and how. The more detailed and organised your editorial calendar is, the better. Consider factors such as content name and topic, publication date, status, and format. A functional content calendar should link each piece of content to your SMART goals so you can track your performance and progress. It also helps you prioritise the tasks likely to have the most significant impact. Ideally, all content marketing team members should have role-specific access to the editorial calendar to keep everything in perspective. Here are 5 best editorial content calendar tools:

#7 Publish & Evaluate

Once you’ve paved the path by sharpening all your tools, it’s time to publish your content and test your winning content strategy. Hopefully, by now, you’ve created a balanced and diverse content library on your website, and the only thing missing now is finding out your audience’s reaction.

If you already have a complete archive of old, quality content, you can always retarget them and see how they work in the new setup. Some ideas are always fresh and intriguing. But that doesn’t mean you should stop generating content or ignore current topics. Sometimes a tiny deviation from your editorial plan can help drive traffic through the roof.

Finally, remember that great content strategies aren’t perfect. There’s always room for adjustments and modifications. As your business grows, your strategy will inevitably change. If anything, it’s a sign of improvement. A flexible approach to your marketing efforts will allow you to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

Bottom Line

Content strategy today isn’t a luxury for fancy departments. It’s an indispensable part of any marketing effort. Hopefully, with all the tips and tools presented above, creating your own strategy is easier than ever. Still, we don’t deny the challenges of devising content strategies. Even seasoned brands sometimes struggle to keep their content marketing campaigns productive.

That’s where we can help you put all fears and anxieties to rest. We’ve been around the block and gathered many insightful experiences to share with you. If you’re interested in taking your business to the next level, contact our team at BroadWeb!

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