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How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy for a Small Business (Part 2)

In the first part of this series we covered what is Content Marketing Strategy, how to get started and the first of the actionable tips – Know Your Audience. Now we’ll go further into how to develop a content marketing strategy.

How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy for a Small Business (Part 2)

To help you get going with content marketing, we’ve compiled a quick and simple guide to creating your first content marketing strategy. We’ve broken this task down into five steps and we’ll be providing actionable tips to help you tick all the boxes as we go…

  1. Know your audience (covered in part 1)
  2. Planning your content
  3. Create your content
  4. Promote your content
  5. Measure your success

#2. Planning your content

Now you know who you’re creating content for, it’s time to brainstorm ideas and turn your research and inspiration into a content calendar. This can be a daunting prospect if you’re not sure where to start. Here’s how to approach it…

  • Audit existing content
    You may not have used a content marketing strategy before, but it’s likely your website already has some content on it. Record all of the content on your website and invest time in getting the facts about each piece and its performance. If possible you should record:

    • A unique, identifying number for each piece of content
    • URL
    • Data published
    • Title
    • Content type (blog, infographic, video, etc.)
    • Content writer/creator
    • Tone of voice/style
    • Target persona (if available)
    • Pageviews
    • Bounce rate
    • Time on page
    • Time on site
    • Subsequent pageviews
    • Links to content
    • Social shares

With this information, you can take a good look at which types of existing content have done well and which have had less success. Use this information to develop a content marketing strategy.

  • Generate ideas
    Take what you have learned from your content audit and your audience research and turn this into a brainstorming session with your entire team. Make sure that every piece of content you come up with has a clear target audience and a clear purpose. For instance, do you want to entertain your audience and encourage them to share your content via social media? Do you want to inform them and encourage them to download a free resource from your website?

Get your whole team together for this part of your strategy. The more ideas and angles you have, the better. From understanding the questions your support team hear most often, to getting insight into interesting stuff happening in you industry, every perspective is valuable here.

Remember, there’s more to content than blogging. Other types of content worth considering include:

  • Listicles
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Games
  • Quizzes
  • Competitions
  • Galleries
  • And that’s just for starters – why not get creative?

Build a calendar
Now it’s time to put all of these brilliant ideas into a content calendar you can use to ensure you’re creating plenty of content at the right time, for the right people. You can use the structure outlined in the content audit section to build your calendar, or you’ll find a wealth of free templates online.

Don’t forget to look out for important events, dates and seasonal goings on and plan content accordingly.

The calendar you build now can also be a helpful resource when the time comes to measure the success of your strategy. By using the categories we’ve outlined above and by keeping your calendar up to date with measurements like pageviews and bounce rate, you can see how well you’re doing and where there is room to improve.

#3. Create your content

With your content calendar all filled out and ready to go, there’s nothing for it but to start creating your content. Here are a few tips to give you a helping hand:

  • Assign responsibility
    Ensure every team member involved in your content marketing strategy knows exactly what they have to do and when they are expected to deliver their work by. Use a tool like Google Sheets or a project management system like Trello to make sure everybody is on the same page and delivers on time.
  • Outsource
    If you and your team don’t have the time to create lots of juicy content, don’t be afraid to outsource. There are lots of skilled freelance writers, designers and marketing experts out there, ready to take up the slack. Try freelancer sites like People Per Hour to find an affordable option you can depend on.
  • Schedule
    Sometimes you may find yourself with a few clear days to create lots of great content. Other weeks you’ll find yourself buried under a mountain of other work. Make sure you capitalise when you have time by creating your content in advance, then using a post scheduler to upload it on the planned date.
  • Do it well
    It might sound simple, but this is a crucial rule. There’s no point churning out bucket-loads of sub-standard content. The goal is to attract and impress your audience. Low quality content will not just fail to capture your target market’s interest, it could also reflect negatively on your brand.

Rather than creating lots of “less good” content, give yourself the time and resources you need to build and publish something really great that will get attention and impress all at once.

  • Write for the web
    If your content calendar includes plenty of blog posts, it’s important to remember that writing for the web is very different for writing for other contexts. Web users have notoriously short attention spans which means you need to create content which grabs attention and keeps readers interested by:

    • Crafting attention-grabbing titles
    • Using short sentences and paragraphs
    • Using plenty of subheadings to maintain attention and help readers find the information they want
    • Using bullet points to make information accessible and visible
    • Incorporating lots of multimedia resources like pictures and GIFs to maintain attention
    • Be unique and interesting, don’t write something that’s been done before
    • Avoid clichés. Instead use interesting, unexpected and personality-rich language, if appropriate to your target audience.

#4. Promote your content

You’ve put blood, sweat and tears into your content marketing strategy, but if nobody knows your content exists, your hard work will have been for nothing. That’s why it’s so important to work equally hard to get your content found and seen.

Your posts may be found via search engines for longtail keywords, but this can be a painfully slow burn. The fastest and most effective way to generate exposure for your content is to promote it through social media and techniques like native advertising. We’ve shared a few resources below which will help you get your content out there…

#5. Measure your success

You may think all the hard work is all over, but it’s only just begun! Measuring the success of your content is critical if you want to continually improve your content marketing strategy, squeezing more and more ROI (Return on Investment) from your digital marketing activities.

Use the metrics and the format we shared earlier in the “auditing” section to record and review the performance of your content. Take lessons from poorly performing pieces and look for patterns which link poorly performing content. Do the same for your best pieces of content and make sure you’re continually sharing these insights with everybody on your content marketing team to fine tune your strategy.

Keep applying what you’re learning to each new piece of content and you could soon see vastly improved traffic, better brand awareness, more shares, a better reputation and a stronger presence on the web. And what do all of these things add up to? Better digital business!

Good luck, content creators!

Image: Photospin

Laura Heart is a senior marketing consultant and digital strategist at Blank, a London digital marketing agency where she oversees the company’s marketing, social media and content marketing efforts.

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