If you don’t have a content marketing strategy for your business, you are leaving a lot of money on the table. Content marketing has evolved into one of the most efficient ways for businesses to build trust, engage with users and drive sales.

Except you are selling a unique and revolutionary product, most of your customers are developing an immune system against adverts. People don’t want to be sold to. They want to be educated, entertained, amused or inspired. Anyone with the right content that address those needs will gain trust. It’s easier to sell to someone that trusts you.

Content marketing enables you to build that trust. Content marketing tends to resonate more strongly with customers because it’s carefully tailored to their needs and interests. It’s a way of communicating your brand’s personality and value proposition without coming across as a salesperson.

But it’s not as easy as it sounds.

A good content marketing strategy covers a lot – from researching your audience through to optimising your content, executing a campaign across multiple mediums and devices and track its results.

This will require a deliberate effort to write out your content marketing strategy. The content marketing institute found that those with a documented content marketing strategy feel less challenged with every aspect of content marketing when compared with their peers who only have a verbal strategy or no strategy at all. They also were able to justify spending a higher percentage of their marketing budget on content marketing.

So, we’ve outline eight things you need to consider when writing a good content marketing strategy.

1. Be clear about the purpose of your content

The most critical component of your content marketing strategy is the goal of the content. Why are you spending money and resources to create content? The answer to this question is key. Your team will benchmark Everything else against that goal.

What do you want to achieve? It could range from eliciting a purchase decision to clicking through to another website.

If a good content does not contribute to this set goal, then it has failed. This goal is a common thread through the length of your content marketing strategy execution. Whereas you can tune up you strategy from time to time, the mission must remain the same.

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2. Find your customer needs and benchmark them against your purpose

Your goals are important. But just as important are your customers’ needs. In planning out your strategy, figure out who your customers are, what they need and check their archetype against your business needs and goals.

Doing so, you’ll arrive at content-market fit. You get an insight into the kind of content that will excite your customers, resonate with them and influence their behavior.

A few questions to consider to figure out the consumer needs are; what are their jobs? What do they need to work better? What are their desired outcomes? And what factors prevent them from achieving these results?

Plot a Venn diagram of your goals and customers’ needs. The intersection is where the content-market fit lies. As done in this example by Mark Walker of the content marketing institute.

3. Create an overarching theme for your content.

Identify the big themes your market that you can communicate to your customers in a way that will educate, entertain, amuse or inspire them. From this, you should go ahead to build different messages that tie back to the theme. Say you are a business that provides on-demand laundry services for busy millennials in Nairobi. Your overarching theme is likely to be time management and fashion style.

You can then write about hacking culture, procrastination, multitasking, fashion, productivity, tailoring, etc. You will then generate topics based on these sub-themes/messages.

4. Set key metrics that will enable you to track progress

How do you know if your content is going in the right direction? Set micro-targets then measure progress towards them using key metrics.

Although you need to benchmark success against your initial goal, those might take a while to track. So, you have to set secondary metrics that you can track with ease, maybe even real time. These are your mid-funnel results and top-of-funnel results.

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At the top-of-funnel – the first stage of consumer conversion – you can use metrics like impressions, social shares, traffic, etc. to measure effectiveness. At the mid-funnel, views, bounce rates, engagement, newsletter subscription, etc. can be used. Metrics gives you the ability to know if your efforts are paying off.

5. Create an editorial calendar

With your theme locked down, and sub-themes too, you need to begin brainstorming topics that you will insert in your editorial calendar.

Depending on you, the plan could span a year or a quarter. The goal is to write down a list of topics ahead of time. It’s usually more productive to peel of a block of time just for ideation, rather than drawing up topics as you need them.

For example, instead of coming up with a single idea in 10 minutes every time you need one, you can come up with five times the number of ideas in the same period. More bang for the time buck.

The best way to get ideas is by ready. Also, our recommended tools like the Hubspot topic generator and BuzzSumo come in handy on days when you are shorn of content ideas.

6. Syndicate your content

Most people do the bulk of their content marketing on their business websites. You are thinking the same too, and rightly so, it is the one platform that you have control over. But understand that your content marketing strategy is broader than your business site.

It always appears like a long shot, but sending great content from your site to credible websites or newspapers reporting your industry as guest posts will get you wider visibility.

Editors are usually in need of quality content. By sending them your content, you are helping them do their jobs, and on the flip side, you are getting visibility. Win win!

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Create content for different platforms. From different social media outposts, to content optimized for various types of devices. For social media, content that targets women or is visual is better off on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. A professional piece will be more active on LinkedIn or Medium. This is why you need to know – and understand – your audience.

7. Curate user-generated content

People are talking about your business. There are decent number of reviews on rating sites, blogs, and social networks. Curate some of these content – the good ones – that can help your customers make purchase decisions. And put them up on your website. For the bad reviews, address them.

If you are not getting good reviews, you need to get down to basics – fix your product.

8. Evaluate the process

It is important to work backward to track the effect of your content on your goals. Are the top-of-funnel results (engagement, low bounce rate, e-mail subscriptions) influencing your mid-funnel results (impressions, social shares, traffic, etc.), and are they both contributing to the overarching purpose of the content marketing strategy?

Examining them at each stage in this manner will help you see the strengths and weaknesses of each content. Some posts may succeed at the top-of-funnel, and mid-funnel, but may not affect the bottom line.

It’s possible that your content is attracting interest from the wrong kinds of people, clogging up conversion. Insight from the data available to you will help you know how to fix this misalignment between expectations and reality.

How are you planning and executing your content marketing strategy? Share with us via twitter @startaHQ

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