Develop your online content marketing strategy

Today’s digital-mobile-social lifestyle means customers are plugged-in, 24/7, to a constant stream of information—and they are ravenous for new content to discover and share online. A typical business answers this call with a blog and a couple social media pages but isn’t really sure if the content it’s sharing is making an impact. The answer to this dilemma: a content marketing strategy.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, half of B2B marketers don’t have a formal, documented strategy for content marketing. But without a plan, content marketing resembles a disorganized fishing trip where you don’t know which bait to use or where to drop your line to catch the type of fish you’re after. You’ll likely waste time and money by distributing content without a strategy behind it to produce results.

Stay Focused on Your Audience

A solid content marketing strategy should center around the audience you are trying to reach. Who are they? Where do they hang out? When do they search for new content? Start your research by monitoring your target audience on social media. Listen to their conversations and track the content they find most engaging. If your goal is to increase sales, align your content strategy with customers’ buying cycle. Create and distribute content to customers at each stage, in appropriate locations, to nurture leads through the sales process.

Create Compelling Content

After you have developed a strategy around your target audience, produce a plan for ongoing content creation—or “feeding the beast” as journalists often call it. Software is available to help with this process, offering different levels of support for content creation, distribution and analytics. However, companies can build simple plans by creating a content calendar with a schedule for content creators and a project manager to follow.

When developing new content, always strive for quality over quantity. It’s important to create compelling content that is valuable to your audience, such as a buying guide, a how-to video tutorial or a report on industry trends from a survey of your customers. The content you create should help customers, provide valuable information, entertain them or allow them to reinforce their own brand and identity by sharing it with others. Most importantly, the content should be an expression of your company’s brand and message.

Find Clarity with Online Metrics

Remember to monitor, analyze and optimize. The strongest content marketing plans are cyclical, constantly moving from monitoring and analysis to content creation and optimization to distribution and measurement and back again to monitoring and analysis so that the cycle goes on and on. The great news is that online analytics tracking is available and it makes measuring and analysis incredibly easy. See who converts into a sale or requests additional information after viewing your content. Count the number of views of an important message. When your content resides online, it becomes much easier to monitor, manage and determine an ROI from your ongoing content marketing strategy.