The early stages of content marketing saw marketers churning out blog after blog and hoping for the best – without knowing how or what to measure. Your content marketing should evolve as technology and people do. Search tools and how people utilize them have all changed, and your content and content strategy should reflect that. But where do you begin? Continue reading for some helpful tips on content marketing strategy and tools you can use to achieve success.
What is Content Strategy?
If you’re entirely new to content marketing, it may seem overwhelming. Let’s face it; content marketing stresses even the most seasoned marketers. However, breaking it down can minimize worries. Content strategy includes all your media – writings, videos, downloads, and more – and how you plan and manage it. You can create a quick “how-to” video, but if you don’t know why you made it or how you’ll use it, it quickly becomes less useful.
Developing a Content Strategy
Having a strategy in place helps every piece of content you create to serve a purpose in your overall marketing plan. When appropriately used, content grows your business and drives sales. Here are key questions to answer when developing your content strategy.
- Who is the content for and why are you making it? Think of your personas when you’re venturing into content strategy. You should have content in place for prospects as well as current clients or customers. You want to land more qualified leads, but you also want to nurture your existing customers.
- What are your personas’ pain points? How will this certain piece of content help? Your business creates its products to reduce problems for a certain industry – but how will they know you do just that? Your content moves buyers along a journey that ultimately brings them to your services, and continues to nurture and update them after you’ve made a sale.
- What content formats should you use? Content comes in a variety of forms, from tweets, blog posts, and informational videos. The format should reflect the message and the persona. If you have a persona that reacts more favorably to video, shoot it. If your buyer prefers infographics, design it.
- What sets you apart from your competition? Content is the most valuable resource you may have to outshine your competitors. Sure, you may have similar products. But yours is better. Showcasing it in a weekly Twitter chat or in-depth blog post can help prove you’re the expert.
Essential Items to Check Off for Implementation
After you’ve answered the questions surrounding your content strategy, you can begin checking off essential items for implementation. Here are actionable items when getting deeper into your plan.
- Define your goals. In marketing, it pays to be SMART. Or, rather, to have SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timebound. This methodology helps create achievable goals. For example, if you want to increase your revenue by 60% before the end of the first quarter, that is a specific, measurable, and time-bound goal. Develop your strategy around it.
- Research/refine existing personas. Personas are your target audience for your business, and they change over time. Whether you’re just developing them or have them in place, it’s good to have a bevy of research built around them.
- Choose a content management system (CMS). If you’re an established company, you likely have one. A CMS manages your content, including creation, publication, and analytics.
- Audit your current content. What content already exists? Can you re-purpose it? Look at the results and see if you can improve. If you’re beginning, consider starting with blog posts. Create a blogging schedule that works best for your company, as it varies from business to business.
- Brainstorm new ideas. Set aside time with your team to focus on creating ideas for upcoming projects. If you want a different perspective, pull another member of your company into your meeting. A developer or office manager may have ideas you wouldn’t consider.
- Strategize your content ideas with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in mind. To see higher-quality leads and more site traffic, consider SEO when brainstorming and auditing your ideas. Research keywords that hit your topics and target audiences you can rank for and seamlessly implement them into your content. Don’t forget to write concise title and meta tags and include anchor links to other pieces of your content.
Topic Clusters and Pillar Pages
Implementing an SEO strategy within your content strategy is essential. You create all this great content – you want the right people to discover it. As search algorithms advance, it can get tougher to keep up. But new content marketing initiatives are changing the game. A topic cluster is a content program that dives deep into a range of core topics relating to your business. But where do you house all this rich content? On a pillar page, which is a base on which you build your clusters. A pillar page covers all the aspects on a single, well-designed page. Pillar pages are broad, while topic clusters are niche. “Payroll compliance” is a pillar page, and “employer tax forms,” “employee withholding forms,” and “local tax laws” would be the topic clusters presented on it. On the pillar page, you’d see links or more information about each topic cluster.
What Tools Can Make Content Strategy Easier?
HubSpot offers models and diagrams on topic clusters and pillar pages and an advanced content strategy tool. HubSpot’s pillar page model includes a broad topic in the center, with more in-depth subtopics related to it branching off. The content strategy tool takes you through the more advanced topics discussed earlier through four steps.
- Create a topic. Enter a topic into your HubSpot account under Content Strategy.
- Add a pillar page. After entering your topic, you can attach a pillar page to it by clicking Attach content. Again, a pillar page is the source your cluster topic content links to.
- Add cluster topics and subtopics. You add subtopics after your pillar page when in your HubSpot account. You’ll attach content to subtopics, such as blog posts.
- Add related content. HubSpot’s tool can search for already published pages and articles related to your topic phrases. You can include them under Add Related Content.
A clear content strategy can drive your content marketing efforts. Well-developed strategies get your information in front of the right eyes. While it is undoubtedly a massive undertaking, it is crucial, and there are tools and resources to help you.