How to Create a Foolproof Content Marketing Strategy in 12 Steps (W/ Examples Included!)

By Bill Acholla September 2, 2020
Content Marketing Strategy for B2B Businesses.

This is a complete guide on how to create a content marketing strategy for your business.

In this new guide you’ll learn everything there is to know about developing a winning content marketing strategy.

So if you want to get the most out of this guide, then you’re in the right place.

Ready?

Let’s jump right in.

What is a Content Marketing Strategy?

It’s the process of planning, creating, publishing and distributing content to attract, retain and convert more readers into qualified leads, hence generating sales for your business.

Which brings us to the next important question.

Why Content Marketing Strategy is Important

In today’s age, content marketing strategy is important because it will help you:

  • Build trust with your readers or customers.
  • Build a significant brand for your business.
  • Connect with the right customers who will help you in referral marketing.
  • Make your customer journey more engaging.
  • Increase your social media traffic.
  • Generate quality backlinks.
  • Generate more business sales.
  • Build a loyal fan base.
  • Reduce your marketing expenses.

So if you want to beat your competitors, you must have a foolproof plan in your content strategy.

Below are 12 steps and a few examples to help you develop a winning content marketing plan that’ll help you grow your business.

1. Define your goals

When developing a foolproof content marketing plan you need to define clear goals that’ll help you achieve your desirable objectives.

Examples of goals might be:

  • Generate more leads
  • Improve customer experience
  • Hire more experience people
  • Build a strong business brand

So how do you set clear and achievable goals?

Simple Answer: Use SMART goals.

SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

You can use third party templates, documents, Excel or Google sheets to walk you through setting a SMART goal step by step.

Here’s an example from Hubspot.com’s about page.

Their goal is to help millions grow better.

Once you’ve defined your goals clear, it’s time to move to the next step.

2. Establish your KPIs

What is KPI?

It stands for Key Performance Indicator (KPI).

It’s a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives.

Big organizations and B2B businesses, use KPIs to evaluate their success at reaching targets.

You need to include what you need to achieve in terms of:

  • Sales
  • Traffic
  • Conversion
  • Inbound links
  • Downloads
  • CPC
  • Time on page
  • Leads

… and different areas of digital marketing.

If you want to measure the success of your marketing strategy, you need to factor KPI in your plan.

Let’s move to the next point.

3. Define your content’s target audience

To create a successful strategy, you need to establish your target audience.

Without the right audience, your marketing plan will fail miserably.

By identifying the right audience, you’ll be able to create engaging content that’ll be read, shared wildly, and even help you convert more leads into sales.

Below are two ideas to help you establish the right audience:

  • Use social media sites and Google analytics to get demographic data.
  • Collect feedback from your customers.

Use the above metrics to create a buyer persona.

When you have a better understanding based on the above two ideas, it will help you map your ideal customers to target.

Key Point: Understand your target audience for better content creation.

4. Run a content audit

Running an effective content audit on your website, will help you know which areas to improve.

Below are steps to follow:

  • Establish which content you will audit.
  • Think of your goals.
  • Categorize your content on the spreadsheets.
  • Once you’ve categorized them on spreadsheets, analyze the data critically by identifying which content is outdated, missing content and under-performing content.
  • Complete your audit by creating action items.

You can use the below tools to automate your content audit:

  • SEMrush
  • Google Analytics
  • Ahrefs
  • Screaming Frog
  • MarketMuse

Below is an example of content audit I got from Marketmuse.com

I got analysis of my content, including:

  • Ranking pages
  • Opportunity to target
  • Volume
  • Authority
  • Competitive advantage

Next, it’s to come up with content ideas.

5. Come up with ideas for your next content project

It’s time to brainstorm content ideas for your next content project.

It’s super important to come up with content ideas for your marketing strategy.

With the right blog post ideas, you’re already halfway to a successful content strategy.

To avoid manual process, I’d recommend you use any of the below tools.

  • Answerthepublic
  • BuzzSumo
  • Google Trends
  • Ahrefs

Pretty cool

Right?

6. Establish where your audience is hanging out

As you continue to plan on your content marketing strategy, you need to identify where your audience hangs.

This will help you invest more of your marketing resources and efforts.

For example, Chris Gimmer the founder of BootstrapBay submitted his post to web design sub-reddit on Reddit.

As you can see below, his Reddit post generate 181 votes:

That single reddit thread drove lots of traffic to Chris’ blog post.

Web design sub-reddit was one of the places Chris target audience hangs out.

This point is very important in optimizing your marketing strategy.

7. Start a blog

At this point, you need to set up a blog to host your content.

There are many options for setting up a blog.

You can build your own blog on the WordPress platform or use an external CMS (Content Management System) like Medium, Wix or Squarespace.

Caveat!

I would recommend you set up your blog on the WordPress.org platform and not WordPress.com or blogger.com.

To give you a real example of why a free platform is not good. Just recently Google lost ownership over blogspot.in and their users faced issues accessing their blogs.

Terrible!

Back to our discussion.

Below are few steps to help you set up your blog:

  • Choose a web hosting to host your blog.
  • Design your blog.
  • Create your first content.
  • Promote your blog.
  • Create an editorial calendar.

There are lots of email tools, but some of the most popular ones are Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Aweber and Convertkit.

8. Decide on content types to create

Not all content formats have their place in content strategy. You need to decide which format will match your audience.

For example, my blog readers like how-to and list articles.

You need to test and find out which type will relate to your audience. Below are content types you can try to implement on your marketing strategy:

  • Ebooks
  • Case studies
  • Templates
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Social media

Alternatively, you can use different content frameworks to bring in more qualified traffic from search.

Below are different types of content framework I am talking about:

a. Alternative post

These are posts that summarizes the most well-known brands in your niche.

For example, over the years, Intercom has become a massive hit by directing their competitor’s traffic to theirs via alternative blog posts.

They have to pay customers up to $17,000+ and have annual recurring revenue of 50+ million today.

They were successful due to the use of dynamic keywords, alternative landing pages, Google keywords, writing original and branded content, strategies of advertising their services to newer audiences, high buy intent keywords and targeted market awareness.

It is a green checkmark to their brand.

Below are a few examples:

b. Comparison post

These are posts that talk about two or more brands side-by-side. To generate more revenue for your small business, comparison posts are the best content to create.

Here are a few examples:

c. Best tools post

These are roundup posts that focus on various tools to solve a particular problem.

A few examples below:

d. Industry Trends post

These are editorial-style reports based on current or future trends in your industry.

Take a look at the following example:

When creating such posts, you need to become laser focused on developing content that nurtures your readers towards conversion.

9. Create a content calendar

It’s time to plan and optimize your marketing content with an editorial calendar.

You’ll need to create an editorial calendar that will help you schedule your work on a daily, weekly, or on a monthly basis.

Editorial calendars are super important because it can help you track:

  • Publishing date
  • Promotional channels
  • Content campaigns

Before you create an editorial calendar, ask yourself the below questions:

  • What content type should you use to organize your calendar?
  • How many people will use the editorial calendar?
  • Do you create more than one type of content?
  • How often do you publish content?

You can use the below tools to create an editorial calendar:

  • Asana
  • CoSchedule
  • Google Calendar
  • Trello
  • Hootsuite Planner

10. Create content

Based on the above steps, it’s time to create the right content that can attract the right audience.

So how do you create engaging content?

  • Find a proven topic
  • Create an awesome headline
  • Craft a compelling Intro
  • Write your post
  • Add a summary
  • Add a conclusion
  • Optimize it for SEO

A quick note: Add a story in your content so that it can help you connect with your readers deeply.

For example, Dove is a brand that sells soaps, so you might wonder if it can’t tell any engaging story.

It actually did with the help of real customers.

Dove shared real customer experiences on its social media pages and those stories went viral.

There were no supermodels or celebs, only genuine customers were a part of Dove’s visual storytelling campaign.

Here’s my ultimate guide on how to create a powerful blog post.

The next step is to figure out how to promote your content.

11. Strategically distribute and market your content

To get the results you want, you need to promote your content to the right audience.

Below are my recommended tactics you can use to promote your content.

a. Create Visual Infographics

It gathers all the information and shows in a way that is incredibly simple to consume, visualized, and organized.

They bring recurring traffic to your site by easily being shared all throughout numerous social media platforms.

But you should always make sure to insert your logo and the website of your company somewhere within the infographic.

Agencies like CopyPress charge about $2000 for the entire project. Freelancers can take about $500, while other designers may charge even below $100.

A while back I created a simple Infographic about Chatbots.

And because it was so good, it was shared by Larry Kim, the founder of Mobile Monkey.

Not bad.

Here’s another example from Sapio.

A while back, Getsapio.com launched their dating app, Sapio. They knew getting into the heads of their target audience would be a crucial, ongoing process.

Their visual content paid off.

In a span of two days, Sapio earned media coverage from authority sites like:

  • Mashable
  • Refinery29
  • Yahoo
  • The Huffington Post
  • TechCrunch
  • Macworld
  • Techtimes

… and 3,072% spike in weekly app installs

Not bad.

Let’s look at how Lilly Pulitzer used Visual Storytelling to gain 4.4 million Instagram engagements!

Lilly Pulitzer is a renowned American fashion brand, operating since the mid 20th century.

It has a rich history of serving Americans and people across the globe for their fashion demands.

This brand has used its authentic heritage to produce highly engaging visual content.

Being a multigenerational brand, Lilly Pulitzer offers products to customers of all ages.

It has successfully established and maintained a great relationship with the customers for many decades.

Now it is using visual storytelling to share that connection and relationship on social media platforms.

Lilly Pulitzer knows it is essential to express the customers why it does the prints it does.

It uses social media stories to reveal the stories behind those fashion designs.

Its Instagram stories have played a vital role in establishing this brand as an American heritage.

It is a part of Lilly Pulitzer’s integrated social media marketing strategies to tell unique stories about the brand.

This approach helps this brand in gaining major competitive advantage against other leading fashion brands.

Many individuals do not know that only 10 talented artists work in an in-house team at Lilly Pulitzer to produce those impressive prints.

It was essential to reveal how did they survive for such a long time and they used social media stories to share their experience.

Lilly Pulitzer has followed a flawless visual content marketing campaign. They first tried to engage customers with their employees.

It published its [5×5] prints every day at 5pm on Pinterest and Instagram. Those 5×5 prints were shared across digital media.

This campaign helped the marketing team in learning what their customers like and what they do not like.

The Lilly Girls responded great to certain prints and certain prints did not succeed in gaining a huge response. It helped the marketers in learning what the customers likes to see.

The marketers knew what people wanted to get printed on their clothes.

This brand had registered only two online sales during the last year, but now its visual marketing campaign had drawn millions of people.

They chose the most popular prints and turned them into products and supplied those products for sales.

That’s how Lilly Pulitzer used visual storytelling to gain a huge competitive advantage and improve its social media presence.

People are thoroughly engaged on social media most of the time. It provides you a great opportunity to share quality visual content and grab their attention.

Starbucks has successfully used visual storytelling to promote its Unicorn Frappuccino.

It had made one tweet, one Instagram post, and one Facebook post before launching this product.

Its Unicorn Frappuccino had gained over 51,000 social media mentions one day before the launch, over 72,000 on launch day, and a massive 177,000 mentions when the product arrived in the shops.

It proves how brands can use social media to make the prospects aware about the existing and new products.

b. Videos

Video platforms such as YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook Live, Facebook Videos, Instagram Live, Instagram Stories, and Virtual Reality are lucrative.

About 81% of people were successfully convinced to purchase a product after watching the video of the company.

If you want to invest in a video marketing strategy, then the production cost can cost you about $1200 for a basic video and about $50,000 for a premium video.

c. Pictures

Images are easily shareable on sites such as Pinterest. This, in turn, will link back successfully to your own site.

The strategy is to utilize minimal writing but in a way that still permits you to showcase your content and work that uniquely connects to your audience.

It is a known fact that pages with pictures get about 94% more views. They are also easily processed.

For blogs, you can expect a photographer to charge about $25-$75 per hour.

d. Influencer Marketing

You can always hire influencers in your niche to get the job done. Before you hire one, you have to target the right niche, researching the rate of engagement, researching the count of followers, and understanding how the marketing world of social media works.

There is this rule of one cent per follower, which is also known as the rule of $100 per 100,000 followers. That should give you a real and basic idea about how it runs.

e. Case Studies

Facts and analytics are always a great way to attract an audience.

You can exemplify real-life happenings to show how the grievances of your customers were solved by your company.

It creates trust and offers:

  • An in-depth analysis of your customer’s problem.
  • The ultimate insight to your buyers regarding your products and services.

f. Hiring a Blogging Copywriter

Ghostwriting content is a popular trend nowadays. Companies that invest in blogging are more likely to garner a positive ROI.

It will be incredibly beneficial for you to let another individual run your blog. Professional copywriters can charge about $150 per page.

g. Forums

Web forums such as Reddit, Quora, and Yahoo are great and transparent areas for establishing your thought leadership in business.

You can hold a conversation with potential buyers who are interested in your company. You need to ask relevant questions to improve your marketing strategy.

h. Guest Blogging

This is suited for individuals who can’t manage the time to blog consistently. You can write well-established blogs for others.

It is a smart marketing tactic as it garners SEO benefits, visibility, and credibility.

i. Grow Your Business Partnerships

Content not only helps you in finding new customers, but also new partners.

You might not seek a major investor but your content can draw numerous affiliates on social media.

You can find several influencers who will help you in spreading your content stories across Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms.

New affiliates can also help you in developing more creative stories to gain more partners and customers.

Amazon uses its affiliates and influencers to draw more customers and it has been the most successful eCommerce brand for many years.

12. Measure results

Finally, it’s time to measure the success of your work.

You can use Google analytics to see any changes of your content marketing strategy.

If you want to see how your content is performing in SEO results, you can use SEMrush.

For email signups, you can use your email marketing software to monitor the progress of your signups.

Over to You

So that’s it for my guide to content marketing strategy.

Now I’d like to hear what you have to say:

Which strategy from this guide are you going to try first? Let me know by leaving a comment below right now

Comments

  1. Glad to know that. Nice post. Very useful for me. Thanks a lot…….again.

  2. Sammy Blackmore says

    Wow, never thought of using Outbrain. We mostly spend our marketing budget on FB ads. Gonna bookmark this.

  3. Hey Bill

    Great article no doubt ! for 1000$ marketing budget. In terms of return what I can expect from each platform (outbrain, facebook) ?

  4. Andrea Torti says

    I completely agree – smart visuals and a compelling headline can work miracles!

    On the other hand, be careful with that “You won’t believe what happened next”-type: it might get annoying with time.

  5. NO Genesis 2.0 says

    This is a good tip especially to those fresh to
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  7. I could pick up 3 unique tips from your list which I had not come across in my past content writing career. It is really helpful to increase the quality of my blogs! Thank you

  8. You have given a very detailed information. Thanks for that in the first place. Secondly, on implementing them I could clearly observe that post clicks have increased and I have learnt to develop an attractive content.

  9. Outsourcemyjob says

    writing better depend on research and maintain the quality of writing is not ease. we do need to keep learning and follow some tips. Thanks

  10. Content is the King. Your blog post made me to believe it. Thanks for the nice article
    Regards

  11. Varun Sharma says

    Really impressive article I have ever read. Thanks for sharing keep writing these type of articles and help people to get more knowledge.

  12. Nice blog..! I really loved reading through this article. Thanks for sharing such an amazing post with us and keep blogging…

  13. Sakshi Sharma says

    Really impressive article. I have ever read. Thanks for sharing keep writing these type of articles and help people to get more knowledge.

  14. Vicky Toomer says

    A very good article. I like the examples you have given to show good content, great for inspiration. Thanks for sharing.

  15. www.bigpond.com says

    It’s hard to come by knowledgeable people in this particular subject, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about! I want to stimulate you continue your excellent work. Thanks for sharing…

  16. I am a new blogger, I have been watching videos on YouTube, but I understand exactly how to write content well, but reading this article has clear doubts in my mind.thanks for this this article.

  17. Nirodha Abayalath says

    Hey Bill,
    I have been developing a basic content marketing strategy for my blog for weeks. I found a lot to consider when we develop a content marketing strategy via this post.
    So, thank you very much for sharing this with us.

  18. HI Bill, Great blog post. Many newbie content marketers put a lot of their time and effort in creating high quality content, however they fail to realize the importance of visual content. They do not include visual content in their content marketing strategies. Simply by implementing visual content marketing strategies they will be able to improve their brand awareness. In this blog post, you listed some of the best ways why and how to implement visual content into content marketing strategies.

  19. Very nice article and very useful. I appreciate your work, thanks for sharing for all the informative content.

  20. Hifza khan says

    Great Post. Really impressive article I have ever read. I love it Thanks for sharing keep writing these type of articles and help people to get more knowledge.check out an other informative Guide content writing tips. I assure these tips will prove useful in making your work more attractive and persuasive.

  21. Really impressive article,thank you for writing this….
    It helps me a lot

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