6 Steps to Creating Your 2016 Content Strategy

Anthony Robbins, as well as any other successful individual, understands that if you lack clear, definable goals, your chances of succeeding are next to nil. If you want to make some waves online, grow your audience, and put yourself light years ahead of the competition, you need to create a plan for your content strategy.

But where do you even begin? Should you just survey competitors’ blogs, make comparisons about keyword competition, and see what sticks?

Too many businesses fail to put pen to paper (or fingers to their keyboard) to map out and plan their content marketing strategy.

Well, let’s solve that problem.

The following are 6 steps that will help you chart a path towards content marketing success.

1. Define Your Goals

Why are you creating content in the first place? Are you trying to increase conversions? Are you trying to build an email list? Perhaps you are trying to solve an education gap in a new market. However, your goal shouldn’t be, “To increase my bottom line.”

Sound counter-intuitive? There’s just one problem with ‘bottom-line’ goals – they are incredibly vague. Try to quantify your goals, and make sure they are realistic and achievable. Make your goal to grow your email list by x number of subscribers, to generate a specific number of leads in a given timeframe, or to improve the number of repeat customers by a predetermined amount. This will give your goals substance, and you’ll be able to track how close you are to reaching your goal.

2. Define Your Audience

You have to, have to, define your audience if you want to create an effective marketing strategy. A marketing strategy that appeals to everyone is a marketing strategy that appeals to no one. Don’t forgo the necessity of defining your audience, or you aren’t going to be very effective.

Though in the past a large part of SEO and previous ideologies about ‘content marketing’ were really focused on trying to game the Google search algorithm, you can’t get away with that anymore.

Sure, a Google bot is going to crawl your pages, but your audience is going to be digested by real people. If you lack a clear definition of who these people are, how could you ever hope to create something that will engage them? A good way to understand market segments is to create personas.

3. Research Your Audience’s Needs and Desires

Only after you have defined your audience can you start to delve a little deeper to uncover content marketing opportunities. Now that you have defined your audience and various market segments, you need to look for patterns. What do members of your audience have in common and how can you solve their pain points and problems?

At the end of the day, your content needs to do something valuable for your audience. It needs to entertain them, educate them, inform them, or provide assistance in any number of other ways.

If your content doesn’t meet the needs and desires of your audience, your content plan will lack effectiveness, plain and simple.

You should also be aware that customers at different stages of your sales funnel are going to have different needs. For example, a cold lead may need more education than a warm lead. To accommodate different members of your audience, your content strategy needs to account for their position in the sales funnel.

4. Realize Your Competitive Advantage

You need to have something that sets you apart from the competition, or you’re just going to become another bleating sheep in a noisy pasture. If you feel that you lack a competitive advantage, it’s time to start brainstorming.

  • Can you create more professional-looking videos than your competition?
  • Does your product or service have a valuable characteristic that the competition lacks?
  • Can you execute on support issues quicker?
  • Does your product have an attribute that makes it superior to others?

Try to determine the core value and benefits of your business and find a way to translate your unique qualities into your content strategy.

5. Create an Execution Plan

Now that you have put together most of the pieces of the puzzle, it’s time to create an action list. You can set goals all year long, but if you fail to take action, you will never reach your goals. A content execution plan will help you break your massive goals into bite-sized actions. But you need to stay committed to your plan. The key with your content execution strategy is consistency.

build an action planYour execution plan should be more complex than saying you will upload x number of posts per month for the next year. You also need to consider the time of day you are making your posts, when you are sharing your post on other marketing channels, and what social media platforms you plan to use.

Consider using a list of yearly holidays and special "National Day of" lists to publish content around.  This type of content, in conjunction with some sort of 'reason' typically gets a little more social media shares and likes.

For instance, today is Feb 9 - National Pizza Day, National Bagel Day, and National Toothache Day.  If you're a dentist, you've got a triple-whammy right there!

There are plenty of programs out there that will help you create your publishing calendar.  Social media tools like Buffer and Hootsuite let you pre-program posts in that can push your content to multiple platforms all at once.

6. Track Metrics to Measure Progress

The goals that you set for yourself in the first step will determine what numbers you need to be focusing on. For example, if you want to increase the effectiveness of your marketing campaign and generate more leads with the same level of marketing budget, you are going to be concerned with your customer acquisition cost.

Remember, you have to track metrics such as bounce rate, the average time a user spends on your site, the number of leads you generate, your conversion rate, and other related factors to have any idea if you are moving closer towards your goal.

In Summary

Too few businesses, that would otherwise be successful online, fail to take these steps to define a concrete action plan. If you take action with each of these 6 steps, you are going to be miles ahead of the competition.

In business, every dollar and every minute counts, and it would be unfortunate to waste time and money because you failed to properly map out your content strategy.

About 

Will Hanke owns Saint Louis’ top independent Internet Marketing firm, Red Canoe Media. In addition to helping some of St Louis’ most recognizable brands with their online marketing strategy, Will also is an Amazon bestselling author, speaker and teacher.

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