Start your content marketing without a strategy and you won’t get the results you should. In fact, without a strategy you won’t even know content marketing success means.
Your content marketing strategy will define who you’re writing for, what type of content they need when buying what you sell, how much content you’ll need to achieve your goals, and what your goals are.
Your strategy will also define what success is for your business and how you’ll measure it.
Here’s five things your content marketing strategy must include:
A benchmark of where you’re at now
Goals are great, but how much work will it take to achieve them? If you’re nearly there, not much. If you’re miles away, then you’ve got a lot of work to do. Before starting your content marketing, compare where you are now with where you want to be. This benchmarking will help you determine how much work is required to achieve your goals.
So what should you benchmark?
When you look at content marketing in its simplest form, it’s one part SEO, one part lead generation, and one part lead nurturing and qualification. You’ll want to benchmark at least these metrics:
monthly website visits
monthly sales leads generated
monthly sales qualified leads
monthly customers generated
If you’ve been tracking your keyword rankings, then this is something you should record, along with how your keywords measure up against those of your competition. Establishing a benchmark with your keywords will help you to trace the searches and key terms that are bringing people to your website.
If you have the data, why not compare all of these metrics to what they were 12 months ago? Doing so will help you understand what growth, if any, you achieved over the last year.
Your growth goals
Where do you want to be in 12 months, 24 months, and beyond? Set revenue goals and work backwards from there. First, determine how much of this revenue needs to come from your online marketing, and determine how many customers you’re going to need. Then, use your existing website conversion rates to determine how many sales qualified leads, leads and visitors you’re going to need.
Don’t be alarmed when you first calculate these figures; most people find they need a huge increase in website visits and leads to achieve the growth goals they need. Your content marketing will significantly improve your conversion rates, in turn making your goals more achievable than you would have first thought.
To make it easy to see what you can achieve with your content marketing, we’ve created a calculator which will show you how quickly you can grow your website visitors and leads. This calculator is in the form of spreadsheet into which you can enter your current website statistics to find out what growth you can achieve in 6, 12, and 24 months. The data used to calculate these results comes from the 2014 version of HubSpot’s ROI report, which is collated from the results of more than 5700 websites undertaking an inbound / content marketing program. The report provides us with real data derived from what others have achieved.
Whatever your growth goals might be, make sure you constrain them to a realistic timeframe using reliable data like the HubSpot ROI report.
A definition of your audience
Content must be written to a particular audience to be successful, and your strategy needs to define that audience. This audience is broken down into buyer personas. These personas are representations of the people who buy from you, complete with their wants and needs.
You also need to define their buying process and what information they need to make a buying decision. This way you can ensure your content calendar includes plenty of content specifically designed to help your ideal clients, or personas, to make the decision to buy from you.
Your personas will also help you understand what search keyword phrases you should target, as it’s these people who are using search engines to find your content.
Writing content to a well defined audience ensures you rank well for the right keywords, and you get the right visitors to your website, along with much better visitor-to-lead-to-customer conversion rates.
Defining your audience personas also helps you segment your email mailing list for more effective email marketing.
What you will publish and at what rate
What you publish depends mostly on what your buyers need. Your buyer personas will help you understand that.
How frequently you publish can be considered the throttle for your content marketing. The further you are away from your goals the more you’ll need to publish to get where you’re going.
Your strategy should include a content calendar showing what content will be published for at least the first 3 months.
How do you know how much content you’re going to need when you first start your content marketing? It depends on how ambitious your goals are, and you can use the HubSpot ROI report as a guide. If your goals require less growth than our calculator determines then you might get away with publishing one article per week. If your goals are higher then you’re going to need more. This is where some professional advice can come in handy when you start out with content marketing.
How you will track your results
If how often you publish content is your throttle, how do you measure whether or not you’ve opened it wide enough? You need to regularly track your progress against your goals; and by regularly I recommend at least monthly.
At the very least, track your increase in website visits, leads and website originated sales against your goals.
Ensure you set up a system to make tracking your results as painless as possible. This is where software like HubSpot comes in; allowing you to check your progress with the press of a button.