How to develop a content marketing strategy

Content marketing is a popular marketing approach to place your own products with customers and potential prospects. The basic idea behind content marketing is very simple: you create content for your target group, you publish it and inspire your customers.

As simple as it may sound at first glance, content marketing only works if you can offer high-quality content that interests the customer and if you have a suitable structure and the right tools for planning, implementation and the subsequent learning process. Because a content marketing strategy is not a short-term approach like paid advertising would be, but a long-term and organic sales and communication approach of today's companies.

In order to be able to build up your own content marketing strategy and to choose a suitable tool, it is first important to understand what content marketing exactly is and how the individual parts are connected with each other.

What are the benefits of content marketing?

Any type of marketing aims to capture the attention of people or customers. But whereas advertising typically tries to entice people to take an immediate action, content marketing aims to engage people well before they are actually interested in the product. You want to use exciting stories and content to engage people in every stage of the Customer Journey and raise awareness for their own company and products.

Of course, a content strategy can be designed to focus on selling products, but usually the goal is to generate interest, build brand awareness, or create a positive association with a brand or product.

Especially when developing products that require explanation or there is no "one" buying moment, content marketing promises to be more successful and more effective in the long run than accepting the large scattering losses of paid advertising. If the company tailors the content sensibly to a future target group, the potential customer will remember it at the appropriate moment and decide in favor of the corresponding product or brand.

The advantages of content marketing at a glance:

  • Content marketing is aimed at people/customers and wants to provide a benefit
  • Content marketing works in all phases of the customer journey
  • Content marketing is less intrusive and tends to be perceived less as advertising
  • Content marketing can be self-reinforcing via viral effects
  • Content marketing is a long-term approach to business communication and harmonizes with any kind of SEO, PR and social media activity.

At the same time, of course, content marketing has its weaknesses:

  • Content marketing does not generate immediate sales
  • Content marketing is a long-term strategy
  • Content marketing is largely about diligence, perseverance and constant learning.

These weaknesses are also confirmed by a 2016 study, which clearly shows the central problem with content marketing: although 76% of the entrepreneurs surveyed work with a content strategy, only 37% say they are successful with their strategy - even though everyone is convinced that content marketing works.

The authors of the study conclude that content marketing is a successful marketing tool, but only if you do not blindly create any content and contributions. The decisive difference comes from planning one's own approach, establishing a process and a structure, and using a toolset that adapts to one's own needs and that helps everyone in the team to keep track of all the information.

So what is important for a content pipeline? What does a tool or software solution have to be able to do in order to optimally support the content creation process?

The three P's of content marketing

There are various definitions of content marketing. But I personally like the description with the three P's best. These stand for the three English terms: Preparation, Production und Publication. Teilweise liest man auch von Produce, Publish und Promote. Am Ende geht es aber immer um die zielgerichtete Erarbeitung von kundenrelevantem Content.

Preparation includes the strategic planning and preparation of your own content strategy. The target group or fictitious Buyer-Personas selected, the right SEO terms and channels identified and from this a plan for the right content created.

Production consists of all the necessary steps to bring the actual content to life and oversee its creation. It must be determined who will create the content, what the exact headline should be, who must provide information, when the content will be completed, etc.

Publication is the third and final step in content marketing and includes publishing, promoting the content, evaluating the hits and constant feedback to improve the process.

Why Kanban boards and process management tools are not suitable

It is important to understand that content marketing is usually made up of many small pieces of the puzzle and not one big article will bring the desired success. How the SEO agency creates Content Marketing Star even for small projects, a content pipeline with dozens, if not hundreds of search terms and then creates the appropriate content. If you're an agency serving multiple clients at once, you need a tool that can keep track of this mass of information and allow for targeted publishing of planned content.

Typical Kanban boards like Trello or project management tools like Asana are quickly overwhelmed with this large amount of information. For example, if you import a Google keyword research with hundreds of SEO terms into such a software, you have practically already lost the necessary overview.

So let's go through the steps necessary to build a content marketing strategy and what an appropriate content marketing tool looks like.

1. definition of the persona / target group

In marketing, it is assumed that you should know your customer in order to make him a suitable offer. Typically, there are two concepts how to proceed: either you define a target group or use the so-called buyer persona.

A target group refers to all the people you want to address with a marketing campaign. A target group is thus a subset of an overall market and is typically formed from a market segmentation. This segmentation can be based, for example, on age, gender, place of residence, personal preferences, etc.

A target group is not necessarily homogeneous in itself, but the individuals within the target group are different with the exception of the defined criteria.

For this reason, the concept of the buyer persona was developed. This describes, in contrast to the target group, a fictitious person who represents a typical customer. One tries to describe this fictitious person as accurately as possible in all its facets in order to better understand the needs, challenges and actions of this ideal customer. In this way, the content can be tailored even better and more individually to the customer.

So if you want to build a pipeline of quality content, it's important to get clarity on who your customers really are and what content they want to read. That's why content marketing more often works with buyer personas.

The more precisely you describe your persona, the easier it will be for you to predict their expectations and behavior in relation to your content. And that's exactly what you want to achieve with content marketing. You want to design and produce content that is seen as helpful and that your future customers will enjoy reading.

Try to describe your persona as accurately as you can:

  • What job do you have?
  • What is your position?
  • What challenges do you have?
  • What content do these people expect and what will help them?

Suppose your company has the following three customer segments:

  • Independent designers
  • Creative teams
  • Creative Agencies

Then your first task would be to find out everything you can about these customer segments and therefore about your buyer persona. Don't just think about it, document your findings.

Description of the Buying Personas in SeaTable

Example description of the buyer personas in SeaTable

Create targeted content for your customers

Self-employed designers, for example, love reading articles on >medium.com. They mainly use Apple devices and rather ride a bike than a Porsche. They love to be presented with concrete images as a source of inspiration. They enjoy concrete tutorials, how-tos, and content that will help you in your work in a concrete and immediate way. To get this persona excited about a product, they usually just need some motivational help. A basic interest is a given in any case. Therefore, deliver concrete tips and practical assistance. The appropriate format could be short Youtube videos and suitable blog articles on medium.com or the company blog.

Creative teams are asking for recommendations for new tools and efficiency-boosting process improvements. Such a team may already know their product and need a few success stories from other customers to sign up for a trial.

Creative agencies, on the other hand, already work in a much more formalized way. Individual employees are likely to get excited about a new tool quickly, but at the same time they need to convince their management of the concrete benefits. Help these individuals with hints on how to increase efficiency or the concrete benefits of their solution. The best way to do this is with success stories, press releases and white papers.

Equipped with this knowledge about your customers and their needs, you can now move on to the production phase.

2. the production of content for your content pipeline

The key challenges in content creation is monitoring progress and accountability. Forget kanban boards or comprehensive project management tools that lose track of just a handful of entries.

For every blog post, every video, every online mention, determine who on the team is responsible for it and when that content should be ready. Even if external content has to be supplied or there are time dependencies, don't let this put you off. Only if you define clear responsibilities can content creation become an efficient pipeline.

The following table shows a basic structure that you can modify to suit your needs. The following information should be recorded for each content:

  • Title of the publication
  • Status (from brainstorming to published)
  • Responsible author
  • Publication date
  • Publication channel
  • Persona (to whom the article is relevant)
  • Content idea (where the article idea came from)

Content Marketing Strategy Planning in SeaTable

This table of our Content Marketing Strategy Template seems quite extensive at first glance, but it is the minimum for an average content pipeline to keep the necessary overview. Get into the habit of collecting this data from day one and you will have no problems keeping track of it at any time.

Another highlight of this template are the different views with predefined filters and groupings. So you can be sure that the different employees always get the perfect overview. At the same time, these views are ideal for ensuring personal accountability.

Graphic designers will only be interested in the articles that require graphics at all and are already written, while authors will only look for the work that is still open. For each of these collaborators, there is a separate view to display only the data that you need at the moment.

Individual views for each employee

Individual views for each employee

Every employee knows exactly who has the task at hand and who has to work on it next. This way you avoid waiting times and confusion. As soon as an author has written his draft, he changes the status of the article and passes it on to the next employee for quality control. If coordination between collaborators is necessary, this can easily be done via the comment function within SeaTable.

Team communication in SeaTable

This way, no one has to ask for an update via email or Slack. You simply add the corresponding colleague in the comments or change the status of the article. If desired, SeaTable also sends an email notification.

As an author or editor, you may want to see scheduled publishing dates in a calendar view. There, articles can be conveniently dragged and dropped to rearrange deadlines and ensure consistently good content is published.

Editorial planning via drag & drop in SeaTable

Editorial planning via drag & drop in SeaTable

Each of these different views highlights certain aspects of the content pipeline while hiding others. This way, everyone on the team gets exactly the right amount of information they need to do their job.

Provide constant new ideas

Also make sure you don't run out of ideas prematurely. Ask your employees and your customers for ideas or for topics that interest you. With SeaTable you can create a questionnaire in a few minutes and distribute it.

Brainstorming in preparation for content marketing

Your goal should be to be in constant communication with your customers and to keep the barriers to reporting these ideas as low as possible. As you'll see, the best way to publish good content on a regular basis is to maintain a constant stream of quality ideas.

3. publication and analysis

However, a good strategy and good content alone are not enough to exploit the full potential of content marketing. Companies that are really successful with content marketing work consistently to learn from their mistakes and establish a constant feedback loop.

You listen to what people are saying about the articles and think about what you can use from them in upcoming articles. At the same time, you revise your buyer personas and observe which articles your community has reacted particularly well to and which keyword has seen the most interaction.

Set up a "Feedback" area on your website and allow your customers to directly tell you their thoughts via a form. You can use this feedback directly to better align your upcoming articles with your customers' wishes.

This kind of analysis to improve one's content marketing strategy is truly not rocket science but mainly the result of simple, checklist-like actions that in most cases are simply forgotten or not prioritized.

Don't make the same mistake and establish such feedback and analysis processes from the beginning. SeaTable provides you with all the necessary capabilities you need.

Make yourself a feedback checklist

Also, make sure that your articles are always assigned to one of your buyer personas. This is the only way you'll have the opportunity to review your content after it's published and continuously improve it over time. Write content according to assumptions about what your customers want and continually refine these insights.

Force yourself to think about content in this structured way to truly be the master of your strategic decisions.

Monitor the actual number of hits

You will quickly notice that with good articles you will see an increase in organic traffic to your website after just a few weeks. Make the effort and save the access figures of your articles after e.g. one week. In the beginning you should take the numbers manually from Google Analytics, later you can set up an automatic data collection e.g. with Zapier or the SeaTable API.

You will see that it is worthwhile to record these evaluations in SeaTable in order to then display the figures as a bar, line or pie chart.

Statistical analysis with SeaTable

Statistical evaluations of the access numbers and the planned postings with SeaTable

Analyzing your content and traffic numbers can easily get lost in the hustle and bustle of your next release. Of course, it's important that you publish new content regularly. However, you should still take the time to post a quick mention on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn for every article you publish. You can use SeaTable to schedule this step as well, or submit the post directly via Zapier . You'll be amazed at how much can be optimized in your content marketing process if you take some time to think about improvements.

An editorial plan to organize your content marketing strategy

It makes you wonder why so many business owners feel like their content marketing isn't working? In my opinion, it's either because businesses don't have a strategy or they have the wrong tool.

I am convinced that content marketing is an effective tool and can contribute decisively to your company's success. If you want to succeed, then do without interchangeable content and confusing project management tools.

Use SeaTable to set your buyer personas, goals and content and closely monitor their development. Establish a self-improving process and you'll see success. Start now with our marketing templates and customize this to your needs.