The Ultimate Content Strategy Template for Content Marketing
If content creation isn't part of your overall marketing strategy, you're missing out on a highly effective way to reach your target audience.
While PPC campaigns, video ads, and emails are undoubtedly effective - you should definitely incorporate a content strategy into the mix.
But how do you know which types of content to produce?
Should you focus on creating content for SEO, building brand awareness, or generating new sales?
It will depend on your business goals and your buyer personas. Ideally, you want to regularly produce relevant content that solves customer pain points, educates, and entertains.
This content strategy template is for you if you're brand new to content marketing. Even if you've already put together a content plan - it never hurts to take a fresh look at your content to see if it still hits the mark. Also, don't forget to check out our content creation services at iWriter.
Step #1: Set Your Goals and KPIs
The first step is to gather all the necessary stakeholders at your company to determine what you want to achieve with your content.
For example, do you want to increase brand awareness to reach a new audience, or are you searching for a way to boost dwindling sales?
Once you've identified your primary business goal, you can brainstorm how your content strategy will achieve it for you. That will help inform your decisions on which type of content to produce (i.e., product demo videos and testimonials to boost sales).
You'll also want to identify opportunities and threats during this phase. That includes things like where you see the most potential for content distribution and if there are any stark competitors in your field.
If you aren't going to outsource content creation, you'll want to put together a content team. It should include your best writers, graphic artists, videographers, and CMS experts.
Another important thing not to forget is to set your KPIs (key performance indicators) for your content strategy. That can prove challenging since your content isn't directly linked to your revenue and is a source of business growth instead.
Yet, that doesn't mean that there still aren't reliable KPIs you can set to measure the success of your content marketing efforts.
KPIs for boosting brand awareness
If your goal is to expand your influence within your target audience, you'll want to measure a few specific KPIs. For this goal, your content should center around getting the word out about your brand, what you do, and why it matters. Here's what you'll want to measure:
Your total number of views is a huge deal if you want to increase your brand awareness. To keep track of them, Google Analytics (GA) is an invaluable tool.
You'll be able to see your total number of views as well as helpful metrics like bounce rate, click-through rate, and traffic sources for your content.
To what degree does your audience engage with your content by leaving comments and sharing it on social media? You can track this KPI by measuring your traffic on GA and keeping track of your comments.
To see if your content has an impact, keep a close eye on your newsletter subscriber count. If it starts to rise, your content is doing its job. If there's no change, it's time to return to the drawing board. Another critical metric is the number of followers on your social media accounts.
Are other brands/blogs talking about you online and sharing your posts? If so, that's a key indicator that your content works for you.
Also, you may be able to turn any unlinked brand mentions you find online into a backlink with some outreach. You can use Google's Advanced Search Operators to discover your brand mentions online.
KPIs for generating more leads
If you want to see if your content is generating leads, you'll want to measure these KPIs:
Your click-through rate (CTR) measures how many users clicked through to your content against its total views. You can measure the CTR for each web page through GA. If your CTR isn't where you want to be, make sure your meta descriptions include clear calls to action (CTAs).
Do you have a squeeze page offering a freebie (video, eBook, whitepaper) in exchange for contact information? If so, you can measure its success by the total number of downloads you have.
This refers to measuring the responses to your newsletter sign-up forms, contact forms, and registration forms.
Cost per lead
Last but not least, the most significant KPI for leads is your cost per lead. To calculate it, divide the total cost of your content campaign by the total number of leads it generated.
Knowing the cost per lead for each type of content can help you pinpoint which performs best.
KPIs for increasing conversions
Do you want to turn more clicks into paying customers? If so, you'll want to measure these KPIs:
To see how well a piece of content converts, divide the number of conversions by the total number of ad interactions.
The resulting number is your conversion rate. If you had 20 conversions from 1,000 interactions, your conversion rate would be 2%. A desirable conversion rate is between 2% and 5%, so ensure you're within that margin.
Length of the sales cycle
Another essential metric is how long your content took to convert a user into a customer or the length of the sales cycle.
By knowing this metric for all your content, you can quickly identify which types of content convert faster than others.
Once you set your goals and KPIs, you can start brainstorming content ideas with your team.
Step #2: Pinpoint Your Target Audience
Do you have a buyer persona for your company? Now is the time to discover your ideal customer if you don't. If you already have a buyer persona, it never hurts to refine it further.
Your buyer persona represents the type of person who will benefit from your products and services. They're interested in your niche and will likely become a paying customer.
These are the people that will read your blogs, watch your videos, and share your infographics.
Whenever you create a new piece of content, you should imagine that you're speaking directly to your buyer persona.
Here are some helpful criteria to use when defining a buyer persona:
• Demographic (age, location)
• Employment status and role
• Key interests and hobbies
• Problems and pain points
• Behavioral attributes (only uses mobile devices, etc.)
Each of these factors is crucial, but the most important two for your content are key interests and hobbies and problems and pain points.
That's because a solid understanding of both is necessary to create high-quality content that's relevant to your audience.
For example, addressing a customer's pain point and solving it is a fantastic way to reach your buyer persona. Conversely, if you're trying to entertain your customers, knowing their interests and hobbies will help you out a great deal.
Step #3: Begin Brainstorming Content Ideas
All right, now it's time to start coming up with ideas for your content so you can enjoy a consistent release schedule.
Blogs are the most logical starting point for most companies because of how cheap they are to produce and the impressive results they can provide - as 82% of marketers report a positive ROI from consistent blogging.
Yet, blog topics don't appear out of thin air - so you'll need to develop a method for generating new, relevant topics consistently.
Scouring subreddits and social media pages can work initially, but both processes are time-consuming. Luckily, there are a few secret weapons you can use to enjoy a steady flow of new content ideas.
First, you can use our free Blog Title Generator tool to remedy writer's block. It's great because it considers the following factors:
• Your primary keyword
• The desired outcome
• Your industry and target audience
• Typical buyer persona problems and pain points
As you can see, the tool hits on all the areas necessary to develop a high-quality, relevant topic for your audience. The tool provides you with enough topic ideas to keep you busy for a few weeks, which is excellent for more extensive campaigns.
Also, the title generator works for a few different content formats, not just blogs. You can also use it to come up with topics for videos and podcasts as well.
Using Feedly RSS Feed
Another way to expedite coming up with relevant topics is by using Feedly - an RSS feed using an AI named 'Leo' to track the most critical insights from your industry.
Leo compiles information from news sites, blogs, and more to keep you up-to-date with trending topics and new developments in your niche - making it a content idea-generating machine.
You simply tell the AI which topics you're most interested in, and Leo will do all the leg work. You'll be able to create a curated list of trusted sources that inform you about the latest trends in your industry and the habits of your target audience.
Step #4: Decide Which Type of Content to Create
Now that you've got some effective content topics, it's time to decide which format or formats your content will focus on.
While blogs are cost-effective and make a great starting point, they won't always help you achieve your business goals. For example, if you want to acquire new leads, you'll also want to produce whitepapers and eBooks, but more on this in a bit.
In general, two things will dictate the content format you choose: your audience's needs and your business objectives.
How to align your content with your business goals
There should be a clear intent behind each piece of content that you spend time and money producing, and that intent should align with one of your business goals.
Even blogs that are only meant to inform and educate should have a goal in mind, such as building customer trust or encouraging further action with a CTA. That way, all the great content you produce is working toward your goals in some way or another.
Here's a list of different content formats and the business goals they align with the most.
Blogging: generating organic traffic, building customer trust, generating sales
Blogs are fantastic because they're the 'jack-of-all-trades' content format. Essentially, you can create blogs to align with any of your business goals.
Their strongest feature is to help boost organic traffic (especially when combined with SEO best practices). You can attract new prospects to your website by writing blogs that:
• Demonstrate how to solve a notorious pain point with your product or service
• Instruct users on how to do something useful in a step-by-step format
• Educate visitors with an informative listicle
• Provide useful news updates for your niche
Don't forget to include a CTA in every blog that clearly states what you want visitors to do next. Do you want more conversions? Then link to one of your product pages. Ask them to sign up for your newsletter if you want a new lead.
Blogging will likely be the first type of content you produce, so it's an essential format to perfect.
Case studies: building customer trust and loyalty
One of the most potent ways to build customer credibility is to produce case studies. A case study is where you highlight a customer success story, which can take many different forms.
You may present a case study in a blog format, or you could choose to shoot a video. Sometimes companies even present case studies as an infographic or an eBook.
A case study is a living, breathing consumer review, a powerful tool. In fact, consumer reviews are 12x more trusted than product descriptions, and 62% of customers say they're more likely to purchase from a website with user reviews.
When presenting a case study, let your customer do the talking. Have them explain how using your product or service changed their life, and have them be as specific as possible. If you can, do a 'before' and 'after' comparison to really bring home the value of what you do.
eBooks: lead generation
If your marketing plan for your content revolves around generating more leads, eBooks are a goldmine for it.
It's because eBooks make the perfect freebies for squeeze pages. A squeeze page is a type of landing page designed to 'squeeze' the contact information (primarily the email address) out of the visitor.
How do you get them to give out their email address willingly?
By giving them a valuable 'freebie' in return - a well-written eBook that dives deep into solving a problem they have or teaches them a new skill.
To them, it's free, but what you're actually getting in return is their email address - a valuable form of currency in the right hands.
You've generated a valuable lead because they've shown interest in what you do. As a result, they won't view the follow-up emails you send as a hindrance, and you'll be able to guide them further down your sales funnel.
Your eBooks should go into greater detail than your blog posts. You can even create eBooks centered on the same topic as some of your blog posts and then link to them at the end (in exchange for their email).
eBooks are also valuable further down the funnel. Once you email them back, you can include eBooks that feature case studies and comparison guides for your products.
Whitepapers: lead generation and sales
Whitepapers are similar to blogs and eBooks but different in that they're more formal. A whitepaper should contain valuable information the user won't find anywhere else. It can include results from a study, a deep dive into industry trends, and other professional topics.
Like eBooks, whitepapers make excellent squeeze page freebies. For this reason, they can provide you with valuable, targeted leads for your products and services.
Whitepapers that serve as product or service guides can also lead to more conversions if they include CTAs.
Infographics: generating backlinks and organic traffic
A great way to boost traffic and generate backlinks is to create an infographic related to your industry. One of the most popular tactics is to create a large infographic containing up-to-date statistics and figures for your field.
It's popular because it works (we actually linked to an infographic containing statistics earlier in the article).
Bloggers are always eager to quote statistics, and infographics are one of the most digestible ways to present them. If you can invest the time and money to create an infographic, you'll likely generate many backlinks pointing to it.
Videos: increasing engagement, brand awareness, traffic, and sales
While videos are among the most expensive forms of content to produce, they're also one of the most profitable - with 87% of video marketers reporting a positive ROI.
Like blogs, videos are a highly versatile format that you can use to align with many different goals.
You can create in-depth product guides and tutorials to boost sales.
If you want to increase engagement, you can create fun video challenges that encourage viewers to participate. If you've got a reliable way to produce videos, they can add a lot to your content marketing strategy.
Letting your target audience dictate your content
A solid understanding of your audience will also help you determine which content formats to focus on the most.
For example, if you're targeting a hip young crowd - focusing on shooting YouTube videos is a good idea, as the 18-25 demographic makes up most of their visitor base.
Conversely, if your audience consists of motivated entrepreneurs, you may find more success with a podcast - as 74% of listeners tune into podcasts to learn new things.
Remember, creating relevant content your audience craves is the key to successful content marketing. That's why you should spend a lot of time doing research to uncover the types of content your audience will value the most. A great starting point is to check out subreddits and social media groups related to your niche.
Take the time to read each forum post so you can further get into the mind of your buyer persona. Reddit is also great for discovering customer pain points, so you should check it often.
Step #5: Create an Editorial Calendar
No content strategy template would be complete without a roadmap for your content so that you stay consistent with your efforts. To find success with blogs, you should strive to blog two to four times a week. For videos, one to two videos a week is ideal.
Create an editorial calendar either in a spreadsheet, on paper, or by using a template online.
Have someone from your content team be responsible for keeping it up to date. Also, don't forget to designate someone to develop topics continuously so you don't run out.
Mark which topics are evergreen (topics that stay true forever and don't need updating) and which are time-sensitive. For example, if you post about the top marketing tools for 2022, you'll need to update it for 2023 to avoid it losing relevancy.
At the same time, create another calendar for promoting your content. After all, you don't want to simply release content and call it a day. Instead, you'll want to share each piece of content on all your social media channels and through email and other methods.
Step #6: Measure Your Content Performance
This step is where the KPIs from earlier come into play. To ensure you're meeting your goals with your content, you'll need to keep a close eye on your metrics.
Google Search Console will allow you to lay eyes on metrics like your click-through rate (CTR), the total number of impressions (times you appeared in SERPs), page views, and more.
Our SEO audit tool will let you know if your content performs well in the search. You'll want to revamp your SEO strategy if you notice room for improvement.
At this stage, your goal should be to keep what works and eliminate what doesn't, according to your metrics. That will help you tweak and refine your content marketing strategy going into the future.
Final Thoughts: The Ultimate Content Strategy Template
You learned how to plan, develop, and execute an informed content marketing strategy in this content strategy template.
The benefits of content marketing and inbound techniques are plentiful, so they're well worth your time and effort.
Through the steady release of good content, you'll develop a fantastic reputation with your target audience, leading to more leads and conversions.
If your company doesn't have the resources to create content in-house, we'd love to help you. Contact us today to learn more.
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