In theory, content marketing campaigns are pretty simple. You write lots of content to the best of your ability, appealing to your customers and others in the industry, and eventually your reputation will attract more people to your site. But the reality of content marketing is that it’s extraordinarily complex; you can spend weeks probing into your competitors, the needs of your customers, and best practices for content in general and still never learn everything. Plus, the mediums and technologies available for content marketing campaigns are always evolving, so things rarely stay in one place.
Still, with a decent amount of forethought, you can make sure your content campaign gets started on the right foot. Before moving forward with your campaign, be sure to carefully consider these strategic choices:
One of the first things you’ll have to decide is your primary goal. Most content marketing campaigns have blanket goals; for example, you’ll want to make sure your content increases your brand visibility, increases your perceived authority, attracts new traffic, earns loyalty from recurring traffic, and gains conversions for your brand. But which one of these goals is your main objective? Which one takes priority over the others? The answer to this question can dictate your initial approach; for example, if your main goal is traffic, you’ll need to include more external posts with links pointing back to your site, and step up your syndication efforts as well.
Next, you’ll need to decide who your target audience is. Some marketers think they can get away with targeting “everybody”—after all, the more people you target, the more chances you have to win over new fans, right? Unfortunately, this isn’t true. The more narrowly you target an audience, the fewer total readers you’ll have access to, but the more passionate those readers will be. In short, it’s better to have 100 interested readers than 1,000 uninterested ones. Think carefully about the demographics you want to target well in advance of your campaign, and cater your entire strategy to them specifically.
Your brand voice should be at least partially shaped by your choice in target audience, but it exists as its own strategic consideration. All your content should fall within the confines of the same unified brand voice, so you’ll need to be consistent with it once you settle on something. The tone and direction of your brand voice will shape countless first impressions, so make sure it’s exactly what you want it to be. Consider characteristics like how formal or informal you want it to be, or how playful or serious you want it to be. Give it as much personality as you can, and try to distinguish your voice from the voices of your competitors.
Again, this will probably fall in line with your choice in demographics, but it’s important as an independent consideration. What niche do you want your brand associated with? These days, the content market is so saturated that it isn’t enough to have a “general” area of expertise. You need to get as specific as possible if you want to stand out, and once you’ve generated a decent following, you can expand from there. For example, it’s not enough to be an “advertising firm;” you have to bill yourself as a “Google AdWords advertising firm” or an “advertising firm for manufacturers,” narrowing your focus either in terms of what you do or who you do it for.
Now that you’ve decided on your niche, your target audience, and your brand voice, you can decide which publication outlets you want to take advantage of. If you’re first starting out, you’ll want to choose platforms closely aligned with your niche, such as industry blogs or forums. You could also choose local publication outlets, which cater to local businesses. After that, you’ll want to gradually scale up to bigger, badder guest blogging opportunities, eventually getting to national-level publishers.
Of course, posting on external publication outlets will get you a fair share of visibility and traffic, but you’ll need an extra push if you want your content to make a significant impact. The best way to do this is to choose a handful of social media platforms as your “starting lineup” of syndication. Not all platforms are the same; for example, a B2B company might find LinkedIn to be its most valuable resource, while a consumer brand might favor Twitter. Get to know your social platforms intimately, and come up with a game plan for how to use them effectively.
Finally, you’ll want to consider how to time your content and how much effort to put behind it. For example, do you want to start out with writing one post a week, or something more intensive, like three onsite posts and two offsite posts a week? Will you be doing this yourself, hiring a freelancer, or hiring someone full-time? This will form the cost basis for your campaign, both in time and money, so think carefully and play conservatively if you aren’t sure.
These aren’t the only things you’ll need to consider for your content marketing campaign, but they will give you a nice foundation. If you can find suitable, confident answers for these seven questions, you should have no problem building an initial audience for your brand. The rest is a matter of patience, diligence, and adaptation.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.