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How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy (Step-by-Step)

How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy (Step-by-Step)

Written By: author image Stacey Corrin
author image Stacey Corrin
Stacey has been writing about WordPress and digital marketing for over 10 years and on other topics for much longer. Alongside this, she's fascinated with web design, user experience, and SEO.
     Reviewed By: John Turner
reviewer image John Turner
John Turner is the co-founder of RafflePress. He has over 20+ years of business and development experience and his plugins have been downloaded over 25 million times.

Do you want to know how to develop a content marketing strategy?

Without one, you risk your digital marketing efforts going to waste. By investing in a solid content marketing strategy you’re more likely to see success and excellent returns on your investment.

This in-depth article will show you how to develop a content marketing strategy step-by-step. Then you can grow your businesses without wasting time, money, and effort.

What Is a Content Marketing Strategy?

A content marketing strategy is a process of building an audience by creating and delivering content that turns site visitors into fans, leads, and customers. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 79% of B2B marketers said their organization used content marketing to further their goals.

Without a solid content marketing strategy, your marketing team’s efforts may seem like throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. That’s not a recipe for success.

Benefits of a Well-Defined Content Marketing Strategy

A well-defined content marketing strategy brings structure and consistency to your efforts. It helps align your content with your business goals, ensuring every piece of content serves a purpose and moves you closer to your objectives. It also allows you to measure performance and adjust your approach based on data rather than guesswork.

Here are a few more reasons for building a content marketing plan:

  • A documented strategy helps you feel more confident in your work.
  • Content marketing challenges won’t seem so overwhelming with a plan in place.
  • A documented strategy makes it easier to convince stakeholders.
  • It’s easier to chart and measure your success with a clear process.

Now that you know what a content marketing strategy is, let’s go ahead and learn how to develop one.

What Are the Steps to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy?

Here are the essential steps for developing a successful content marketing strategy:

How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy

To create a content strategy for your website, you need to flesh out your reasons for building a plan, what you want to include, and how you’ll carry out your content marketing efforts.

Learning how to develop a content marketing strategy might seem scary at first, but don’t worry. We’ll break each step down so you know how to reach your digital marketing goals.

Let’s dive in!

Step 1: Define Your Goals and Mission

how to develop a content marketing strategy: define your goals

Writing a mission statement is an excellent start when developing a content marketing strategy.

Mission statements are short summaries of your aims and values as a company. And it helps you focus on which content formats are and are not essential so everything stays on track.

Here’s what a good mission statement covers:

  • Your target audience: the people you want to attract to your website.
  • Your content: the kind of content you’ll use to reach your ideal audience.
  • The benefits: how potential customers can benefit from your content.

For example, here’s the mission statement from Awesome Motive’s about page.

Awesome Motive mission statement
  • The statement defines the audience (small businesses)
  • Covers the content (enterprise-level tools, team, and training)
  • And describes the benefits (grow, and compete with the big guys)

To create a mission statement for your business, give the following formula a try.

“We provide [audience] with [content] to help them [goals]

Now, that covers what your audience gets from your content marketing strategy. But what about your business? What do you get from it? That’s where your business goals enter the picture.

Before you even start creating content, you need to define what you hope to achieve. Do you want to increase brand awareness, drive traffic, generate leads, or improve conversions? Each goal may require a different approach, so clear objectives are a must.

Here are a few ideas to help you out:

  • Increase/improve revenue: as a direct result of your content marketing strategy.
  • Get more sales and leads: which will help you meet your revenue goals.
  • Attract more organic traffic: because more traffic improves your chances of meeting other goals.
  • Gain influence and authority: by improving the image of your business.
  • Successful SEO: leading to more website traffic.
  • Less marketing costs: as a result of high-quality content.
  • Social media engagement: to help your site traffic, authority, and brand awareness.

Now that you have your mission statement and business goals, it’s time to make them measurable.

Step 2: Make Your Goals Measurable With KPIs

how to develop a content marketing strategy: key performance indicators

The best way to achieve your goals is to make them easy to measure. And you can do that by setting some key performance indicators (KPIs).

KPIs are measurements that evaluate your success. Plus, they’ll let you know when you’ve achieved your goals with milestones you can tick off when you reach them. They include what you want to achieve with specific numbers attached to them.

Let’s look at some KPI examples, so you understand them better:

  • Reach [number] revenue target within a quarter.
  • Get [number] new signups using your lead magnet as a sign of quality leads.
  • See an [percent] increase in website traffic due to long-form, quality content.
  • Achieve an [percent] increase in page rank for crucial site pages to improve traffic.
  • Get [number] of shares, comments, and engagement on relevant content.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on your marketing costs too. Otherwise, your spending may get out of control with no returns to show for it. Here, you can learn how to measure your content marketing return on investment (ROI).

Now let’s move on to step 3, which is all about your audience.

Step 3: Understand Your Audience

how to develop a content marketing strategy: Audience demographics

A successful content marketing strategy hinges on understanding your audience. Who are they? What are their pain points? What content do they consume? Learning more about your audience can help you answer these questions and tailor your content accordingly.

There are 3 things to do to achieve this, which we cover below.

Collect Visitor Demographics

First, you must gather demographic data for your site visitors, email subscribers, and social media followers. Demographic data are statistics about who your visitors are.

For example, key demographics usually include the following information:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Education
  • Income
  • Occupation
  • Marital status
  • Location

Web analytics software like Google Analytics is popular for site visitor data. And by digging deeper, you can see their key interests too.

You can find this information in Google Analytics by heading to Audience » Interests » Overview. From there, you can see the market segments your visitors fit into.

Google analytics demographics

If you haven’t already done so, you can learn how to add Google Analytics to WordPress here.

Social media platforms offer similar analytics for audience insights. For Facebook, you can learn about your fans’ demographics by viewing your Facebook Page Insights.

Facebook page insights demographics

If your audience is on Twitter, you can view your followers’ demographics using Twitter Analytics.

Twitter demographics

Gather Customer Feedback

Now it’s time to learn more about your target audience. One way to do that is to collect feedback from your customers.

Doing so helps you figure out what their most pressing needs are and how they feel about your current content. It’ll also help you learn how to address their problems and if they’re happy with the buyer journey.

With the correct feedback, you can then do the following:

  • Understand the priorities of your audience
  • Discover the best places to reach them
  • Put together a buyer persona

Here are several ways to collect customer feedback. And if you’re using surveys as one of your methods, you can learn how to get more survey responses in this step-by-step guide.

Build Buyer Personas

how to develop a content marketing strategy: Buyer persona

Once you have the demographics and customer feedback, you can build a buyer persona around that information.

Buyer personas define your ideal customers so you can target them better with the best content. Robust buyer personas include details on your customer’s pain points, information sources, and what motivates their behavior.

Once you know this, your content team will understand the right content visitors will respond to, how it’ll help them, and what makes them care about it.

This guide can teach you how to create a buyer persona.

When you’ve learned who your audience is and what motivates them, move on to the next step.

Step 4: Evaluate Your Existing Content

Chances are, you already have content on your blog or website. That content might be in the form of videos, social media content, or even podcasts.

Take stock of the content you already have. What’s working well? What’s falling flat?

A content audit does 3 things which are:

  1. Logs all your current content in all formats
  2. Assesses how useful or successful they are
  3. Discovers gaps you can fill in with new content

Let’s look at how to do this for your content marketing strategy.

Logging your content

An easy way to record your blog and site content is to use a content audit and research tool like the one offered by SEMRush.

You can do that by setting up a new project and choosing the part of your site you want to audit, like your blog. When you’ve chosen the URLs, click the Start Content Audit button.

SEMRush content audit

SEMRush then provides an overview of your content, including:

  • Your content titles and descriptions
  • The length of your content
  • The number of backlinks to your content
  • How many social shares it has

Then you can export that data to a spreadsheet with all the URLs.

Learn How Useful Your Content Is

With your content audit done, it’s time to see if it’s useful for your content marketing strategy.

Here are some of the key metrics to look for:

  • If there are lots of inbound links
  • How well the keywords for the content rank in search engines
  • If the content is shared a lot

Much of that information is in the report above. But you can find more by using a few other SEMRush tools like the position tracking and site audit tools.

Semrush site audit

That info will let you know which content is working well and doesn’t need any changes and which ones need to be improved with further keyword research and optimization to meet your goals. It’ll also show you which content has no impact and needs removing from your content management plan.

Find Gaps in Your Content

The last part of this step is to find gaps in your content you can use them to reach your goals.

Those gaps might include:

  • Relevant keywords you’re not already targeting with great content
  • Questions you’re not answering from your target audience
  • Content that’s starting to rank but which needs improvement

Again, you can use SEMRush to discover gaps in your content. To do this, head to the Competitive Research Toolkit. Then under the SEO heading, click Keyword Gap.

From here, you can add your URL and the URLs of your competitors. Then click Compare.

SEMRush keyword gap tool

SEMRush will then reveal a list of competitor keywords you can target with your content.

Step 5: Discover Your Ideal Content Channels

You’re undoubtedly starting to get a good idea of where your ideal audience hangs out and where you’re having an impact.

But it’s worth making sure by looking at your analytics to see where your content is shared.

You can do this in Google Analytics by heading to Acquisition » Social » Overview.

Google analytics social value screen

And Buzzsumo has a Content Analysis tool where you can see your shares by content type, network, content length, and more.

Buzzsumo content analysis

Once you have that information, you can figure out which networks to target for more engagement and social media shares for your content to improve lead generation.

Further Reading: 22 Online Apartment Marketing Ideas Guaranteed to Attract Renters

Step 6: Identify Your Key Content Types

The next step is to determine the types of content you’d like to create.

When developing a content marketing strategy, the best approach is to have a core of content published on your website. Then you can repurpose that content and share it elsewhere online.

With this in mind, blog posts are a crucial part of your content mix. Your blog posts should be valuable and shareable with a good combination of article types.

How do you figure out which types of content to write?

Using the Buzzsumo tool we mentioned above, you can see the types of content your visitors already enjoy, matched with their total shares.

Buzzsumo content and shares

For instance, RafflePress readers love list articles and how-tos.

You can use the same tool to find other successful content, which you can use for inspiration.

Buzzsumo popular content types

In this report, we can see that video content is a popular choice for our audience too.

It’s not just written content you’ll want to focus on either. Video content is a popular interactive content type that encourages engagement, keeps people on your site longer, and generates more leads.

Visual content also plays an essential part in your content mix. Images and infographics break up large walls of text and are excellent for sharing on visual platforms like Pinterest and Instagram.

Then there are advanced types of content such as lead magnets, ebooks, cheat sheets, white papers, webinars, case studies, and workbooks designed to boost leads and conversion rates.

Pro Tip: Different content types work for different businesses. What works for B2B marketers may not necessarily work for B2C companies. Dive into your data and look at competitors to see what works best for your audience.

When you’ve decided on what you’ll create, you need to work on a process for producing that content.

Step 7: Work Out Your Content Production Process

how to develop a content marketing strategy: content production process

Next up, you must ensure you’ve got everything required to deliver your content marketing strategy.

Think of it as the 3 ‘Ws’ of your strategy, which we explain below:

  1. Who’ll create your content? Depending on the size of your business, this could be your CEO, the chief marketing officer, content marketing manager, or individuals based on their expertise.
  2. What tools and resources do you need? You might need content writers, video editors, and graphic designers.
  3. What does the workflow look like? For instance, start with an outline, write the content, create images, send it to the editor, upload, and publish.

Before we move on to creating any content, it’s worth building a content calendar, so you know what you’ll publish and when.

Step 8: Build Your Content Calendar

When you develop a content marketing strategy, it’s crucial knowing when you want to publish your content.

Building a content calendar prevents you from making mistakes through a lack of planning. And it’s pretty easy to create one.

One way to make a content calendar is to use a simple Google Calendar. Just add the due dates for each piece of content and go from there.

But if you have a large team with lots of content to manage, task management software like Asana is ideal for helping keep track. Even better, Asana comes with an Editorial Calendar Template, and you can customize it to fit the needs of your team.

Asana editorial calendar

When you’ve fleshed out your content calendar, you can finally move on to creating content.

Step 9: Create Your Content

Now you’re ready to start creating your content. But if you haven’t done that before, doing it for the first time can be pretty scary. With that in mind, let’s consider how we’d approach writing a new blog post.

You’ve likely got a good idea of what to write about from your earlier research. In our example, our audience enjoyed list posts and how-to articles.

So the first step in our content creation process is to choose a title from the content calendar. Then you’ll need to research the topic.

You can do this by opening an incognito window in your browser and pasting the keywords for your text to find similar content.

Look carefully at the top search results and note what you can do to write something better.

Goolgle topic research

Then scroll to the bottom of the search page and note the Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) terms. People might also use phrases to search for the content you’re researching. They’re also great for finding key talking points for your articles.

google LSI

 Next, put all your research together into a well-organized blog post. You might want to check out these SEO ranking factors so you can improve your chances of ranking in search engines.

But don’t forget to write for humans. Keep your writing clear, informative, and as if you’re chatting with a friend.

Step 10: Market Your Content

how to develop a content marketing strategy: market your content

With your content written, the next step is to publish and market it to your audience. Without this step, you won’t reach many people and, in turn, won’t meet your goals.

Here are some ways you can market your content:

  • Schedule it on a social media marketing tool to publish on your social media profiles, such as LinkedIn, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • Distribute your content to subscribers using email marketing.
  • Get in touch with influencers and thought leaders to spread the word.

You can also use OptinMonster to promote your content on your site and through your newsletter. For example, LeadGuru used OptinMonster to convert 81% of visitors.

OptinMonster has many features to help you deliver lead magnets, direct new visitors to critical areas of your website, and engage them with new, timely content.

And with their powerful Exit-Intent® Technology, you can show targeting campaigns to people right when they’re leaving your site. Even better, it re-engages them, drives conversions, and reduces bounce rate, which is a key ranking signal.

Step 11: Measure Your Results

how to develop a content marketing strategy: measure results

Now the time has come to analyze and measure the results of your content marketing strategy. To do that, go back to the KPIs you set. Then see what’s changed and if you’re hitting your goals.

To recap, you can check the following places for performance analytics:

Monitoring your success makes it easier to adjust your strategy to stay up-to-date with changes in your audience’s behavior.

Content Marketing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often should I review my content marketing strategy?

You should review your content marketing strategy regularly, at least once a quarter. This allows you to stay on top of industry trends, adjust to changes in your business, and pivot based on your performance data.

How long does it take to see results from content marketing?

Content marketing is a long-term strategy. It can take several months to start seeing results, so patience is key.

What types of content should I include in my strategy?

The types of content you should include depend on your audience and objectives. Some content ideas include blog posts, videos, infographics, ebooks, and podcasts.

How can I make my content stand out?

To make your content stand out, focus on providing value. Solve a problem, answer a question, or entertain your audience. Also, consider your unique selling proposition. What can you offer that no one else can?

What’s the best way to promote my content?

The best way to promote your content depends on where your audience hangs out. Social media posts, email marketing, SEO, and guest blogging are all effective content promotion methods.

How can I measure the success of my content marketing strategy?

To measure your content performance, use metrics that align with your content marketing goals. Track these over time to determine if your strategy is effective.

And there you have it!

In this article, you’ve learned how to develop a content marketing strategy so you can tailor your content to reach your ideal audience. And as a result, get more traffic, leads, and paying customers.

To level up your marketing efforts, check out this guide on creating a retargeting strategy.

Don’t forget to follow us on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook for more great tips to grow your business.

author avatar
Stacey Corrin Writer
Stacey has been writing about WordPress and digital marketing for over 10 years and on other topics for much longer. Alongside this, she's fascinated with web design, user experience, and SEO.

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