How to Create a Content Strategy in 2016

Susan Melgren

With another year behind us, now is the time to evaluate your 2015 marketing strategies, set goals for 2016 and revise your marketing plan to meet those goals. Content marketing is a great way to engage potential customers, share your brand’s expert knowledge, and in the process show potential customers the value of your brand. With an increasing number of companies understanding the importance of content marketing to overall marketing efforts, if you don’t have a content marketing strategy in place for 2016, you’re going to be left behind.

If you’re interested in content marketing for your brand – but don’t know where to start – The frank Agency can help. Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Set Goals and Expectations

Before you go guns blazing into launching a new content marketing campaign, you must first lay the groundwork – and the first part of any campaign is setting goals and expectations: what do you hope to accomplish with a content marketing campaign? Brand awareness? Lead generation? Although aiming high can encourage you to work harder toward your goals, it’s important to establish realistic expectations. For example, if you have a small budget, the likelihood of bringing in thousands of new leads is slim. Be honest with yourself about what you have the potential to achieve.

Just as important as setting goals is establishing benchmarks with which to measure your success. If you don’t decide this information ahead of time, it will be more difficult later in the year to tell if your campaign is truly succeeding. For more on establishing content marketing goals and setting key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure them, check out the blog post “How to Measure Content Marketing ROI.”

Step 2: Understand Your Audience

Once you’ve established your goals and how you will measure them, the next step of the process is to understand your audience, from their age and gender to purchasing habits to where they spend their time online. In order to reach your target audience, you must first know who they are and where they are.

Thankfully, digital marketing has the capacity to produce tons of readily accessible data on audience demographics. If you’re not already using a data scientist, you might want to consider finding one – using raw data, a good data scientist can glean actionable insights that can help direct your marketing campaigns. Don’t feel like you have enough data to gather insights? Don’t worry. You probably do – small data can be just as good as big data for gathering the necessary information.

Step 3: Research and Brainstorm

Once you have a strong understanding of your audience, you can move on to the fun part – concepting ideas. Start with research. Check out the competition to see what they’re doing. Look into current trends to see what’s popular. Then hit the drawing board to come up with as many ideas as you can. Shoot for variety – and don’t just focus on self-promotion. The idea behind content marketing is to reach your audience by sharing information on topics of interest to them. It’s quite possible that your brand is not of interest to them at this time – but by sharing relevant content and showing how your brand can tie in, you can serve both your audience’s needs and the needs of your company.

Step 4: Set a Content Creation Calendar

Once you’ve made your list of ideas, select the best ones and start mapping out the best medium for sharing each. Blog posts may make up the bulk of your content marketing plan, but some information will be best disseminated through video or infographic. Make a calendar that includes production timelines and go-live dates for each piece of content in your plan.

Step 5: Create a Content Distribution Plan

Content creation is only half the battle in content marketing these days. Without a content distribution plan, you may have great content — but no one to look at it. Which social media channels will you share it on? Not every piece of content is suitable for every channel – and not every channel has the right audience for every piece. Creating a social calendar will be crucial to this aspect.

While sharing content on your own social media channels is a great way to reach your current audience, if you want to reach a new audience, you’ll need to look into paid and alternative opportunities. Paid promotion is the best way to expand your exposure and get your content in front of as many new people as possible. Influencer engagement can be another important tool for getting your content “out there.” By forging relationships with influencers in your industry, you might be able to expand your reach.

A few words of advice:

  • Don’t be afraid to fail. Trial and error is an important part of the learning process. You won’t know if a certain strategy works for you until you try it – and along the way you’re bound to experience some disappointments. But as Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed; I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Even if your plan didn’t work as well as you would have liked, this doesn’t mean it failed – it just provided you with the opportunity to better hone your strategy.
  • Give it time. If you’re using social media and paid content distribution, you might see immediate results – but good old-fashioned organic growth will take longer. Content marketing is an investment in the future, and investments don’t always pay dividends right off the bat. Just because you’re not seeing results immediately doesn’t mean your strategy isn’t working – it just needs more time.

Get Started Today!

Feeling overwhelmed? If you want to make content marketing part of your plan for 2016 but don’t feel you have the current resources for it, let The frank Agency help you out. Our team of content experts, data scientists and social media specialists can help you create an effective content strategy for 2016. Contact our full-service agency today to learn more.

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