Content marketing is the central component of any effective online marketing strategy. For your online marketing activities to have an impact, you must commit to frequent and on-going development and distribution of content such as blogs, emails, videos, whitepapers, infographics, case studies, etc.
Content marketing is defined as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”.
As we’ve mentioned in this blog time and again, consistent, relentless execution of online marketing activities is the only way to achieve real results.
For many small and midsized businesses, this may seem daunting. But you can’t afford to fall behind; most of your prospects are searching for businesses like yours online – and your competitors are likely engaging in some level of content marketing.
According to 2015 research by the Content Marketing Institute, 77% of B2C businesses and 86% of B2B businesses are using content marketing for business development purposes.
So hopefully you now agree that content marketing is vital to your online success. So what do you do next?
As per the Content Marketing Institute, “you need to document your content strategy and follow it closely”, but “only 27% of B2C businesses and 35% of B2B businesses say they have a documented content marketing strategy”; even though the data reveals a strong correlation between a documented content strategy and the content strategy’s effectiveness.
This is why you need a strong content strategy and a well thought out, strategic content calendar. A content calendar is a tool to keep you, or whoever is in charge of crafting your content, on track with your content development and distribution activities.
How Do I Build a Content Strategy?
Step 1: Consider Your Goals
Think about your lead nurturing strategy and the buying cycle of your typical prospect. What information will they need at which stages of the buying process?
Which content format would be ideal for conveying that information? Consider incorporating video, infographics, and case studies into your strategy if you have the resources. These are powerful types of content.
Also consider your search engine optimization strategy; which keywords or products/services are most important for you to be found for by search engines?
Step 2: Commit Resources
You must determine how much time, money, and resources you can commit to your content. This will help you decide how often you can afford to create new content and which types of content will be practical to develop.
Prioritize the pieces of content you think will be most valuable to your prospects and most beneficial for your business. This may be an explanatory video of what you do, a lead generating tool or resource, or a series of insightful articles posted on LinkedIn.
Step 3: Create a 12 Month Content Calendar
We recommend building a 12 month content calendar, with content planned by the week and month.
Small and midsized businesses typically aren’t posting as much content as corporations that can afford an entire team of content marketers.
Our minimum recommendations for content, which is achievable for most small to medium businesses, are:
- Blogs twice per month
- Emails once per month
- Social media execution weekly
You may need to refine these recommendations depending on your situation; increasing or lowering the frequency depending on your capabilities and the typical buying cycle.
From that baseline, add in the content that packs a punch, like your case studies, a video series, or whitepapers.
The easiest format for building your actual content calendar is an Excel spreadsheet, but you can use other tools if you find them more effective for your needs.
See below for an example of a simple Excel content calendar:
It doesn’t have to be pretty; it just has to be functional. This example doesn’t include what each piece of content is about (e.g. Blog 1: How to Develop a Content Calendar). When creating your own calendar, plan out content topics at least 3 months in advance. More, if you can manage it.
Step 4: Refine, Refine, Refine (and then Refine Some More)
Remember, your content calendar is not set in stone. Something important may happen in your industry; you may have a big event or a sale coming up; trending news may suddenly be relevant to your business.
Your content calendar must remain flexible. Once created, you should be willing to shift content around or change the strategy based on new information. And if you find – after giving it at least 6 months – that your current content strategy isn’t working the way you’d hoped, refine it gauge the results.
It is important to have a fluid content calendar; but it’s equally important to have an initial calendar to work from. A calendar ensures you always have ideas and content coming down the pipeline, and that you (or whoever you put in charge of content) remain accountable.
You Need to Keep Feeding the Beast!
If you follow your content calendar and consistently disseminate high quality content, you will undoubtedly see results over time. A smart content calendar, backed by a sound strategy, will improve your website rankings on search engines, generate site traffic, increase your inbound leads, and eventually result in converting those leads into customers.
Enough said – time to roll up your sleeves and get to work on your content strategy!
>> Core Online Marketing is an outsourced online marketing company with expertise in content creation, content distribution, SEO, and other online related services! Contact us or sign up for our free online marketing seminar.
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