Learn how to build a content marketing strategy in 10 steps

How successful is your current content marketing strategy? Maybe your existing game plan isn’t making an impact, or perhaps there’s never really been a clear approach. As a marketing leader, you need real results from your content efforts, and that starts with a clear marketing blueprint.

If you’re ready to take your content marketing to the next level and want to start seeing better outcomes, you need a better marketing plan. A good content marketing program might look like magic, but it’s not. Following the right basic steps will help you create an effective strategy that delivers.

In this blog, you’ll learn why and how you should build a content marketing strategy.

Why build a content strategy?

Content marketing matters. Customers today expect high-quality, consistent content from their favorite brands that carries a unique, identifiable voice across all distribution channels. You make this kind of content happen with a clear strategy, not just by blogging aimlessly.

Great content allows you to build trust and develop relationships with your audience. It also helps with customer retention, lead generation and increased conversions, higher SERP rankings, and brand awareness. It’s how you develop industry authority and create loyal brand advocates.

A good content marketing strategy is never complete because it changes to meet the needs of dynamic brands and evolving audiences.

Step 1 — Establish and document goals

As you get started on your content strategy journey, begin with the end in mind. Where do you want to be? What are your ideas for getting there? Decide what makes sense for your brand to achieve through its content approach. Then, establish metrics to measure your progress toward these goals.

Think about how you’ll collect this data and create a schedule to regularly review it. Remember, you can’t know if your content marketing is successful without a clear target and measurable KPIs. Defining these at the beginning of your content planning process will help you stay on track as your strategy progresses.

Step 2 — Consider personas and audiences

Marketing personas are the foundation of your content strategy. They are what help you know key information about your target market.

Make sure the personas you develop are clear and complete with details you achieve from both quantitative and qualitative analyses of potential target audience segments. You also need to map the customer journey for each persona to identify their unique requirements at each stage of the buying cycle. Taking the time to build personas based on real customer insight will pay off in the long run.

Step 3 — Clarify your brand

In order for your brand to reach an audience, you first need to be sure of who and what you are. To stand out — instead of fading into the background — you have to do the work to clarify your brand. Knowing and clearly defining things like your goals, message, and values makes you successful at appealing to your target audience.

Employing the right brand story helps your branding process. A brand story is a cohesive narrative that encompasses the facts and feelings that your brand creates. Unlike traditional advertising that involves showing and telling about your brand, a brand story inspires an emotional reaction. And because people like stories, that emotional reaction can create a connection between your brand and your audience that invites their loyalty and trust.

To tell a good brand story, you need to define your brand’s voice and tone. Decide the specific ways you want your audience to feel when they interact with your brand, and then create guidelines defining the language and details that create these feelings.

Step 4 — Decide which types of content and channels you will use

There are several types of content available to help you promote your brand. Let’s break them down one at a time.

Step 5 — Choose a content management system

A content management system (CMS) is a software application that allows users to build and manage a website without having to code it from scratch. It’s the backbone of your brand’s digital presence. With a CMS, you can create, manage, modify, and publish content in a user-friendly interface that you customize by downloading or purchasing templates and extensions instead of coding them yourself.

Made up of two core parts, a content management application and a content delivery application, a CMS is important because it handles all the code, database queries, and infrastructure behind the scenes so you can focus on the front end of your site.

A good CMS includes key features such as functionality, editability, customization, flexibility, and simplicity. Elements like microdata support, security, and maintenance are also important to look for in a CMS. By carefully considering your feature requirements before choosing a CMS, you can avoid buying an overly costly enterprise-level system or choosing a blogging tool that doesn’t get the job done.

Step 6 — Document the creation process for each content type

A CMS allows you to have control of your content. Not only does it give you the ability to update, change, or delete any images, text, video, or audio, it also helps you keep your site — and your processes — organized, current, and usable.

A good CMS will facilitate the creation process for any type of content on any channel. From ideation to publication, this tool lets you document how content should be proposed, approved, drafted, reviewed, finalized, published, and distributed. It also keeps a clear account of which individual or department is responsible for each step in the content creation process.

Step 7 — Audit existing content

Review your existing content regularly to keep an updated understanding of your content library. Then analyze the metrics behind your content to determine what performed well and what didn’t, asking the right questions as you go along:

  1. What created organic traffic to bring new visitors to the site?
  2. Which pages get a lot of form fills?
  3. Which topics get downloaded and clicked on the most?

These questions help you identify which topics resonate with your audience, which of the funnel stages you lack content in, and which form and landing page features convert well for your users. This valuable information about your content lets you shape it appropriately as you move forward.

Step 8 — Audit internal capacity and explore agency partnership options

Next, review your internal resources while determining what kind of content you want to create and how much you can reasonably expect to create on your own. As you do this, think about the size of your content and marketing teams and which members of each will play a role in your content creation process.

An important question to ask at this point: Will you need the support of an agency for video, SEO, writing, or audio production? Partnering with an agency can help you address several potential gaps, but it’s important to make sure you have the right fit.

Ensure the agency aligns with your business from the get-go, and then clearly define roles and responsibilities for all members of the partnership. Follow up by establishing a plan for regular communication to prevent your wires from getting crossed and create realistic timelines and budgets to keep your finances on target. Ultimately, you’ll know you’ve set your business up for success if you’ve found an agency that embraces ideation and creativity.

Step 9 — Establish and socialize a content calendar

A robust content calendar platform will facilitate your marketing strategy in three key ways:

  1. By ensuring that all of your content-related tasks are actually happening
  2. By making it easier to collaborate with your team and outside partners
  3. By giving you a big-picture overview of your upcoming content assets

Begin creating a calendar for your brand by deciding how often you will publish each type of content, as well as the day of the week and time of day you will release each type of content. In addition to creating new content, be sure to schedule content updates, site-wide audits, and promotional content to keep your material relevant to your audience and current with what’s happening with your brand.

Step 10 — Create, audit, and keep perfecting

A good content marketing strategy is never complete because it changes to meet the needs of dynamic brands and evolving audiences. Get your content created, published, and promoted — then monitor the performance metrics frequently to know what’s working, what isn’t, and how to adjust accordingly. Then do it all again.

When your strategy is flexible and your team is agile, you can produce content that engages, scales, and succeeds. Try these tips as you create — and revisit — your content:

Content Marketing Strategy 101

Building a content marketing strategy is an important project — and a big one. Give yourself an advantage by partnering with the experts you need to create winning content.

Adobe Experience Manager combines digital asset management and content management into a unified solution for delivering timely, relevant, and personal experiences. It helps you source, adapt, automate, and deliver one-on-one digital experiences powered by the latest artificial intelligence.

As a cloud service, Experience Manager is always on and up to date so you can make the most of your content and stay ahead of rising customer expectations. Experience Manager provides an industry-leading CMS and DAM all in one place with the right tools to help you along the way.

Better content marketing requires a better plan. Start thinking through your goals for content marketing this year, and let Adobe Experience Manager help you start creating a strategy that’s just right for your audience and you.

Watch an overview.