Bill Gates is a visionary.

In 1996, he wrote an article entitled “Content is King”. In it, the founder of Microsoft shared his idea that content would become the key component for Internet- based business strategies.

Fast-forward 20 years later and Gates is proven right.

Here are three statistics that prove the value of top- level content strategy:

  • Businesses that published more than 16 blog posts per month generated 5 times more traffic and 4.5 times more leads than businesses that posted no more than four blogs per month.
  • The cost of running a content marketing campaign is 62% lower than traditional marketing but generates three times more leads.
  • 90% of B2B buyers say online content has a major impact on their purchasing decisions.

Content is a powerful driver of traffic.

It has been shown to have the ability to increase the conversion rate or the measure of turning prospects into paying customers.

People are consuming content at an astonishing rate.

A 2015 study by Zenith Optimedia revealed that people spend more than eight hours a day viewing some type of content. Consumption of online content grew by 105% from 2010 to 2015.

The growth of content corresponded with the popularity of mobile technology. Since 2015, mobile devices have accounted for more than 65% of online traffic.

Radicati, a technology market research company, has come up with a study that projects the use of mobile devices to increase from 11 billion in 2016 to 16 billion in 2020.  In contrast, population growth is expected to be at 7.7 billion by 2020.

With more mobile devices operating than people on the planet over the next decade, content consumption will continue to grow.

As a strategy, content’s role in marketing will likewise continue to increase.

Content Strategy Vs. Content Marketing: Is There A Difference?

If you are one of those people who continue to interchange content strategy with content marketing, you are not alone.

Content strategy and content marketing are two different concepts. However, they do share a common component which is “content”.

The best way to differentiate content strategy from content marketing would be to make an analogy with a forest that has a variety of trees.

When you look at a forest, your mind begins to process its sheer size; the colors, the volume of trees, the types of flora and fauna, and perhaps its thriving wildlife. However, what is it that you are looking for exactly?

Content strategy is the entire forest itself.

You are looking at what the market has to offer; the types of content you have created and consumed by your audience.

You want to assess their needs and how they have responded to your published content.

Content marketing is the specific variety of tree you are looking for.

Your attention is target- focused on a variety of content that your audience has responded favourably to.

  • Did your blog on industry trends generate a good level of engagement?
  • How many people commented on the “A Day In The Life” feature on your company’s key officers?
  • How many people shared your infographic on small business statistics?
  • Did your podcast featuring industry key influencers draw a large audience?

You could also be looking for a variety of tree that has introduced a new pain point in your content strategy:

  • Did your product review section bring in more negative feedback than you expected?
  • Are your written content; blogs and articles, not getting enough views and shares?
  • Why is your content publishing strategy not generating enough followers in your social media pages?

In short, content strategy represents your overall vision.

The broad spectrum of your objectives; what you want to accomplish, your purpose, and goals.

Content marketing refers to your means of accomplishing your objectives and fulfilling your vision.

Because content is the common denominator between content strategy and content marketing, what you should do is integrate both into a process called content marketing strategy.

Content Marketing Strategy Defined

By integrating the definition and objectives of both content strategy and content marketing, we can come up with a singular definition of content marketing strategy:

Content marketing strategy is a marketing approach focused on creating and distributing relevant, useful, and engaging content that will compel a targeted audience to initiate a specific course of action.

Blogging is most popularly associated with a content-based marketing strategy.

A compelling argument can be made that blogging is the cornerstone of content marketing.

However, content comes in many forms and it can be delivered in different ways.

How To Plan Your Content Marketing Strategy

The purpose of a content marketing strategy is to pick out the best processes available from the content marketing toolbox and develop an organized campaign that ensures the most effective means of delivery and distribution.

Here is a simple 5-step process in planning your content marketing strategy:

  1. What Are Your Purpose And Vision?

Every venture or campaign is a journey. Every journey has a destination. Where do you expect your content marketing strategy to take your business?

This is your vision and every content marketing strategy should have one.

If vision sets direction, purpose charts the course. Purpose is the answer to the question, “Why are we doing this”. A good example would be determining targets per time period:

  • First 6 months – Build 10,000 strong follower base
  • Every quarter – Generate 1,200 leads
  • End of First Year – Improve conversion rate by 21%

Your content marketing strategy should be focused on attaining those goals one at a time. If you are off the time-table, you should assess potential pain points.

This is why your strategy should be flexible enough to accommodate changes in your audience behaviour.

The Internet makes information more accessible. Tastes, demands, and preferences may change without warning.

Your strategy must be able to foresee these changes and have courses of action in place to accommodate them.

  1. Who Is Your Audience?

When creating content, you should always have your audience in mind. After all, they will be the ones searching for content.

Remember, content is a form of communication. Those who come across your material should find it relevant, usable, and informative.

So who is your audience? The best way to find out is to create a Buyer’s Persona. You can start out by finding the answers to the following questions:

  • What are the demographics? This refers to their age, gender, income level among others.
  • What are their online behavioural patterns? Find out which other sites they visit and how much time they spend online.
  • What social media sites do they frequent? Are they predominantly from image-based platforms like Instagram and Pinterest?
  • What are their major concerns? Assess if your products or services can address these pain points.

You can broaden the parameters of your Buyer’s Profile to identify the audience you are trying to target. What is important to build one so you can give your content marketing strategy laser focus.

  1. Audit Your Existing Content

When conducting an audit of your content, categorize them into types. For example:

  • Article/ Blog Topic – What were the issues you took up in your content pieces?
  • Length – What was the average length per blog or article? Which one resulted in better engagement and number of shares?
  • Tone – How did you write the articles? Were some informal? Did you write technical-sounding articles? How did they perform?
  • Level of Relevance – How was the content related to your business? Did you write more about products and services? Benefits? Did you write more on how your business provides solutions to concerns?
  • Types – What was the frequency distribution? How many were delivered as blogs? How about videos? Did you use infographics? Did you host a podcast?
  1. Evaluate Your Performance

Once you’ve audited your content, assess their performance. Look back to the goals you set before launching your content marketing strategy. Were you able to attain them?

To be sure, use metrics. If you didn’t hit your goals, use the data to search for possible factors. Look for trends and gaps.

Trends refer to types of content that consistently hits or approximates targets. Gaps are the types of content that do not meet expectations.

It is possible the topics are not important yet for your audience.

Conclusion – Set Your Goals

Setting your goals is the fifth step in the content strategy marketing process. Once you’ve audited the history of your content and compared it with your current ones, you will be able to map out a tighter strategy for the forthcoming time period.

Review your current set of goals and objectives.

Find out if some or all of these have to be adjusted to reflect your current level of performance. If you have a content marketing team, discuss any changes in strategy with them.

Content marketing is a process. It takes time to get it right. And even if you think you have, there will always be room for improvement.

As we said earlier, tastes and demand preferences change. What worked a few months or weeks ago may no longer reap dividends.