How to Write a Content Marketing Strategy (w/ Template)

The good news: your foreman or node is wholly on board with your running subject market. ( SCORE ! ) The challenge: she wants to see a contentedness marketing plan. .. and you have NO IDEA what that ’ s supposed to look like. I ’ ve been there. It ’ s a tough site, because you ’ ve been doing subject commercialize with your gut this wholly time, and now you ’ re being asked to put all that into a document. ( And the gut-to-document process can be reasonably irritating. ) Plus, you know that amazing content market involves a lot of flexibility—how do you build that into a strategic text file ?

good news : we ’ ve scoured the Internet for content commercialize scheme templates, tried a few, and put together a n approach to building your own content marketing plan step-by-step. ( This is built with both the in-house contentedness seller and the agent in mind, BTW ! ) Let ’ s go !

Table of contents

precede 1. Start with an sketch 2. Write down what you ’ re trying to accomplish 3. Write down what you ’ re betray ( optional ) 4. nowadays, who ’ randomness going to consume your contented ? 5. Map your personas ’ needs to your intersection or service 6. Heroes and watering holes 7. Look to the contest ’ south capacity selling efforts for inspiration 8. Take stock of your conten t 9. Evaluate your existing capacity 10. What sticks ? 11. What should we fix ? 12. What should we nix ? 13. What should we add to the blend ? 14. Sort your effective and prospective content marketing assets by root 15. List the types of content you ’ ll be dealing with 16. Snapshot the content team and the work flow 17. Estimate your content capacitance 18. Map out your editorial calendar 19. Make a content forwarding work flow 20. Write the epilogue 21. Write the executive summary —

Preface

Before we get besides far in, I ’ five hundred love to start things off with a few agile notes : 1. This is a long article. Feel absolve to bookmark or send to Pocket to set away some time to hash through this. 2. Content marketing strategies aren’t easy to write. We ’ ra going to dig into big strategies like web site fawn and character profiles and thematic taxonomies and competitive analyses. ( I had to learn a good cope of stuff I was unfamiliar with in arrange to start writing these, excessively ! ) At each step, I ’ ve included some recommended fabric for further take. 3. This isn’t gospel. Like the pirate code, these are more guidelines than actual rules. = ) You ’ ll find that some projects need more in-depth planning than others. 4. Stay flexible. A potent message market strategy should give you focus, not lock you into less-than-awesome ideas ! The key to a bang-up contented marketing strategy is being able to tweak, break, and chuck parts of it as you learn more about what works and what doesn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate. All right, now that we ’ ve covered the caveats, let ’ s front at how to write this content selling scheme ! — content marketing strategy hero image

How to write a content marketing strategy step-by-step

Let ’ s base on balls though how you can write a content marketing strategy—one that pulls together all the pieces and gives you a authorize design for moving forward. —

Step 1: Start with an outline

Writing a strategy can sound like a daunting task. How detail should it be ? How high-level should it be ? Starting with an outline can help you conceptualize all the ground you need to cover—and it may save you from expending your energy covering unnecessary ground ! And what is the right background to cover anyhow ? A good content marketing strategy will answer three basic questions:

  1. Why are we making content in the first place?
  2. What content do we need?
  3. How do we get that content to accomplish our goals?

Your outline will help you structure your research and ideation therefore that you ’ re focused on answering these key questions. For model, one direction this could look is by splitting the remaining steps below ( all 20 of ’ em ) into each of these buckets. The outline, then, could look a little something like this :Why are we making content questionsWhat content do we need questionsHow do we accomplish our goals question For the lie of these steps, I ’ thousand going to work through a basic outline template that has helped me in both in-house and agency roles. once you ’ ve got an outline, it ’ randomness time to start with what you know : yourself. —

Step 2: Write down what you’re trying to accomplish

This is where you ’ ll write out your content marketing goals. What are you trying to accomplish ? It helps if this is specific, because later on in this process, you will be comparing your contented to your goals to see what ’ s rightfully in alignment. This may express itself as a large objective with smaller SMART goals folded underneath ( SMART stands for “ Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely ” ). An case may be :Content goal and objective examples Goal : To become perceived as a think leader on the phenomenon of Roomba rodeo .

  • Objective #1: Generate $500,000 in revenue from online training courses by December 31, 2016.
  • Objective #2: Rank on the first page of Google search engine results for “Roomba rodeo” by April 1, 2016.
  • Objective #3: Grow an email list of 5,000 unique double opt-in subscribers by March 4, 2016.

Note: A great question to ask for added context might be: What are the overall marketing goals, and how can content marketing support them? I ’ ve found that some organizations group content commercialize into a offprint team ( or outsource the efforts ), which means it may be wise to get some advice from other non–content market folks in your administration. ( Protip : sometimes asking other teams and departments for contented remark is a capital way to build a acculturation of capacity in your organization ! ) once you ’ ve written down these goals, you can ask yourself ( and your team ) a few questions :

  • How does good content accomplish these goals?
  • How can we measure whether or not our content is aligned with these goals?

This is where you ’ ll outline your contented KPIs ( key performance indicators ). For more thoughts on setting marketing goals, check out this best-of list of methods from experts like Noah Kagan, Ryan Holiday, Rand Fishkin, our own Courtney Seiter. You might besides want to swipe some goal-setting templates from HubSpot ’ s Mike Lemire. —

Step 3 (optional): Write down what you’re selling

I ’ ve found it helpful to write out what the product or service I ’ megabyte trying to sell is. It helps me think through the features, the different product tiers, the sales bicycle, etc. When you know what you’re selling, you can more easily frame the kind of content you will need to sell it. Of course, you may be the product godhead, the seller, the one-human indicate, and this might not be something you need to write down. If not, feel loose to skip this separate. —

Step 4: Now, who’s going to consume your content?

It ’ s time to outline who the audience for your content market efforts is going to be. If you ’ ve done some of your persona inquiry already, huzzah ! You can plug those little blocks of fictional, alliterative good hera. Don ’ t have your buyer personas fleshed out so far ? immediately ’ s a fantastic time to get started on this ! here are a few resources to help you start developing your own persona :

  • HubSpot’s classic persona template
  • If you’re launching a new brand, check out Wideo CEO Agu De Marco’s guide to creating personas
  • If you already have a customer base, Qualaroo’s smart surveys can help you group them into personas
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Step 5: Map your personas’ needs to your product or service

Jay Acunzo wrote my very darling definition of content marketing :

Solving the same problem or conveying the same emotion as your product, using media you create and distribute.

once you ’ ve looked at who your audience is, you need to ask one crucial motion : How can you help them? This question is the heart and person of contentedness commercialize. Your whole content marketing plan will benefit from writing this out. The key to this step is to map your persona’s pain points, goals, and desires to the solutions you want to sell. This might look like making a table with brief descriptions of each. Or it might be something you ’ d like to write out in floor form—something Moz ’ s Isla McKetta has some ace helpful thoughts on ! again, this step is key, because the rest of this strategy is going to be about creating and promote and curating and promoting content that solves the same problems your product solves ! —

Step 6 (optional): Heroes and watering holes

You ’ re laying a fantastic initiation for your content strategy. You ’ ve grok through your personas ’ deepest wants and needs and mapped those to your product. You ’ re getting an estimate of what kinds of problems your contented needs to solve. Things are starting to take form. There ’ s another ( optional ) thing I like to look at ahead leaving the consultation segment of the content marketing design, though. I like to know : Where is my audience already going for this kind of information? This is a fun exercise I ’ ve nicknamed “ heroes and watering holes. ” ( You can probably come up with a better name for it ! ) I call them that because at this stagecoach in the contented selling design, it ’ second good to start think of the sources of information the consultation already trusts. Those sources by and large fall into two groups :

  1. Heroes are those celebrity thought-leaders who have followings around their personal brands. These are the names that jump to mind when you think of the experts in your industry. An example of one of my heroes is Bryan Harris, whose intensely practical case studies give me and other marketers so much to riff off in our own efforts.
  2. Watering holes are those sources of information that aren’t necessarily tied to a person. They represent places your customers trust for awesome content. Examples of watering holes for me are Inbound.org or Quora, where I know there’s always going to be more interesting information that will help me do my job better.

If you examine where your consultation is already going for information, you can get a more comprehensive examination watch of the capacity marketplace. It can help protect you from trying to reinvent any message wheels, and it can give you some awesome ideas for guest post — the lifeblood of the early on content market scheme at Buffer ! Unless you have a in truth wide pass, you can credibly use your own intuition to map out your consultation ’ randomness influencers. But if you ’ d like a more data-driven approach path, you may want to use tools like FollowerWonk and BuzzSumo. —

Step 7: Look to the competition’s content marketing efforts for inspiration

It ’ randomness good to know what kind of content your audience wants. It ’ mho fantastic to know what kind of content your competitors are already giving them. You don ’ t need to do a deep-dive competitive analysis for every single contented market design you write, but you will credibly find it helpful to take a moment to reflect on good what other people and brands are offering your personas. By the manner, when you think about competition in terms of content marketing, it can work a little differently than you might imagine. Your competitors aren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate inevitably the organizations that are competing for customer dollars. When it comes to subject marketing, your competitors are the people and organizations that are competing for your hearing ’ randomness care. This is generally a commodity station in your content strategy to ask a few questions :

  1. Who is competing for my personas’ business? These are your direct competitors.
  2. Who is competing for my personas’ attention, but not necessarily their business? These are your indirect
  3. How can my brand stand out?

It ’ second helpful to think through the ways that your content can uniquely appeal to your persona. Will you offer more long-form, deep tactical content ? Will your content be more visually oriented ? Will your subject be crafted with a distinctively delightful tone ? This graphic from Garrett Moon of CoSchedule does a capital job explaining this concept ( the blue ocean blogs are what you ’ d aim for ) :Red and Blue Ocean Blogs This slice of the strategy will help you orient yourself in the content marketplace, so that you, your team, and/or your client can create content marketing pieces that stand out rather than blend in. not sure who your competitors are ? There are a few ways to find out. One of my favorites : SEMRush. They show you which websites are ranking for the same keywords in search engines as you—which is superintendent helpful ! At a glance, you can see who else is getting organic and paid search engine care for the keywords you might be targeting. —

Step 8: Take inventory of your content

OK, this step could be its own blog post. Or web log serial. Or reserve. Or conductor ’ s version extended cut DVD set. You get the idea : taking inventory of your commercialize capacity is no little task. Let ’ s get a high-level scene of what this could look like, and then I ’ ll be glad to contribution some links for far reading. When you take armory of your capacity, you get a list of all your content marketing assets (both onsite and offsite). This could be a general as a list of channels. For exercise, if Buffer were to do a high-level capacity inventory without digging into the details, it might look like this : Onsite

  • Buffer.com informational pages
  • Buffer.com landing pages
  • Social blog
  • Open blog
  • Overflow blog

Offsite

  • Social media accounts
  • MailChimp lists
  • Guest posts
  • Syndication relationships

tied something a simple as this is helpful—but merely to the extent of figuring out where all your content might be. The deep prima donna into these individual message commercialize assets ( a fantastic exercise if you ’ re up for it ) would include :

  • getting a list of all the keywords you rank for in search engines,
  • all the blog posts getting significant traffic and conversions,
  • all the active email lists,
  • all the live high-level web pages,
  • all your social media accounts. . .

everything. It ’ s a capital deal of workplace. But you emerge from it being fabulously well-attuned to the country of contentedness marketing for your brand. In short, what we ’ ra looking at here is a content audit. And how do you do a content audit? There are many, many tools and web log posts that can help you do this, but here are a few that I ’ ve personally found invaluable .

  • This post from Portent Inc. CEO Ian Lurie is the end-all guide to writing one of these. Well done, Ian!
  • Screaming Frog is a super useful tool for taking inventory of all the pages on your site.
  • Google Webmaster Tools, Moz, and SEMRush are helpful for taking inventory of the keywords your content ranks for.
  • But what about the social media offsite content? We can help you with that: Buffer for Business analytics show you what kind of traction your social accounts are gaining, and what kind of posts are driving said traction. =)
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Step 9: Evaluate your existing content

nowadays that you ’ ve put together a list of your contentedness marketing assets, it ’ south time to line them up against those objectives we covered at the beginning of this plan. The central question we’re trying to answer: Which pieces of content are aligned with our objectives? ( With a follow-up : Which pieces of content can we reorient to align with our objectives ? ) One set about I find super helpful here is to map out the most authoritative pieces of subject from the inventory on a matrix like the one below .Alignement and performance content matrix The X axis plots performance : that ’ s metrics like pageviews, likes, shares, comments, and rankings. The Y axis plots alliance, which is a short fuzzed. The higher up a piece of subject is, the more in alignment with our mark ’ second goals and ethos it is. When looking at the subject you ’ ve inventoried, which content falls into which quadrants ? ( You could assign a quadrant measure to each type of contented if you like, but unless you ’ re dealing with a brawny budget, your intuition will work merely fine. ) Some resources that help with evaluating content performance:

  • Google Analytics measures traffic and conversions.
  • Buzzsumo measures your content’s spread via major social media networks.
  • Moz and Ahrefs tell you which content is pulling in those epic backlinks.
  • Google Webmaster Tools, Moz, and SEMRush tell you which pages are ranking for search terms.
  • Buffer for Business is my favorite tool for measuring social media channels.
  • Your users­—it’s easy (for me!) to get stuck in the quantitative performance metrics, but it’s also good to keep in mind what your audience is telling you they like best.

When you ’ ve finished this, it ’ s time to ask four authoritative questions :

  1. What sticks?
  2. What should we fix?
  3. What should we nix?
  4. What should we add to the mix?

What sticks? (Step 10)

Content matrix winning This speaks to that odoriferous, sweet top-right corner of the matrix, where your content is aligned with your brand and acing performance. One matter I find helpful in a content strategy is to list out the content assets that are already performing well at this point.

What should we fix? (Step 11)

Content matrix to fix There will probably be bits of content in quadrants 1 and 4 that could get bumped into quadrant 4 with a little sexual love and caution. Make a list of the pieces that actually have electric potential to turn into high-value subject marketing assets, along with the ways in which they could be improved. For example, you may notice that your “ how-to ” infographics are generating some super positive comments, but they ’ rhenium not getting very many shares or backlinks. You might want to take note of this, as this will be worked into the content scheme later.

What should we nix? (Step 12)

Content matrix ignore Where ’ s the dead weight ? There may be some content in quadrant 3 that ’ s just not doing you any favors. No backlinks, no likes, no rankings—it ’ s just clutter. ( This may besides include wholly outdated content. ) If it ’ mho no good, don ’ metric ton be afraid to put it on the list to be nixed. It ’ ll clear up space and help you focus on the contentedness that ’ s most crucial.

What do we add to the mix? (Step 13)

And here ’ south where your content marketing scheme begins to take on that epic creative element ! After meticulously combing over your content, what ideas do you get for new content? What assets could be driving business objectives ? What has your brand overlooked ? What have you always wanted to try ? ( This is credibly my favorite depart of writing capacity market strategies ! ) —

Step 14 (optional): Sort your effective and prospective content marketing assets by theme

You ’ ve audited all your content. Huzzah ! We ’ re about to move into the part of the scheme that deals with making this contentedness, but first, let ’ s pull some of this audit together by identifying some major content themes. This will play a big separate in mapping out a content production and promotion schedule soon. Look at the content that sticks.

  1. What categories or topics are really resonating with your readers?
  2. Look at your personas—why would they favor those topics?

By asking these questions, we can start building out subject themes : these are the across-the-board umbrella topics that your best content tends to group under. This is the clock in the content marketing strategizing phase where I find it helpful to write these down. Doing so helps hone the design for producing new contented around these themes—which makes things a set dim-witted for the folks writing, designing, and coding the message ! —

Step 15: Refill your coffee

I hope you will have done so farseeing before reaching this step, but I equitable wanted to give you a friendly admonisher. 😉

Step 15 (for serious): List the types of content you’ll be dealing with

You ’ ve completed a huge component of this strategy slice : you ’ ve combed through all your subject and channels to find what ’ s working, what ’ s not, and what you ’ d like to create. well done. very well done ! immediately we need to start making a design for producing content. Just for reference, “ producing contented ” covers two general areas of content craft :

  1. Optimizing, updating, or otherwise fine-tuning the content that you identified in Step 11 (content to fix).
  2. Creating the content you listed in Step 13 (content to add to the mix).

We ’ ll start by listing out the kind of make this will involve, namely, the types of content that need to be crafted. This might include :

  • Long-form, SEO-driven blog posts
  • Interviews
  • Ebooks
  • Infographics
  • Email courses
  • Explainer videos

once you have a list of the kinds of contentedness you ’ rhenium dealing with, you may want to give each one a brief description. For case, you could write :

  • Long-form, SEO-driven blog posts. Posts targeting specific search concepts, usually 2,200+ words in length, written to gain backlinks, comments, and organic search.
  • Ebooks. Documents expounding on a specific topic, usually 5,000+ words, delivered as PDFs, written to give away as lead-generation pieces.

This is key, because in the adjacent steps, you ’ ll outline how these kinds of content will be made.

Step 16: Snapshot the content team and workflow

One trap that I much fall into is underestimating how long it will take to create a piece of contented. ( confession : I ’ megabyte finishing this mail two days by and by than I in the first place planned on it being done ! ) That ’ s why, when laying out a content strategy, it ’ randomness beneficial to get an idea of who ’ sulfur working on the content, and how that content is going to be created. The goal : get an idea of how much message you have capacity for. It may help to focus on answering two winder questions here :

  1. Who’s the team?
  2. What’s the workflow?

For the team, you can list your in-house subject creators, angstrom well as any contractors you plan to work with. For the workflow, this is a simple bit-by-bit breakdown of the capacity creation/fixing process. It could look like, “ Ideate > Write > Design > Edit > Schedule > Promote, ” or it could be more involved than this. This is a slippery one, particularly if you ’ re proposing the first contented marketing strategy for an organization. You face a host of unknowns. How farseeing will it take to hire contentedness specialists ? How much will it cost to get a interior designer to make your infographics ? How successful will content promotion efforts be ? The good news : You don ’ t need to have all the answers here. In fact, sometimes this exercise is most helpful at identifying the elements of contented creation that we haven ’ metric ton figured out however ! What ’ south important is that you have some idea of where this subject market attempt is coming from. Refining this assemble is an ongoing process. = ) —

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Step 17: Estimate your content capacity

once you ’ ve outlined everything you can in the former step, it ’ mho time to estimate good how much message can be created in the future span of time. If you ’ re outsourcing this depart to a team of feel content marketers, content production might follow a dependable timetable. But if your team is just getting into subject commercialize, this can be a street fighter one. This is where it helps to ask for advice from people with experience. And if you can’t know for sure, guess. The key here is to find a level of content output your team is confident they can take on, and then go for it. If you end up with lots of unfinished tasks at the end of the calendar month, you can adjust expectations. If you finish way ahead of time, you can either ramp up product or invest in even higher-quality contented. Either way, you want to have an mind of how much content you can make. Pro-tip : a spreadsheet may come in handy hera ! You can create columns for content type, estimated hours, quantity of pieces, and last a total. This can help you build a few potential breakdowns of your contentedness capacitance .Content capacity worksheet

Step 18: Map out your editorial calendar

You know what content you ’ re going to make. You know how you ’ re going to make it, and you have an idea of how hanker it ’ sulfur going to take. now, when will you publish it ? It ’ south time to map out your editorial calendar for your contented marketing assets. This is where you plot your blog posts, emails, ebooks, podcasts, etc. across a given patch of time, be it months, quarters, or semesters. ( You could go long, but I ’ ve found it helpful to keep the telescope of time little adequate for you to stay flexible and pivot based on what kind of content is performing. ) One thing to keep in mind: you don’t necessarily need to plan out every single piece of individual content on this calendar from the get-go. But it will help to map out how those message themes from Step 14 and the contented types you listed in Step 16 will be spread across the next clock period. Protip : It ’ mho easy to forget social media posting schedules here ( since blogging and electronic mail take up a becoming sum of brainspace ). You may want to map out some of your social content agenda on the editorial calendar. Your social media conversations will intelligibly be more fluid than web log posts or emails, so this doesn ’ t need to be the end-all social media schedule. It ’ second barely something to consider, as you may find it helpful equitable so you can see it in context of the lie of your contented product. = ) One more protip : This is a great position to include your guest blogging and syndication efforts, excessively ! A few tools to consider for your editorial calendar :

  • Create a Google calendar and share it with your content team.
  • Create a Trello board for your editorial pieces and enable the Calendar view Powerup. (This is what we’re using for the Buffer Social blog!)

Editorial calendar in Trello

Step 19: Make a content promotion workflow

If you publish a blog post in a forest, but cipher is around to read it, does it make a fathom ? 😛 credibly not. Creating amazing capacity is fabulously crucial, but there ’ s so much contentedness being made every day ! You ’ re going to need to find a way to get your amazing web log posts and infographics and podcasts in front of the right eyeballs. You don’t just want a plan for making content. You want a plan for driving attention to it. This is a bang-up meter in the contented market plan building process to map that out. How will you drive traffic to your subject ? You can start with a very dim-witted process for doing thus. It could be a square as this :

  1. Publish content
  2. Email co-workers to let them know about it, ask them to share (My teammate Kevan has some awesome thoughts on how this can work!)
  3. Share it to corporate social accounts
  4. Send a note to email subscribers about it
  5. Email influencers to let them know about it (backlinks!)
  6. Write guest posts linking back to that post

full disclosure : that ’ s not a complete number of things you can do, by any means—especially that last item. You ’ ll want to promote your capacity through those heroes and watering holes you described at the begin of this strategy, and you ’ ll want to do it in a way that makes them look ahead to getting more content from you. There ’ s a bunch that can be said when it comes to figuring out a contented promotion work flow. For now, it ’ second important that you have some means of driving traffic to your contented once it ’ south published. For more on content promotion plans and tactics, go read anything (or everything!) by Brian Dean. I ’ ve found this video and this steer to be particularly insightful. And here ’ s a peek at the contented distribution checklist used at Buffer :Content distribution checklist

Step 20: Write the epilogue

Sum up your capacity scheme by painting an amazing picture of what it will be like if you execute on it. You can put lots of concern things here, including experiments you hope to learn from and amazing blogs your contented might be featured on. But, of course, the most important thing to do is briefly wrap up your scheme by relating it to those business objectives you listed at the identical beginning. = ) —

Step 21: Write the executive summary

You ’ ve done it. You have put together the epic message market scheme. You might be sitting on top of a 20-page document. Heck, if you ’ ra working with a in truth big organization, it could be pushing 50 pages. You have merely made yourself the ultimate expert on your content. Your bos or customer is going to be wholly floored by the amount of clock time and research and thought you equitable put into this. And they won ’ t have time to read it. = ) That ’ mho why you ’ ll want to circle back around and add an executive summary to the begin of your subject scheme. intend of it as a TL ; DR that answers four basic questions :

  1. What are you aiming to accomplish?
  2. What’s the state of content right now?
  3. What needs to change?
  4. How will you make it happen?

Ka-BAM ! You ’ re done. =D

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