The content marketing strategy framework

We have reviewed several content marketing frameworks and pulled together the following steps. Depending on the size and scope of your company some steps will be straightforward others will take time to complete.

Step 1: Company Research

The first step in developing a content strategy framework is understanding the company. Consider asking the following questions:

  • The company’s business model
    • How does the company bring in revenue?
    • What products bring in the most revenue? Why do these products bring in the most revenue (high profit margin, high demand, branding considerations)?
    • How is the sales team structured? What metrics are they measured on?
  • The existing customer base
    • Who are the company’s existing customers?
    • How does the company currently attract customers?
    • If the company’s marketing team has already done a market research survey, ask to see the results.
  • Marketing considerations
    • Understanding the existing content process
      • What are the editorial guidelines (if there are any)? What is the internal process to get content approved?
      • Who decides what type of content to produce?
      • What types of content does the team currently produce?
      • What are the company’s brand considerations?

Step 2: Data collection (and lots of it)

I believe in utilizing the data that we have available to make informed decisions. This applies specifically to content; the more we understand about the site and the customers, the more we are able to make informed and strategic decisions to the type(s) of content we want to produce. This data can come from a variety of the following sources:

  • Competitor analysis
    • What types of content are your competitors putting together?
    • How are users engaging with the content?
    • Comparing/contrasting SEO metrics (DA, PA, external links, etc.)
  • Keyword research
    • What keywords bring traffic to the traffic (excluding not provided)?
    • What are the landing pages for those keywords?
    • What type of metrics does the keyword research and landing page combination currently bring to the site?
  • Market research and customer surveys
    • The surveys will vary depending on whether the company is b2b or b2c. Key is finding out why do they buy the product; what solutions are they resolving.

Marketing Communications

Step 3: Preparation and assessment

During this stage, it’s also critical to take a step back and make sure that the goals for the content have been clearly defined.

  • Create a benchmark audit using analytics
    • This provides an opportunity to compare/contrast results before and after the creation of the content
    • Important analytics to include are:
      • Traffic
      • Pageviews
      • Pages per visit
      • Average time on site
      • Entrances/exits
      • Conversion rate
      • Bounce rate
      • Linking root domains
      • Page authority
      • Rankings
  • Putting together a content audit
    • The purpose of the content audit is evaluating how previous content on the site has performed, as well as organize the existing content on the site to determine additional opportunities.
    • For one of my clients, Adria and I analyzed the top 500 landing pages on the client’s site and took a look at the content from three distinct lenses:
      • Analytics metrics: engagement (bounce rate, time on site) and number of visits (to identify potential keyword opportunities)
      • SEO metrics: linking root domains, page authority, etc.
      • Content perspective: is this useful for a user? What type of user would it attract?
        • We individually analyze each content page and determine where it sits on the content funnel.
          • Awareness: Content created for this part of the funnel is designed to target an audience that hasn’t even begun to consider the company’s product/services.
          • Trigger: Content created for this part of the funnel is when a user has become aware of the product/service and has started thinking about the possibility of needing it.
          • Search: User has decided to research the product/service in-more depth.
          • Consideration: User has decided to convert, but hasn’t decided which brand to choose.
          • Buy: User decides to convert to the company’s product/service.
          • Stay: Content targeted towards retaining clients, ensuring they remain a loyal customer/brand advocate.

The purpose of labelling what stage of the funnel each piece of content is associated with is to ultimately assess the distribution of content on a site and determine if there are any gaps.

 

  • Clarify the goals for this content strategy. Goals should be general like:
    • Increase in conversions
    • Increase in organic traffic to the site
    • Increase in audience engagement
    • increase in brand awareness
  • However, goals/metrics should also be specifically correlated to where that content sits in the content funnel:
      • Consumption metrics: How many views/downloads did your content receive?
      • Sharing metrics: How often does your content get shared? (Tweets, Likes…etc)
      • Lead generation metrics: How often do the consumers turn into leads?
      • Sales metrics: How often do the consumers turn into sales?
    • Ideally, the consumption metrics would be correlated to content higher up in the funnel and the sales metrics correlated to content located further down the funnel. See diagram below:
  • Develop persona buckets
    • In order to achieve this, combine all the data that was derived from the content audit, customer surveys, and customer interviews. Once you’ve done so, segment individuals into different categories, like this:
  • Solidify the editorial process for the company
    • Who needs to be included in the content development and implementation phase? When do they need to be included?
    • Have a clear understanding of the dependencies (i.e. how long does it typically take to get sign off from relevant departments?)
    • Determine the site’s style guide/tone of voice/engagement standards
  • Define the content strategy
    • What types of content will be produced on the site?
    • Where does this content sit in the funnel?
    • Where would they sit on the site? In a separate category on an existing category?
    • What keywords would the content target?

Going through this detailed, research-intensive process allows a company to clearly see the opportunities at hand from a high-level perspective. When we go through this process, we identify ways to improve not only the company’s organizational structure and create standardizations on how content and pages are released onto the site (static URLs, keyword targeting, content tone of voice/length). It’s also through this process that we’ve been able to engage/integrate multiple departments and define ways to work together seamlessly.

Furthermore, we also gain a concrete understanding of the big opportunities for the site. It’s impossible to go through this much research and not be able to discern multiple opportunities related to CRO, information architecture, keyword targeting, and analytics, to name a few.

Implementing a marketing strategy

Step 4: Prospecting

This phase of the process is identifying individuals/sites who would be interested in the type of content the company will produce and engaging them at multiple points with the goal to develop relationships with key influencers.

  • Identify and reach out to influencers
    • Identify influencers through tools like Followerwonk and Topsy
  • Keep on top of industry news
  • Keep on top of the content that competitors are creating

Step 5: Create and promote the content

In this step, the “go” is to now create the pieces of content and follow both the internal protocols and sign off processes that were established in step three of the process. Ensure that editorial standards are being followed and assess that the content being created is actually phenomenal.

  • Create the content and consistently reassess to make sure it is meeting the following checklist:
    • Is the content credible?
    • Is the content informative?
    • Is the content easy to understand?
    • Is the content useful?
    • Is the content exceptional?
  • Promote and outreach the content to key influencers

social media marketing

Step 6: Assess content performance

After the content has been released and promoted, it’s time to assess how the content has performed and any other learnings that can be taken away from the process, including:

  • How has the piece performed?
  • What learnings were taken away from it? Any changes that need to be made to the process?
  • What data have we received from the piece of content?

The long-term vision is that the content is able to fulfil the original goals of the content marketing strategy. Overtime, each piece of content produced should systematically become easier and easier, as learnings are developed and iterated each time. Although, the process appears very resource-intensive in the beginning, overtime, the goal is that producing effective and meaningful content becomes a crucial entity for the company.

In conclusion, the most valuable benefits of having a content strategy for your site is that, from a business standpoint, your site is no longer creating content for “content’s sake” or to build “link bait.” Moving forward, the site now has a framework of creating content that serves multiple purposes: to engage with current and future customers; to establish brand awareness and authority within the industry; and to consequently garner more traffic, conversions, and links to your site.

Furthermore, by integrating multiple individuals into the development of a site’s content strategy, it automatically provides the groundwork of integrating SEO seamlessly into the other online marketing activities of the site, such as CRO, social media, and PR.

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