10 Questions to Ask Before You Start a Content Marketing Strategy

October 15, 2018

Content marketing can bring a multitude of benefits to your company. Your target customers' content preferences, your company's resources, and a content distribution strategy are among the considerations your company needs to review when creating your content marketing strategy. 

By offering useful and free resources, content marketing can establish a foundation of trust between a brand and its potential and existing customers.

Sometimes, however, in the race to create more content, companies forget that the key to success for content strategy is quality, rather than quantity.

It's important to create content not just for the sake of having it or to meet a publishing schedule. Instead, your content should create value for both your business and your customers.

Consider these 10 questions before you develop your content marketing strategy.

1. What Outcomes Should My Content Achieve?

Before you create any content, you need to determine the objectives of your overall content marketing strategy.

Your content marketing strategy should have a true purpose and a clear goal, for example, such as driving traffic to your website.

If you determine what you want your content marketing strategy to deliver, it is a lot easier to prioritize and shape how you are going to get there.

2. Who Are My Buyer Personas?

Understanding your buyer personas is crucial to determining the kind of content you need to develop.

It’s essential for content marketers to understand what resonates with their customers.

One of the most important factors is how different demographics react to specific types of content. For example, content consumption habits platform differ by generation

Content marketers must understand what kind of content their target audience prefer and develop the content accordingly. Consider the following questions to structure your content in a way that best engages your target audience.

  • How much time does your target market spend consuming content?
  • Which devices do they use to view content?
  • Which content formats do they favor?
  • How long are the written articles they enjoy reading?
  • Which social platforms do they use most often to share content?

3. How Can I Make My Content More Visual?

Society is shifting towards a more visual form of storytelling. More than half of people are visual learners, and our brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster compared to text.

Take these statistics into consideration when creating your content strategy. Video and other visual elements allow you to engage with your audience more effectively than other forms of content. 

4. How Do I Scale My Content Operation?

Your content marketing strategy needs to be flexible and include a content production and distribution plan. 

Consistently producing high-quality content is key to having your company meet the demands of modern customers. To accomplish this, establish an efficient workflow to move your content production process forward.

A content workflow streamlines your content marketing process so that you constantly produce high-quality, marketable content. Its core components include:

  • SEO research to uncover high-value keywords
  • Developing the content 
  • Marketing the content 

A content workflow also clarifies each involved party’s role in the content creation process. When this process runs efficiently, the brand is able to meet its content demands and provide customers with the material they seek.

5. How Long Does It Take to See The Results of Content Efforts?

Effective content marketing engages your target audience and drives profitable customer action.

However, you won’t see an increase in organic traffic from day one. Expect at least 3-6 months to see the results of your content marketing strategy.

Content marketing is not designed to convert leads immediately. The goal is long-term, continuous engagement. The more time your leads spend interacting with your content, the more educated they become. 

If you can drive engagement and earn high-quality backlinks to your content, the authority you build through content marketing will continue to drive traffic even after you stop creating and promoting the content.

Eventually, an educated lead will see something relevant that triggers a response. 

Content marketing may take longer to convert leads, but over time, it significantly drives down conversion costs.

6. How Do I Distribute My Content?

Distributing your content involves research and planning. Use the following tactics for choosing your distribution plan:

  • Determine your target audience: Figuring out your audience is key to shaping your message. Think about who would most benefit from the article you’re writing.
  • Target customers according to their stage in the sales funnel: You can’t just write content for a particular audience without purpose. You must understand your buyer’s journey and target your content for buyers at each stage of the sales funnel. This gives you a framework that can greatly help in the delivery of relevant and engaging content. For example, a "salesy" message that pushes readers to buy when they don’t know anything about a company or product is probably not going to be very effective. However, that same message could be incredibly effective when the reader is already seriously considering a purchase.
  • Choose marketing channels to promote your content: For many marketers, content distribution is as important, if not more so, than content creation. Distribution channels include your blog, email marketing, social distribution, PPC(pay per click), SEO, and content distribution tools. It is always a good strategy to run both PPC and social media advertisements. However, if you can only afford one platform on an ongoing basis, then take the time to run a test on both ad platforms and see which one gives you the best ROI.

7. How Should I Measure Success?

Content marketing is a long-term strategy. Without proper budgeting, you cannot take it forward.

Before setting your budget, it is important to establish a content strategy with concrete goals. Specifically, you need to determine how to measure content performance.

A few ways to measure content performance are tracking the likes, shares, and comments a particular post receives.

Likes and shares, for example, are indicators of your content engagement and popularity among your audience.

The number of comments under the post demonstrates the level of content engagement even better than social likes and shares do. It takes more time to write a comment than to like or share a post. So, if a reader is motivated enough to express his/her opinion in a comment section, it is often a good sign.

You can also measure content performance through traffic metrics: volume, source, and referral path. Analyzing traffic sources allows you to identify which marketing channels and strategies are working best for your content distribution.

Google Analytics traffic and referrals

Use a tool such as Google Analytics to measure traffic metrics. 

8. What Tools Do I Need?

There are various tools and resources that can help you in different phases of your content marketing strategy. 

Content Discovery and Ideas:

  • Feedly: A web news-aggregation service. If any site provides content in RSS, you can add this site to Feedly and then read that blog’s content on Feedly on your desktop or mobile, instead of going to the source site.
  • Flipboard: A personalized magazine app that takes stories from around the web based on your own interests and delivers them to you in a visual feed.
  • Quora/Reddit: Quora and Reddit are platforms for the question and answer discussions. You can identify trends from consistently asked questions to inform your content creation efforts.

Marketing and Distribution:

  • Yoast: An SEO plugin for WordPress that helps optimize your content for SEO. Yoast makes it easy to control titles and meta descriptions, set your targeted keywords, and track how often you’re using them.
  • Slideshare: A slide-hosting service that allows users to upload files (PowerPoint, PDF, Keynote, or OpenDocument presentations) that can be viewed or embedded on other sites.
  • Buffer: Social media scheduling app.
  • MailChimp: One of the major email marketing platforms.

Organization

  • Evernote: A web-based application that allows users to capture, store, and synchronize text, image, and video files across multiple computing devices.
  • Trello: A collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. It provides a visual overview of ongoing projects, including involved parties and their status.
  • Pocket: Application that organizes your commonly visited resources.
  • Pinterest: Allows users to visually share and discover new interests by posting images and videos and browsing what other users have pinned.

Content Creation

  • Google Keyword Tool: Search for keywords to use in the headlines and body of your articles that are commonly searched on Google.
  • Issuu: Allows you to create online magazines and lookbooks.
  • Thinglink: Tag images to make them more engaging with links to music, video, text, images, Twitter, Facebook, shops and more. This tool allows readers to comment on images and follow image channels of creative users.

Writing

  • Skyword: Offers businesses different levels of content creation services. Clients use Skyword’s proprietary platform to request, receive, and post content, and many contract Skyword to find writers.
  • Contently:  Allows businesses to work with high-quality freelance writers. It also handles the payment and management of the editorial process.
  • Textbroker: A content creation service offering a quick turnaround on articles, press releases, and written snippets for websites and more from a database of authors.

Content Tracking and Performance

  • Google Analytics: Google Analytics is a free web analytics service that provides statistics and basic analytical tools for site content and is available to anyone with a Google account.

9. What Are My Competitors Doing?

Research your competitors content to determine your organization’s competitive advantages. Study their content models and the sort of engagement they earn through their content efforts. 

It's important to ensure your strategy and messaging are uniquely yours compared to your close competitors in order to separate yourself in the eyes of your customers. 

10. What Are My Customers’ Pain Points?

A pain point is a particular problem that your prospective customer experiences. You can think of it as a plain and simple problem.

Pain points generally are grouped into 4 categories:

  • Financial: Your prospective customers are spending a lot of money on their existing products/solution/provider and want to decrease their spending.
  • Process: Your prospects want to improve internal processes, such as assigning leads to sales reps or nurturing lower-priority leads.
  • Productivity: Your prospects are wasting too much time using their current provider/solution/products or want to use their time more efficiently.
  • Support: Your prospects aren’t receiving the support they need at critical stages of the customer journey or sales process.

Understanding these categories enables you to think about how to position your product or company as a solution to their problems.

For example, if the pain points of your prospect are primarily financial, you could highlight your product’s features within the context of a lower monthly subscription plan.

Understand Content as Part of Your User's Experience With Your Company

Asking these 10 questions helps you execute the strategies to achieve your content marketing goals.

Instead of thinking about your content as just another marketing activity, think about the experience you want to provide. The experience you create for your customers is what they remember and determines whether they want to come back again.


About the Author

Ravindra Savaram HeadshotSavaram Ravindra is a content contributor for Mindmajix and Tekslate. His previous experience includes a role as a Content Writer for Vmonlinetraining. His passion lies in writing articles on different niches including emerging software technologies, digital marketing, and businesses. Follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.