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How to Create a Documented Content Strategy That Drives Business Goals

By Taylor Oster

Year after year, Content Marketing Institute surveys thousands of marketers and publishes a comprehensive research report on content marketing trends and practices. And year after year, it’s the same story: The majority of marketers do not have documented content marketing strategies, and the absence of that strategy could be hurting their chances of measurable success.

In fact, CMI reported in its 2017 Benchmarks Report that 63 percent of B2B marketers do not have a documented strategy, while 61 percent of the most successful ones do. Now, a documented strategy doesn’t necessarily mean your company will create an award-winning content marketing program, but research clearly shows a correlation between a documented strategy and successful content programs.

Through all of this research, CMI has found that companies “with a documented content marketing strategy are:

  • far more likely to consider themselves effective at content marketing
  • far less challenged with every aspect of content marketing
  • generally more likely to consider themselves more effective with every tactic and social media channel
  • able to justify a higher percentage of the marketing budget to be spent on content marketing

The Evolution of a Documented Strategy

Creating a documented content strategy that really moves the needle for your organization is easier said than done. It’s quick and simple to find information about the importance of a documented strategy, but there never seems to be enough information about how and what exactly you need to document to make this thing worthwhile.

As frustrating as that can be, it’s somewhat understandable. Every content strategy is different based on your company, your goals, your budget and resources, and your level of maturity when it comes to content marketing. If you have never made a strategy before and your content creation and distribution isn’t very consistent, your document will be different from that of a company with a lot of experience and resources.

For example, we’ve been actively creating and publishing content on the Influence & Co. blog for the past four years. Because we put four years under our belts, the strategy we created for 2017 looks different from that original strategy.

This year’s strategy is data-driven and specifically designed to help us achieve a set of goals for our company. It contains:

  • a deep analysis of how our consumers are interacting and engaging with our digital media and content assets
  • a detailed look and profile of our key audience personas
  • an editorial calendar and set of content guidelines
  • specific information about our KPIs and budget based on past performance and projections for the year

But our first-ever strategy a few years ago looked a little different. Our content marketing team was new, and so was this strategic approach to creating content and using it to achieve our business goals. We didn’t have a lot of data or custom research to fuel our efforts, and we didn’t have any past analytics to set benchmarks or give us a good idea of what would work well to inform our decisions.

Instead, that document focused more on our content marketing process and the content types and topics we would prioritize that year based on what we thought would fit for our audience. That first strategy looked different from the one we rolled out in January of this year, and it served a different purpose. We first needed a strategy that was process-oriented and would help us refine our messaging — so that’s what we created.

Tying Goals to Your Strategy: 3 Distinct Approaches

Because not all companies and teams have the same needs, goals, and resources that we do at Influence & Co., I reached out to three solid companies that regularly publish content to their blogs to showcase what other types of strategies might look like.

Story-Driven

Simon Martin, design editor at Ceros, said:

“Since Ceros is a multidimensional content creation tool for creating amazing pieces of interactive content, we try to reflect this in the scope and quality of the stories we share. Our strategy, at its core, is actually quite simple: Find the best examples of innovative storytelling as they relate to designing one-of-a-kind experiences, and tell the world about them. For example, we got the inside scoop about this creative JetBlue campaign that took travelers back in time to the golden age of airline travel.”

You can read more content from Ceros here.

Message- and Mission-Driven

Wade Foster, CEO at Zapier, said:

“We keep our stuff pretty simple. We want to be the best place to read about work productivity mixed with the apps you use. So everything we write is about specific ways to use various apps you might use to be more productive at work.”

You can read more content from our client, Zapier here (and check out our interview with Wade for more details about Zapier’s content strategy).

Data-Driven

Larry Kim, founder and CTO at WordStream, said:

“At WordStream, the goals we set inform our content strategy. So for example, say the business objective is to increase leads and demos by X percent this year. That then functionally determines the quantity and types of content and promotion strategies that we need to pursue.”

You can read more content from WordStream here.

At the end of the day (and over the years), your documented strategy can serve a number of different purposes and take a number of different forms. But all it truly needs to do is clearly align with your goals.

If you want to be known as the best online resource in your industry, your documented strategy might focus more on content topics, tone, and overall message. If the goal of your blog is to generate and enable sales, your strategy might focus more on your conversion funnel and lead nurture tactics. Whatever your business goals are, content marketing can help you achieve them — and a documented strategy can make all the difference.

To create your own content marketing strategy that matches your unique goals, download your interactive checklist below:

Posted On JANUARY 31, 2017

About Taylor Oster

I'm creatively passionate about making every day the greatest day of my life. I'm a lover of trying new things, telling stories, and, of course, singing along to my favorite song, "Call Me Maybe."

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