Strategic content marketing is one of the most under-used marketing tools for small business. That may be because it can appear complex and daunting. However, creating a basic strategic content marketing plan is a lot easier than it may seem – especially if you have a small business marketing firm such as Elite Marketing + Promotions on your side.
Strategic content marketing means creating content that attracts visitors to your website through Google and other search engines. These are called “organic” search results – not paid Google Ads or some other form of advertising. The idea is that you write content using popular keyword phrases in your industry/area of expertise so that you rise in the search page rankings and drive more traffic to your website. The higher you are in the page rankings, the more visitors you’ll get.
You’ve probably heard that SEO and strategic content marketing can be highly specialized fields. You heard right! But there are some basic guidelines that anyone can use to optimize their web content and drive traffic to their websites.
One note before we get to it: the term web “content” is becoming much broader. Initially, it meant text such as blog posts and specialized web pages including product descriptions, news, FAQs, etc. However today it can also include podcasts, videos across a wide number of channels (YouTube, TikTok, etc.), short Facebook clips, and so on. This post will concentrate solely on strategic content marketing that uses written content on websites to get found in Google searches.
8 Steps to Your Strategic Content Marketing Plan
We’ve broken down your strategic content marketing plan into 8 basic steps:
- Define Your Goals
- Define Your Target Audience
- Define Your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
- Develop Your Campaign Strategy
- Do Some Basic SEO Keyword Research
- Create a Posting Schedule
- Promote Your Posts
- Tweak As You Go
A quick note: everything we write here isn’t “gospel” – for every professional content marketer out there, you’ll find a different opinion for strategic content marketing. This is for a variety of reasons, not least of all the fact that Google doesn’t reveal exactly how it ranks pages. So, content marketers use trial and error trying to figure out Google’s search algorithms. To complicate matters, Google is constantly tweaking its algorithms. What works well today may not work as well tomorrow (or, it may work even better…!)
However, Google says that the number one priority is to write good and useful content for human readers – what it calls “people-first content”. If you follow this basic tenet and the steps below, you’ll be well on your way to creating some great content that will attract website visitors.
1. Define Your Goals
This can be quite simple. What do you want to achieve? Higher sales? Announce a new product? Get more people to sign up to your newsletter? Send a coupon? There are a million different things you could be doing to promote your business, so define what you want your goals to be. Try to be specific, such as “100 new newsletter subscriptions in September” or “Get 50 pre-orders for the new purple widget.” The more precise you are, the easier it is for you to measure your success.
2. Define Your Target Audience
You may have already done this in the course of setting up your business. Or, if you’re already established, you likely have a good idea anyway. Take a moment to write down some key characteristics of your target audience. Try to match up your audience with your goals – you may sell to different audiences, so it’s helpful to identify which audience will best help you reach your goals and/or which goals will appeal most to which audience.
3. Define Your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
Your KPIs could be similar to your goals defined above, but they also could be separate. As a matter of course, there are things you should be tracking anyway such as revenue, net profit, and conversion rates. (Freshbooks has a good breakdown of many small business KPIs here.) So in this case, you’ll want to compare historical KPIs with KPIs during the campaign to measure its impact. There may be other KPIs to track that you don’t normally such as social media engagement and website visitors (using Google Analytics).
4. Develop Your Content Marketing Strategy
What do you want to say? How will you say it? How will you reach your target audience? These are just a few things you’ll want to consider while developing your content marketing strategy. It’s helpful to find key topics and messages that match your goals and will resonate with your target audience. For example, you can give your financial customers information relevant to personal investing strategies that they’ll find helpful. If you are a restaurant, maybe you can give out a “Recipe of the Month” or reviews of new wines you’re bringing in. The idea is to generate topics that your customers will find interesting AND that will help you promote your brand. Again, a small business marketing company can help you develop a solid strategy.
5. Do Some Basic SEO Research
Keyword research for search engine optimization (SEO) is a specialty of a specialty. But again, you can get at least halfway there by using some simple strategies.
First, develop a list of keywords that are a natural fit with your goals, audience, and content marketing topics. For example, if you are writing a blog on personal investing strategies, you can talk about “income investing” and “how to assess your current investment strategy.” Note that your keyword phrase doesn’t have to be just a couple of words, but you should aim to be as succinct as possible. You can also use multiple keyword phrases within the same post (though you probably do not want to use more than two or three).
Once you have your list, you can use a few different tools to find other keyword phrases.
SEO Keyword Search Tools
- AHREFS https://ahrefs.com/keyword-generator
- Ubersuggest https://app.neilpatel.com/en/dashboard
- Google Trends https://trends.google.com/trends/
- Keyword Surfer (Chrome Extension) https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/keyword-surfer/bafijghppfhdpldihckdcadbcobikaca
Interesting side note: the keyword phrase for this post was originally “content management strategy.” But after doing some keyword research using Ubersuggest, we noticed that “strategic content management” performed better AND had less competition. It pays to research!
6. Create a Content Schedule
A content schedule is very important. For one, consistency helps you grow your blog, newsletter, or other content media faster. But it also helps keep you on track as well. It can be difficult working in a blog post with everything else your small business demands of you. We can tell you from years of working with our marketing clients: if you do not schedule it, it will not happen. Work on posts well ahead of deadline to ensure they are completed on time. You can also stockpile topics, ideas, and even posts themselves so that when you’re in the middle of busy periods, you have part or all of a post ready to go.
7. Promote Your Posts
Yes, strategic content marketing is primarily about organic results (e.g., attracting people to your posts in a Google search), but that doesn’t mean you can’t promote them, too. Share your blog posts across all your social media platforms so that your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and other followers get the message. Highlight certain parts of your blog post with catchy and engaging messaging to “mix it up” for your social media posts. For example: “This purple widget is all you’ll need.” and then perhaps “How do you find the right purple widget for you?”
You can also notify your email list of your new post. However, be aware of the fact that not everyone will want to read your newsletter every time you send one out. You might find it useful instead to announce the new blog to your current email contacts, then create a separate list for them to sign up directly to your blog or newsletter. Otherwise, you could overwhelm your customers with too many emails about your blog.
8. Tweak as you go
All strategic marketing content campaigns start at a single point and evolve as you learn more about your readers and customers. This is natural. Tweak everything – your goals, your content plan, even the structure of your blog posts – to better meet the needs of your readers. Track the impact of your changes by reviewing your KPIs along the way, and even ask for feedback.
Remember too that building an audience takes time. You could get lucky and go viral. But plan instead to build results over the long term. This is true for your SEO results as well. You should see numbers steadily climbing over time.
Contact Elite to Help Develop Your Strategic Content Marketing Plan
Developing a strategic content marketing plan can be fairly straightforward. Sometimes though, it helps to get a professional opinion. Contact the marketing specialists at Elite Marketing + Promotions to find out how we can help you develop a solid strategic content marketing plan that includes your goals, topics, and keyword suggestions. We can give you the help you need from brief consulting to full post writing, adding the content directly to your website, and promoting in your social media.
We’ll help make developing your strategic content marketing plan even easier. Contact us today.