Over the years I’ve accrued dozens and dozens of marketing templates, procedural documents, and worksheets that I’ve either created, downloaded or been given by peers. I recently decided to do a bit of a hard-drive clean up, and when sorting through all these files I came across a file named ‘content marketing strategy template’. As I’m currently doing a bit of freelance marketing work at the moment, I thought it might be worthwhile seeing if I could glean any extra tips. So I opened it, only to find 17 pages of single spaced, size 12 writing.
How on earth can you call a 17-page document a strategy template?
My eyes hurt just looking at the first page, let alone sitting down for an hour or two to read through the whole document. And therein lies the rub; if I, as a content marketer, don’t want to read 17 pages of strategy, how on earth will you convince senior managers and executives – from whom you need to get budgets approved – to do so?
Or to put it more bluntly, if it takes you 17 pages to make your point – what even is your point?
The 2-page content strategy
Your content marketing strategy shouldn’t include everything under the sun. What you should be aiming to create is a 2-page document that your line manager could have a quick read of while she’s waiting for the kettle to boil and immediately have a strong sense of what you are planning to achieve with your content marketing activity.
So with that in mind, here’s what you should include in your 2-page content marketing strategy:
This is your why. Why do you need a content marketing strategy? Are you growing audiences? Or do you want to use content to make a definite ROI and hit certain financial KPIs through sales?
Your objective should be simple to describe. If your why is any more than one sentence (two, tops), you need to spend more time exploring exactly what you are setting out to achieve.
While your broader marketing strategy will have identified your target customer and market segments, it’s important that you define exactly which audience/s your content marketing will speak to – your content marketing strategy may seek to attract different audiences than your target market.
You should also briefly detail how (if at all) you will tailor your content to different audiences, and where these content pieces will sit in your broader customer-buyer journey.
This is the how of why. What types of content (video, blogs, reports, webinars) will you use to best engage with your target audience? How frequently will you be publishing content? What resources will you require? Will you create the content internally, or will you work with external partners – such as content agencies and industry experts – to create the content?
It may seem a bit topsy turvy, but a good content marketing strategy doesn’t focus on the content creation. It doesn’t matter how professional and informative your new digital report is if nobody ever sees it.
Understanding how you will get your content in front of your target audience is crucial. Use this section to briefly detail which distribution channels you will use – social media, email, traditional media – and how.
Define your metrics:
I’ve seen too many content marketing strategies where success is measured by whether the content they have created ‘looks cool’ or not. While it’s great that the senior team loves the look of your latest content newsletter, it shouldn’t be the yardstick by which you measure the success.
Identify the tangible metrics that you will use to measure the effect of your activities. You’ll need to do a bit of digging into Google Analytics before you take this step to get a better understanding of what statistics are relevant to your brand, however my recommendation is to consider statistics indicative of engagement – such as clicks, views and downloads – over statistics that focus on reach – such as page views or impressions. Whatever you do, make sure your metrics for success align with the objectives for your content strategy.
Other things to remember:
- Use plain English. Buzzwords and long sentences may sound fancy, but they make it more difficult to get your point across. Just wait until you haven’t looked at your content strategy in 4 months and you need to check back in to make sure you’re on track – you’ll be thankful for using simple language then!
- Dial back on the detail. Of course, your overall strategy will need to include more detail, however elements such as buyer personas, keyword strategies, and individual campaign plans should be mapped out in separate documents. Your overarching content strategy should briefly summarise these items, and then link out to individual strategy documents.
- Edit. You may think you need more information (and you may) but you don’t need it in this document. If you want to go into more detail on individual points, detail them in separate documents and reference back to them in your master strategy document.
- Be realistic. Assess your current place in the market and what resources you have at hand. Every company is different. Make sure your content marketing strategy aligns with your wider business strategies to help you with your strategic growth.