It's all said and done: you Google any topic of your business and find countless blog articles, free white papers, and webinar offers.
Do you even have a chance if you're getting into content marketing now?
Yes, but it takes more strategy than it did a few years ago. Our 8-step guide shows you how to build a content marketing process that will continue to drive revenue beyond 2022.
Companies hardly win customers with creative advertising messages anymore. People have become numb to the constant stream of information that accompanies them, from ringing the alarm clock to switching off the lights. If your company doesn't want to spend millions on advertising campaigns, content marketing is still the best way to attract customers.
In one, 70% of the companies surveyed said their content measures were more successful in 2020 than in previous years. More than 60% were satisfied or very satisfied with the results.
The basis for success is always a strategy that generates visitor numbers and measures the return on investment using concrete vital figures.
There is now enough experience to say which components make up successful content-driven companies. These include the proper goals, a coherent brand image, a core story, communication guidelines for consistent implementation, personas for a tailored approach, topic clusters to delineate the content strategy, the appropriate selection of channels and formats, and an editorial plan.
We show you how to develop these building blocks step-by-step.
Before you think about the first content campaign, you should define measurable and appropriate marketing goals as a team.
Some goals can be achieved relatively quickly; others take more time. A 2x2 matrix will help you plot the importance of the goal against the urgency to see which one has the most significant impact.
Raising awareness for your brand on the web and positioning yourself as a likable figure - are all sensible goals. However, it can take time to see an impact on sales. If you want to see measurable results faster, you should focus on the urgent and important goals in the upper right quadrant.
Are the goals set? Then you should formulate your brand manifesto at this point. In it, you document why your company exists and why people should be interested in you.
These questions are essential for two reasons.
For one thing, the answers work inwards: Employees who can't relate to the corporate vision at all are likely to have more fun in another job.
On the other hand, clarity about values, mission, and vision is vital for external communication. The brand manifesto shines through in every published article in the best case. Because, as Simon Sinek put it so well:
People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. – Simon Sinek
A brand manifesto creates attraction and is also a good starting point to develop your company's core story in the next step.
The success of content marketing depends mainly on how well a company succeeds in empathizing with the lives of its customers. What specific problems does your product solve for the customer? How does it simplify or beautify her life? There are countless stories in the answer that you should tell in your communication mix.
Successful stories always follow the same structure in Hollywood and marketing. Mythologist Joseph Campbell has called it the hero's journey.
The short version: a hero faces a problem and goes out into the world to find a solution. He must overcome numerous obstacles, but eventually finds help and returns home transformed by the experience.
The hero story is the meta-story of your business, which you will tell in many ways.
Important: As a company, you are not the hero of the story. Your customers take on this role. You are there to help them.
The core story in mind makes it much easier to find topics and create content. You can use several frameworks to (re) discover your Core Story in a manageable amount of time. The Core Story Canvas is one of them.
To help customers build a relationship with your company, you should publish your story with a consistent tone and defined language rules. This consistency creates a level of recognition.
How do you manage to speak with one voice as a company even though many people are involved in content production?
This is where communication guidelines or a content style guide come into play.
Your communication guidelines serve as a reference guide where anyone can look up what your company sounds like as a brand and what spellings or brand words you use at any time. The document should be comprehensive but not encyclopedia length. Otherwise, the length will be off-putting, and the most thoughtful guidelines won't get applied.
Your actual needs should determine which aspects you include in the style guide.
Where do copywriters or freelancers always have questions? What topics do you regularly discuss in your marketing team? The answers belong in the content style guide.
Typical areas for which guidelines set standards:
The communication guidelines focus on your company. But at the end of the day, flawless and brand-precisely formulated texts with a consistent tone of voice are of no use if they fail to address the needs of your customers. Ensuring that these are not forgotten in content development helps to work with personas.
Buyer personas are your ideal customers. Some companies target their offer to a single persona, many to several. It is not necessary to create pages of fictional biographies about them. It's enough to focus on their essential demographic characteristics and the problems and desires of the buyer personas for which you offer solutions.
To ensure that the buyer personas achieve their intended effect, develop them based on honest customer feedback. Use research on social media, review platforms, or your online surveys to do this. What are the real problems and not the ones you think about from the office?
In the best case, you create the buyer personas in a workshop where marketing and sales employees participate. After all, the latter contact customers and prospects every day and can contribute first-hand experience.
With buyer personas in mind, it's relatively easy to find topics that interest customers and that match your offering. You will regularly publish content on different channels; it helps to determine your communication mix and create topic clusters.
The communication mix indicates which types and categories of topics you publish concerning each other.
Categories of a communication mix can be the following:
Moreover, these figures may vary depending on the channel. For example, if you want to publish ten posts a month on LinkedIn, one post would be about your business, three posts would be know-how content, and two posts each would be support, sales, and inspiration.
Once you have determined your communication mix, you can now determine three to six topic areas for each area. This will prevent your content from being one-sided over a more extended period, boring customers, or neglecting important aspects of your brand.
Which topics are suitable? A mixture of information and entertainment has proven successful in the B2C and B2B environments. Information includes instructions, news, and advice content.
Entertainment in this context means articles with impressions from everyday work, inspiring or opinionated articles from business leaders, and special promotions or competitions.
The customer journey is a good starting point for format development. This can be used to develop content for customers more effectively at different contact points in their purchase decision process.
While customers come into contact with your content on the company website at the beginning of their customer journey and via social media or offline events, your website content is predominantly relevant for later phases of the customer journey.
Furthermore, most channels or contact points still differ into different content types. For example, on Instagram, there is the story format, posts, portrait videos, or slideshows.
You can now define your channels and the content types for format development. These make up the vessel of your format, so to speak.
The next step is to decide what goes into the container. To work efficiently here, you can use professional genres. Genres are well-known forms of presentation with a defined narrative structure or storyline. Examples often used in marketing and social media are listicles, tutorials, or guides.
Channel and content type with storyline result in a format that you can use repeatedly.
In the daily editorial routine, you change the topic. This gives you variety in your content and efficiency in content creation.
Finally, you can assign the formats to the customer journey map. In this way, you create a basis that removes many question marks from content planning and ensures that you don't get bogged down in creative capers but create content that brings you closer to your marketing goals.
Now you know what story your company is telling, how to communicate it consistently, who your customers are, and which topics you can publish on which channels. All that remains is to ensure that the strategic groundwork also leads to regular content production. Because without regularity, there is no success in content marketing.
The final step is to create an editorial plan. It can be simple or more complex. It fulfills its purpose and creates an overview of who produces and publishes which content for which channel and by when. A well-maintained editorial plan ensures that there are no gaps in publication, that content is created following the strategy, and that responsibilities are clear at all times.
In short: It is the heart of operational content marketing.
Which tool you use to create the editorial planning is a matter of taste. You can plan in Excel or Google Sheets if you're an Excel fan. If you work on WordPress, you can use plug-ins. There are also several specialized applications to choose from. As is often the case, the one best approach does not exist. However, keep the number of applications used in planning and production to a minimum: the fewer tools, the more efficient the workflow.
That's why Storyliner integrates content strategy and content creation, among other things. All content is created on one platform, and thanks to intelligent content blocks, this also saves a lot more time than copying content and strategy back and forth.
The eight steps provide the framework for content marketing that will continue to deliver results in 2022. At first glance, it's a simple roadmap. But its success depends on how consistently and professionally you implement each step. So whether content marketing still works today is primarily up to each company.
Gone, however, are the days when marketers could secure good rankings on Google with one or two SEO posts, and an employee helped manage content on the side. Today, successful content marketing requires a professional approach, a holistic strategy, and sufficient resources.
The investment is significantly higher than it used to be, but the content is still one of the most effective marketing strategies with the right technology and intelligent processes.
What's your experience with each step? What are your recipes for success with content marketing? Please discuss with us on Twitter @storylinerlabs.