Time For New ContentYour content strategy plays a vitally important role in your overall digital marketing campaign. It is therefore equally important that you put together a solid content strategy that will hold and help you achieve your goals.

We will not lie to you, putting a content marketing strategy can be tricky and frustrating. So you are probably wondering whether it’s worth the hassle.

Statistics say it is. According to Contently, content strategists are 13 time more likely to improve ROI, increase search engine rankings and earn better trust and authority scores.

Not only that, but the creative nounce you need to put together an effective content strategy is an exciting proposition that gets you out of bed in a morning!

So how do you go about planning a content marketing strategy? Let’s take a look!

#Step 1: Tidy up your link profile

If you are new to content marketing this step is easy. Your task is to move on to step two. Done! See, we said it was easy.

If you already have content on your blog and, dare we say, a large social media following (cringe), this step needs some attention – and you are going to hate me for this! But it best to get it right…

First of all, go through your analytics and remove any backlinks that do not serve you. If they are from low quality sites take them out. There, that wasn’t too bad was it?

Okay, that’s the easy part. Now you need to go through all your back-content and remove any broken links. This is especially necessary if you have updated your website with new content and products and the links are directed to the wrong page.

Once you have your housekeeping tidied up, you can move on to step 2.

#Step 2: Research your rivals

To understand the type of content that is effective for your industry, get on to Google or whatever search engine you prefer and research your rivals. Check out what type of content the big hitters in the top ten are publishing.

The idea of this exercise is not to steal ideas, but to find inspiration of the type of content you need to publish. Titles, subjects, keywords, format (images/texts/video etc). Why do you think these sites are ranking well?

You also have to bear in mind that you need to produce better content and this exercise tells you which bar you should be aiming for. That of course will depend on what industry you are in.

Furthermore, foreknowledge of the type of content you will need to produce gives you an idea of how much budget you need to create the content and how you will achieve that.

Will you curate the content in-house or will you hire a content provider? If you feel you will have to hire a contractor, be sure to let them know who your rivals are and which sites you want to emulate and surpass.

#Step 3: Determine your target audience

Step 3 is a little like step one – if you already have a social following. Having hundreds, or worse, thousands of followers on social platforms can work against you if they do not engage with your brand.

You see, social media is all about making money these days. For the networks that is. Social media marketing is not free anymore. At least it’s not free and as effective as it used to be, although it can still be free.

But it will only be effective if you have the right audience. Let’s take Facebook for example. Good old FB only dish out your content to six per cent of your followers.

That means if you have 1000 followers only 60 are receiving your content. And less than that will engage with your content. And less than that will lead to conversions. Social media marketing is a pay-and-display I’m afraid.

So unless you have the budget to take you down the pay advertising route, you have to shed your following. Keep those that engage with your brand (purchasing customers) and keep those that engage in your content (potential customers).

Everybody else you can either dump or send them a message with a product offer. If they show an interest in your offer, keep, if they don’t, dump.

#Step 4: Attracting a target audience

Before you can do a great deal with your audience on social media, you need to determine what type of audience you want to attract. So determine your goals.

The purpose of a content marketing strategy is not only to improve conversions, but to climb up search engine rankings whereby you become more visible in search results and increase your chances of increasing conversions.

Not every visitor to your site will be interested in purchasing your products, but every reader of your blog offers you value. The more they visit and explore your site, the higher you climb up the rankings.

So your target audience should not only be paying customers, but people that will share an interest in your content purely to gather information. They may be fellow professionals, students or have a hobby in your field.

Your content ideas should therefore include tips and specialist information visitors to your blog will get value from. Throw the net wider and write about fringe subjects and you catch more fish.

#Step 5: Brainstorm content titles

Now, this is where the fun starts. It’s time to get creative. Now you have defined your target audience, you need to think of subjects to write about that will most interest them.

Choose your keywords to help you build a title, and also revisit the sites of your rivals to determine what type of content and keywords they are getting the most traction from.

The types of content should be varied; news articles, top tips, feature articles, interviews, Q&A’s. You may also want to curate image-based articles or infographs, videos and podcasts.

Which brings us on to the last step….

#Step 6: Choose your tools

If you are new to the content/blogging arena, the first thing you need to determine is which blog platform to use. WordPress is the most popular and has a wide range of designs.

Other favourites are Blogger, Drupal or Joomla which give you more scope for development – especially if you are an eCommerce site. Shopify is another option for retailers with multiple products.

You also need to determine what type of content you plan to create and the relevant software and platforms you will need. For example, if you plan to focus on video, you need YouTube and Vimeo accounts.

If you intend to create images and infographs you need software that allows you to add build relevant content, such as Canvas or photoshop. The options here are plenty.

If you have a website, it is not likely to be doing much other than sitting pretty if you do not have a blog and a solid content marketing strategy.

Social media networks help get your content in front of eyes, but it is the quality of the content that really determines how well your website ranks.