Ready for a new year of content marketing? 2019 is going to be a challenging year for inbound marketers, with emerging technologies changing the way users discover and interact with content. But many of these challenges can inspire you to improve your content all-round.
For many brands around the world, content marketing has become the default marketing strategy. That’s a strong testament to the power of content. But at the same time, it also gives rise to an unprecedented amount of content. Will yours stand out? Or will it get lost in all the content noise that surrounds it?
You can’t take any shortcuts, and you can’t get complacent either. Get your content marketing toolkit ready now!
To help you make every article, video, or infographic you create count, we’ve put together a content marketing toolkit with everything you need to develop an awesome content marketing strategy that your audience will love.
But first, let’s take a quick look at the state of content marketing and note the most important trends you need to be aware of.
The State of Content Marketing in 2019
People are tired of “content.” They want information, entertainment, and solutions to their problems – not just “content”. 2019 in content marketing is all about personalization, engagement, and real-time interaction.
The rise of chatbots, instant messaging platforms, and voice assistants will make content marketing even more dynamic, but ultimately, it’s still the value of your content and the way you distribute it that will make a real difference.
Voice Search and More Organic Keywords
Voice assistants are changing how web users search for content and interact with it. By making many keywords redundant and enabling hands-free website navigation, voice search challenges you to rethink your content.
If voice search makes it possible for users to find your content by asking questions, then what are the questions that matter the most to your customers? Only by identifying them can you make sure that your content is genuinely useful.
The Hegemony of Video
By the end of 2019, video content is predicted to account for most web traffic. In 2019, video will cement its reputation as one of the web’s favorite content formats. At the same time, video creation services could become more affordable as more content creators will likely offer the service. Here are 9 Ways to Start Using Video Content in Your Marketing Strategy.
The Power of Long-Form Content
Authoritative eBooks, case studies, and long articles have the power to generate more traffic and more engagement. Use long-form content in 2019 to create genuine value for your audience and provide them with detailed, actionable solutions to their problems.
The Rise of Interactive Content
By requiring active participation, interactive content offers you a more engaging way to educate and entertain your audience. A step up from static content, it makes your content marketing strategy stand out.
The Importance of Strategy
The most successful content marketers follow a documented marketing strategy. With so many different types of content to juggle and so many distribution channels, you need to map out your content marketing strategy and create an adaptable content calendar. Without a clearly defined plan and measurable goals, your content marketing strategy may flounder.
Distribution Makes or Breaks Your Strategy
Given the number of content publishers today and the rate at which they are creating content, your web content may easily get lost in the digital noise. How well you understand your marketing channels and how effectively you distribute your content across them will be as important as the overall quality of your content. 2019 is the year when you have to select the right channels, post at the right time, and manage responses to engage with your audience in real time.
Keeping these trends in mind, let’s see how you can map out your content to maximize your reach.
Define Your Content Marketing Framework
Content marketing is a complex process that includes many different strategies, tools, and distribution channels. Despite all your care and attention, it’s easy to lose track of things. However, having a content marketing framework in place makes it a lot easier for you to define and manage your marketing operations.
If you’ve never used a content marketing framework before, don’t worry – it’s not as complicated as it sounds. Essentially, it’s an outline of your marketing aims that gives you an overview of your efforts and helps you define the different strategies you will be using.
So, what should your content marketing framework include? The following marketing plan framework sample can help you get started:
- Your Goal: Why are you creating content? List multiple goals according to their importance. Focus on the goals that support your business mission and reinforce your message. A good marketing plan will have numerous effects on your marketing strategy, but even so, it’s essential to define your top goal.
- Your Approach: How will you manage your content marketing operations to achieve your goals? What strategies will you use and what tools?
- Your Story: On what will you build your content marketing campaign? Define your content mission in relation to your brand mission. This is where you highlight what makes you different from other brands. In other words, your key selling points.
- Your Target Audience: Who are you creating the content for? Be as specific as you can, including age, occupation, and income level. Use existing marketing data and buyer personas to create a clear profile for your target audience.<
- Your Time Frame: When does your content marketing plan begin? Is it ongoing or do you have a deadline? Regardless of the duration of the plan, you may want to establish clear milestones against which you can measure your success.
- Your Metrics: How will you manage the performance of your content marketing? What metrics will you use and how will you keep track of them?
This is only a big picture marketing framework. While you can add additional sections to it as needed to make it more specific, it’s important to remember that this is only a framework rather than a detailed marketing plan.
A content marketing framework is ultimately the master document to which you can link multiple content marketing strategies. Over time, even if the course of your content marketing strategy changes, your framework should continue to steer you in the right direction.
Develop Your Content Marketing Strategy
Once you have defined your content marketing framework, you can move on to your content marketing strategy. This will be the action plan that will enable you to achieve the goals you have set out in the big picture marketing framework. Depending on the reach and depth of your marketing, you can create multiple content marketing strategies. For example:
- Social media content marketing strategy
- Blog content marketing strategy
- Website content marketing strategy
- PR content marketing strategy
To keep things simple, you can bundle up all these strategies into one unified content marketing strategy that explains to your team how you will accomplish the objectives you have set out to achieve in your content framework.
Before you move on, check out 7 Tips for Developing a Better Content Strategy.
How to Write a Marketing Strategy Document
Your marketing strategy document should include enough information for your team to accomplish the goals set out in your content marketing framework. It all starts with a concise outline of your strategy. You can draw on your current marketing insights to create a simple but effective outline.
But if you’re new to content marketing, that’s okay. The following outline is simple and easy to get you started.
Marketing Strategy Outline Sample
Use this marketing strategy outline sample to sum up in a sentence what your content marketing strategy sets out to do.
Now here’s how this marketing strategy outline would look for an agency that provides content marketing services to startups:
Our content marketing strategy will drive more traffic to our website by providing blog posts and social media content to 25-40-year old startup owners to make them feel inspired and enthusiastic and encourage them to invest more in organic content marketing.
This is only a summary of what your content marketing strategy is all about. It’s something simple enough for you to remember and explain to others.
Once you know the goal and the purpose of your content, you can further develop your content strategy, breaking down each of the key aspects summed up above. The following checklists will make this process easier.
Content Marketing Checklists
Checklist #1: Choose Your Goal
What do you want your strategy to accomplish? Focus on what would help your marketing at this stage. Do not confuse this point with the specific action you want potential customers to take, which we’ll cover in more detail below.
- Raise brand awareness
- Generate more traffic
- Generate more leads
- Increase engagement
- Increase sales
- Improve customer retention rates
- Consolidate your online reputation
Checklist #2: Use Different Types of Content
An effective content strategy incorporates different types of content to appeal to all members of your audience during all the stages of the customer journey. Don’t limit yourself to articles and blog posts. Explore all content formats and find the ones that appeal to your audience.
At this stage, you can also have a look at what your competitors are doing – see which of their content gets the most likes and shares.
To maximize the impact of your marketing, choose the right type of content for every stage of the buyer’s journey. Matching the tone and the goal of your content to user expectations is the best way to ensure that every dollar you invest in content is well spent.
Don’t forget about your website content either. Constantly updating and improving it continues to be one of the most rewarding long-term SEO strategies across search engines and devices. Check out this quick guide on refreshing your website content.
Checklist #3: Understand Your Audience
You may know who your audience is, but do you understand their needs and expectations? When you have a solid understanding of your audience, you can craft content that is organic and compelling. That’s the difference between serving them copy and offering them authentic and genuinely useful information that they can use.
At the same time, you can optimize content distribution across channels. Define your audience by understanding who they are and what they want.
Establish clear demographics for your targeted audience using marketing data, analytics, and any other sources available to you. Even if you’re targeting a new audience, you can still use social media and your competitors’ channels to get to know your audience better.
- Hobbies and Passions
Determine what exactly it is that your target audience wants from your brand. To do this, you need to know their pain points and consider how you may address them. Also, it is important to consider how much they are willing to spend to solve the problem they are facing.
- Pain point(s) or problem(s)
- Needs and expectations
- Buying triggers
- Buying habits
- Decision factors
- Influencers they trust
You can reach your audience faster and at a lower cost when you distribute your content across the right channels. Research your audience to learn what networks, websites, and other channels they use.
- Social media channels
- Websites and blogs
- Online groups
- Other channels
Optimize your marketing message to the buying stage potential customers find themselves in.
- Awareness Stage – They are aware of what you are offering them and want to learn more about it.
- Consideration Stage – They compare the advantages and disadvantages of what you offer to a product or service they already have and other possible solutions.
- Decision Stage – They are ready to buy and only need a final confirmation that they are making the right decision.
Checklist #4: Select the Right Distribution Channels
Embrace all reliable distribution channels you can use, but set clear goals and objectives for each of them. Align your targets to your audience’s demographics and usage patterns for that network.
1. Social Media Networks
2. PR Sites
3. Authoritative Blogs in Your Niche
4. Content Curation
Popularity should be only one of the metrics you use to choose the best social platforms for your content marketing strategy. Learn how to choose the right social network for you by age.
Checklist #5: Create a Distribution Channel Profile
Wondering how to write a distribution strategy? It’s not hard, provided that you have you set clear goals and objectives for every distribution channel you use. The following content distribution channel profile template can help you clarify objectives and define trackable and measurable metrics that will make it easier for you to see whether a specific channel works for you or not.
- Channel Name: Pinterest
- Target Demographics: Women aged 30-39 with a high-income level
- Primary Goal: Direct more traffic to my website
- Secondary Goals: Increase brand awareness
- Metrics: Page views, clicks, shares, etc.
- Usage: Create at least one new thematic pinboard every week and pin high-quality curated content
- Content Volume: At least one new pinboard every week / minimum two pinned items daily
- Type of Content: Curated content
- Posting hours: 10:00-11:30 a.m. and 4:00-6:00 p.m.
- Budget: XXXX
- Time allocation: 30 minutes / day
- Associated apps: Any automated social media content management platforms you may be using
- Person in charge: Social media manager
Content Promotion Tools
Use the best content promotion tools to reach a wider audience. Scalable and accessible, these tools can be used on an as-needed basis, making them a useful choice during key stages in your marketing campaign when your content needs an extra boost. Discover the best content promotion tools for your inbound marketing strategy.
Checklist #6: Define the Emotion
Next, you need to define the emotion that your content marketing strategy is meant to elicit from your audience. This emotion depends on your brand values, the goals of your marketing campaign, your calls to action, and the distribution channels you are using. Choose the right emotions for your online marketing strategy to maximize the impact of your content.
Positive Emotions That Inspire Action
Negative Emotions That Can Inspire Action
Should You Use Negative Emotions in Content Marketing?
Negative emotions can be as effective as positive emotions in content marketing. For example, by focusing on the feelings of frustration that startup owners may experience while trying to manage their inventory manually, you can make a better case for selling an inventory management app. You can fan these feelings by creating headlines with a negative charge, such as…
- 10 Reasons Why Your Current Inventory Management System Is Costing You Money
- 7 Disadvantages of Manual Inventory Management
- How Not to Do Inventory Management in 2019
Checklist #7: Define the Action
This is the action users are expected to take after reading your content. It must be aligned with your overall marketing goal, as well as to the more specific goal of your content marketing strategy. You will measure your conversion rate against this action. When you know your audience well, you can choose a call to action that maximizes results.
1. Increase Traffic
- Website traffic
- Social media traffic
- Landing page traffic
2. Generate Engagement
3. Visit / Check
- Read a page / article / guide
- Watch a video
- Listen to a podcast
1. Sign Up / Follow / Like
- Upcoming event
- Social media page
- Website content
- Article or blog post
- Social media page or post
- Referral program
- Mobile app
- Other resources
- Product or service
– Product or service page
– Landing page
– Retailer or third-party vendor page
- Get a Quote
- Consultant or representative
- Call phone number
- Use a chatting app
- Fill up a form
Checklist #8: Establish Metrics
The metrics you are going to track are closely connected to the calls to action you use. You need to define your metrics clearly, otherwise, results will seem fuzzy and become very difficult to quantify and turn into actionable improvements. It’s easier to track metrics when you group them according to the goals you want to achieve.
- Likes, Tweets, Pins, etc.
- New subscribers (blog, site, social media)
- Form completions
- Email signups
- Event signups
- Quote requests
- Sales-related support questions
- Downloads (reports, whitepapers, guides)
- New product / service sales
- New customers
- Returning customers
Content Marketing Strategy Templates
Now that you know what you want to achieve with your content marketing strategy and who you are targeting, it’s time to focus on executing your strategy. Putting your content strategy into practice becomes easier when you take a systematic approach to planning, creating, and distributing content. First, though, you need to determine who does what.
Template #1: Customer Persona Template
Hit the mark with your content by creating detailed customer personas that reflect your customers’ demographics, habits, challenges, goals, and fears. Draw on existing data and update old personas for accuracy. Many businesses target more than one customer persona, so resist the temptation to fit all the info into a single persona. At the same time, you don’t want to overcomplicate your persona with irrelevant information. Focus only on the data that helps you build a better marketing campaign.
Customer Persona Template
Name: e.g. Techy Startup Owner
- Age: 26-39
- Occupation: Startup owner
- Income: e.g. $80,000-130,000 / year
- Location: e.g. USA
- Social Channels: e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook Groups
- Used Devices: e.g. iPhone 6S, iPad, Mac
- Operating System (if relevant): e.g. Mac OS
- e.g. streamlining inventory management to save time
- e.g. time required to manage inventory across locations
- e.g. cost of enterprise-grade inventory solutions
- e.g. save time on repetitive inventory tasks
- e.g. use a fully automated online inventory app
- e.g. delegate inventory tasks without lowering the quality of the inventory management process
Hobbies and Interests
- e.g. artificial intelligence
- e.g. designing mobile apps
- e.g. wasting time on repetitive tasks
- e.g. manually performing tasks that can be automated
- e.g. overspending on superfluous features
Template #2: Customer Journey Map
Map out your content for every stage of the customer journey to create an optimal content experience for potential customers. Focus on content types, topics, keywords, and calls to action. Share your customer journey map with your creative team to make sure that they are creating the right content for every stage.
Customer Journey Map
Template #3: Content Marketing Roles
Whether you have an in-house content marketing team, outsource all your content, or create some content and outsource the rest, it’s important to define the different roles for your team(s). This makes it easier to assign tasks, manage responsibilities, and address issues whenever they appear.
Content Marketing Roles
Chief Content Officer
Manages the content team, creates campaigns, and sets the overall goals and objectives for your campaigns.
Focuses on executing the content strategy, ensuring that all content meets the guidelines and direction set by the Chief Content Officer.
Manages one or more distribution channels such as your business blog or your Facebook or LinkedIn page. Depending on the complexity and reach of your content marketing strategy, you may need one or more channel managers.
Content Editor / Proofreader
Ensures that the actual content meets the necessary guidelines and requirements. Can work with both in-house and freelance writers.
Content Fact-Checker (Optional)
Some types of content such as medical or legal content may require a dedicated fact-checker to ensure the accuracy of the information.
Creates the content that sustains your online marketing strategy. Depending on the type of content you focus on, this role may be filled by a writer, a graphic designer, a visual artist, a video creator, and editor, or some other creative.
Template #4: Team Responsibilities
Do you plan to create content for multiple channels and post at least twice a week? Then you’ll need plenty of content. When each member of your content marketing team knows what he or she needs to do, you will be able to create more content at a faster rate.
Template #5: Content Marketing Productivity Habits
Get more work done faster without increasing resources with the right approach to content creation. These tips can skyrocket your content marketing productivity and help you get more work done faster.
- Set word count goals
- Always work against a deadline
- Bulk up content creation
- Create outlines for longer articles
- Create content templates
- Research first, write after to filter out interruptions
- Avoid multitasking
- Prioritize tasks
- Do urgent tasks first
- Schedule non-urgent tasks for later
- Use reminders to post content on time
- Repurpose valuable content
- Create a content queue for curated content
- Use consistent but straightforward filenames
Template #6: Publishing Guidelines
All the content you publish needs to be consistent. It needs to be recognizable as your content and reflect your brand identity. Consistency is not just a matter of following the same format and style, but of using the same voice, themes, and message to unify all the content you create across channels. By doing so, your content remains consistent even when multiple writers or teams work on it, and even if you outsource some of it to a third-party.
Purpose of Your Content: Inform / Educate / Entertain / Persuade / Sell / Other
Tone of Your Content:
- Formal: Professional / Serious / Didactic / Other
- Informal: Inspiring / Conversational / Funny / Playful / Other
- What links are allowed
- How many
- Usage notes
Publishing Frequency: Three times a week / Biweekly / Weekly
Curated Content: We will curate around 10% / 20% / 30% of content
Readability Rating: i.e. 60 or higher on the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Assessment Test
Accepted Content Formats
- Documents: .doc, .docx, .rtf, .txt, .pdf
- Images and Visual Content: .png, .jpeg,. jpg
- Video: .mp4, .m4v
Template #7: Outsourcing Guidelines
Are you planning to outsource part of your content? In that case, you need a simple set of outsourcing guidelines alongside your publishing guidelines to ensure that the outsourcing process goes smoothly.
Outsourced Content Guidelines
Channels for Distribution:
- Social media
Template #8: Editorial Calendar
The editorial calendar is one of the most important elements of your content marketing toolkit. It maps out your content and helps you plan it ahead. To keep your editorial calendar easy to manage, you may want to use a separate one for every month. Here is a simple template that can help you get started.
Editorial Calendar – January 2018
Content Marketing Channel Plan Template
An effective content marketing plan usually spans multiple channels, including social media, blogs, websites, and more. Creating a channel plan at least for each of your major channels can help you maximize results. For this, use a simple channel statement template.
For this template, you can draw on the Audience, Emotion, Action, and Metrics discussed above.
Equipped with your 2019 content marketing toolkit, you can create an incisive marketing strategy that cuts through the noise and reaches your target audience when they are most likely to act on it. Starting with a clear content marketing framework, you can use the checklists in this toolkit to get more work done faster while making sure that your content is on par with the best content out there.
And with your new marketing calendar template, you can map out every article, blog post, and infographic to make sure it’s ready for publishing at just the right time.
2019 is almost here, so there’s no time to lose. Use all the templates and tools you now have to create the best content marketing strategy you’ve ever had. Turn content into information, engagement, and knowledge and inspire your audience to keep coming back for more.
And don’t forget that we’re here to help you achieve just that. Content is our passion. Whether you need to outsource some of your content or want a new direction for your content strategy, you can count on us.