Creating and distributing high quality content is a reliable and cost-effective way of driving traffic to your site and building a positive image for your brand. It’s therefore little wonder that, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s recent report, 90% of B2C marketers currently invest in content campaigns, with 60% intending to increase the amount they invest in content campaigns in the near future.

Unfortunately, producing content that captures your intended audience’s attention is easier said than done. CMI’s same report noted that only 34% of B2C marketers actually considered themselves to be effective at content-marketing. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up using precious time and money broadcasting into the digital wilderness, with little to show for your efforts.

So, what makes a successful content campaign? As with any other kind of campaign, preparation and organization are key. However, if you’re just starting out in the world of content marketing, it can be tricky to know where to begin. Here are 10 clear steps for carrying out a successful content campaign to help you on your way:

Set Clear Goals

It’s impossible to run a campaign without clearly defined goals. Think carefully about what it is that you want to achieve. Do you simply want to improve awareness of your brand, or do you have a particular image of your brand that you would like to project? Halfords, for example, has run a very effective content campaign to position themselves as leading experts in cycling, motoring, and camping. Similarly, the American company Whole Foods has successfully set itself up as a lifestyle choice rather than just a local grocery store, regularly publishing recipe videos and offering tips on how to eat healthily on a low budget. Halfords and Whole Foods have done so well because their content was designed with their overall aims in mind.

Build Your Buyer Persona

Unless you know your target audience, or ‘buyer persona,’ it’s going to be extremely difficult to produce relevant and valuable content that they’ll want to engage with. This might seem obvious, but it’s really important that you don’t just make up facts about your target audience. Don’t assume anything. You actually need to do the research, and this should involve having in depth conversations with actual buyers about their problems, interests, and the decision-making processes they used when deciding to purchase your own or a competitor’s product. Once you’ve figured out what makes your buyers tick, you’ll have a much easier time designing content to catch their eye.

Research Your Competitors

Chances are your competitors have already launched their own content campaigns. Take a look at their efforts and see what’s working and what’s not. Which articles seem to be the most popular? How often are they publishing? Whom are they targeting? Analytics software such as Ahrefs can help you work out which of their posts are driving traffic to their site and which are simply floating invisibly out into the void.

Define Your Unique Value Proposition

Your unique value proposition (UVP) is whatever you can provide which others on the market can’t. It’s your answer to the, ‘So why should I come to you?’ You want to weave your UVP seamlessly into whatever content you produce. For example, if you’re a garden center, your UVP might include your specialist knowledge of garden wildlife. A blog post on, say, how to make your garden a haven for hedgehogs would then be a great way to express your expertise and have wildlife enthusiasts returning repeatedly to your site for more.

Perform a Content Audit

Having completed steps 1–4, you might have noticed that some of your existing content isn’t really up to scratch. It’s probably best to carry out a full content audit to identify and rectify any problems with existing content, as well as to uncover any content that can be reused for your new campaign. If you’ve not performed a content audit before, there’s plenty of really helpful advice to be found online.

Choose Your Distribution Channels

You need to know how you’re going to distribute your content before you actually design your content, because different channels are better suited for different kinds of content. Photos and infographics do well on Instagram, videos and blog-posts circulate well on Facebook, newsletters are best sent via email, and so on. It goes without saying that you should focus on those channels your target audience uses most often.

Decide Your Content Mix

Your content mix is a catalogue of the types of content you’re going to produce. There are plenty of different kinds of content to choose from—blogs, infographics, podcasts, videos and so on—and plenty of tools to help you develop content in each of these formats. Canva, for example, is a great tool for quickly developing images for blog-posts, social media, and websites. If you’re stuck for ideas, HubSpot have a healthy list of content formats you should take the time to peruse.

Develop a Content Calendar

A content calendar details what content you’re going to produce and when. For your campaign to be successful, you need to publish content consistently and reliably. It’s no good producing one fantastic blog post that receives lots of attention only to lose your new followers the next week because you’ve failed to feed them anything else. Consider using software like Hootsuite, which allows you to store your pre-made content and schedule posts across your social media accounts for later down the road.

Create Quality Content

With your goals, buyer-persona, UVP and distribution channels all in mind, you’re finally ready to create high quality content. Don’t be afraid to take some risks—the best content is always a little out there because playing it safe is boring and goes unnoticed. Brainstorm ideas and draw on each and every member of the team. If you get stuck, there’s plenty of advice for producing content to be found online.

Monitor Your Success

It’s vital that you monitor the success of your campaign as it progresses. Which posts are drawing in the crowds and which aren’t pulling their weight? Google Analytics is your friend here. If you find one branch of the campaign is faltering, adjust your strategy accordingly. And once the deadline for meeting your goals has passed, it’s important to take a step back and take stock. Evaluate which elements of your campaign were successful and which could have gone better.

Then, when you’re ready, repeat the above.

Author: Oliver Hurcum writes for Inspiring Interns, which specializes in sourcing candidates for internships and graduate jobs.

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