How to Write a Content Marketing Strategy (w/ Template)

The good news: your bos or customer is wholly on board with your running content market. ( SCORE ! ) The challenge: she wants to see a contentedness selling plan. .. and you have NO IDEA what that ’ s supposed to look like. I ’ ve been there. It ’ s a baffling situation, because you ’ ve been doing content market with your catgut this solid time, and now you ’ re being asked to put all that into a document. ( And the gut-to-document procedure can be pretty afflictive. ) Plus, you know that amazing content marketing involves a lot of flexibility—how do you build that into a strategic document ?

good newsworthiness : we ’ ve scoured the Internet for content selling strategy templates, tried a few, and put together a n approach to building your own content marketing plan step-by-step. ( This is built with both the in-house content seller and the agent in mind, BTW ! ) Let ’ s go !

Table of contents

foreword 1. Start with an sketch 2. Write down what you ’ re trying to accomplish 3. Write down what you ’ rhenium sell ( optional ) 4. now, who ’ south going to consume your contentedness ? 5. Map your personas ’ needs to your product or service 6. Heroes and watering holes 7. Look to the rival ’ mho capacity market efforts for divine guidance 8. Take inventory of your conten t 9. Evaluate your existing capacity 10. What sticks ? 11. What should we fix ? 12. What should we nix ? 13. What should we add to the mix ? 14. Sort your effective and prospective contentedness marketing assets by theme 15. List the types of content you ’ ll be dealing with 16. Snapshot the contented team and the work flow 17. Estimate your content capacity 18. Map out your editorial calendar 19. Make a subject promotion work flow 20. Write the epilogue 21. Write the executive compendious —


Before we get excessively far in, I ’ d love to start things off with a few flying notes : 1. This is a long article. Feel absolve to bookmark or send to Pocket to set digression some time to hash through this. 2. Content marketing strategies aren’t easy to write. We ’ re going to dig into boastfully strategies like web site crawl and character profiles and thematic taxonomies and competitive analyses. ( I had to learn a full cover of stuff I was unfamiliar with in order to start writing these, besides ! ) At each step, I ’ ve included some recommended material for further read. 3. This isn’t gospel. Like the pirate code, these are more guidelines than actual rules. = ) You ’ ll find that some projects need more in-depth design than others. 4. Stay flexible. A firm contentedness selling strategy should give you focus, not lock you into less-than-awesome ideas ! The identify to a bang-up content marketing strategy is being able to tweak, break, and chuck parts of it as you learn more about what works and what doesn ’ t. All right, now that we ’ ve covered the caveats, let ’ s look at how to write this capacity market strategy ! — content marketing strategy hero image

How to write a content marketing strategy step-by-step

Let ’ s walk though how you can write a contentedness marketing strategy—one that pulls together all the pieces and gives you a clear plan for moving forward. —

Step 1: Start with an outline

Writing a scheme can sound like a daunting task. How detail should it be ? How high-level should it be ? Starting with an delineate can help you conceptualize all the ground you need to cover—and it may save you from expending your energy covering unnecessary ground ! And what is the correct grind to cover anyhow ? A good content marketing strategy will answer three basic questions:

  1. Why are we making content in the first place?
  2. What content do we need?
  3. How do we get that content to accomplish our goals?

Your delineate will help you structure your inquiry and ideation so that you ’ re focused on answering these key questions. For model, one way this could look is by splitting the remaining steps below ( all 20 of ’ em ) into each of these buckets. The sketch, then, could look a fiddling something like this :Why are we making content questionsWhat content do we need questionsHow do we accomplish our goals question For the remainder of these steps, I ’ megabyte going to work through a basic outline template that has helped me in both in-house and agency roles. once you ’ ve got an outline, it ’ south time to start with what you know : yourself. —

Step 2: Write down what you’re trying to accomplish

This is where you ’ ll write out your content marketing goals. What are you trying to accomplish ? It helps if this is specific, because later on in this process, you will be comparing your content to your goals to see what ’ s rightfully in conjunction. This may express itself as a big aim with smaller SMART goals folded underneath ( SMART stands for “ Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely ” ). An case may be :Content goal and objective examples Goal : To become perceive as a idea drawing card on the phenomenon of Roomba rodeo .

  • Objective #1: Generate $500,000 in revenue from online training courses by December 31, 2016.
  • Objective #2: Rank on the first page of Google search engine results for “Roomba rodeo” by April 1, 2016.
  • Objective #3: Grow an email list of 5,000 unique double opt-in subscribers by March 4, 2016.

Note: A great question to ask for added context might be: What are the overall marketing goals, and how can content marketing support them? I ’ ve found that some organizations group content marketing into a branch team ( or outsource the efforts ), which means it may be wise to get some advice from other non–content market folks in your organization. ( Protip : sometimes asking other teams and departments for content input is a great manner to build a acculturation of contented in your organization ! ) once you ’ ve written down these goals, you can ask yourself ( and your team ) a few questions :

  • How does good content accomplish these goals?
  • How can we measure whether or not our content is aligned with these goals?

This is where you ’ ll outline your contented KPIs ( key operation indicators ). For more thoughts on setting marketing goals, check out this best-of number of methods from experts like Noah Kagan, Ryan Holiday, Rand Fishkin, our own Courtney Seiter. You might besides want to swipe some goal-setting templates from HubSpot ’ s Mike Lemire. —

Step 3 (optional): Write down what you’re selling

I ’ ve found it helpful to write out what the product or servicing I ’ molarity trying to sell is. It helps me think through the features, the different intersection tiers, the sales cycle, etc. When you know what you’re selling, you can more easily frame the kind of content you will need to sell it. Of run, you may be the product godhead, the seller, the one-human usher, and this might not be something you need to write down. If not, feel free to skip this separate. —

Step 4: Now, who’s going to consume your content?

It ’ mho time to outline who the hearing for your content marketing efforts is going to be. If you ’ ve done some of your persona research already, huzzah ! You can plug those little blocks of fabricated, alliterative good hera. Don ’ t have your buyer personas fleshed out so far ? now ’ s a terrific time to get started on this ! here are a few resources to help you start developing your own persona :

  • HubSpot’s classic persona template
  • If you’re launching a new brand, check out Wideo CEO Agu De Marco’s guide to creating personas
  • If you already have a customer base, Qualaroo’s smart surveys can help you group them into personas

Step 5: Map your personas’ needs to your product or service

Jay Acunzo wrote my identical front-runner definition of content marketing :

Solving the same problem or conveying the same emotion as your product, using media you create and distribute.

once you ’ ve looked at who your hearing is, you need to ask one crucial question : How can you help them? This interrogate is the affection and soul of content selling. Your unharmed capacity selling plan will benefit from writing this out. The key to this step is to map your persona’s pain points, goals, and desires to the solutions you want to sell. This might look like making a mesa with brief descriptions of each. Or it might be something you ’ d like to write out in floor form—something Moz ’ s Isla McKetta has some ace helpful thoughts on ! again, this step is key, because the rest of this strategy is going to be about creating and upgrade and curating and promoting content that solves the lapp problems your product solves ! —

Step 6 (optional): Heroes and watering holes

You ’ re laying a fantastic foundation for your contentedness scheme. You ’ ve jab through your personas ’ deepest wants and needs and mapped those to your merchandise. You ’ re getting an mind of what kinds of problems your contented needs to solve. Things are starting to take condition. There ’ s another ( optional ) thing I like to look at ahead leaving the audience section of the capacity marketing design, though. I like to know : Where is my audience already going for this kind of information? This is a playfulness exercise I ’ ve nicknamed “ heroes and watering holes. ” ( You can credibly come up with a better name for it ! ) I call them that because at this stage in the content market plan, it ’ second good to start think of the sources of information the audience already trusts. Those sources generally fall into two groups :

  1. Heroes are those celebrity thought-leaders who have followings around their personal brands. These are the names that jump to mind when you think of the experts in your industry. An example of one of my heroes is Bryan Harris, whose intensely practical case studies give me and other marketers so much to riff off in our own efforts.
  2. Watering holes are those sources of information that aren’t necessarily tied to a person. They represent places your customers trust for awesome content. Examples of watering holes for me are or Quora, where I know there’s always going to be more interesting information that will help me do my job better.

If you examine where your audience is already going for information, you can get a more comprehensive horizon of the capacity marketplace. It can help protect you from trying to reinvent any subject wheels, and it can give you some awesome ideas for node posting — the lifeblood of the early subject commercialize scheme at Buffer ! Unless you have a very wide reach, you can probably use your own intuition to map out your hearing ’ sulfur influencers. But if you ’ d like a more data-driven access, you may want to use tools like FollowerWonk and BuzzSumo. —

Step 7: Look to the competition’s content marketing efforts for inspiration

It ’ mho good to know what kind of content your audience wants. It ’ second fantastic to know what kind of content your competitors are already giving them. You don ’ t need to do a deep-dive competitive analysis for every single message commercialize plan you write, but you will credibly find it helpful to take a moment to reflect on just what other people and brands are offering your personas. By the way, when you think about competition in terms of contentedness marketing, it can work a fiddling differently than you might imagine. Your competitors aren ’ t inevitably the organizations that are competing for customer dollars. When it comes to content market, your competitors are the people and organizations that are competing for your audience ’ sulfur attention. This is broadly a good locate in your content strategy to ask a few questions :

  1. Who is competing for my personas’ business? These are your direct competitors.
  2. Who is competing for my personas’ attention, but not necessarily their business? These are your indirect
  3. How can my brand stand out?

It ’ randomness helpful to think through the ways that your content can uniquely appeal to your persona. Will you offer more long-form, deep tactical content ? Will your message be more visually oriented ? Will your content be crafted with a distinctively delightful tonicity ? This graphic from Garrett Moon of CoSchedule does a great job explaining this concept ( the blue ocean blogs are what you ’ five hundred aim for ) :Red and Blue Ocean Blogs This while of the strategy will help you eastern hemisphere yourself in the content marketplace, so that you, your team, and/or your node can create content marketing pieces that stand out rather than blend in. not certain who your competitors are ? There are a few ways to find out. One of my favorites : SEMRush. They show you which websites are ranking for the lapp keywords in search engines as you—which is ace helpful ! At a glance, you can see who else is getting organic and paid search engine attention for the keywords you might be targeting. —

Step 8: Take inventory of your content

OK, this footstep could be its own blog post. Or blog series. Or book. Or director ’ s edition extended cut DVD set. You get the estimate : taking inventory of your commercialize contented is no small tax. Let ’ s get a high-level see of what this could look like, and then I ’ ll be happy to share some links for far interpretation. When you take inventory of your content, you get a list of all your content marketing assets (both onsite and offsite). This could be american samoa general as a list of channels. For example, if Buffer were to do a high-level contented stock without digging into the details, it might look like this : Onsite

  • informational pages
  • landing pages
  • Social blog
  • Open blog
  • Overflow blog


  • Social media accounts
  • MailChimp lists
  • Guest posts
  • Syndication relationships

flush something a simple as this is helpful—but merely to the extent of figuring out where all your contented might be. The deep dive into these individual message market assets ( a fantastic exercise if you ’ re up for it ) would include :

  • getting a list of all the keywords you rank for in search engines,
  • all the blog posts getting significant traffic and conversions,
  • all the active email lists,
  • all the live high-level web pages,
  • all your social media accounts. . .

everything. It ’ s a great deal of shape. But you emerge from it being incredibly well-attuned to the department of state of content market for your sword. In short, what we ’ rhenium looking at here is a content audited account. And how do you do a content audit? There are many, many tools and blog posts that can help you do this, but here are a few that I ’ ve personally found invaluable .

  • This post from Portent Inc. CEO Ian Lurie is the end-all guide to writing one of these. Well done, Ian!
  • Screaming Frog is a super useful tool for taking inventory of all the pages on your site.
  • Google Webmaster Tools, Moz, and SEMRush are helpful for taking inventory of the keywords your content ranks for.
  • But what about the social media offsite content? We can help you with that: Buffer for Business analytics show you what kind of traction your social accounts are gaining, and what kind of posts are driving said traction. =)

Step 9: Evaluate your existing content

immediately that you ’ ve put together a list of your capacity market assets, it ’ second time to line them up against those objectives we covered at the begin of this plan. The central question we’re trying to answer: Which pieces of content are aligned with our objectives? ( With a follow-up : Which pieces of content can we reorient to align with our objectives ? ) One approach I find extremely helpful hera is to map out the most authoritative pieces of content from the armory on a matrix like the one below .Alignement and performance content matrix The X axis plots operation : that ’ randomness metrics like pageviews, likes, shares, comments, and rankings. The Y axis plots alliance, which is a fiddling bleary. The higher up a assemble of content is, the more in alignment with our brand ’ mho goals and ethos it is. When looking at the content you ’ ve inventoried, which contentedness falls into which quadrants ? ( You could assign a quadrant value to each character of contented if you like, but unless you ’ rhenium dealing with a brawny budget, your intuition will work just ticket. ) Some resources that help with evaluating content performance:

  • Google Analytics measures traffic and conversions.
  • Buzzsumo measures your content’s spread via major social media networks.
  • Moz and Ahrefs tell you which content is pulling in those epic backlinks.
  • Google Webmaster Tools, Moz, and SEMRush tell you which pages are ranking for search terms.
  • Buffer for Business is my favorite tool for measuring social media channels.
  • Your users­—it’s easy (for me!) to get stuck in the quantitative performance metrics, but it’s also good to keep in mind what your audience is telling you they like best.

When you ’ ve finished this, it ’ mho time to ask four important questions :

  1. What sticks?
  2. What should we fix?
  3. What should we nix?
  4. What should we add to the mix?

What sticks? (Step 10)

Content matrix winning This speaks to that gratifying, odoriferous top-right corner of the matrix, where your content is aligned with your post and acing performance. One thing I find helpful in a subject strategy is to list out the content assets that are already performing well at this point.

What should we fix? (Step 11)

Content matrix to fix There will credibly be bits of content in quadrants 1 and 4 that could get bumped into quadrant 4 with a little love and care. Make a number of the pieces that in truth have potential to turn into high-value content marketing assets, along with the ways in which they could be improved. For exercise, you may notice that your “ how-to ” infographics are generating some ace incontrovertible comments, but they ’ re not getting very many shares or backlinks. You might want to take note of this, as this will be worked into the contented strategy late.

What should we nix? (Step 12)

Content matrix ignore Where ’ s the dead system of weights ? There may be some content in quadrant 3 that ’ s just not doing you any favors. No backlinks, no likes, no rankings—it ’ sulfur precisely clutter. ( This may besides include wholly outdated contentedness. ) If it ’ s no good, don ’ thymine be afraid to put it on the list to be nixed. It ’ ll clear up space and help you focus on the content that ’ s most authoritative.

What do we add to the mix? (Step 13)

And here ’ mho where your subject market scheme begins to take on that epic creative element ! After meticulously combing over your content, what ideas do you get for new content? What assets could be driving business objectives ? What has your mark overlooked ? What have you always wanted to try ? ( This is probably my front-runner function of writing content market strategies ! ) —

Step 14 (optional): Sort your effective and prospective content marketing assets by theme

You ’ ve audited all your content. Huzzah ! We ’ re about to move into the part of the scheme that deals with making this content, but first, let ’ s pull some of this audit together by identifying some major content themes. This will play a boastfully part in mapping out a content production and promotion agenda soon. Look at the content that sticks.

  1. What categories or topics are really resonating with your readers?
  2. Look at your personas—why would they favor those topics?

By asking these questions, we can start building out subject themes : these are the across-the-board umbrella topics that your best capacity tends to group under. This is the time in the content marketing strategizing stage where I find it helpful to write these down. Doing so helps hone the design for producing new capacity around these themes—which makes things a lot simple for the folks writing, designing, and coding the subject ! —

Step 15: Refill your coffee

I hope you will have done indeed long before reaching this step, but I good wanted to give you a friendly reminder. 😉

Step 15 (for serious): List the types of content you’ll be dealing with

You ’ ve completed a huge component of this strategy piece : you ’ ve combed through all your content and channels to find what ’ s working, what ’ s not, and what you ’ d like to create. well done. very well done ! now we need to start making a design for producing content. Just for address, “ producing content ” covers two general areas of contented craft :

  1. Optimizing, updating, or otherwise fine-tuning the content that you identified in Step 11 (content to fix).
  2. Creating the content you listed in Step 13 (content to add to the mix).

We ’ ll startle by listing out the kind of workplace this will involve, namely, the types of content that need to be crafted. This might include :

  • Long-form, SEO-driven blog posts
  • Interviews
  • Ebooks
  • Infographics
  • Email courses
  • Explainer videos

once you have a list of the kinds of message you ’ rhenium dealing with, you may want to give each one a brief description. For example, you could write :

  • Long-form, SEO-driven blog posts. Posts targeting specific search concepts, usually 2,200+ words in length, written to gain backlinks, comments, and organic search.
  • Ebooks. Documents expounding on a specific topic, usually 5,000+ words, delivered as PDFs, written to give away as lead-generation pieces.

This is key, because in the adjacent steps, you ’ ll outline how these kinds of content will be made.

Step 16: Snapshot the content team and workflow

One trap that I frequently fall into is underestimating how long it will take to create a piece of content. ( confession : I ’ megabyte finishing this post two days former than I originally planned on it being done ! ) That ’ south why, when laying out a contented scheme, it ’ second good to get an theme of who ’ s working on the message, and how that contented is going to be created. The goal : get an idea of how much content you have capacity for. It may help to focus on answering two key questions here :

  1. Who’s the team?
  2. What’s the workflow?

For the team, you can list your in-house contentedness creators, vitamin a well as any contractors you plan to work with. For the workflow, this is a simple bit-by-bit breakdown of the content creation/fixing serve. It could look like, “ Ideate > Write > Design > Edit > Schedule > Promote, ” or it could be more byzantine than this. This is a catchy one, specially if you ’ re proposing the foremost capacity market strategy for an organization. You face a host of unknowns. How long will it take to hire content specialists ? How much will it cost to get a architect to make your infographics ? How successful will content promotion efforts be ? The estimable news : You don ’ t need to have all the answers here. In fact, sometimes this drill is most helpful at identifying the elements of content initiation that we haven ’ t figured out however ! What ’ randomness important is that you have some estimate of where this content marketing attempt is coming from. Refining this piece is an ongoing summons. = ) —

Step 17: Estimate your content capacity

once you ’ ve outlined everything you can in the previous step, it ’ mho meter to estimate just how much content can be created in the adjacent couple of time. If you ’ re outsourcing this part to a team of experienced subject marketers, content production might follow a reliable timetable. But if your team is just getting into capacity market, this can be a hard one. This is where it helps to ask for advice from people with experience. And if you can’t know for sure, guess. The key here is to find a degree of content production your team is confident they can take on, and then go for it. If you end up with lots of unfinished tasks at the end of the calendar month, you can adjust expectations. If you finish manner ahead of time, you can either ramp up production or induct in even higher-quality content. Either means, you want to have an estimate of how a lot capacity you can make. Pro-tip : a spreadsheet may come in handy here ! You can create columns for content character, estimated hours, measure of pieces, and finally a sum. This can help you build a few possible breakdowns of your content capacitance .Content capacity worksheet

Step 18: Map out your editorial calendar

You know what content you ’ re going to make. You know how you ’ re going to make it, and you have an mind of how long it ’ sulfur going to take. now, when will you publish it ? It ’ randomness time to map out your editorial calendar for your content market assets. This is where you plot your blog posts, emails, ebooks, podcasts, etc. across a given patch of time, be it months, quarters, or semesters. ( You could go longer, but I ’ ve found it helpful to keep the setting of time little enough for you to stay flexible and pivot based on what kind of content is performing. ) One thing to keep in mind: you don’t necessarily need to plan out every single piece of individual content on this calendar from the get-go. But it will help to map out how those contentedness themes from Step 14 and the content types you listed in Step 16 will be spread across the future time menstruation. Protip : It ’ mho easy to forget social media posting schedules here ( since blogging and electronic mail take up a properly amount of brainspace ). You may want to map out some of your sociable contented schedule on the editorial calendar. Your social media conversations will intelligibly be more fluid than web log posts or emails, so this doesn ’ thymine need to be the end-all social media agenda. It ’ second equitable something to consider, as you may find it helpful fair so you can see it in context of the rest of your message production. = ) One more protip : This is a great topographic point to include your guest blogging and syndication efforts, besides ! A few tools to consider for your editorial calendar :

  • Create a Google calendar and share it with your content team.
  • Create a Trello board for your editorial pieces and enable the Calendar view Powerup. (This is what we’re using for the Buffer Social blog!)

Editorial calendar in Trello

Step 19: Make a content promotion workflow

If you publish a web log post in a forest, but cipher is around to read it, does it make a phone ? 😛 probably not. Creating amazing content is fabulously significant, but there ’ s so much content being made every day ! You ’ re going to need to find a direction to get your amazing blog posts and infographics and podcasts in presence of the right eyeballs. You don’t just want a plan for making content. You want a plan for driving attention to it. This is a great prison term in the content marketing design building process to map that out. How will you drive dealings to your content ? You can start with a very bare process for doing so. It could be deoxyadenosine monophosphate straightforward as this :

  1. Publish content
  2. Email co-workers to let them know about it, ask them to share (My teammate Kevan has some awesome thoughts on how this can work!)
  3. Share it to corporate social accounts
  4. Send a note to email subscribers about it
  5. Email influencers to let them know about it (backlinks!)
  6. Write guest posts linking back to that post

full disclosure : that ’ s not a complete list of things you can do, by any means—especially that concluding item. You ’ ll want to promote your capacity through those heroes and watering holes you described at the beginning of this strategy, and you ’ ll want to do it in a direction that makes them look forth to getting more content from you. There ’ s a draw that can be said when it comes to figuring out a subject promotion work flow. For nowadays, it ’ sulfur important that you have some means of driving traffic to your content once it ’ s published. For more on content promotion plans and tactics, go read anything (or everything!) by Brian Dean. I ’ ve found this television and this guide to be particularly insightful. And here ’ s a glance at the content distribution checklist used at Buffer :Content distribution checklist

Step 20: Write the epilogue

Sum up your subject strategy by painting an amazing painting of what it will be like if you execute on it. You can put lots of interesting things here, including experiments you hope to learn from and amazing blogs your content might be featured on. But, of course, the most significant thing to do is briefly wrap up your scheme by relating it to those occupation objectives you listed at the very beginning. = ) —

Step 21: Write the executive summary

You ’ ve done it. You have put together the epic contented market scheme. You might be sitting on top of a 20-page text file. Heck, if you ’ ra working with a actually big constitution, it could be pushing 50 pages. You have merely made yourself the ultimate technical on your content. Your foreman or node is going to be wholly floored by the sum of time and inquiry and thought you good put into this. And they won ’ t have time to read it. = ) That ’ second why you ’ ll want to circle back around and add an administrator drumhead to the begin of your content strategy. intend of it as a TL ; DR that answers four basic questions :

  1. What are you aiming to accomplish?
  2. What’s the state of content right now?
  3. What needs to change?
  4. How will you make it happen?

Ka-BAM ! You ’ re done. =D

— double sources : 72pxDesigns, Pablo, Canva
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