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Content Marketing Bible: Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

Kerry Guard • May 20, 2013 • 8 minutes to read

As we announced last week, our team is producing a six-part series on content marketing to be distributed for FREE via e-book at the end of June.

This series was born out of one simple question from a few of our clients:

What steps does your team use to approach content marketing?

Let's start at the beginning: How we create a content strategy. Enjoy!

Part One of Six: Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

This first part of our six part series will walk you through the following steps to create the strategy behind your content marketing efforts:

  1. Leading with a Goal Driven Strategy
  2. Outline Parameters
  3. Roles & Responsibilities
  4. Using Data to Create a Master Keyword Playbook
  5. Creating a Content Calendar

Lead with a Goal Driven Strategy

First and foremost: All efforts should have tangible goals to measure success against.

To be more specific, these goals should focus exclusively on macro conversions, i.e. REVENUE.

As your group begins the strategic planning process, lead the entire strategy with these goals in mind.  Every single idea your team brainstorms should focus on directly improving your bottom line performance. Great questions to consistently ask yourselves in the planning phase is:

  • What is the purpose of this content?
  • What actions would we like our site visitors to take after viewing / as a result of viewing this content?

Some great examples of tangible goals to measure success against include:

  1. Increase in revenue from organic search engine referrals
  2. Measure conversion percentage in converting non-paying leads into paying customers from content, such as e-books, white papers or other valuable resources

Outline Parameters for Your Content Strategy

You're focused on revenue - great start! Now, the process of outlining your content marketing strategy begins with assembling company stakeholders to have a candid conversation.

Here are a few great questions to kick things off:

  • Initially, how long will our content marketing effort last? A year-long test ... Maybe two?
  • What resources are we going to invest?
  • Who leads this strategy? What success framework should be built up around that individual?
  • How exactly will success be measured? At the conclusion of outlining your content strategy parameters, your group should have the following questions answered:
  • Test timeframe for your content marketing strategy
  • Resources to be invested; budgets, tools & actual human labor
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Estimated outcomes & tangible goals of your content strategy

Fantastic! Your team has outlined the parameters for your content marketing strategy.

Next Up: Who is responsible & for what?

Roles & Responsibilities

We briefly touched on roles & responsibilities above, but felt the need to drive home how important it is that your team understands who is performing what actions as well as who the responsible stakeholders are.

A good way to break down roles & responsibilities is outlined below:

  • Strategic Direction: This is a senior-level stakeholder who is going to drive the overall vision of the content marketing strategy
  • Mid-Level Managers: This stakeholder is part manager, part in-the-weeds with the assistants executing the content strategy
  • Assistant-Level Employees: These are the skilled individuals 'in the trenches' who are creating and promoting content

One of our favorite ways to visually display this is through a traditional org chart, like the drawing seen below:

Using Data to Create a Master Keyword Playbook

At this point, it's time to determine what type of keywords your content will be created to rank for & bring in revenue from.

In most cases, we pull this data from the following sources:

  • Google Keyword Research Tool
  • Paid Search Marketing Data (Google Analytics)
  • Organic Search Marketing Data (Google Analytics)

Let's walk through each one of these data sources and then show you how to assemble the data.

Google Keyword Research Tool

Google Keyword Tool aggregates keyword performance data for each and every search performed on the Google search engine and presents it in a monthly snapshot. This tool hosts historic and current keyword data that can be used by marketers to use for research purposes.

Follow the steps below to use this tool for keyword research:

Step #1: Direct Browser to Google Keyword Tool

Point your browser to the following URL

Step #2: Authenticate

To authenticate, you'll need to do one of two things:

  1. Be currently logged in to your Google Ads account
  2. Enter a captcha (if you don't have an Google Ads account)

Step #3: Type in Beginning Phrases

At this point, it's time to type in beginning thoughts on keywords or keyword phrases that your content will focus on.

For example: Examples relevant to this article include 'content marketing strategy', 'content strategy' & 'content marketing', as you can see in the screenshot below.

Notice the labels 'competition' and 'local monthly searches'?

Competition indicates the amount of search competition those keywords have on a scale of 'high', 'medium' or 'low'.

Local monthly searches indicates the volume of searches each keyword recieves in the US each month.

Step 4: Expand on Beginner Phrases

Notice below the 'search terms' section of Google Keyword Tool is a section labeled 'keyword ideas'. See the screenshot below.

The 'keyword ideas' section includes similar keywords or keyword phrases that you may want to include.

All these keywords can be expanded by clicking on the blue arrow to the right of the term and selecting 'show more like this', as seen in the screenshot below:

Step 5: Export Research

While Google Keyword Tool is a great start, your team is going to want to include more data from paid & organic search sources to create a final version of your Master Keyword Playbook.

With that in mind, check the keyword searches & ideas that you would like to export and hit the 'download' button.

See screenshot below:

If your company is running paid search marketing campaigns through Bing Ads or Google Ads, the keyword performance data can be a gold mine to include in your Master Keyword Playbook.

Let's walk through the process to pull this data from Google Ads:

Step #1: Log Into Google Ads or Google Analytics

In most cases, we connect Google Ads and Analytics so paid search data flows directly into the clients Google Analytics account.

In this example, we would log in to Google Analytics to extract Paid Search Marketing data.

Step #2: Drill Down into Advertising Traffic

Within the 'traffic sources' tab on the left-hand side of your Google analytics account, you'll notice a section labeled 'Advertising'. Expand this section along with the following section, labeled 'Google Ads', to find Google Ads Paid Search data.

After expanding those two sections, then click on 'keywords'.

Step #3: Export Keyword Data

Similar to the Google Keyword Tool, you can & should export this keyword data out of Google Analytics.

After selecting the correct date range, scroll to the top of the 'keywords' section and click on the 'export' button. We recommend exporting all data as a .csv

See an example in the screenshot below:

Organic Search Marketing Data

In Google Analytics, the approach to find organic search marketing data is almost exactly the same as the approach we just walked through to find Paid Search Marketing data.

Just to be thorough, let's walk through how to pull organic search keywords from Google Analytics:

Step #1: Log Into Google Analytics

Navigate to your Google Analytics account and log in to your website profile.

Step #2: Look at Organic Search Traffic Sources

Navigate to 'traffic sources', then click 'search'. After the 'search' tab expand, click on the 'organic' section.

Step #3: Export Keyword Data

One thing to notice here is how Google Analytics will display keyword performance data by default (opposed to sources, landing pages & more). These keywords are the data you want to export.

Just as we did with Paid Search Marketing data, you'll want to hit the 'export' button and select the file type as .csv.

Assembling the Data into a Master Keyword Playbook

At this point, you'll need to assemble the keywords you've extracted from the three sources noted above and create a Master Keyword Playbook.

This playbook will determine what  keywords to target  when creating content and act as your north star -- all content creation decisions should be made using this playbook!

More importantly, these keywords should be what we call 'commerce keywords', or keywords / keyword phrases that drive toward a revenue-positive action. In our own Master Keyword Playbook, an example of using 'commerce keywords' is using the phrase 'how to find content marketing agency' as opposed to "content marketing tips".

In assembling your data, you are going to break down into two groups:

  1. Broad Range Topics: Start with the 50,000 foot view, broad-range topics that you will create content around. Our own master keyword playbook includes broad range topics like 'Internet Marketing', 'Agency' & 'B2B Marketing' as those are broad client verticals and services that we perform
  2. Tight-Knit Keyword Groups: Within your broad topics, you need to create tight keyword groupings. Using the 'Agency' example above, our keyword groups contain keywords queries such as 'social media marketing agency' and 'social media marketing services'

The goal here is simple: Expand into as many broad range topics as possible, then tighten up your keyword groups within these topics.

This should all be performed within an excel spreadsheet. When your team has assembled the three data sources into a single spreadsheet, you'll end up with a document that contains 4 - 8 broad range topics and hundreds of tight keyword groupings.

Creating a Content Calendar

You're so close to launching your content marketing strategy! At this point, we have established your content strategy parameters, tangible goals, stakeholders involved & what you are going to write about.

It's now time to create a content calendar to outline the following:

  1. Publishing Frequency
  2. Publishing Dates / Times
  3. Content Types to Publish

There are a number of great content calendar tools that will help your group collobrate across the entire organization. We've taken the time to list a few of our favorites below:

In Review

Over this course of this post, we have covered how to do the following things:

  • Lead with a Goal-Driven Content Strategy
  • Outline Parameters for a Content Marketing Strategy
  • Assign Roles & Responsibilities
  • Create a Master Keyword Playbook
  • Create a Content Calendar

Next week, we'll build on our discussion of content calendars by dissecting & reviewing different types of content formats.

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