How Leading Brands are Creating Effective Content Marketing Strategies

At the heart of any successful digital marketing strategy is a plan for using content to reach the audience and move them to action. And while most brands have something that they would loosely call a “content marketing strategy,” very few businesses have effective content strategies. In 2018, this is starting to change.

5 Keys to an Effective Content Strategy

The word effective is subjective, at best, but most would agree that an effective content strategy is one that monetizes readers and turns them into profitable customers. When analyzing successful brands in today’s business climate, it’s clear they understand the following key concepts:

1. Know Who the Audience Is

Behind every effective content strategy is an intimate understanding of who the readers – i.e. the audience – are. In fact, a lack of familiarity with the audience will render all subsequent work useless.

There are plenty of ways to get to know the audience better. Successful brands analyze their website analytics and observe their followers on social media. Using this information, they then create customer personas to guide their content development efforts.

2. Understand the Decision-Making Funnel

The decision-making funnel is a key concept in digital marketing. It’s essentially an inverted pyramid that’s structured, top to bottom, like this: Awareness > Interest > Desire > Action.

The decision-making funnel provides an explanation for how the average customer makes purchased-related choices. Developing content within this context helps brands reach their audience at every stage, eventually turning readers into paying customers.

3. Aim for Diversity

Today’s most effective content marketing strategies also tend to be the most diverse. While most brands have one or two content formats that they prefer, more mediums are always better. And for companies that really want to make a splash in the current digital landscape, visual content is the way to go.

“Communicating does no good if it’s not retained by your audience. Today, it’s easy for information to get lost or ignored if it’s not in a digestible format. Integrating visual content can boost how much your audience absorbs and remembers,” marketer Tom More writes. “Studies show our brains not only process visuals faster, but they retain and transmit much more information when it’s delivered visually.”

Examples of compelling visual content include infographics, interactive content, memes, webinars, live streaming social video, and graphs and charts.

4. Generate Leads

It’s one thing to develop content and serve it to the right audience. It’s another thing to actually turn these readers into leads. To bridge the gap between awareness and action, businesses need lead generation strategies that help them capitalize on the exposure their brand is getting with readers.

Compelling calls-to-action at the end of a blog post obviously have a role, but successful businesses don’t underestimate the value of integrating simple opt-in forms into their content. The ability to build an email marketing list will prove valuable for years to come.

5. Collect and Study Data

Content marketing isn’t something a business does once. In order to remain competitive in today’s fast-paced digital ecosystem, forward-thinking brands have to continually create and share fresh content that engages their audience.

To ensure content is getting better over time, businesses make it a point to collect and study data. Little things like bounce rates, traffic sources, conversion rates, and audience demographics tell them a lot about the effectiveness of their content.

Adding it All Up

The precise execution of each brand’s content strategy will look dramatically different than even their closest competitor’s content marketing plan. The important thing is that leading brands use content to engage their audience and move them from awareness to action. When they focus on this goal, everything else falls into place.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.