How to Build a Content Marketing Strategy You'll Actually Use (Free Template)

We can show you how to organize all your marketing in one place by the end of today (probably right now) đź‘‹

This is How To Build A Content Marketing Strategy You’ll Actually Use (Free Template) 71

By

Headline Analyzer

The free blog post headline analyzer will score your overall headline quality and rate its ability to result in social shares, increased traffic, and SEO value.

Test every headline before you publish. Try the free Headline Analyzer »

How to Build a Content Marketing Strategy You'll Actually Use

Why do content marketing strategies fail?

Often, it’s because they’re too rigid.

After all, it’s impossible to know in January what your organization’s situation will look like in June.

So, your team needs to be agile.

And your strategy needs to be adaptable.

In this post, we’ll cover exactly how to create a content marketing strategy that will:

  • Keep your team focused and organized, so you can plan your work, then work your plan.
  • Ensure your content is aligned with real goals that’ll make an actual impact on your business.
  • Stay flexible and adjust according to what’s working (and what isn’t).

Plus, we’ll touch on how CoSchedule makes it easy to plan and execute your entire content marketing strategy on one interactive calendar.

Start With Your Free Content Marketing Strategy Template

Best of all, we won’t just tell you what to do.

We’ll actually show you how to document your content marketing strategy.

And we’ll even give the template you’ll need to get it done completely free!

Download it quick below, and then we’ll move onto planning your strategy.

Get Your Free Content Marketing Strategy Template

Get Your Free Content Marketing Strategy Template

Tired of the marketing mess?

Get Rid Of Makeshift Marketing With CoSchedule

Awesome news! You're invited to a 1-on-1 marketing demo of CoSchedule! In 30 mins or less, you can see how to:

  • End the frustration of missed deadlines.
  • Get total visibility into ALL of your marketing in one place.
  • Save 20 hrs this week alone (and every week after).

If you've ever kicked the tires on CoSchedule, now's the time to see what it's really like.

Tired of the marketing mess?


Enter your full name


Use your work
email address


Enter your company
name


Enter your website URL

Tell us a little about yourself…







By signing up, you agree to receive email updates from CoSchedule and you can opt out at any time.








Success! Your download should start shortly.

Clean up the chaos with your CoSchedule editorial calendar!

Get Rid Of Makeshift Marketing With CoSchedule

With CoSchedule, you'll:

  • Save time with blogging, social, and email (think HOURS every week)
  • Schedule your social posts in batches (and increase your posting frequency) super easily
  • Get your sh*t together (and hold yourself accountable to publishing like the boss you are!)

Now’s the perfect time to start your 14-day free trial to see for yourself!


Enter your full name & create
an account in 3 min or less!


Use your work
email address


Password must be
8 characters long.


Enter your company
name.


Enter your website URL.

Tell us a little about yourself...







Choose the right plan for you:

Essential

For bloggers
and solopreneurs

Starting At

$40/mo

1 User

Growth

For start-ups
and agencies

Starting At

$60/mo

3 Users

Professional

For professional
marketers

Starting At

$300/mo

5 Users

Enterprise

For established
marketing teams

Starting At

$1,200/mo

10 Users

Gain control over your entire marketing process with CoSchedule

Talk To An Expert

By signing up for CoSchedule, you agree to our terms of service, end user agreement and privacy policy.












Want to use Click to Tweet on your blog?


Back to the Top

What is Content Marketing Strategy

A content marketing strategy is:

“An in-depth marketing plan that highlights the topics, processes, and standards that each piece of content a marketing team creates must meet.”

Want to use Click to Tweet on your blog?

Back to the Top

Why Should My Business Create a Content Marketing Strategy?

Creating a content marketing strategy is vital to the success of your overall content marketing.

Why?

Because it gives your content team the direction they need to create remarkable content, measure your success (and failures) and stick to the plan you’ve designed.

Still don’t believe a documented strategy works?

According to our own data, marketers who document their strategy are 538% more likely to report success.

Want to use Click to Tweet on your blog?

And that’s just the beginning.

Check out this infographic for more statistics and data to help convince you to add content marketing to your overall marketing strategy:

15 Important Content Marketing Facts and Stats

Sources: 1-2. https://coschedule.com/marketing-statistics 3-4. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/blogging-frequency-benchmarks 5-9. https://coschedule.com/marketing-statistics 10-12. http://www.oracle.com/webfolder/mediaeloqua/documents/Content+Marketing+Kapost+Eloqua+ebook.pdf 13-14. http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2017/10/know-like-trust-content/ 15.  https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics

Some of the statistics and data from the infographic above can help you begin to fill in the content marketing strategy template that you downloaded earlier.

Back to the Top

Which Content Marketing Tools Do I Need?

The fact of the matter is, content marketing can be a bear to handle. Using the right tools can help your team stay on track and organized.

The question is, which tools does your team need?

Content Management System

A content management system is a must for managing and publishing content. WordPress is one of the most popular options out there, especially for creating company blogs. However, here are some other options you may consider:

  • ExpressionEngine. Great for managing content on small websites.
  • Drupal. Another option similar to WordPress, but with a less blogging-heavy focus.
  • Sitecore. A powerful feature-rich enterprise solution.

Analytics Platform

Analytics platforms make it easy to gather data and measure performance for your content and social media marketing efforts.

Google Analytics is one obvious option here. However, there are tons more out there you might want to consider, too. They include:

Content Marketing Editorial Calendar

Calendars are essential for planning ahead, managing deadlines, and giving your team full visibility on all the content you're publishing. We recommend CoSchedule (as you may have guessed) as the top choice for a marketing calendar solution. Here's a quick look at what we're all about:

Social Media Scheduling Tool

Social media is an important part of any content marketing strategy. That's both for promoting content and creating awesome native social content. CoSchedule makes it easy to create and schedule social media posts for each of the top networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+). Plus, here are some other cool things you might not know about:

  • With ReQueue, you can reshare your best posts automatically.
  • And with Best Time Scheduling, you can make sure every post publishes at the ideal time, too.
  • Plus, with our WordPress + social integrations, you can create and share content all in one place.

Every time we create a piece of content, we use each of the features above to spread it to our audience (and beyond).

SEO Tools

To get your content found in organic search and measure its performance, you'll need a solid set of SEO tools. Here's what we use at CoSchedule:

  • Ahrefs. This platform is awesome for keyword research, link analysis, rank tracking, site auditing, and more.
  • Moz. This platform is similar to Ahrefs and offers powerful functionality.
  • Google Keyword Planner. It's more of a PPC tool, but still useful for keyword research in a pinch.
  • Google Search Console: This free tool is vital for monitoring the health of your website.

Marketing Project Management Tools

Keeping a content marketing team in line can feel like herding cats. That's where project management tools come into play. Tools like Wrike and Asana are popular options. Here at CoSchedule, we use our own product and leverage features like:

  • Task Templates (which are reusable project checklists).
  • Team Performance Reports (which measure team productivity).
  • Discussions (built-in comment threads right inside our marketing calendar) to make communication and project management super easy.

Overall, what separates CoSchedule is that it's built specifically for marketing teams. That's why we use it ourselves (and the results speak for themselves).

Once you have your tools selected, record them in your template:

Content Marketing Toolbox: Strategy Slide

Want to use Click to Tweet on your blog?


Back to the Top

Ten Steps to Building Your Content Marketing Strategy

The next ten steps are going to walk you through how to fill in the template you downloaded earlier and create your content marketing strategy.


Back to the Top

Step One: Assemble Your Content Marketing Team

The first step in your content marketing strategy process is to document the team that will be working on the content from start to finish.

Each team may look a little different, but some familiar roles are:

Your Content Marketing Team and Their Roles

Each member of your content team has a vital role to play. Remember that the role a person plays on a content marketing team may not necessarily match up to their title.

Record your team members, their role and their responsibilities in your template:

Content Marketing Team Strategy Slide


Back to the Top

Step Two: Establish Your Mission Statement

The first part of the template that you need to fill out is the mission statement of your company.

Your mission statement should be the promise that your organization wants to fulfill for your audience.

Here’s a template to help you get started:

The mission of [Insert Organization Name] is to provide our customers with [service one] and [service two] through [action one], [action two] and [action three].

Mission Statement: Strategy Slide

Want to use Click to Tweet on your blog?

Back to the Top

Step Three: Determine Your Content Marketing Goals

The next section of your content marketing strategy involves using your business objectives to creating content marketing goals for your team.

Your business objectives are the overarching goals that impact your business. Your content marketing goals should help your business achieve those objectives.

Some example business objectives are:

  • We want to sell more season passes to college-aged people.
  • We want to be the number one vacuum for households with two or more pets.
  • We want 70% of our audience to be 25-34-year-olds.

Your business objectives probably weren’t set by your content marketing strategists.

They were most likely set by higher-ups in your organization. Which means you are going to need to talk to someone to obtain your business objectives.

Once you have them, record them in your template:

Business Objectives: Strategy Slide

The next part of your content marketing goals process is to use your business objectives to set the goals for your content marketers.

Each one of your content marketing goals should be S.M.A.R.T. This acronym means:

  • Specific: Describe exactly what you want your team to accomplish.
  • Measurable: Have a numerical amount attached to your goal.
  • Attainable: Can your team reach this goal in the set amount of time or is it too lofty?
  • Relevant: Does this goal matter to the success of your team? Will this help prove what you’re doing is working?
  • Timely: You goal should always have a deadline.

What Are SMART Goals?

When you’re setting up your SMART goals, try something like:

By [Month, Day, Year] the content marketing team at [organization] will reach [number] [metric] every [time frame].

In practice it would look something like this:

By January 31st, 2018 the content marketing team at Reading Nook Bookstore will have gained 250 new blog subscribers.

Each one of the goals you set should relate back to helping your business achieve its overall objective.

Work with your team to create your goals and record them in your template:

Content Marketing Goals: Strategy Slide


Back to the Top

Step Four: Audience Research and Persona Development

Who are you trying to reach?

Your content is only as good as the leads and audience it attracts. You can draw thousands of views, but if only five of them are the right people who would use your product or services, it’s a waste of your team’s time.

Identifying who your content should be targeting will help your strategists to determine what types of topics, ideas, and keywords you should cover.

What characteristics should you identify about your audience?

  • Demographics: Age, gender, ethnicity, income, location, job title, etc.
  • Psychographics: Hobbies, interests, beliefs, habits and more.
  • Challenges They Face: What are they dealing with that would cause them to begin to search for your product or service?
  • Pain Points: What in their life is causing a disruption or what problem does your product solve?
  • Where Are They Getting Their Information: If your audience is searching for a solution to their problems where are they turning to search for information?
  • What Type of Content Do They Prefer: What content format does your audience prefer to get the information they are looking for from?
  • How Can We Help: How can the content you create help give your target audience the information they need?

In your template, you’ll have two audience profiles to fill out. The first is for your primary audience. These are the people that are most likely to buy your product or use your services. They should be the primary focus of all the content you create.

Your secondary audience is made up of people who are close to being a part of your primary audience but didn’t make the cut. These people need more convincing from your content which means your team will need to be more strategic in what they create.

There are two ways you can find the details about the persona of your audience. If you have already published content you can go to your Google Analytics account and find the demographics of your audience.

Click Audience > Demographics > Overview:

Audience Overview in Google Analytics

There you’ll be able to see the age and gender breakdown of your audience. You can also explore interests, geographic location and more if you continue to scroll through the pages.

If you haven’t published any content yet accessing Google Analytics audience data may become more difficult. To gather this data try sending a survey to your audience using Survey Monkey or Google Forms.

Record audience data in your template:

Primary Audience: Strategy Slide


Back to the Top

Step Five: Determine Your Content Types

The next step in your process is determining what types of content you will create for your audience.

Content marketing isn’t just writing blog posts.

Your team has a variety of options to choose from, including:

Choose the content types that are best to reach your audience.

For example, if your target audience uses social media, choose channels you they use. If they like reading, maybe ebooks would be a good idea. Use your audience analysis and survey data to align content types with their needs and interests.

Record the content types your team will create in your strategy template:

Content Types: Strategy Slide


Back to the Top

Step Six: Choose Your Promotion Channels

You can create fantastic content, but it’s only as good as the number of eyeballs that see it. That’s why you need to choose the right promotion channels to bring those eyeballs in.

Here are some ideas to start with:

  • Organic Search:Organic search revolves around creating content that ranks in the first top ten organic results in a Google search. This content is keyword heavy and focuses on a series of keywords and LSI terms that your audience is searching for.
  • Email Newsletters: Email is a durable promotional option if you are publishing multiple pieces of content. You can segment and feed your audience certain content to help increase the chance of them converting.
  • Social Media: This may include both organic and paid strategies.
  • Third Party Distribution: Another option for your team is to use third-party distributors to post your content. This can encompass a wide variety of promotional tactics including reaching out to sources to add your content to email newsletters or use sites that curate and publish content from multiple sources.

Record your promotion channels in your strategy template:

Promotional Channels: Strategy Slide


Back to the Top

Step Seven: Writing and Designing Your Content

The next step in your process is to determine your content core and design execution process.

Identifying Your Voice and Tone

Now you need to outline your voice and tone.

Your brand voice is an extension of the personality of your brand. Your tone, on the other hand, is how you say things. Your tone will continuously shift while your voice will stay consistent.

To outline your voice in your template try picking two to three adjectives that describe your brand personality. Here’s a list to help you get started:

Personality Adjectives

Once you have your adjectives figured out record your voice in your template:

Your tone should be the general idea of how you want to say things. Remember this will change depending on the situation.

There is also space in your template to record examples of what your voice and tone should look like.

Voice and Tone: Strategy Slide

Building a Messaging Matrix

Next, build your messaging matrix.

Your messaging matrix should define your core brand messages.

In short, it should answer the question, "What message about our brand should our content communicate to our audience?"

This should include a main message and several secondary points.

Record your messaging matrix in your strategy template:

Message Matrix: Strategy Slide

Establish Your Content Core

The next step is to develop your content core.

Your content core encompasses the topics that are most closely related to your product.

For example, let’s say you sell construction equipment. Some topics you might consider part of your content core could include:

  • Machine maintenance.
  • How to do the jobs your equipment is built to tackle.
  • Construction industry news.
  • Useful tips for construction workers.

Work with your content strategists to develop your content core and record it in your template. Start by identifying broad topical pillars, then slot examples of subtopics underneath them.

Content Core: Strategy Slide

Developing Design Standards

Next is developing your design standards. These are guidelines to help your designers create a consistent brand look throughout all of your content.

It should include things like:

  • Fonts to use.
  • Color choices.
  • Proper logo placement.

Collaborate with your designers to determine some basic design standards your entire content marketing team should know about. This doesn't need to be comprehensive, by any means. Just include the things that even non-designers should know.

Design Standards: Strategy Slide

There is also space for you to illustrate branding do’s and don’ts which can come in handy when you’re onboarding a new designer:

Branding Design Examples: Strategy Slide


Back to the Top

Step Eight: Define Your Content Creation Process

You have your messaging and brand standards ready, and your designers are prepared to give the final touches to your content. The next step in your content marketing strategy is to define how your team will create your content.

First design the content creation process for your writers. This should be a series of steps that need to be taken before the content is ready to move on to editors and designers.

This checklist should include the writers, editors, SEO strategists, and blog managers that are on your team. Each step in the process should be written in chronological order. An example content creation process could look like:

  • Come up with a topic.
  • Choose to publish date
  • Research keywords and LSI terms.
  • Create outline
  • Approve outline
  • Write draft
  • Revise draft
  • Send to editor

Each one of these tasks should also have the number of days before it needs to be completed. For example, if it takes your team two weeks to complete this list you need to start your first task two weeks before the content is due to an editor.

As you figure out your content creation process record it in your template:

Content Creation Process: Strategy Slide

Your strategy also needs an editorial content process.

This will involve editors, designers, your promotions team and your content analyst.

An example editorial process would look something like this:

  • Edit content
  • Send back to writer for revisions
  • Send content to designers
  • Design content
  • Approve design
  • Set content to promotions team
  • Set promotion
  • Approve promotion
  • Analyze results

Record your process in the template:

Editorial Planning Process: Strategy Slide

Next, set your publishing schedule. Each content type that your team creates needs to be on a particular schedule.

For example, if your content team creates blog posts, ebooks, and infographics, you would need to decide how often you want to publish those content types.

Your schedule could look something like:

  • Three blog posts per week.
  • Two infographics per week.
  • One ebook per quarter.

Pull the content types that your team will create and assign them a publishing frequency in your template:

Publishing Schedule: Strategy Slide

The last part of your content creation process is developing your marketing calendar. These calendars will help keep your writers on track by letting them plan all your content.

Each piece of content you want to publish should be on your calendar and include:

  • The date it publishes.
  • The topic it covers.
  • The core content pillar it falls under.
  • The content format you’ll create.
  • The channels you’ll use to distribute your content.

You can record your content in your content marketing strategy:

Marketing Calendar: Strategy Slide


Back to the Top

Step Nine: Create Your Content Promotion Strategy

By this point, your team will have created an amazing piece of content. Now you need to promote it.

The first step is to determine what tactics you will use to promote your content and how often you’ll use each tactic. You can pull the promotion tactics that you developed earlier in the strategy.

Using Social Media

If you decide to use social media as your promotional tactic of choice there are a few steps that you need to take.

The first is deciding what channels will be the best for your company. To do this you need to find where your target audience is the most active.

For example, if you’re targeting 18-30 year olds Instagram and Snapchat may be a good option for promoting your content. However if your target audience is 35-50 year olds Facebook may be a better option.

To determine which channel is attracting your target audience use the in app social media analytics for each channel.

Once you’ve found your audience and chosen your channels you need to create a promotion schedule.

This schedule should be applied for every content piece that you post to the channel. An example schedule could be:

Day of publish:

  • 1 Facebook post
  • 3 Twitter posts
  • 1 LinkedIn message
  • 1 Pin on Pinterest

Day after publish:

  • 2 Twitter posts
  • 1 Facebook message

Week after publish

  • 1 LinkedIn message
  • 1 Pinterest Pin
  • 2 Twitter Messages

Another option for your social media promotion is to use paid advertising. These ads help ensure your content gets seen and setting them up is incredibly easy.

Check out this video from Gavin Bell to see just how easy it is to get an ad up and running:

Using Email

Email is another strong promotion tool especially if you are publishing a lot of content.

If your content team decides that email would be your best bet to promote your work you need to decide:

  • How many emails you’re going to send for each piece of content.
  • When you’re going to send your emails.

See what 10 studies say about the best time to send email.

Using 3rd Party Distributors

Another option for your content team to use to promote their content is 3rd party distributors.

This could be as simple as sending your content to syndication sites and seeing if they’ll republish it to their own websites.

Another option is to tag authors, strategists and influencers that you mention in your content to see if they’ll share it.

You can also work with other companies to place your content in their email newsletters.

Using Organic Search

Lastly, we'll talk about SEO.

At the absolute most basic level, this means making sure that your content is focused on topics your audience searches for, and makes smart use of keywords.

Use this checklist to make sure every piece you publish is properly optimized:

On-Page SEO Checklist

As you choose your different promotion tactics, brainstorm with your team to decide how often you want to use each tactic and record it in your template:

Promotional Tactics: Strategy Slide

Next, you need to decide what types of promotional channels you want to publish your content on and how often you’re going to do it.

Each channel that you decide to publish on to needs to be recorded in your template along with the objectives, target audience, call to action and frequency that you’re going to use each channel.

Promotional Schedule: Strategy Slide

That seems like a lot to manage right? Tools like CoSchedule can help.

Our marketing calendar is packed full of tools to help your entire content marketing team, plan, track and organize your promotions with:

  • Social Campaigns to organize and create your social posts in advance.
  • ReQueue to re-promote your best content automatically.
  • Best Time Scheduling allows you to automatically send your social media posts at the optimum time to gain the most exposure.


Back to the Top

Step Ten: Make a Plan to Measure Your Results

You’ve set your goals, and your content is out for the world to see. Now you need to measure your results and see if they are bringing your team the success you need.

The first step in figuring out your measurement process is to create your measurement framework. This gives your content idea a rough estimate of:

  • What you’ll be reporting on.
  • Metrics.
  • Progress towards goals.
  • How often you’ll create your reports.
  • What they should look like.

Once you have your framework created record it in your template:

Measurement Framework: Strategy Slide

Next, you’ll need to create KPIs that will help show if your team is on track to reaching your goals. KPI’s are specific metrics that are the closest to the goals you set earlier.

Check out this video for more on how to develop your own KPI’s:

Once you’ve matched your KPIs and goals together record them in your template:

KPI: Strategy Slide

After you’ve figured out your KPIs, you can move on to metrics. This can get a bit confusing because KPIs are metrics but not all metrics are KPIs.

The additional metrics that your team chooses to track should contain the data points you need to prove that your strategy is working.

Those additional metrics should be recorded in your template:

Metrics: Strategy Slide

Another piece of reporting documentation that your content team will need is a content scorecard.

Content scorecards allow your team to establish a baseline of performance for every single piece of content that you create.

For example for every blog post that we write we want to get 2,500 views per post.  You would repeat this process for every content type that you create.

Record each of those baselines in your template:

Content Scorecard: Strategy Slide

The very last part of your strategy should contain contact information for anyone who may have questions about the strategy that you’ve created.

This can be your content marketing manager or another strategist.

Key Contacts: Strategy Slide

Books We Recommend Reading

Whew! This is a long post, and we've just scratched the surface on all there is to know. For further reading, we recommend the following books:

By the time you get through this list, you'll be a true expert.

Now Create Your Best Content Marketing Strategy

Now that you have your strategy in place you’re ready to move on to the execution phase of your content strategy.

See how CoSchedule can help you plan and execute your content by starting a two week trial or signing up for a demo.

Does your marketing team have a unique content strategy? Share it with us in the comments.

Want to use Click to Tweet on your blog?

Don't forget your FREE Free Content Marketing Strategy Template

Download Now

Success! Your download should start shortly.

"CoSchedule has allowed us to plan and stay ahead 8-12 weeks. It's the best thing we've done to get ahead of ourselves; especially with so many last minute projects popping up."

Lee Hersh, Founder of Fit Foodie Finds
Fit Foodie Finds Logo