Content Marketing 101: 10 Steps for Developing Effective Content Marketing Strategies

This is the fourth post in our Content Marketing 101 series. Make sure to subscribe to our blog for more helpful tips for marketers.

Welcome to Part 4 of our Content Marketing series. As we covered in Part 1, Content Marketing is a lot more than just writing copy; it’s a comprehensive process focused on creating content pieces for specific audiences to drive consumer action and achieve business goals. It’s a process that requires a lot of effort behind-the-scenes before any content is ever created.

To give you an idea of what goes into developing a Content Marketing strategy, we’ve summarized the process into an easy-to-follow to do list below. But, unlike most listicle blog posts this to do list comes with no promises that executing the steps will be effortless or quick. Creating effective content isn’t always easy, but when done right, it’s a proven way for your brand to connect with consumers.

To do list – 10 steps you need to complete before launching Content Marketing campaigns

No. 1: Align campaigns with your business goals

At the onset of any marketing initiative, it’s important to make sure campaign objectives align with the overall goals of your organization. Before launching Content Marketing efforts, determine the goals that are most important to your brand and consider the role your marketing team plays to support these goals.

Is your marketing team charged with increasing brand awareness, guiding prospective customers through the buying journey, empowering prospects by providing them the information they need to become customers? Chances are, it’s a combination of these objectives and more. Making a list of your brand’s overall goals and understanding what your team can do to support each one is an essential step to developing content that reaches the right audiences at the right times.

No. 2: Identify your target audience

Reaching the right audiences – people who are most likely to buy your brand’s products and services – requires a deep understanding of those consumers. Building out buyer personas is an effective way to get know these audiences. Buyer personas are semi-fictional profiles of your ideal consumers that outline their needs and wants, media habits and the types of messaging that resonates best with them.


If your brand hasn’t built out buyer personas, this template can help get you started.

No. 3: Map out your customers’ buying journeys

Now it’s time to determine what information your target audiences need at specific times in their path to purchase. By mapping out your personas’ buying journeys, you’ll get a better understanding of how consumers make relevant purchase decisions and what types of content are most effective at each stage.

This step is crucial because buying journeys are constantly changing. The internet has enabled consumers to conduct in-depth research for any buying decision. When people have a question about a purchase, they can just turn to their phones to find the products and services that best fit their needs.

According to Think with Google, mobile searches for “best” have grown by more than 80 percent in the past two years. And, this trend isn’t specific to high consideration purchases. In fact, searches for “best” are growing even faster among low-consideration products.
Example of growing best searches on mobile via Think with Google
The information consumers need varies from person to person, which means these searches are also becoming much more personalized. Think with Google uses shoes for an example. Today’s consumers don’t just search for “best shoes.” They search for the shoes that are best for them.

Example of growing searches for different types of shoes via Think with Google



Here are some resources to help you find out how consumers are searching for your products and services.

  • Google Ads Keyword Planner Tool – find search volume for relevant keywords.
  • Google Trends – discover top search trends for topics related to your brand.
  • Buzzsumo – analyze what content performs best for any topic on social media.
  • Quora – find top questions related to your brand’s products and services.

No. 4: Identify your brand’s story

Guiding consumers through the buying journey requires messages that resonate with target audiences. Content Marketing can help you do this by sharing your brand’s story in a way that focuses on the needs and wants of the customer rather than the features and benefits of your products and services.
3 components of effective storytelling
The best way to keep the resolution focused on your target audience is to figure out your brands Golden Circle – a three-question exercise to help you nail down the “why,” “how” and “what” of your brand.

Golden Circle-Why How What
The key is to focus on your brand’s “why” and “how.” This keeps the story focused on what your products do for the consumer, rather than just what your products do.

No. 5: Set objectives for your Content Marketing campaigns

Remember, Content Marketing is about creating content with a strategic purpose to achieve business goals. Using your overall business goals from the first step, set clearly defined objectives specific to your Content Marketing strategy. This will keep you accountable and help you make optimizations based on performance.


Use the SMART framework to define effective Content Marketing goals:
SMART goals

No. 6: Establish editorial rules

Before creating any content, it’s important to determine your brand’s editorial style, voice and mission. This step makes sure the content your produce:

  • Focuses on the needs and wants of your target audiences.
  • Aligns with your overall business goals.
  • Uses consistent style rules.
  • Is free of spelling errors and poor grammar.

Establishing editorial rules has two main components:

  1. Brand editorial guidelines – the rules that will dictate your content’s style (e.g., AP Style, Chicago Style, etc.), voice (e.g., authoritative, conversational, witty, etc.) and publishing frequency.
  2. Editorial mission statement – a guiding principle for creating future content that encompasses your brand’s story, unique value, business goals and buyer personas.

No. 7: Build your content team

If you decide to implement Content Marketing campaigns in-house, you’ll need to determine your team and assign members responsibilities. It’s likely that team members will take on more than one of these roles, but allowing members to focus on and own specific processes will lead to better content in the long run.
Content Marketing team-roles and responsibilities

As you can see, Content Marketing is a very involved process and there’s a lot of different roles for your team to take on. That’s why a lot of brands choose to turn to outside agency partners to help them implement and manage Content Marketing campaigns.

No. 8: Establish a system for managing content

Whether it’s via Excel Spreadsheets, Google Sheets or task management software, you’ll want to create a system to manage the process of creating, publishing and promoting your content.


Here are three helpful tools you can set up to help you track your content marketing efforts. You can access free templates for each tool using the links below.

No. 9: Come up with a plan to repurpose content

Creating effective content can be very time-consuming. Make sure you get the most value out of every piece of content by setting up a repurposing plan.

Here are just a few ways you can repurpose content:

  • Create blog posts by breaking up long-form content pieces.
  • Write a long-form content piece like an e-book by using a series of related blog posts.
  • Republish content on other websites.

Benefits of repurposing content

No. 10: Determine your plan to track and measure results

Implementing a Content Marketing strategy requires a lot of effort, don’t let all that work go to waste by not monitoring the performance of your content.

Start by determining which Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you want to track. Review your goals from Step 5 and select KPIs that help you determine if your content efforts have been successful at achieving them. For example, let’s say one of your goals was to increase leads coming from your website. Obviously, you’ll want to track the number of users and visits to the site. But, a visit isn’t necessarily a qualified lead. Instead, make sure to set up tracking for site visitors who completed an action indicating they’re interested in buying – like filling a form to download a piece of content or adding an item to a shopping cart without checking out.


There’s a lot of different tools you can use to track performance. Make sure to select the tools that are best for measuring your KPIs.

  • Website analytics – tracks and reports your website traffic.
  • Webmaster tools – monitors your site’s performance in search results.
  • Keyword rankers – tracks the ranking of your site for relevant search terms.
  • Social analytics – gathers traffic and engagement data from your social platforms.
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) software – manages your brand’s relationships with prospects and customers.
  • Marketing automation – tracks leads through your sales pipeline.

Next steps

These 10 steps are just the beginning of the journey, a critical rite of passage to help set you up for success. But once they’re completed, you get to move on to the fun part – creating content.

Having trouble getting started or need help improving your current content efforts? Contact Mindstream Media Group to learn how our Content Marketing solution reaches the right audiences at the right times.

Download our guide to learn everything you need to know to launch effective Content Marketing campaigns.

The Ultimate Guide to Launching Content Marketing Campaigns

Content Marketing 101: Top Benefits of Content Marketing at Each Stage of the Buying Journey

This is the third post in our Content Marketing 101 series outlining the benefits of Content Marketing. 

Marketers talk a lot about the consumer buying journey – i.e., the process customers go through to make a purchase. But despite all the fanfare, it’s still kind of an opaque concept that varies based on the consumer and what they’re buying. Some purchases are so basic it’s a stretch to call them journeys (“buying jaunts” doesn’t have the same ring to it though), while other purchases require exhaustive research and planning (think of buying a candy bar vs. a new car).

So, the buying journey is more of a flexible sequence of touchpoints organized into four stages, rather than a rigid progression. Still, for most purchases, each of these touchpoints represents an opportunity for advertisers to connect with consumers and encourage them to choose their brand.

While Content Marketing is often thought of as a top-of-the-funnel initiative, there are a lot of ways brands can use content to guide consumers to a purchase. For Part 3 of our Content Marketing 101 series, we’ve outlined some ways Content Marketing campaigns can benefit your brand throughout the journey.

Top 10 Benefits of Content Marketing – By Stage in Buying Journey

Top 10 benefits of Content Marketing by stage in buying journey

Awareness Stage

Increases website traffic

One of the goals of Content Marketing is to increase the quality and quantity of a brand’s website content, which increases website traffic for a couple of reasons. First, an ample amount of quality content gives consumers a reason to visit the site. Second, quality content makes it easier for consumers to find your site. The more content you publish, the higher you’ll rank in search engine results. And, higher search engine rankings mean more visitors (and more leads).

Impact of monthly blog posts on inbound leads

Source: HubSpot

But it’s not enough to just create content, your brand needs to create the right content. To rank well in search results, this usually means long-form, high-quality pieces.

The impact of word count on search engine rankingSources: Backlinko and Can I Rank?

That doesn’t mean longer content equals quality content, it’s just that search engines prefer longer pieces. But, quality should always trump quantity. Here’s how Senior Google Webmaster Trend Analyst, John Mueller sums it up:

“In most cases, quality is better than quantity. Our algorithms explicitly try to find and recommend websites that provide content that’s of high quality, unique and compelling to users.”

Grows your social media audience

Growing a social media following requires staying active across platforms. While the ideal post-frequency varies by platform, typically accounts that post more often have more followers, especially on Twitter.

average number of tweets by follower base

Content Marketing gives your brand a steady flow of high-quality original material to share so you can limit the amount of content your re-post from other brands.

Builds up your email list

Content Marketing helps build your brand’s email and prospect lists by producing strategic content pieces designed to promote profitable consumer action like filling out a form to download content or subscribing to your brand’s email newsletter. These actions (i.e., conversions) often require consumers to enter contact information like their email.

Related – [Infographic]: Top 10 Reasons Why Your Brand Needs Content Marketing

Consideration Stage

Increases website engagement

We covered how content increases website traffic, but what about once consumers are on the site? Content Marketing can increase website engagement by:

  1. Providing visitors with high-quality content they’ll want to consume.
  2. Encouraging users to visit related pages or download relevant content.
  3. Prompting users to contact your brand.
Drives social engagement

Building a large social following is good, but building a large social following that’s highly engaged is even better. Content Marketing fuels this engagement with content that resonates with audiences and encourages followers to interact. And the numbers back this up: blog posts with more than 1,500 words receive 57 percent more social shares than blogs with less than 400 words (again, still focus on the quality of that content, not the quantity).

Impact of word count on social media sharesSource: Quick Sprout

Builds a deeper connection with consumers

In the consideration stage, differentiating your brand is essential. To do this, brands need to communicate the unique value they provide to consumers in a way that resonates with target audiences on a deeper level. A great way to do that is with a common Content Marketing tactic – storytelling.

When done right, storytelling strengthens your relationships with your customers and target audiences. For example, Dollar Shave Club built its brand on an industry-disrupting value proposition – an online subscription model that shipped affordable razors directly to customers’ homes – and content that resonated with consumers on a deeper level – by making them laugh. DSC’s first displayed their Content Marketing prowess when they exploded onto the scene in 2012 with the video below, which the company uploaded to YouTube for free.

Over the past few years, the video accumulated more than 25 million (free) views as DSC captured more and more of the razor market, gained millions of subscribers and eventually cashed in for a cool $1 billion when Unilever decided to just buy the startup rather try to compete.

Here’s how DSC’s CMO Adam Weber once explained the company’s marketing success in an interview with eMarketer: “(It’s) because we can tell stories well. We can find a resonant idea, we can deliver it in a relatable voice and connect one-to-one… The way to reach (consumers is) to have that authentic feel, is to be relatable, allow guys to put themselves in your shoes as a brand, as opposed to talking at them or talking above them.”

Decision Stage

Delivers the information that consumers need at the right moments

On average, customers need about 4.5 online interactions with a brand before converting. That’s plenty of opportunities for your brand to deliver effective messaging to help a consumer choose your products and services. In some ways, Content Marketing can be a more effective approach than traditional advertising in this stage. High-quality content can project expertise and inspire trust by focusing on the needs and wants of consumers. Whereas advertising can come off as salesy by focusing on the features and benefits of a brand’s product and services.

Builds better retargeting audiences

This benefit of Content Marketing often flies under the radar. To better explain this, here’s a high-level overview of how retargeting works. When consumers visit a website, advertisers can place a tracking code known as a cookie in the user’s browser to identify them as they visit other sites. So, if this visitor leaves your site without converting, you can show them ads as they surf the web.

A basic retargeting strategy would be to serve a site visitor a generic brand ad after they visit a website. But this strategy ignores the visitor’s intent. A more effective strategy would be to segment users based on the content they consume on your site.

Let’s look at an example. Pretend you’re a financial services brand and a user visits your website to research retirement saving options. They visit a page about IRAs, indicating they’re interested in saving for retirement. By segmenting your retargeting audiences, you can now serve that user customized ad messaging like “Which IRA makes the most sense for you?” And, the more robust your site’s content, the more targeted you can get with this messaging.


Improves the brand-customer relationship

Publishing content on a regular basis helps brands connect with their customers. The more informative, entertaining and relevant that content is, the stronger the bond.

Bitly, the company behind a tool that shortens URLs, is a prime example of a brand who nailed this concept. To help customers understand their product better, the brand created an e-book that featured 37 unique ways real customers had used the tool and more than a dozen interviews with marketers from Bitly’s partner companies.

Increases the chance of future purchases

One of the main goals of Content Marketing is to build strong, personal and long-term relationships between brands and their consumers. This bond helps build customer trust in a brand, which leads to loyalty. And loyalty is huge for brands. Consider these stats:

  • It costs 500 percent more to acquire new customers than it does to keep current ones
  • Repeat buyers spend 33 percent more than new ones
  • Building loyalty with 5 percent more customers would lead to an increased average profit per customer of between 25 and 100 percent

And, that doesn’t even factor in the added benefit of loyal customers recommending your brand to others and raving about you online.

Related – Content Marketing 101: Defining Content Marketing

Getting started with Content Marketing

This is just the start, there are plenty of other benefits to implementing Content Marketing. Realizing the full benefits of Content Marketing isn’t an overnight sensation. It requires a commitment to creating content on a regular basis, the dedication to continuously promote that content and a sound strategy to guide those efforts.
Contact Mindstream Media Group to learn more about implementing or improving Content Marketing efforts for your brand.

Download our guide to learn everything you need to know to launch effective Content Marketing campaigns.

The Ultimate Guide to Launching Content Marketing Campaigns

Content Marketing 101: Defining Content Marketing

The 7 questions every marketer should know the answer to before launching a Content Marketing campaign.

This post is the first in our Content Marketing 101 series. Make sure to subscribe to our blog for regular updates on this series.

Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google and soon-to-be former Executive Chairman of Alphabet, once said: “the internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.”

An “experiment in anarchy” may seem like a brazen way to describe the internet, but Schmidt knows what he’s talking about. He’s spent the better part of the last two decades helping run a company whose mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Consider these unruly numbers: there are more than 3.5 billion internet users around the world. Every minute, on average, these users publish 1,440 blog posts, share 3.3 million pieces of content on Facebook, upload 500 hours of video on YouTube, send 448,000 new tweets on Twitter and post almost 65,972 new photos on Instagram.

Content fatigue - The amount of content shared online in one minute.

That’s a lot of information for Google to organize.

And, for brands looking to reach internet audiences, that’s a lot of noise to compete with. Breaking through the clutter of that anarchy requires messages that really resonate with audiences.

Enter Content Marketing.

Content Marketing is a popular strategy for brands to connect with target audiences and guide those consumers through their buying journeys. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 86 percent of B2C brands use Content Marketing. However, despite Content Marketing’s growing popularity, there’s a lot of misunderstanding around what it is… and what it’s not.

To define Content Marketing and provide some context for how you can leverage this practice for your brand, here are the answers to some commonly asked questions.

No. 1: What is content marketing?

Like a lot of marketing solutions, Content Marketing is constantly evolving making it tough to pin down a set definition. For now, let’s use the standard definition from the Content Marketing Institute:

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Let’s unpack that definition a bit to help us differentiate Content Marketing from content creation. A lot of brands create content and some might even consider what they’re doing to be Content Marketing. But, Content Marketing involves a lot more than writing a few blogs each month and sending out a few tweets. It’s a process that involves developing a cohesive strategy, implementing a process to create and publish content, promoting content across media channels and monitoring the performance of that content.

Another key part of that definition is to “drive profitable customer action.” This is also a significant difference between Content Marketing and content creation. Content Marketing implies that the content is created to help brands achieve business goals.

To inspire profitable consumer actions, brands need to create content that resonates with audiences at a deeper level. Here’s how Rob Candelino, General Manager and Vice President of Marketing at Unilever, summed up how he approaches creating content that resonates with target audiences in an interview with eMarketer:

“The principle rule we follow is that content has to be powerful and emotionally led. It has to strike both the head and the heart in a simple, crisp, succinct way.”

Effective content that connects with target audiences at a deeper level doesn’t just happen. It requires a comprehensive Content Marketing strategy.

No. 2: How can a Content Marketing strategy help develop effective content?

There’s plenty of tools and templates to help you plan and track your Content Marketing efforts. But, even with all that planning, developing that content can be the toughest step. That’s why you need to start your Content Marketing campaigns by understanding your brand’s unique value, business goals and target audiences.

To get to know your target audiences, start by building buyer personas – generalized representations of your ideal customers. Buyer personas help you understand consumers needs and wants, the challenges they face at each stage of the buying journey and the content you need to provide to help guide them through the journey. To help you get this process started, complete our Buyer Persona Template.

Armed with that information, all you need to do is connect the dots by sharing your brand’s story – why you do what you do, how you help your customers and what you offer – in a way that resonates with the right audiences at the right times. To tell your brand’s story effectively, make sure to leverage these foundational storytelling elements:

  1. Characters – Get to know your ideal customers so you can use them as the main characters in your Content Marketing campaigns. It’s important to get to know these audiences and focus stories around their needs, wants and problems.
  2. Conflict – Conflict is essential to any great story. Understand the challenges faced by your ideal customers at each stage of the buying journey and incorporate those conflicts into your Content Marketing campaigns.
  3. Resolution –The resolution should bring everything together by showing how your products and services solve the conflict faced by the characters in your story. It’s also important to give audiences a powerful call to action.

No. 3: Is Content Marketing the same as advertising?

Not exactly. Content Marketing is like advertising in that it’s messaging designed to promote your brand, product or service. But, with Content Marketing, the goal is to do this in a way that’s not overtly trying to sell people. Content Marketing focuses more on addressing consumer needs than promoting product features.
Content Marketing Venn Diagram
A subtler approach can be effective as consumers face an onslaught of ads every day. Some studies say the average number of branded messages consumers see every day could be as high as 10,000 ads. There’s no way anyone can consume 10,000 messages a day and preserve their sanity so audiences have developed a screening process to block out most ads. The messages that stick tend to be the ones that address specific consumers’ needs and wants.

No. 4: Is Content Marketing the same as Inbound Marketing?

Nope, they’re close but they’re two different strategies. In fact, Content Marketing is a type of Inbound Marketing. Think of Inbound Marketing as a superset of marketing strategies that also includes search engine optimization (SEO), web design, email marketing, social media and lead nurturing.

No. 5: What’s the difference between Content Marketing and SEO?

SEO is a set of rules and tactics you can apply to your website to make it easier for search engines to crawl, read and index as many pages as possible from your website while also making your site easy for users to navigate and understand.

Content Marketing and SEO have a lot of common goals like improving your site’s rankings for relevant search terms, improving the quantity and quality of website traffic and increasing the number conversions from your site. The two also work very well together – Content Marketing can support SEO efforts by providing the content necessary to populate webpages, SEO can support Content Marketing by optimizing content to rank better on search engine result pages (SERPs).

No. 6: OK, how about Native Advertising?

These two practices are also similar and brands can even turn their Content Marketing pieces into native ads. Like Content Marketing, Native Advertising content doesn’t normally promote a product or service directly. Usually, they both focus on creating related content that’s informative and entertaining to target audiences. What makes Native Advertising different though, is it follows a “pay to play” model where brands buy space to publish content on external media platforms. The paid promotion allows brands to serve native ads to targeted audience groups on major media sites.

Here’s how it works: brands pay a platform like Outbrain to distribute content pieces across their network of publishers. These content pieces are usually featured below articles that are relevant to the advertising brands’ products and services and can be bought with direct media buys or via programmatic technologies. Depending on the publisher site, the pieces are earmarked with labels like “sponsored stories” to let readers know it’s advertising content.

No. 7: What types of content does Content Marketing include?

There’s no shortage of content types that fall under the umbrella of Content Marketing. Really, content is anything that can be published online or print including:

  • Website content/microsite content
  • Blog/blog posts
  • Social media posts
  • Infographics
  • E-books/white papers/research reports
  • Case studies
  • Email newsletters
  • Online presentations (SlideShare)
  • Webinars
  • Video/streaming video
  • Podcasts
  • Branding guides
  • Documentaries
  • Interactive content
  • Digital and print publications

Wrapping it all up

Content Marketing is an amazing tool for brands looking to rise above the clutter of internet ads and connect with target audiences on a more personal level. It’s important to remember that Content Marketing is a lot more than just writing blogs or website content; it’s a holistic process that encompasses all the steps necessary to produce effective content that inspires your target consumers to take action.

If you’re interested in implementing or improving your brand’s Content Marketing strategy, make sure to subscribe to our blog for regular updates.

Download our guide to learn everything you need to know to launch effective Content Marketing campaigns.

The Ultimate Guide to Launching Content Marketing Campaigns