How to Use AI in Your Content Marketing Strategy (+Free Template)
A content marketing strategy provides an organized, thoughtful approach to creating and publishing content. It ensures each piece of content is tied to specific marketing goals, which can be measured and adjusted accordingly.
As an account manager at a writing agency, I've had the opportunity to work with some amazing marketers and learn the key aspects of planning, developing, and executing a content marketing strategy.
In this article, you'll find step-by-step instructions for creating your own strategy, with examples and links to helpful resources.
Benefits of a Content Marketing Strategy
All too often, strategy falls to the wayside.
Deadlines have to be met, content has to be written, and planning, research, and analysis take a back seat.
In fact, a report by the Content Marketing Institute showed that 57% of marketers didn’t have a documented content strategy in 2020. 21% had no strategy at all.
But to truly succeed in marketing, a coherent content strategy isn't a luxury — it's a necessity.
Without one, there is no clear path to success. It's difficult to know what to prioritize and nearly impossible to track progress and measure results. Mistakes are more common, and the process of creating and delivering content becomes disorganized and inefficient.
On the flipside, having a proper strategy in place allows you to:
- Align content with business objectives. An effective marketing strategy starts by tying content production and distribution to specific business goals: revenue, engagement, and any other key performance indicators (KPIs) that are important for your organization.
- Spend less, more wisely. Better resource allocation is one of the most significant benefits of a solid content marketing strategy. Better planning means fewer mistakes, greater alignment on marketing efforts, and a sharper focus on revenue-generating activities.
- Stay accountable and data-driven. A content marketing strategy offers a framework for testing new approaches and — even more importantly — measuring results. This ensures your content is optimized for maximum performance and allows content marketers to focus on activities that boost leads and conversions, such as creating more content and exploring additional distribution channels.
Types of Content and How to Use Them
A good content strategy takes into account the different types of content available to you and their unique benefits and challenges. These include:
- Blog posts. Writing top-ranking blog posts is one of the most effective ways to generate traffic and attract new customers. They draw visitors to your website, provide value to your audience, and contribute to your authority and brand identity. Focus on quality and regularity for best results.
- eBooks & white papers. These long-form pieces allow you to demonstrate authority and expertise. They can be placed behind a sign-up wall, offering the reader a valuable resource in exchange for their email address and consent to be contacted. Typically, they're more costly to produce than blog posts, so focus on creating a few, high-quality pieces. Then, promote them via your blog and social media profiles.
- Case studies allow you to share your success with the world. They are flexible in format and lend themselves to blog posts, podcasts, and infographics. They are especially effective for B2B marketing, as business customers like to see evidence of effectiveness before making an investment. They require a strong narrative, so start by creating an outline to ensure your thoughts are focused and impactful.
- Videos are engaging and highly shareable. They're one of the most successful forms of content in circulation today. Production costs can be higher than with written content, but you can minimize these by creating a clear budget and outlining a good video or YouTube script.
- Social media posts’ value comes from their inherent shareability, discoverability (thanks to #tags), and the loyalty of existing social media followers. They require a special kind of writing: concise, clear, and full of value. Achieving this isn't always easy. Wordtune includes tools for writing more concisely, adjusting tone, and even generating statistics, analogies, and quotes — all good tools for short, impactful posts.
- Podcasts. 82 million Americans tuned in to podcasts in 2021, and that's expected to grow to 100 million by 2024. Podcasts are an excellent medium for interviews, news, discussions and exposés, and industry updates — all effective for building authority. Plus, podcast listeners tend to be a loyal crowd, which makes the investment well worth it.
- Templates are a great way to offer extra value to your audience. They allow users to quickly create documents, videos, spreadsheets, and more, saving them time and energy. Offering useful templates is a great way to increase your value, authority and expertise in the eyes of your audience. And if they use your templates frequently, they won't soon forget your brand. For example, our How to Write a Great YouTube Script article includes a script template that anybody can use to create an impactful YouTube video.
- Infographics summarize complex information and present it in a visually appealing way. They add visual interest to a piece of writing and make it easier for readers to understand the key points. They are also super shareable. You can try your hand at a tool like Venngage or hire a graphic designer. The latter is more expensive, but well worth it for high-quality graphics.
How to Create a Winning Content Marketing Strategy
1. Identify your marketing goals
By clearly defining your marketing goals, you can ensure that all of your efforts are directed at achieving them. This will help you to be more efficient and effective in your marketing activities and make it easier to measure your success.
Some common marketing goals include:
- Generating high-quality leads
- Boosting brand awareness
- Acquiring new customers
- Increasing website traffic
- Establishing authority
- Increasing engagement
- Increasing revenue
The more content you create, the more goals you can target at a time. But be wary of spreading yourself too thin. It's better to focus on just two or three goals than try to achieve all of them and succeed at none of them.
Agents should discuss these objectives with their clients, and in-house staff with their Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or Chief Executive Officer (CEO), to know which are most important to the company's overall goals.
2. Determine success metrics
For each marketing goal, decide what data needs to be collected and what success will look like.
When collecting data, consider the following customer stages and metrics in the context of your goals:
For each metric, you will need to define a precise objective. This gives marketers a sense of direction and allows you to quantify success and determine which approaches work best. Even if you don't reach your goal, there's value in knowing one strategy led to a 17% increase in traffic while another led to only a 10% increase.
3. Define your audience
Together with your marketing goals, your target audience will determine key aspects of your content, including the topics you cover, the tone and language you use, the types of content you create, and the distribution channels you use (see Point 5 below).
To define your target audience, first think about the problem your product, service or company is trying to solve and who will be most interested in the solution. You should consider factors such as:
- Age / generation (e.g. Millennial, Gen Z)
- Occupation, including industry and position
- Gender identity
- Level of education
You should also look at your existing customer base and try to identify trends. Who are your most loyal customers? Who engages with your content regularly? Who has shared your content in the past? Now — what do all these individuals have in common?
You may need to divide up your findings into different populations (a process known as "segmentation") to find the best fit. There are many apps available to help you process your data and segment your audience.
Market research, including surveys and focus groups, can also help you understand who your target audience is and what they're looking for. There may be aspects of your product or service that appeal to a wide audience or that are particularly important to just one segment.
Finally, use this information to develop "personas" — fictional representations of your target audience that serve as a useful reference of who you’re creating different types of content for.
4. Audit existing content
An audit of your existing content will help you understand what topics, formats, and channels worked best in the past and which require tweaking.
Regular content audits also provide essential data for understanding the effectiveness of new strategies and approaches. Marketing is a science, which means you should be constantly creating and testing hypotheses to continue refining your approach.
- Read our full guide on how to perform a content audit.
5. Decide on channel distribution
There are many different distribution channels at your disposal. Different channels lend themselves to different audiences and types of content, so think carefully about which channels will best help you achieve your objectives and reach your target audience.
For example, business audiences are more likely to trust detailed and authoritative content that appears in professional settings, such as LinkedIn, trade shows and events, and webinars.
On the other hand, consumer audiences prefer content that is engaging, entertaining and emotionally stimulating. Social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, video content, and email marketing are effective channels to leverage.
For a full understanding of which channels work best for which marketing goals and which to use for business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) content, check out our comprehensive guide to content distribution channels.
6. Determine content volume and frequency
While it can be difficult to define an ideal volume and frequency of content for every scenario, there are several key factors to consider:
- Your overall capacity, either as an individual or a team
- Your available marketing budget
- How saturated your market is
- How much content your competitors are producing
That being said, when it comes to content, it's generally accepted that "more is more" — but only so long as the quality remains high.
Never sacrifice quality for quantity. It is far more effective to produce a small amount of content that performs well than a plethora of content that doesn't.
In addition, consider how existing content can be reused and redistributed.
One eBook can become several blog posts and vice versa. A podcast can be broken up into many unique “soundbites” to be shared as social media posts. Videos can be split into short, easily shareable clips, while case studies can be discussed via podcast.
This way, you can maintain a high frequency of output without requiring a large volume of original content.
Now it is time to put your strategy into action. This includes three steps: ideation, planning, and generation.
1. Ideation: relevant content topics.
Start with keyword research. Keyword research is the process of identifying relevant and popular search terms for a given topic. It allows you to identify topics that relate to your product or service in the eyes of your target audience.
Begin by brainstorming a list of keywords that are relevant to your business. Then use keyword research tools, such as Ahrefs and Semrush, to identify related search terms. The same tools will also give you the search volume and level of difficulty to rank for each term.
You can target high-volume, low-competition keywords. These are low-hanging fruit and promise quick results. You can also target high-competition keywords, but make sure your content is superior to what already exists. This will help ensure your articles provide exceptional value to your reader. In addition to building brand loyalty and establishing authority, this will help your articles rank well on Google, too.
Other, equally valuable ways of coming up with ideas for content include brainstorming, taking inspiration from competitors, and asking your existing audience via surveys or inviting them to share their ideas in blog comments.
- See our guide on 9 Simple Ways To Come Up With Blog Topic Ideas.
2. Planning: content calendar and briefs.
A content calendar allows you to plan the distribution of your content well in advance. This ensures consistency in posting, helps avoid last-minute rushes, and facilitates collaboration. It also makes it easier to exercise your content strategy over the long term and measure the success of your campaigns.
To build your content calendar, use a spreadsheet or online tool like Trello or Asana to organize your content ideas, including topic, format, distribution channel, and publication date.
Consider seasonal trends and events, audience expectations, and overall volume.
Add columns for responsible parties (writers, editors, designers, etc.) and status (e.g. Queued, In Progress, On Hold, Completed), and assign responsibilities accordingly.
Remember that larger pieces of content, such as long-form blogs, white papers, and podcasts, can be broken up into multiple smaller ones and promoted for weeks after publication.
You will also need to create a brief or set of instructions for each piece. This is where you will explain what the piece should cover and, importantly, how it relates to your overall strategy and one or more of your marketing goals.
- Read our full guide on How to Write the Perfect Content Brief for the best outcomes.
3. Generating content: in-house, via an agency, or with freelancers.
The most important factors here are quality and alignment with marketing goals.
The latter can be achieved with a comprehensive brief, whether you’re creating content in-house or outsourcing it.
If you’re generating written content in-house, you can ensure excellent quality by using an intelligent writing aid like Wordtune. Wordtune offers tools for adapting your language and tone and creating clear, concise content that will connect with your audience. It’s especially useful for social media posts, where tone and brevity are essential. Plus, if you get stuck, you can use Wordtune Spices to add relevant, engaging elements to your articles.
Measure and adjust
Your strategy is in place, you've created and published content, and now you are tracking metrics.
As mentioned above, successful marketing is as much a science as it is an art. It requires careful measurements and thoughtful interpretation.
Measure the key metrics you identified as being most valuable for your marketing aims, compare your outcomes to your goals, and then adjust your strategy as needed. Failing to meet your goals is rarely catastrophic, but failing to learn from the experience will be.
A good content marketing strategy is always being refined, adjusted, and corrected based on new data, new trends, and a better understanding of your target audience and their needs.
A well-structured content marketing strategy is essential for success in digital marketing.
It aligns content production and distribution with business objectives, enables better resource allocation, and provides a framework for measuring results and adjusting your approach accordingly.
By utilizing various types of content such as blog posts, eBooks, case studies, videos, social media posts, podcasts, and templates, marketers can generate traffic, attract new customers, and build authority in their field.
Feel free to use this helpful template to organize your marketing goals, audience personas, types and volume of content, and measures of success.
This article was co-written with Wordtune. Wordtune didn’t write the whole piece. Instead, it contributed ideas, suggested rephrasing alternatives, maintained consistency in tone, and of course - made the process much more fun for the writer.