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Image of a content calendar with a clock and post copy symbol. Building an effective content strategy blog post

How To Build an Effective Content Marketing Strategy [Content Calendar Template]

Jess Smith

Jun 20, 2022

Content marketing is essential for virtually all businesses, whether B2B or B2C. When it comes to capturing the attention of an audience in our message-saturated environment, content marketing becomes paramount as it can be an effective way to introduce your company to new prospects well before they are ready to buy. 

By offering the right mix of content assets, when the customer is ready to buy, the brand whose content helped shape their decision will be top-of-mind. 


What Is a Content Marketing Strategy?

Your content marketing strategy can also be referred to as a content marketing plan. It's a businesses strategic approach to creating, managing and distributing all content assets, including reporting and documenting success metrics.

A content strategy typically involves a content calendar that will help you execute your content plan, broken down into deliverables on a yearly or quarterly basis. 

Before you sit down to craft your strategy, consider the why carefully: Why are you focusing on creating content in the first place? This will help establish the goals surrounding each piece (for example: are you writing first and foremost for SEO purposes, or perhaps putting on a webinar to promote a product?).  

How To Build Your Content Marketing Strategy

Legos grouped by color on a white tabletop. Tips for building a content marketing strategy

B2B marketers who have a well thought out content strategy will be more successful than those that do not. A strategic approach to content production includes several important steps — from understanding your audience to being clear what point of the funnel a particular piece of content is serving to the promotion timeline.

1. Start with a content audit

If you've already been creating content for some time without a clear content marketing strategy, it's a good idea to conduct a content audit. If you're doing this in-house, work with your content team and marketing plan to create a detailed list of content assets, and remember to include all assets such as email marketing, social media posts, and many more. Take a look at your current engagement statistics and use these as a benchmark once you've put your new content marketing strategy in place.

2. Establish goals and objectives

Your content marketing strategy should not be thought of as stagnant. It's important to evolve alongside the wider business objectives, to ensure you continue to support overall growth. But you need baseline content marketing goals to benchmark against so you can track your progress. As you continue to measure the impact of your content, you can be more effective and proactive when planning communications and campaigns. 

It's also a good idea to have productivity KPIs to keep your content production high. For example, the number of blog posts and webinars that you’ll need to complete on a monthly or quarterly basis.

3. Buyer personas

Buyer personas and consumer data can enrich your understanding of your core customers and stakeholders, but you must start with a clear picture of who your customers are, how those people interact with your organization at each stage of their journey, as well as what motivates them to deepen their relationships with your brand.

A social listening tool can help by monitoring conversations that your target audience is having and how your brand can help as well as understanding where your customers are having that conversation. This data will help you outline what type of content pieces to create and where to publish them.

Person pinning red push pin into a map, marking a specific destination on a journey. Knowing customer personalities and their purchase journey is key to content strategy

4. Map your customer journey

With your personas in place, it’s important that you understand what the decision-making process is like for each of them, putting yourself in the shoes of your prospects and customers. The type of content that you’ll need to create for someone in the awareness phase is very different than the content a prospect about to make a final decision will need. Think about their questions, concerns, and information gaps that you can address on your website, via your blog, in video content, and other places.

Work with your content team and internal stakeholders to create a customer journey map - outlining the journey that customers take as they learn about your company, buy your products, and telling others about them. Knowing this information, you can be far more strategic with how you communicate with them. Be sure to share the map with other teams as well - this helps ensure that sales, marketing, and customer success teams are on the same page—and keeps everyone’s focus on the customer.

5. Publish, manage, monitor

Publishing and promoting content can seem like a big job when you've got several channels to publish on at the same time. Tools like Meltwater's Social Media Publishing platform allow you to take control of your content scheduling and publishing with a social media management tool that's built for marketing and PR professionals. 

Once your content has been published, your job is not done. Now comes the most important part - make sure it gets seen by the most relevant eyes, so you can increase conversions, and measuring the metrics to see how you're pacing against your goals. Within the same Meltwater tool, it provides your social analytics and PR coverage monitoring in one place.

6. Repurpose

Lastly, don't fall into the trap that many companies do of viewing their content as "one and done". Your content doesn't need to have a short shelf life after you've completed the initial publishing and promotion. In fact, it can (and should) live many lives! Keep your article updated, and find ways to reuse the content, such as creating a video version, or atomizing small chunks into short-form content like TikToks or Instagram Reels. You should always be thinking about other ways you can promote content, multiple times, after publishing.

Content Marketing Ideas

Person writing on a clear whiteboard, jotting down ideas.

The struggle and pressure to constantly produce high performing content is a major concern for most businesses. Your content marketing strategy absolutely needs a strong and robust content creation schedule, with enough writers to support it, to help ensure you maintain a continuous stream of high-quality content.

While your defining your content creation strategy you can start using the information you gathered in the previous steps to discuss content ideas with your internal stakeholders and align them to your goals. Here, you can also discuss what types of content will appeal to your audience and what channels they're using. Using a content planner or editorial calendar can help to keep all your content ideas and scheduled content in one place.

How To Write A Content Plan

Content Calendar Template - Free download

A great place to start mapping out your variety of content is in an editorial calendar. These calendars help visualize content gaps and ensure you are covering a broad spectrum of topics and content types.

It can be as simple as a spreadsheet shared within your team, but be honest about your team’s bandwidth and resources. Only a content production schedule designed to optimize both consistency and quality will allow you to successfully connect with customers and prospects and ultimately create successful lead generation. We have designed a free downloadable editable content calendar template to get you started.

Screenshot of Meltwater Content Calendar

Content Writing Tips

In order to maximize the success of your content strategy, here are 5 key considerations that can improve your content performance:

1. Focus on quality first

Companies that focus on quality win out over companies that focus on volume. While, yes, quantity is extremely important for SEO, if you't focusing on quantity only and skimping on quality, then you're not going to get anywhere anyway. High-quality articles will attract traffic and encourage conversions (email subscribes, multiple pages per session, shares, etc) — and these metrics signal to the almighty Google that your article is worth showing higher in search results. It's a win-win.

A high-quality piece of content is also more likely to be shared on social media and will grab the attention of other industry stakeholders. Creating meaningful campaigns, posts or publications can also position your company as active and valuable in the thought leadership space, or as an expert or educator. 

2. Pick a central keyword or phrase 

Think about what terms a potential reader might use to find your content. (Don't rely on your intuition though. Do keyword research using tools like AHREFs or Google’s keyword planner). Establish your primary keyword and three to five variations BEFORE you start writing. Be sure to include your keyword naturally and avoid keyword stuffing. New to writing for SEO? Check out our ultimate guide to writing SEO optimized content.

Person writing in a notebook with orange pen. Writing tips for content marketing success

3. Structure your article

Best practice for long form content writing today is to have a clear hierarchy on the page. Have just one H1, followed by H2s to support your keyword. This helps Google, but also makes the reading experience more pleasant for users.

Start by creating an outline:

  • Who are you writing the content for?
  • Define tone of voice and formality of the content
  • Core thesis
  • Supporting point and evidence
  • Summary/so what?/what to do next
  • This is a great time to seek support from colleagues if you need their input also. Define who and what you need from them.

Also, article length matters. Aim for between 301 and 500 words as a minimum or more if you need to go into a topic in depth. If your article is shorter it hurts your SEO. If it is longer than 1500, you might not have a tight, focused, high-impact idea. Consider breaking a long article into a multi-part series. This can help your SEO strategy by providing great opportunities for internal linking.

4. Add visuals 

Break up your content with visuals such as photos, illustrations, graphs, icons, logos. This is especially important for longer articles so you avoid enormous blocks of text.

Name the image file using the central keyword. If “content calendar” is the keyword, you could change the image name from IMG_20150805.jpg to Content_Calendar.jpg. Make sure the alt-text also contains the keyword to help show search engines relevance.

5. Don't forget linking

Circle of pink paper clips on a blue background. Don't get lazy with linking when writing a blog post

SEO uses links as a signal of authority. Both links out and links in are helpful for telling Google it is a legit piece of content. If your PR team is involved in the promotion, make sure they approach it as a link-building opportunity. If a high-domain site (such as the New York Times) links to your article, that's a great way to help your article's visibility. Be mindful of using good anchor text for your links!

6. Provide metadata that includes your keyword  

Create a title of ~55 characters and a description of ~115 characters. Be sure to use the keyword in your post URL and on all alt-tags on the page. Use a snippet preview tool like Sistrix to help you stay within the optimal character count.

7. Include social media posts 

A good habit to get into is writing your social content at the same time you are writing your blog. While the subject is fresh in your mind, jot down enticing questions or facts that will encourage conversation and help drive traffic to the blog.

Person sitting at a laptop with cup of coffee and a phone displaying a variety of digital apps

Content Promotion Tips

As we mentioned above, once a piece of content is published, the real work has only just begun. The next step is to dig into the "marketing" side and share it and build up readership! Here are some top tips for making sure you attract eyes to the content you worked so hard on.

1. Build a social foundation

Social media plays a critical role in content marketing as one of the quickest and easiest channels for promotion. Content is the fuel that keeps the social media “engine” humming, as people share and re-share content they’ve discovered or that someone else has shared with them. Posting is the easy part, but generating that buzz is where the skill comes in.

Building relationships on social platforms can connect you with other industry influencers who are a huge asset for promoting your brand to new prospects. Establishing relationships on social lays the groundwork for increased viewership on your work. It is very much a "I scratch your back, you scratch mine" culture. Engaging and sharing other people’s content before you have something to share is a key part of building your social foundation.

Social media icons displayed on dice

2. Encourage employee advocacy

Your employees are a great cheerleading source for your content, and can go a long way toward giving it a boost on social media. Use an internal newsletter or messaging channel to make employees aware of the content and encourage them to share it. You can also take this further and develop your own employee brand ambassador program!

3. Align content marketing and advertising efforts

Content marketing and, ideally your content schedule, should be aligned with other facets of your marketing strategy and messaging. You may want to do some specific paid promotions for some of your content via PPC or Facebook ads, in which case you will need to work in tandem with your digital marketing and paid social teams.

Remember that effective content is never about a quick sell; it’s about becoming a trusted source of information, whether that information is filling a niche query or broad need. Instead of positioning content to answer customer needs in the form of products, effective content is positioned to answer customer needs in the form of information and value.

4. Monitor reaction

Pair of antique binoculares on a table. Monitoring the reaction to your content is key for content strategy.

In addition to tracking the numbers of shares, comments, and other engagement metrics, it’s important to see what people are saying about your content. This is where social media monitoring comes in. You can use a tool like Meltwater to monitor brand mentions, sentiment, specific keywords, and industry influencers. Then you can then see which pieces of content are working in terms of performance and which are not. Use your reporting insights to draw actionable insights and improve your content strategy.

5. Engage with people who share and comment

Engagement on social media is not a one way street. The brands that succeed are the ones that also participate in the conversation. In addition to monitoring mentions and shares, engaging with people who responded to your content can be a very powerful way to broaden your reach and connect with potential prospects or industry stakeholders.

Hands commenting and engaging in social media posts via a smartphone and keyboard

Is Your Content Marketing Strategy In Shape?

It's important to always continue refining your content plan.

A simple rule of thumb is this: whatever’s working; do more of it. Whatever’s not working; do less of it. Be flexible and test new things as well. Conversion based on content takes time and focused efforts. Patience, persistence, and a positive outlook yield results. You may not be able to immediately see a conversion, but if you are patient, you will see the impact of your content marketing as the analytics become more accurate and you have trend data to reference.

To find out how you can use media monitoring to support your content marketing strategy fill out the form below!