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Content marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways of marketing your business and reaching potential new clients. But only if you do it right.

Before you even start with your content creation, you need a plan and the time and team members to implement it.  There’s a lot of work involved in putting together an effective content strategy, and it can feel overwhelming when you first start out, but if you follow the steps below, your content strategy should be highly-effective and bring you the results you need for your business:

1. Clearly identify your target market

There’s no point in creating content if you don’t know who it’s for and why you’re doing it. You may already have this information in your business plan, but if you don’t, now’s the time to get it done, before you waste your time creating content that really doesn’t work for your audience.

2. Where will you find your target audience?

Now you know them better, figure out what platforms your audience uses. If they’re constantly on Facebook and you’re only posting to Twitter, for example, you’re not going to reach them and no matter how good your content strategy is, it won’t work.

3. What are your objectives for your content?

Obviously, any business wants to make more sales, but you might want to a variety of things with your content, including establishing your expertise, building your newsletter, increasing your reach and driving traffic.  Choose what’s most important right now as an overall objective, and then re-evaluate every month to adjust your strategy, if needed. You’ll also want to decide what you want each piece of content to do and ensure that you have a good mix of content goals on your site each month to achieve all of your objectives.

4. Plan your content types

This one again comes down to knowing your audience. People tend to enjoy learning either by listening, reading or doing, and some audiences also tend to enjoy consuming particular types of content.  Basically, if your audience enjoys watching videos above all else, then that’s what you predominantly need to give them, though it is good to have a good mix of different types of content to appeal to different people.

5. Put together your editorial calendar

Now you have all the information you need, don’t just randomly decide each week what you’re going to create. It’s best if you do an editorial calendar for the next few months, so that you have a clear plan to follow and don’t need to spend any time wondering what to write.  Include not only, what you’ll create, but the content types, where and how you’ll share everything, and where you’ll post your content, from your own blog to guest posts on other sites to increase your reach. Why not create your calendar for a full year? Because you’ll want to tweak and adjust your strategy as you go, depending on what’s working for you and what’s really not. And what works now and the goals you’d like to reach may have changed after a couple of months.

Which brings us to the final point…

6. Track and measure what you do

Make the time to check in with your content strategy regularly and find out how it’s going and if it’s really getting you the results you want.  Check your Google Analytics and see which are your most popular topics and types of content, so you can do more of what works. Take a look at where your traffic is coming from and focus your attention where you’re getting the most results.

Ask yourself if your content is meeting your goals, what difference your content strategy has made from when you started, and check if your goals are still the same or whether they need to be adjusted.

Follow these tips and you’ll have a successful content strategy that gets your business where you want it to go.