LONDON: Content marketing is an important part of today's marketing toolkit that can help meet a range of goals, from driving brand awareness through to hitting sales targets, which makes it essential that marketers take time to develop a well thought-out strategy.

In a Warc Best Practice paper, How to plan an effective content marketing strategy, Shafqat Islam, co-founder and chief executive of content marketing platform NewsCred, notes that relatively few B2B marketers, for example, believe they have a handle on their content marketing efforts.

And in the B2C world, consumers have come to expect a supply of regular, good-quality content from brands – when that isn't forthcoming, they tend to look elsewhere or lose trust in a brand.

With that in mind, "whatever the content marketing strategy is, it must be wholehearted," Islam advises.

From a marketers' standpoint, he defines content as "creating or sharing an asset for their customers, something that's helpful and informative, that their audience will find valuable and will facilitate a positive engagement with the consumer".

That's easier said than done in a world where there's always some new shiny trend to try, and audiences' needs are constantly evolving.

But "one thing should always remain consistent", Islam states, and that is "the need to document your strategy": brands that document their content marketing strategy are more effective and efficient, and better able to justify the spend.

Linked to that is the creation of an editorial calendar, something that many marketers let fall to the bottom of their list of priorities, but which Islam regards as indispensable. "Using an editorial calendar enables you to stay organised, save time, and more easily collaborate with teams across your company."

In terms of actual content, marketers should study what's trending on various channels and pay attention to the most clicked-on headlines and buzz words to learn what type of content earns the most engagement.

"Chart the best ideas and narrow them down to only a handful that match the brand's voice the best," Islam recommends. "Next, determine where to share the article, video, or infographic, and kick off the content cycle."

That requires an understanding of the various social channels and ensuring a satisfactory mobile experience, while at the same time taking care not to neglect offline strategy.

Creating audience personas will help execute a content marketing strategy, which will need to be continuously assessed as to its effectiveness.

Finally, marketers also have to try to stay ahead of the curve: mobile is now the leader in search and is the future of marketing, but VR will add a twist to that.

Data sourced from Warc