March 10, 2024

3 Steps to Create a Winning Content Marketing Strategy

by marc

Let’s cut straight to the chase: mastering content marketing strategy is like unlocking a new level in your business game. 

In this article, we’ll walk through the 3 steps to create a content strategy that not only grabs the attention of your audience, but that persuades them, turning passive viewers into paying customers.

Embarking on this adventure, we’ll reshape your content marketing strategy from the ground up. Starting with impactful case studies, climbing up the funnel with solution-aware content, and finally shining a light on those problem-aware pieces that pull your audience in. Plus, we don’t leave you hanging – measuring results gets its spotlight too because knowing what works lets you hit repeat on success.

Ready for the ride?

How not to feel overwhelmed with content marketing

Creating content can sometimes feel like trying to drink water from a fire hose. Have you ever felt the pressure of cramping out an ever-increasing number of blog posts and not even rank in those search results?

But it doesn’t have to be that way. In particular if you don’t have a content team!

By flipping the script and starting first by creating content that “really” moves the needle, you give yourself room to breathe. The key here is focus! 

Your content goals should be to start with what your audience is ready to act on – your product or service’s benefits.  In other words, creating content that shines light on your product or services. This content creation approach makes sure every piece you create has a clear purpose: driving action and conversion.

Then, and only then, progress by crafting solution oriented content targeting a wider audience. And, after laying this groundwork you can move onto broadening your reach, by creating content at the awareness stage, for an audience that might not even know yet problems they might have.

This content workflow works wonders in reducing overwhelm because it keeps your efforts targeted and efficient, letting each piece of content serve a specific step in the customer journey without excess noise.

Let’s dig deeper in how to build your content marketing strategy around this principle.


Rethinking your content strategy

Your digital existence, and your visibility in search engines, rely on content!  Your content serves as an essential gateway between you and your future customers. Content marketing is also called inbound marketing for this reason. 

As we’ve seen, deciding on what content to write and how to make it compelling enough to grab attention in a world where everyone’s fighting for eyeballs can feel overwhelming. 

Your content workflow shouldn’t merely be about word output; it’s about helping the reader by creating valuable content. Or in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger « Be useful »

It all start at the bottom… of the funnel!

Starting at the bottom of the funnel may sound counter-intuitive. Yet, this is the secret to ensure every piece of content you create has a clear purpose. It focuses your efforts on what truly moves the needle and aligns your content marketing strategy with your business goals!

Your sales pages are where the readers should end because that’s where the conversion happens. Make a quick content audit, and if you don’t have any web pages where you ask your website visitors to take action, start your content marketing effort by creating those 😉 

Then begin by crafting pieces of content that directly support those sales or conversions. Case studies are excellent content type to drive conversion because they focus on the result your customers are getting with your products or services.

A well-crafted case study or use case does wonders for credibility. According to Content Marketing Institute (CMI), they’re more persuasive because they provide tangible proof of value rather than mere promises.

The persuasive power of success tales cannot be overstated. Their strength lies in showcasing real life successes, which simplifies the buying process for prospects who can see themselves attaining comparable results.

How to create compelling Case Studies?

Case studies aren’t just about slapping some numbers on a page and calling it a day. 

Crafting compelling case studies involves a structured approach that blends narrative depth with data-driven insights. Here’s a detailed five-step process to guide you through content production:

  1. Identify and understand your client's challenge: Begin by delving deep into the challenges your client faced before encountering your solution. This requires not just an understanding of their problem and challenges but also empathy for the impact it had on their business or life. Use your buyer personas to get into the mindset of your target audience, ensuring that you're addressing concerns relatable to potential customers. You can also dive deep into understanding their challenges through forums like Reddit or Quora and use these insights to mirror their experiences back at them.
  2. Showcase the solution in action: Transition smoothly from the problem phase to how your product or service provided a solution. It’s crucial not only to describe what was done but how it was implemented for this client's specific needs, emphasizing customization and attention-to-detail in providing solutions.
  3. Quantify success through tangible results: The most persuasive element of any case study is demonstrating success through data and facts—be it revenue growth, time saved, increased efficiency, or customer satisfaction rates. Specify these achievements with clear metrics and timelines (e.g. “a 37% increase in sales within six months”), which supports your claims and underscore real-world effectiveness.
  4. Incorporate testimonials for authenticity: Enhance credibility by including direct quotes from clients about their experience working with you and the benefits they've realized as a result of using your product/service. Authentic testimonials can resonate deeply with prospective clients by offering proof points straight from those who have experienced positive change firsthand.
  5. Underline key takeaways & lessons learned: Conclude each case study by highlighting strategic takeaways that readers – particularly decision-makers considering similar transformations – can glean from this story without overtly selling them anything. Focus on providing valuable lessons learned during the project journey so others may benefit too.

Also remember the diversity of content types. This not only includes traditional written blog articles but also extends to engaging video case studies or other innovative formats such as podcasts, webinars, and infographics that cater to different audience preferences and learning styles. By covering various content formats and multiple channels, you ensure a broader reach and deeper engagement with your material.

Check out ThriveThemes to see how they use success stories to sell show case real life customers by leverage dedicated landing pages and YouTube videos.

By following these steps meticulously tailored towards showcasing tangible outcomes intertwined with human-centric narratives, you'll craft engaging, captivating, and ultimately quality content for your target audience.


That's it! By starting your content strategy at the bottom of the funnel, you've set yourself up for successful content marketing! Having a content plan or an editorial calendar that focuses first on this type of content will not only ensure you keep your sanity, but also that you publish great content aligned with your business goals.

Now what?

Obviously, your content marketing efforts shouldn't stop there. 

Move up the funnel and increase brand awareness

The number of phases or steps in a conversion funnel can vary. But it's common practice to split the funnel in 3 stages from Awareness to Evaluation and Conversion.

Moving up the funnel from the conversion to the evaluation and awareness phase means addressing a larger audience to drive more traffic to your website and ultimately to your sales or conversion pages.

The difference between the two stages at the top and the middle of the funnel is whether the visitor is aware of a problem or not

marketing funnel on
  • People in the Evaluation phase are actively seeking solutions to their problem. They have identified pain points and are looking for answers. 
  • On the other hand, at the Awareness stage, people aren't yet conscious of a problem, or they haven't been able to put words on what is itching.

Knowing this difference in attitude is extremely important when brainstorming content ideas that will resonate with your audience at the right stage in their conversion journey. The goal of your content workflow should be to cover both stages.

In a nutshell, the difference lies in what we call problem-aware or solution-aware content. 

Solution-Aware Content

The goal with this type of content is to educate readers that are actively seeking solutions by helping them make an educated decision. It's more detailed content that covers various aspects of your product or services addressing what sets your offering apart from your competition without getting lost in jargon soup. It lets you demonstrate an understanding of their specific challenges while aligning your offerings as tailor-made solutions. Think of it like matching puzzle pieces – when customers see how well your product fits into their world, convincing them becomes much easier.

Here, clarity and detail are Queen. 

Showcase features of your solution directly linked to overcoming their obstacles and highlight any unique selling propositions (USPs) that make you stand out from competitors. The Content Marketing Institute suggests that this approach builds deeper interest and nudges prospects closer to conversion.

Content formats like in depth blog posts, webinars, written content, free guides or other useful resources like quizzes or software downloads are great ways to help your audience know more about your product.

But remember that your solution-aware content should always be related to the case studies you've created.  They represent different avenues leading to a same solution, thus to the same sales page.

Problem-Aware Content

The last stop in your content marketing calendar should be the problem-aware content at the top of the funnel. The aim here is to capture your audience's attention by illuminating a problem they have but might not yet recognize or verbalize. Make them aware of a problem they have!

Often, individuals can't articulate their own issues; hence, they're unlikely to search for solutions using the specific keywords you'd associate with your products or services. This means crafting quality content that tackles these topics from a broader perspective. Let's take an example:

Imagine you’re a financial advisor aiming to market your financial planning services. You understand the significant benefits of early investing due to compound interest. However, many young adults delay seeking financial advice under the belief that they need substantial savings first. An effective strategy could involve producing blog post (or any other content form that suits your need) titled: "How I amassed wealth by beginning investments in my 20s".

The idea is that you don't talk about your product or services at all. Instead you try to cover wider, related subjects.

This is not easy. I'll need to rely on empathy and your deep knowledge of your buyer personas. Accurately identifying and expressing what troubles your audience more effectively than they might manage does wonders for engaging them and laying down foundational trust.

Imagine stumbling upon a piece of content that reads your mind. It talks about the exact problem you’ve been trying to name for weeks. That’s the magic of top-of-the-funnel, problem-aware content. 

And remember, once people recognize their issue thanks to your top of funnel content, guide them gently towards solutions. In order to do this without pushing too hard on sales, offer them more in-depth content to help them learn more. In other words, what your content marketing strategy is doing, is nurturing potential customers down the funnel gracefully from one piece of content to the other leading naturally towards a conversion.


Measuring the performance of your content marketing strategy

You’ve put in the effort to create engaging blog posts and have been sharing it far and wide on social media. But how do you know if your content marketing is actually working?

Simple: You need to set goals and measure your results!

This might seem obvious. But believe me when I say it's not. As a marketing professor and consultant, I'm regularly confronted with students and clients that have no clear view of how their content is performing. And when they are able to provide numbers, they're often not the right ones.

 Without going down the rabbit hole of marketing measurement, I just want to leave you with two elements to make sure you’re not only measuring the performance of your content plan but also that you choose the right KPIs for that.

  1. Set up proper website analytics: Obviously without the right tracking tools you can't know if your content helps you reach your business goals. Free tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console make tracking your numbers easy. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) gives you the information about what is happening on your website, while Google Search Console (also free) will tell you what happens in search engines. 
  2. Define KPIs for each stage of the funnel: as we've seen in this article, your content has a different purpose at each stage and, therefore, your KPIs should be different at each stage as well to be aligned with the specific goals. For example, your case studies should be measured by their performance in converting customers, not the number of impressions they got. 



So, you’ve made it. You now know how to create a winning content marketing strategy that is aligned with your business goals while getting off the hamster wheel of endless content churn out.

You might have noticed we didn't talk about creating a content calendar, choosing the right content management tool, or how many times you should post on social media. That's because without starting on what matters first, converting your audience, those are merely shiny objects that hijack your attention, drain your energy and lead nowhere.

For most readers, in particular small business owners, you'll probably not have more than a few sales or conversion pages, which means you'll only have a few case studies or uses cases to create. No need for a special tool or calendar template for that.

Now it's your turn. Let this guide be your playbook content marketing plan, one piece of compelling content at a time.

And if you need help, let's get in touch.


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