Creating Your Own Strategies

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Contents

How to create your own trading system

The Internet is full of various trading systems: paid and free. Any trade starts with testing of the trading strategy on a demo account that lasts at least several days to analyze the number of unprofitable trades and the maximum loss. Trading system in the foreign exchange market – is a program, algorithm, based on the indicators of graphic and technical analysis, and is designed to work only with a specific asset in a specific timeframe. Below I will talk about the basic parameters on the basis of which it is possible to develop your own trading system in the currency market.

Creating your own trading system in the currency market

The algorithm for generating trading system in the Forex market is relatively simple: you can create your own strategy roughly in a few hours, but that will be the case for small — tactics should work. Alas, many traders can not choose their optimal strategy for months, and we hope that with this algorithm the task will become a bit easier.

Search patterns, ideas that will generate income

As I mentioned above, the trading system in the foreign exchange market is developed only for a specific task. For example, trading of securities of companies after natural disasters, or trade a liquid currency pair at the opening of the trading session, etc. You should consider the possibility of the float, which directly affects the implementation of the strategy.

The definition of the shell of trading system

Under the shell, I consider the conditions in which the strategy construction will be implemented:

the ratio of risk and profitability;

setting of long or short stop loss;

the principle of strategy operation (for example, levels of support and resistance);

identifying entry points to the market (for example, at the intersection of indicators or simultaneous implementation of specific conditions).

All these things depend on the individual policy of the trader.

Pre-testing of the strategy

It is recommended to use large time frames. Tactics are tested on the the asset, under which it was sharpened, and on other assets to determine how you managed to cope with the task. Fixed amount of profitable and losing trades, and total profit.

If testing was unsuccessful, experiment in other time periods, change the indicators — look for all the possible errors and test the strategy again.

Long testing

Trading system in the Forex market will be successful only if it got real trading examples over a long period, for example – one year. If pre-testing is 30-50 transactions, then a long is a few thousand. I advise you to try to understand the code and to transfer the strategy from a manual test mode in auto.

Evaluation of maximum drawdown

50% is too high level (if the drawdown was more than 50%, the trading system in the foreign exchange market is considered unhealthy), with the loss of 10% makes sense to raise its level, and the level of total income. Optimal level – 25-35%.

Evaluation of the overall costs of the trading system

In practice it turns out that the developed trading system in the Forex market is not suitable for real trading because of its incompatibility with the trading platform or problems with slippage. Rate the profitability of trading strategies based on spread and commissions.

Of course it is only a common algorithm, still it may help. As practice shows, the creation of successful strategies can take from 1 month to 1 year. That is why there are paid strategies that unlike the free show higher yield.

Strategic Planning: Prepare, Create, & Deploy Your Strategy

Strategic success is closer than you think—especially once you follow these meticulously-crafted steps.

Co-Founder & Alabama Native

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You’ve likely heard that nine out of 10 organizations fail to execute their strategies.

The natural question, then, is why? The answer is complex. Strategies fail for hundreds of reasons: Some are poorly researched, some don’t involve the right people, and others simply don’t track the right elements.

But you can be in the 10% of businesses that actually make their strategic plan stick—and we can help you with that.

Table of Contents

Introduction

It’s for that very reason we created this ultimate guide to strategic planning. Below, we’ll walk through the three critical phases:

  1. Prepare for strategic planning.
  2. Create your strategic plan.
  3. Put your strategic plan into practice.

Over the years, we’ve helped hundreds of clients beat the odds in the strategy planning and execution game. Based on our experience, we know that following this three-phase approach will help you end up with high-quality results.

Before we dive into these topics, let’s quickly debrief on what strategic planning is and why it’s critical:

What is strategy planning and why is it important?

Strategic planning is the practice of looking forward, outside the immediate future for your organization, to reach a particular set of goals. It also involves laying out—step-by-step—how you’re going to get there. Without this foundation in place, you’re likely to get caught up in a tornado of urgent activities that may not actually benefit your organization in the long term . and that’s no way to run a company.

A note about strategic planning “buzzwords”:

You’ve probably read a lot of strategic planning jargon around the web and may be wondering, “What’s the difference between strategy and tactics?” or “How do I tell if I need OKRs or a SWOT analysis?”

If you’re wondering how one (or many!) of these terms fit into the grand scheme of strategic planning, click on the links below for more information. Then decide for yourself which of these buzzwords you will use in your organization, or which concept you will adapt (even if you don’t use the exact phrase).

Chapter 1: Prepare For Strategic Planning

Step 1: Gather your team and create a timeline.

Get the right people involved.

Let’s get one thing straight right now: If your organization has turned to you (or your department, a colleague, etc.) and requested that you “make a strategic plan and then report back to the leadership team when you’re done”—stop right where you are. That’s not an effective plan. Why? You need to have buy-in across your organization, and so you need leadership involvement from the beginning.

Now let’s talk about the major player needed for this process: The strategic planner. The strategic planner’s job is to align thoughts from the leadership team with a process the organization can use to execute on their strategy. If this is your role (or even if you’re just highly involved in the process), this guide will be immensely helpful as you navigate the coordination of the strategy.

The strategic planner will also need the help of a cross-functional team that involves members of the board or leadership, along with representatives from finance, human resources, operations, sales, and any other critical functions. We’ll discuss this further when we talk through the Office of Strategy Management.

1B. Create a reasonable timeline.

Next, you need to work out a timeline in which you can complete your strategic plan and move through the process. Reasonable is the key word here, as that depends on your organization’s maturity level with regard to strategic planning.

  • If you refresh your strategic plan every year, you might be able to work through this process in 4-5 weeks.
  • If you’ve never done strategic planning before, 6 months could be more realistic.

Whatever the case, don’t expect this to be done by the end of the week. You’ll be disappointed.

Pro tip:

It’s important to understand strategy vs. tactics. Strategy is focused on the destination and how you are going to get there, and tactics are focused on the specific actions you plan to take along the way.

So while this whole process is focused on your overall strategy (i.e. your long-term goals and how you’ll achieve them), we’ll be placing a lot of emphasis on the smaller steps (i.e. practices, resources, initiatives) you’ll take to get there. Make sure your leadership team knows the difference between strategy and tactics going forward! Sometimes it is smart to keep leadership out of the tactics, but other times, you might need a strong hand to guide the organization through some details.

Step 2: Gather the inputs to your plan.

Get appropriate background information for your strategic plan.

Now it’s time to dig into your internal and external information.

  • Internal inputs—Do you know if one branch of your business is growing faster than another? If so, does this mean you’ll focus more energy on the faster growing area, or shift to help the underperforming areas? These are key questions you’ll have to assess.
  • External inputs—You may find that parts of your business have shifted, or outside factors are playing a role in where your business is headed. For example, in the late 1990s, the music industry evolved from albums to streaming, impacting many businesses who were associated with the industry. Or if you’re in the manufacturing industry and do a great deal of business overseas, political unrest or a trade dispute between your country and the foreign one you operate in could impact your strategy.

Once you’ve gathered up the quantitative data from the sources above, you’ll also want to get feedback from a number of different sources:

  • Discuss the above findings with your leadership team and managers to see what their thoughts are about the future of the business.
  • Talk with board members, customers, and industry experts to see what they think your organization is doing well and what needs improvement. These suggestions could deal with anything from operations to company culture.

Combined, all of this data will help you get a better grasp on the future of the business.

Organize your raw data with one of the following tools.

A SWOT Analysis stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This exercise offers a helpful way to think about and organize your internal and external data.

  • What are your organization’s strong points?
  • What are your organization’s weak points?
  • Where are your biggest opportunities in the future?
  • What are the largest threats to your business?

Sometimes it is helpful to use the SWOT analysis framework to organize your interview questions for your qualitative data gathering.

Porter’s Five Forces is another tool used to find these inputs. It’s a time-honored strategy execution framework built around the competition in your industry. Who are your rivals? What are they doing? You then need to look at the threat of substitutes. Could you change an energy input from coal to natural gas, for example?

Nine out of 10 organizations fail to execute strategy. Avoid failure with this toolkit.

Pro tip:

You may have researched risk assessments, core competencies, scenario planning, or industry scans as part of your strategic planning. If you’re wondering where these tools fit, they’re all relevant to this first stage of strategic planning. They help you prepare to create the strategic plan. If you have worked through one of these tools before, the results can act as inputs to help you in the next stage.

Now that you’ve prepared for your strategy.

  • You have a team of people who can help you with the strategic planning process.
  • You have the raw material for strategy evaluation, including internal and external data.
  • You can organize your raw data into a SWOT analysis, Porter’s Five Forces, or another strategy planning framework as you begin to create your strategic plan.

Chapter 2: Create Your Strategic Plan

You now have all the background information necessary to create your strategic plan! But this plan doesn’t live in a vacuum—so we’ll start by revisiting your mission and vision statements and then get into the nuts and bolts of the planning process.

Step 1: Confirm your mission and vision statements.

Mission & Vision

If you haven’t created formal mission and vision statements, this is the time to do so.

Your mission statement describes what your company does and how it is different from other organizations in your competitive space.

Your vision statement describes a future state of what your organization wants to achieve over time.

Where the mission is timeless, your vision is time-bound and more tangible.

Two tools that will help build your mission and vision statements:
  • OAS statement—OAS stands for Objective, Advantage, Scope. Talking through these concepts as they apply to your organization will help formulate a vision that is tangible and interactive. Note that while this exercise may be helpful to you, it is optional. You can read more about creating your OAS statement here.
  • Strategic shifts—A second tool some people find helpful is called Strategic Shifts. These are exercises for the leadership team to help them define today’s strategic priorities vs. tomorrow’s. For example, your leadership team may say, “We want to shift from central control to autonomy when it comes to our decision-making capability.” If the whole team can get on the same page with these shifts, it can help tremendously once you define your objectives, measures, and projects.

Build your strategic plan with our Strategic Plan Template

Pro Tip:

During your search for strategic planning tools, you’ve almost certainly come across a Strategy Pyramid (shown below). This pyramid can be visualized in countless different ways, the order of the pyramid isn’t what’s important. The importance lies in ensuring you’ve chosen the elements in the pyramid that work best for your organization, and making sure those components are going to help you achieve strategic success.

If you’ve already created mission and vision statements, confirm that both are aligned with your current strategy before proceeding to the next step.

Step 2: Build out your five-year plan.

Develop the framework that will hold your high-level priorities.

You can use your OAS or Strategic Shift exercises to help you define your priorities and objectives—but more importantly, you need a way to manage these elements. The way to do that is by selecting and developing a strategy management framework that will bring all your priorities together in one cohesive format.

Using a framework such as Balanced Scorecard (BSC), Theory of Change (TOC), or Objectives and Key Results (OKR) is critical to your strategic success. Many management teams fail at this point simply because of their disorganization!

Note: Choose only one of these three frameworks, as they have numerous similarities!

The Balanced Scorecard

The Balanced Scorecard, developed by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton, has been one of the world’s top strategy management frameworks since its introduction in the early 1990s. Those who use the BSC do so to bring their strategy to life, communicate it across their organization, and track their strategy progress and performance.

The BSC divides up your objectives by perspectives—financial, customer, process, and people—and themes, like innovation, customer management, operational excellence, etc. (The idea of perspectives is fully developed in Norton and Kaplan’s book The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action.) Here’s an example:

  1. Financial goals—“What financial goals do we have that will impact our organization?”
  2. Customer goals—“What things are important to our customers, which will in turn impact our financial standing?”
  3. Process goals—“What do we need to do well internally, to meet our customer goals, that will impact our financial standing?”
  4. People (or learning and growth) goals—“What skills, culture, and capabilities do we need to have in our organization to execute on the process that would make our customers happy and ultimately impact our financial standing?”

For an in-depth look at how your organization could use the BSC, check out this Full & Exhaustive Balanced Scorecard Example.

Theory Of Change (TOC)

The Theory of Change is a logic model that describes a step-by-step approach to achieving your vision. The TOC is focused on how to achieve the change you’re looking for, and is popular amongst mission-driven organizations who are describing a change they’re making in the world instead of putting change in their pockets.

The idea behind TOC is that if you have the right people doing the right activities, they’ll affect change on your customers, which will impact your financials, and bring you closer to your vision. A great example of a this theory of change is the nonprofit RARE.

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According to the Harvard Family Research Project, the steps to create a TOC are:

  1. Identify a long-term goal.
  2. Conduct “backwards mapping” to identify the preconditions necessary to achieve that goal.
  3. Identify the interventions that your initiative will perform to create these preconditions.
  4. Develop indicators for each precondition that will be used to assess the performance of the interventions.
  5. Write a narrative that can be used to summarize the various moving parts in your theory.
Objectives & Key Results (OKR)

OKR was originally created by Intel and is used today in primarily two ways: At the enterprise/department level and at the personal performance level.

  • Objectives are goals.
  • Key results are quantitative measures that define whether goals have been reached.

The idea is that your defined objectives and measurements help employees, managers, and executives link to and align with overall strategic priorities. Not only does OKR strive to measure whether objectives are successful, but also how successful they are.

Note: This Medium article offers a number of real-world examples of OKR.

Define your objectives, measures, and projects.

The strategic planning frameworks above are all meant, in different ways, to help you organize your objectives, measures, and projects. So it’s critical that these elements are well thought-out and defined.

Here’s how objectives, measures, and projects interact:

You have a high-level goal in mind—your objective. Your measures answer the question, “How will I know that we’re meeting our goal?” From there, initiatives, or projects, are put in place to answer the question, “What actions are we taking to accomplish our goals?”

We’ve defined each of these concepts more thoroughly below with a few business strategy examples:

  • Objectives are high-level organizational goals. The typical BSC has 10-15 strategic objectives. Examples include:
    • Increase Market Share Through Current Customers (Financial)
    • Be Service Oriented (Customer)
    • Achieve Order Fulfillment Excellence Through On-Line Process Improvement (Internal)
    • Align Incentives And Rewards With Employee Roles For Increased Employee Satisfaction (Learning & Growth)
  • Measures help you understand if you’re accomplishing your objectives strategically. They force you to question things like, “How do I know that I’m becoming an internationally recognized brand?” Note that while your measures might change, your objectives will remain the same. You may select 1-2 measures per objective, so you are aiming to come up with 15-25 measures at the enterprise level. Examples include:
    • Cost Of Goods Sold
    • Customer Satisfaction & Retention
    • Percentage Of Product Defects
    • Percentage Of Response To Open Positions
  • Initiatives are key action programs developed to achieve your objectives. You’ll see initiatives referred to as “projects,” “actions,” or “activities outside of the Balanced Scorecard.” Most organizations will have 0-2 initiatives underway for every objective (with a total of 5-15 strategic initiatives). Examples include:
    • Develop Quality Management Program
    • Install ERP System
    • Revamp Supply Chain Process
    • Develop Competencies Mode

Create your strategy map or graphic strategic model.

Whether or not you’re using a Balanced Scorecard as your strategy framework, you’ll benefit from using a graphic model to represent your strategic plan. While many people use a strategy map (shown in the example below), you could also use icons or a color-coding system to visually understand how the elements of your strategy work together.

If you’re just becoming familiar with how strategy mapping works, this article will teach you exactly how to read one—and what you need to do to create one.

Now that you’ve created your strategic vision.

  • You have a fully-defined mission and vision to use as you move forward with your strategy implementation process.
  • You have chosen a strategic framework that will hold your five-year strategic plan.
  • You have defined objectives, measures, and projects, and you know how they work together.
  • You have a graphic representation of your strategic model.
Pro Tip:

Feeling the strategic fatigue? It’s okay! This is a tiring process—so be careful to tailor everything in this section to what those in your organization will tolerate. Putting your strategic plan into practice (our final step) is the key to making it all work during the strategy implementation plan, and getting these details 80% right in a timely fashion is much more important than getting them 100% right in a year.

Chapter 3: Put Your Strategic Plan Into Practice

You’ve made it this far—now you have to be sure you launch correctly! To do so, you need someone from the Office of Strategy Management to push that process, ensure resources are aligned to your strategy, put a solid strategy communication program in place, and get technology to keep you organized.

Step 1: Launch your strategy.

Ensure the Office of Strategy Management (OSM) is pushing things forward.

The Office of Strategy Management is comprised of a group of people responsible for coordinating strategy implementation. This team isn’t responsible for doing everything in your strategy, but it should oversee strategy execution across the organization. Typically, the OSM lives in the finance department—or it could be its own separate division that reports directly to the CEO.

Create your internal and external strategy communication plan.

Internal—Be sure all elements of your strategy—like strategy maps or logic models—are contained within a larger strategic plan document. (If you use strategy software, the strategic plan document will likely be contained there.) A great way to be sure your leadership team has a firm grasp on your strategy is to ensure they each have a copy of this document, and they can describe the strategy easily to someone who wasn’t involved in the creation process.

This free Balanced Scorecard template will help you become the strategy superhero your company needs.

More broadly, the strategy must be communicated throughout your organization. You should be shouting it from the rooftops to keep it top-of-mind across your organization. People won’t give it a passing thought unless you engage them—so every department head should be charged with explaining how their team fits into the strategy and why it matters. For actionable tips, check out this article that highlights how you can effectively communicate your strategic plan across your organization.

External—You also need to be sure you have a plan for communicating your strategy outside the organization—with board members, partners, or customers (particularly if your organization is municipal or nonprofit). Think through how it will be shared, and which parts of it are relevant to outside parties.

Align your resources to your strategy.

In the short term—which would be your next budgeting cycle or something similar—work to structure the budget around the key components of your strategy. You don’t need to completely rewire your budget, but you do need to create direct linkages between how your resources are allocated and how those efforts support your strategy. Over time, the areas that contribute less directly to strategic goals will become clear, and you can work on gradually aligning everything you fund.

But even if your budget only extends through the fiscal year, consider how you’ll align your strategy to projects in the future. For future resource allocation, link your operations (what some refer to as the “work planning process”) to your strategy. Your expectation should be that the process of aligning your resources to your strategy can happen within year two of your strategic planning execution.

Step 2: Evaluate your strategy.

At this point, your strategy has been launched: Now you need to know whether or not you’re making progress! Here’s how to do that.

Create reports to highlight your results.

Ten years ago, you may have evaluated your strategy annually. But in today’s business environment, that’s not a feasible option. At a minimum, you should be reporting on your entire strategy on a quarterly basis, or breaking down your strategy into pieces and reporting on one of those pieces each month.

The report you use should highlight progress on your measures and projects, and how those link to your objectives. The point is to show how all these elements fit together and relate to the strategic plan as a whole.

Hold regular strategy meetings.

The best way to report on strategy progress is to hold a quarterly or monthly review meeting with the leadership team. (Other key individuals might be in on this meeting depending on the agenda and the content.) It’s important to note that throwing together an impromptu meeting to go over results isn’t going to get you anywhere. Instead, your strategy review meetings should be meticulously organized. To make the most of your meetings, it’s critical to have an agenda for before, during, and after the meeting—you can read about running efficient meetings in this article.

For your leadership team to be receptive to the idea, be sure you’re not adding yet another meeting onto their plate. Instead, look at current meetings and replace or refactor so there’s time to for strategy discussion.

Deploy strategy reporting software (if you haven’t already).

To make strategy execution work, reporting is unavoidable. While you might be able to track your first strategy meeting in Excel or give your first presentation via PowerPoint, you’ll quickly realize you need some kind of software to track the continuous gathering of data, update your projects, and keep your leadership team on the same page.

If you want to learn more about the major areas of responsibility you should be covering in your strategy management process—and how strategy software can help with that—take a look at our ClearPoint tour.

Here are two additional helpful pieces of content as you move forward:

  • A checklist of 20 things to ask a potential strategy software vendor.
  • Guidelines on how to build a municipal RFP.
Pro Tip:

You’ve probably seen reference to the “Plan, Do, Check, Act” framework before. If you want to integrate this checklist, this is the time to do so. Here’s a breakdown on what it means:

  • Plan refers to creating your strategic plan.
  • Do refers to making progress on or executing on the plan.
  • Check refers to the reporting and monitoring process.
  • Act refers to taking action through projects, work plans, or the budgeting process to continue to manage and execute on the strategy.

You’ve made it through these steps….

. but be sure to place a great deal of emphasis on rightsizing this process for your own organization.

Did you recently do a SWOT analysis and create new vision and mission statements? Don’t do it again. Do you already manage with a robust set of KPIs? Use them. Do you currently create reports for your board and management team? Modify them or use a strategy evaluation framework to make sure they’re focused and move on.

Rather than doing everything, it’s more important to realize there is overlap between these steps. Understand how they all fit into your own process, and then move forward with the sections you’re missing. And if you have any questions along the way, get in touch with us. We live and breathe strategic planning and are here to help!

11 Steps to Create a Content Marketing Strategy to Grow Your Business

Did you know that 63% of businesses don’t have a documented content marketing strategy? That’s according to the latest research from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs.

It’s no surprise that those companies who DO have a strategy are most likely to feel that their content marketing efforts are successful.

Without a strategy, success or failure is just a matter of luck – and you risk all your efforts going to waste.

Recommended Resource: Need to jumpstart your content marketing results? Get more traffic and conversions with our Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing in 2020.

That’s likely why a similar percentage (64%) say that learning how to build a content strategy is one of their greatest educational needs.

If you’re in that group and have been wondering how to create a content strategy for your business, we’re here to help.

We’ve successfully used content marketing to grow our own traffic and boost conversions since OptinMonster first launched in 2020, and we want to share with you what we’ve learned along the way.

This guide will walk you through 11 simple steps to developing and executing a content marketing plan that’ll help you grow your business without wasting time and money.

Here are the steps for easy reference:

Step 1. Set Your Mission and Your Goals

A good starting point for your content strategy plan is to set out a content marketing mission statement. This is a brief statement that makes it easier to focus on what’s important – and what’s not – in creating your content so your content marketing strategy stays on track.

A content marketing mission statement outlines:

  • Your target audience
  • The content you’ll use to reach them
  • The benefit they’ll get

Here’s an example from CIO.com’s about page.

It defines the audience (CIOs and business technology executives). It highlights the benefit (insights on career development). And it gives examples of what its content covers (certification, digital transformation, skills development, and hiring practices).

To create a mission for your own business, try this formula:

We provide [target audience] with [type of content] to help them [business goals].

While the mission statement covers what your audience will get from your content marketing strategy, you also need to think about what your business will get from it. That’s where your business goals come in.

Typical goals include:

  • Improving revenue as a result of your content marketing strategy
  • Making more sales and getting more high-quality leads, which will help you meet your revenue goals.
  • Getting more traffic to your site, as the more traffic there is, the greater the possibilities for meeting your other goals.
  • Improving the perception of your business, so you gain influence and authority and are seen as a thought leader.
  • SEO success, which leads to more traffic.
  • Reduced marketing costs, as your content becomes more effective.
  • Social media engagement, which can help with both traffic and authority.

Once you know your goals, it’s time to move to the next step.

Step 2. Establish Your KPIs

The best way to achieve goals is to make them specific and measurable. That means setting key performance indicators (KPIs) for your content marketing strategy.

The KPIs will help you know when you have achieved your goals by providing milestones you can check off. They’ll include what you plan to achieve in terms of revenue, sales, traffic, SEO, traffic and different aspects of digital marketing like email marketing and social media metrics.

Typically, these will have specific numbers attached to them. For example, you might want to:

  • Hit a certain revenue target within the month, quarter, or year.
  • Get more signups for your lead magnet as a sign that you’re getting more high-quality leads
  • Get a certain number of new email subscribers
  • See an increase in site traffic and in engagement with your onsite content
  • Improve the search ranking of some of your key pages to help boost traffic
  • Get a certain number of mentions, shares, and comments for your pillar content
  • Be invited to participate in certain key industry events

You’ll also want to pay attention to marketing expenditure, tracking your spend on different campaigns, and keeping an eye on the cost of acquiring leads and making sales.

Learn more about KPIs for your content marketing strategy in our guide to content marketing ROI.

Step 3. Know Your Audience

As mentioned earlier, for a successful content marketing strategy, you’ll need to be clear about who your audience is so you can create the right content to reach them. There are three actions you need to take.

Collect Demographic Data

The first step is to collect demographics on your visitors, email subscribers, and social media followers.

Web analytics, social media analytics, and email subscriber analytics will give you the data you need on your audience’s:

You’ll also get insight into their key interests. To find this information in Google Analytics, go to Audience » Interests » Overview. You’ll see the market segments your web visitors fit into.

Learn more about using Google Analytics in our in-depth guide.

Social media sites offer similar data. For example, you can get demographic information on your Facebook fans via Facebook Page Insights:

And you can use Twitter analytics to get demographic data on your Twitter followers:

Get Customer Feedback

To learn even more about your target audience, try collecting feedback from your current customers. That’ll give you insights into:

  • How they feel about the content you’re currently producing
  • What their most urgent needs are
  • How you can address their problems with your content

Getting the right customer feedback can help you:

  • Understand your readers’ and subscribers’ priorities
  • Decide on the best places to reach your customers (see step 9)
  • Flesh out your buyer personas, which we’ll talk about next

Create Buyer Personas

When you have demographic data and customer feedback, you can create or flesh out buyer personas. Buyer personas, also known as customer avatars, describe your ideal readers and customers so that you can target content better.

The best customer avatars include information on your customers’ pain points, challenges, sources of information, and behavioral motivators.

When you know all this, you’ll have a better understanding of:

  • The kind of content your audience will respond to
  • How it will help them
  • What will make them care about it

Learn more about customer avatars in our guide to creating buyer personas. It includes templates like this one from Digital Marketer:

Step 4. Assess Your Current Position

Many businesses already have content out there. This will include content that’s on your blog, as well as social media content, podcasts, videos, and so on.

That’s why the next step is to figure out whether that content is helping you to meet your goals.

(If you’re just getting started and have zero content, you can skip to Step 5 – Figure Out the Best Content Channels.)

To do that, you’ll need to carry out a content audit. That means:

  • Logging all the pieces of content, such as blog posts, guest posts, and so on
  • Assessing their usefulness or success
  • Identifying the gaps

You may also want to look at how your content compares with that of your competitors, and see how any new content will fit in the market.

Let’s look at one example of how this would work for your content marketing strategy.

How to Log Your Content

If you want to log all your site or blog content, Screaming Frog is an excellent starting point. It’s a URL crawler that will:

  • List URLs
  • Analyze page titles and descriptions
  • Find duplicate pages
  • Create sitemaps.

The free version crawls up to 500 URLs. SEER Interactive has an excellent, in-depth guide to Screaming Frog. As a bonus, you can also use this tool for competitive research, carrying out the same kind of analysis on your competitors’ content.

You can also log your content with the Content Audit tool from SEMRush. To do this, set up a project and select the section of your site you want to audit, such as your blog. Once you select the URLs, press the Start Content Audit button.

You’ll get a complete analysis of your content, including:

  • Content titles and descriptions
  • Content length
  • Backlinks
  • Social shares

Export the data to create a simple spreadsheet that contains all the URLs.

See How Your Content is Working

Next, it’s time to assess the usefulness of the content. You’ll be looking for metrics like:

  • Whether there are a lot of inbound links to the content
  • What the search engine ranking is for keywords associated with that piece of content
  • If the content is widely shared

You’ll get some of this information from the SEMRush report above but can also find more by using other SEMRush tools, such as the site audit and position tracking tools.

This’ll tell you:

  • Which pieces of content are so effective that you don’t need to change them
  • Which ones need some improvement or updating to meet your goals
  • Which ones need to be removed or replaced

Identify Content Gaps

Finally, work out where there are gaps you can exploit. These might include:

  • Keywords related to your niche that you’re not targeting with your content
  • Questions your target audience is asking that you’re not answering
  • Content that’s starting to rank well but could be improved, say to target Google’s answer boxes. These are the boxes that appear above search results and provide the answers to a specific question.

You can use Ahrefs to carry out a content gap analysis.

To do this, go to Organic search » Content gap. Add the domains for your main competitors under Show keywords that the following rank for. Add your own domain under But the following target does not rank for. Press Show keywords.

You’ll see a list of competitor keywords you can target with your own new content.

You can carry out a similar analysis in SEMRush.

Interested in more tools that can help in this area? Check out our list of the top 25 competitor research tools out there.

Step 5. Figure Out the Best Content Channels

As you work through this process, you’ll start to get a sense of where your audience is hanging out, and where you already have a successful online presence. It’s best to focus on what’s working and expand from there, rather than try to do everything at once.

But to be absolutely sure, you’ll need to take another look web analytics. When you’re in Google Analytics, go to Acquisition » Social » Overview to see the main social networks where your content is being shared. For example, in our screenshot, most of the social activity takes place on YouTube.

You can also use Buzzsumo to find similar data. Go to their Content Analysis tool and type your domain name into the onscreen search box. Press enter and you’ll see charts showing:

  • Shares by network
  • Shares by content type
  • Shares by content length
  • Top content in the past year

You can also refine your search terms for more detail.

With this information, you can easily decide which networks to target to get social media engagement and shares for your content.

Step 6. Decide on Content Types

Next, think about the types of content you need to create. There are some content types that every content marketing strategy will include.

Most successful content marketing strategies rely on having a central core of content published on your own site (or home base) which can then be repurposed and shared on other sites (outposts).

So blog posts are an essential part of your content marketing mix, and they still deliver strong results. Ideally, your blog posts will be actionable, valuable, and shareable, and may include a range of article types.

How to Map Content to Social with Buzzsumo

You can use the Buzzsumo tool mentioned above to map the types of blog posts you want to create to the potential for social shares to boost engagement and reach.

For example, OptinMonster readers really like how-to articles and lists. Click on a content type and a network to see a list of your most shared articles for that metric.

Of course, creating a successful content marketing strategy isn’t just about navel-gazing to get stats on your own site. It’s also about seeing what other successful content is out there that you can use for inspiration. Buzzsumo can help with this, too.

Using the same tool, type your topic into the search box. You’ll see sharing statistics from across the web. For example, one chart suggests that long-form content on content marketing is very popular:

There are also data on the most shared domains publishing on this topic, and the top pieces of content shared relating to it.

Other Buzzsumo features allow you to track backlinks, trending content, and questions people ask, and the standard Buzzsumo search includes sharing data for videos.

Other Content Types

What other content should be included in your content strategy plan? As our own research shows, video marketing should be an essential part of any marketing, as it’s proven to engage your visitors to keep them on-site longer, improve lead generation, and reduce abandonment.

You’ll also want to include other types of visual content to improve engagement.

Consider creating infographics with tools like Piktochart and Canva, and using Canva and similar tools to create customized graphics and memes for social sharing, as Grammarly does.

Other content types to include for improve lead generation include lead magnets like webinars, ebooks, checklists, worksheets, and more.

It’s also worth thinking about podcasting as a content delivery mechanism, as more than 40% of Americans now listen to podcasts. Here’s a list of marketing podcasts for inspiration.

The next step is to figure out what you need to create that content.

Step 7. Identify and Allocate Resources

Now that you know what type of content you’re planning to create, who it’s for, and where you’re planning to share it, it’s important to make sure you have everything you need to deliver on your content marketing strategy. That involves answering questions like:

  • Who’s in charge of producing and maintaining content?
  • What human, physical or digital tools and resources do you need to create the content?
  • What will your publishing workflow look like, including content scheduling?

Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

Who’s in Charge of Content Production?

This question is about allocating roles. You’ll need to think about who’s in overall charge, as well as who is responsible for delivering individual content items.

This will depend on the size of your company and content team, and on whether you’re doing everything in-house, or farming out content production.

One example of how this might look would be:

  • The CEO or chief marketing officer has overall final approval over content and content strategy.
  • Your content marketing manager will be in charge of delivering on your content marketing strategy on a day to day basis and will work with the content team.
  • Individuals will create content, according to their expertise.

What Tools and Resources Do You Need?

Next, figure out how you’re actually going to create the content. Your content producers might include:

  • In-house content creators
  • Specialists in video creation, podcasting, or graphic design
  • Freelancers

One way to find great freelancers quickly is to return to your Buzzsumo search results, and see who’s written the top content. There’s no harm in approaching them to see if they’re willing to contribute to your content team. You can also find great freelance content producers through networks like Contently, NDash, ClearVoice and similar.

You’ll also need equipment for podcasting and creating professional videos, and you’ll need to arrange for hosting on sites like YouTube, Vimeo, Spreaker, and Blubrry.

Check out our list of video marketing tips to get started.

Content Workflow

Next, work out what your content production process is going to be. For example, for a typical blog post, you might have to:

  • Create an outline and have it approved
  • Write the post
  • Create accompanying images
  • Send the post to the editor
  • Make any changes
  • Upload
  • Publish

There’s just one more thing to do before you get started on researching and creating pieces of content: creating a content calendar, so you know what’ll be published when. We’ll look at that in the next step.

Step 8. Create a Content Calendar

As part of your content strategy, you’ll need to know exactly when you want to publish your content on each of the platforms you want to use.

Lack of planning is a key content marketing mistake, so it’s essential to use a content calendar to get all your content scheduled. There are several ways to do this.

For example, you can use Google Calendar and simply put the due dates for each piece of content there. That works pretty well, especially if you’re not publishing a lot of content.

That’s the simplest approach, but if you’re publishing a lot of content, and have to manage a content team and the production workflow you’ve decided on, then you’ll likely want some more features.

Options for managing this include productivity and task management tools like Asana (shown below), or a purpose-built editorial calendar tool like CoSchedule. Both of these will allow you to schedule different parts of the content creation process.

One way to find content to add to the calendar is to do some initial research to find the topics your audience will respond to.

Find the Questions Your Customers Ask

We mentioned earlier the need to create content around what your audience wants. One way to find that out is to use Buzzsumo’s Question Analyzer or Answer the Public.

Type a topic into the Answer the Public search box, and you’ll get a list of questions people have actually searched for on Google.

Pick a question that seems relevant to your audience, decide on the type of content, such as a blog post, and add a title to your calendar. Repeat the process till you have planned out content for the next few months.

Step 9. Create Content

As you’ve seen, there’s a lot of prep work in your content marketing strategy before you actually create a piece of content. But now it’s time to do just that. We’re going to use a blog post as our example, but these tips will work for almost any type of content creation.

With the research you’ve already done, you’ll have an idea of what type of blog post to create. For example, we know that list posts and how-tos are popular with our readers.

Now it’s time to pick a title from the content calendar and start working on it.

Research Your Content

When you’re ready to write, you’ll need to find out :

  • What’s already out there
  • How your new content can add value for your audience

This means doing a Google search, checking out the top content for your topic, and seeing how you can improve on it. That’s called the skyscraper technique.

Original research also does well, so consider this as an option if you’re collecting the right kind of data.

Include keyword research to identify the key terms to use for better SEO and improved search ranking. We cover this process in detail in our keyword research 101 guide.

Create the Content

Finally, start writing or creating your content. At this point, you’ll have to think about how to reflect your brand’s personality in the content you write.

You may want to be super-professional, very casual, or something in between. And you’ll have to manage the balance between showing your expertise and not patronizing your audience. Here’s Sprout Social’s advice on creating consistency with your brand voice, and keep in mind important SEO ranking factors to optimize your content. Take a look at these successful content marketing examples for inspiration.

Step 10. Distribute and Market

The next key part of your content strategy is distribution and marketing. That’s because you won’t get the results you want unless these are handled correctly. For example, you will likely:

  • Set a schedule for sharing your content on social media, both immediately, and through a drip campaign via a tool like Missinglettr.
  • Use email marketing to distribute your content to subscribers.
  • Notify any influencers mentioned in your content to spread the word even wider.

OptinMonster is also a great tool to use for promoting your content, both on your site and via your email newsletter. For example, Olyplant used OptinMonster to increase pageviews by 157%.

  • A wide array of targeting features including page-level targeting, onsite retargeting, and geo-location targeting
  • The ability to grab visitors’ attention with targeted content just before they leave your site with Exit-Intent® Technology
  • Several ways to trigger content marketing campaigns, by referrer, device, activity, and more
  • Integrations with the major email marketing services

You can also use OptinMonster to:

  • Deliver your lead magnet
  • Direct new visitors to the most important parts of your site
  • Engage visitors by showing them new content every time they land on your site

OptinMonster customers have successfully used our marketing campaign software to triple their email lists and to get 3806% more conversions with gated content.

Step 11. Measure Results

Finally, it’s time to assess the success of your content marketing strategy. To do this, you’ll return to those KPIs you set at the start of the content strategy plan, and see what’s changed and whether you’re hitting your targets.

To do this, you can:

  • Check Google Analytics as described above to see how your content is performing
  • Measure social sharing activity via Buzzsumo and other social analytics tools
  • Look at OptinMonster’s conversion analytics dashboard to assess the success of your marketing campaigns

Other tools for tracking content marketing success include Google Alerts and Mention. Both of these will let you see if your content is being mentioned and shared, helping you hit those KPIs for awareness and engagement.

Tools like SEMRush will help you to assess KPIs for the search rank of your content. And you’ll be able to track email signups through the analytics in your email marketing software.

By monitoring your progress, you’ll be able to tweak your content marketing strategy at regular intervals, so it’s always up to date.

That’s it! Now you know how to create a successful content marketing strategy from beginning to end.

Next, check out these digital marketing hacks, our digital marketing best practices, and some great SEO tips to help you make your content even more successful. You may also enjoy our post about how to harness the power of emotional intelligence in marketing!

Ready to build your site? Check out our top picks for WordPress eCommerce plugins to build your best business.

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for even more in-depth guides and resources.

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