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Assignment 2

(Written by Monique Sherrett, Boxcar Marketing)

The Assignment Structure for Content Marketing Strategy:

The premise is that you have been hired to manage the brand’s digital communications. You have completed an audit and need to present a strategy to the team along with 3 original content pieces and 3 supporting social posts.


The Deliverables

  1. Declaration of original work
  2. Content Marketing Strategy (1 page, approx. 800 words)
  3. Audience Traction Article (800-1600 words) + 3 related social posts
  4. Persuasive email message (max 125 words)
  5. Persuasive landing page (500-1000 words)
  6. Appendix: Planning template (*optional)

Overview: Content Marketing Strategy

To build a content marketing strategy you need to consider what you want to achieve and who you want to target (the audience you want to attract). The purpose of a content marketing plan is to bring your audience through a series of steps that eventually lead them to an offer.

The user journey and the sales funnel are often portrayed as a funnel because it is a useful visualization. Not everyone who sees your content will get to an offer, and most of the people who see an offer won’t take it (won’t buy, download, request a demo, etc). For this reason it is important to ensure the largest addressable audience sees your content (in this case, the audience traction piece and social media posts promoting it).

When someone visits your website to read the article, the role of the audience traction piece is to turn that visitor into an email subscriber and ultimately into a customer. The role of the subsequent email offer (persuasive email message) is to draw the subscriber to a landing page dedicated to turning the subscriber into a customer (persuasive landing page with an offer to purchase/subscribe, request a demo, start a free trial, download, watch, etc).

(Source: RazorSocial, adapted by author)

The above diagram is a simplified look at the overall process and is meant to illustrate the connection between the elements of your assignment. In reality, content marketing programs are complex and designed to cover the entire buying process — not just to gain awareness and a sale but to nurture and retain customers, and encourage advocacy (word of mouth, recommendations).

Planning Template

Your content audit has highlighted areas of strength and opportunities for improvements. The focus of the content marketing strategy in on the ways you will engage the audience and use content to drive profitable behaviours. It should be informed by the findings of the audit.

For the purpose of the assignment, treat the content marketing strategy as an executive summary that outlines the business goals and customer needs, and how you will use content to address them.

The following planning template is a guide for preparing the content marketing strategy and content marketing examples.

1. Empathize. Identify Audience and User Need/Value Gap.

Audience: Who are you selling to? Describe the specific, intended audience for your content marketing examples. Be specific. For brands with multiple products/services, pick a segment of the overall audience.

Eg: CIOs and companies with revenues over 100m in the financial services industry who are salesforce users.

If there are specific qualifications for a lead, make sure to include those.

User Need/Value Gap: What do they need or want to do? Focus on the context (the WHY): what are their business objectives, orientation and obstacles.

A B2B buyer is purchasing on behalf of a company; or for products/services that have a professional purpose.

  • What objectives do they have (what do they need to accomplish for the organization: I need, I want statements)
  • What is their orientation (motivating factors) and
  • What obstacles do they face (challenges, frustrations with current solution)

There are several sections of the audit that can provide insights here:

  • The roles and responsibilities of people in the decision-making unit
  • The types of conversations or information they need to make a decision
  • The types of questions they may have as they try to frame the problem or understand the solution options
  • Who influences their behaviour, their decision
  • What social channels do they tend to use (when they engage or share, where do they share)
  • What type of content do they share the most (topics, keyword)
  • What are the current Calls to Action on those content pieces?

2. Define the problem from your audience’s point of view

What do you see as the core problem (need/value gap) that could be addressed by the audience traction article?

  • State the difficulty or “pain point” prospects experience
  • Be descriptive, give details based on the audit findings (consider the topics or context of what is commonly shared, or how the brand is presenting their solution)
  • If the brand has multiple products/services, what is the core solution for the segment your audience traction article will target?

3. Position your solution

Positioning Statements succinctly answer:

  • What is the product/service, who is it for, in what market category do you compete, what does the audience see as the competitive alternatives, the key benefits of your solution—supported by proof points—and the differentiating factor.

Note: Proof points are 2-3 elements that backing up the claim. Customer referrals, ratings, reviews, stats, expert endorsements, customer quotes, media, association membership, awards

TIP: Use a positioning statement in the opening paragraph of your Content Marketing Strategy. Re-purpose it for the landing page and for calls to action.

Components of a positioning statement:

[Product/service] is for [what type of people] who need or want [to do what, are motivated by what benefit, emotion].

[Product/service] is a [product category] that provided [key benefit], which is different or unlike [alternative options] in that [key differentiation].

Eg. Built for developers, designers and idea-people alike, Jetstrap helps people get awesome responsive websites up and running fast, with less work and digging through docs. Jetstrap is a rapid prototyping tool that provides a 100% web-based interface, meaning no software to download. Not just a mock-up tool, Jetstrap lets users drag-and-drop snippets of clean markup and complicated components making it the premier interface-building tool for faster and easier web development.

Based on the need/value gap identified for this audience segment, how does the product/service solve the defined problem? Points to consider:

  • What makes it the best solution for addressing the audience’s needs
  • Why do customers choose you instead of others? Zero in on the most compelling benefits to the user
  • What makes this solution different from other competitors? (#1, market leader, award-winning, only one that does X, integrates with…)
  • What supports those claims (statements of the benefit): customer referrals, ratings, reviews, expert endorsements, customer quotes, media, association membership, awards
  • Is there anything that makes this brand’s product/service unique (key differentiator)

4. Set Goals and KPIs (key performance indicators)

The role of the audit is to understand the current use of Content Marketing and to make recommendations that will have an impact on the business. To earn approval of your content marketing strategy, key stakeholders will need to understand the business goals and KPIs.


What are the core goals of your proposed Content Marketing Strategy?

Based on the audit recommendations, what is the purpose of your content marketing? What does it need to achieve?

  1. Establish the company as a thought leader in the industry
  2. Bring exposure to your products and services
  3. Drive organic traffic to the website
  4. Build and establish relationships (get email signups)
  5. Support sales (convert qualified marketing leads to sales opportunities)
  6. Nurture existing customers
  7. Encourage word of mouth recommendations

Note: If you were working for the brand then the above would be used to form SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based goals) that would have associated Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Example goals:

  1. Reach X number of page views each month
  2. Add X number of new opt-ins to the newsletter each month
  3. Reach X amount of shares per blog post per month
  4. Gain X number of new followers on social media

In the next section you will be asked to consider the audit findings related to social media follower growth and engagement and set goals and KPIs for the social media posts that support the audience traction article.

5. Plan Content (Audience, Topic, Keywords, Tone and Emotional Triggers, Call To Action (CTA), Promotion/Distribution Channels, Goals & KPIs)

Audience: Who is the core audience for the audience traction article? What problem(s) are they facing? What aspects of the problem(s) are the most annoying, painful, or detrimental?

Topic: What topics do they care about?

Keywords: Define the 5 key phrases (and hashtags) related to the topic that your audience cares about. By using the right keywords in your headline, copy, social posts, subject lines, etc., it will improve the SEO and discoverability of your content. Consider:

  • Keywords already sending traffic to the site
  • Keywords and hashtags in content with social shares
  • Keywords used in media releases or other marketing collateral

Tone: What adjectives describe the brand personality and tone of voice used in its digital communications (website, social)? Examples: approachable, friendly, helpful, gracious, sincere, collaborative, smart, resourceful, capable, sophisticated, edgy, spirited, modern, loyal, accountable, sensible.

Emotional Triggers: Consider the audience’s motivating factors. How does the brand tap into those through emotional triggers in the content? Common examples include:

  • Incentives (ways to sweeten the deal)
  • Fear (being left behind, missing out) or guilt (not spending enough time on this aspect)
  • Achievement (trust, accountability, brand will meet expectations) or security (peace of mind, safety)
  • Growth (keeping up with the Joneses, getting ahead of the competition)
  • Social belonging (collaboration, team, affinity)
  • Power (control over life—productivity, future projections, revenue).

Call to Action: What desired response (or actions) do you want your intended audience to have: See the diagram on page 2. Think through the connections between the content elements. Think through the existing calls to action on the site.


Primary CTASecondary CTA
ArticleSign upDownload whitepaper
EmailWatch demoContact
Landing PageFree trialRequest demo

Channel Plan: Given the audience research done previously, determine which social channels will be used to attract the attention of the intended audience of the audience traction piece.

Reminder: You are writing an audience traction article and promoting it with 3 social media posts. You want to pick 1-3 social networks to use and determine the goals you have in relation to reaching the audience, interacting with them, getting a click through to the article, and generating social shares.

For each channel you want to focus on, what are your goals? i.e., estimate the number of likes, comments, shares, clicks through to the article.

Current Activity

Social NetworkCurrent number of followersAvg # new followers per weekAvg # likes, comments, shares per week

Given the above, what targets would you set for the social posts promoting the audience traction article?

Social NetworkReach (target #impressions, views of this post)Act

(target #likes, comments, shares)

Convert (target # click throughs to the www)Engage (target # who do the CTA)

Content Marketing Goals: Assuming you can consistently target the right audience and maintain the above levels of engagement, what impact would be expected?

Social NetworkCurrent number of followersAvg % Growth per weekTarget % Growth per weekAvg % Engagement per postTarget % Engagement for this post

Note: When you work for a company, you would also set SMART goals (targets) for email followers, open rate, click through rate, and conversion rate, as well as goals for the landing page (page views, conversions, etc).

Completing the planning template will ensure that your content marketing strategy is on track and that you are effectively writing content for your intended audience.

B) Include Content Marketing Strategy

TIP: Treat this like an executive summary. See the audit feedback and rubric notes.

Provide a 1-page summary of your proposed content marketing plan and its anticipated impact. Draw on research completed in the audit and the content planning template (#5: Plan Content). Include an overview about the brand (positioning statement), its digital communications challenges, your proposed solution and anticipated impact.

In particular section #5 of the planning template should be summarized here.

Conclude with a clear connection to the audience and the content. After reading the content marketing strategy and related content examples, I should be able to immediately understand: Is the content relevant to your audience, would they find it worth reading and engaging with, are you helping them transition to the next stage.

C) Include Audience Traction Article (800-1600 words) + 3 Social Posts

The audience traction article has two key roles in a content strategy.

  • The primary role is to attract the attention (of prospects, customers, influencers, other key stakeholders). Remember the RACE funnel: Reach the largest, addressable audience. Use content to attract their attention, increase awareness of the brand. This article is freely available on the web and is actively shared on social and available for index in search.
  • The secondary role is to build affinity. Again, the RACE funnel: get the audience to ACT, to show interest and desire. The audience traction article needs to build rapport, to confirm for the audience that you have something of value to offer, that it’s worth staying in touch. The call to action (CTA) should be related to building a following. Recall, Avinash Kaushik’s The Ladder of Awesomeness. The ideal CTA captures an email address: sign up for a newsletter, provide an email in exchange for access to other content.

Refer to the sections of the planning template to clarify your understanding of:

  • Who is the intended audience for the article? (People who need/want what)
  • What problem(s) are they facing? (Define the problem from their point of view.)
  • What aspects of the problem(s) are the most annoying, painful, or detrimental?
  • What do they value?
  • What type of content do they typically consume and share?
  • What is the problem statement from their point of view?
  • What are their motivations for solving the problem?
  • What tone, keywords (including hashtags) will resonate or get their attention?
  • What do you offer as a solution?

Elements to consider:

  • SEO (keywords that need to be in the article) and Social Sharing (hashtags, @mentions and anything else that aids in discoverability and social sharing).
  • The Headline: clear, specific, useful, some urgency that generates momentum (interest in reading on)
  • The Body: should be problem focused. The audience is not ready to buy.
  • What image will be used in the article, with social posts?

TIP on audience traction articles

  • Follow PAUSE. See Week 4, slide 83
  • Posts with lists can be effective. “5 Problems You Need to Know About…” Don’t just list the problems; each could be several paragraphs of in-depth analysis and explanation.
  • Consider the tone and beliefs of the organization (their core values that are conveyed). The emotional tone of the piece cannot be generic. You want to build trust and a rapport with the audience. To differentiate yourself and why people choose your brand, you need some emotional connection.

Include 3 Social Posts to Promote the Article

Audience traction articles need wide distribution and promotion. Content mapping is a way to get more out of your content. The idea is that you break the long-form audience traction article into multiple, smaller pieces and publish them on different channels at various times, linking to the full article.

Include 3 social media posts that promote the audience traction article:

  • 1 post immediately (in the channel with the highest reach and engagement)
  • 1 post 1 day later (used to increase reach, typically a paid/sponsored post)
  • 1 post 1 week later (used to re-tap a channel with high engagement)

Keep in mind:

  • Appropriate length of a social media post (dependent on network)
  • Must be compelling, relevant
  • Accompanying image is compelling and relevant
  • Timely, sense of urgency or momentum to click through to the article
  • Includes link and call to action

D) Persuasive Email (approx. 125 words)

Content marketing is used to attract attention, increase engagement and optimize for actions that are key to the business (conversion, retention, advocacy).

The audience traction article is about attracting attention and increasing engagement with the largest, addressable audience. The desired response is “hey I want to pay attention to this person or company over time because their content is relevant to what I’m trying to solve.” The most common action is “sign up for the email list” because an email list is the best way to make offers.

The Persuasive Email (an email offer that links to an associated landing page) is about keeping the customer moving on their journey. Subscribers to an email list typically have some commercial intent. The email offer is meant to attract the attention of subscribers with enough commercial intent that they are willing to take further action.

The persuasive email and landing page may be an all-out sales pitch but typically the focus is on the call to action that precedes “Buy”. For example, request a demo, start a free trial, join a webinar. These actions are about qualifying the lead.

TIP: The audience traction piece helps frame the problem, while the persuasive email is about helping solve the problem, presenting the solutions and options.

  • Hone in on the segment of the audience who is in a position to act.
  • What goals does the audience have? I want to … I need to
  • The call to action must be specific, clear, and benefit oriented

E) Persuasive Landing Page (500-1000 words)

The call to action in the persuasive email leads to the persuasive landing page.

You will submit a mock-up of the landing page to show the layout, and you will include your suggested text and images. Use pen and paper, PowerPoint, a word processor, or a prototype tool like Balsamiq or Marvel App.

The mock-up can be as low or high fidelity as you like. The persuasive landing page is assessed based on the layout (placement of elements, contrast of call to action) vs the quality of the design.

And the landing page is also assessed on the content (text and images).

Landing Page Elements:

  1. A super clear headline describing your offer
  2. Form and Call to Action button
  3. About the product/service, company: key details about the product, core offering: what is it, who is it for, what it’s needed, why it’s better than alternatives – re-purpose the Positioning Statement.
  4. Features and Benefits:
    • Convey the value of your product or service. How can the visitor benefit? Be succinct.
    • What makes your service the top tool for addressing audience’s need
    • Highlight what makes you unique. How is your product or service better than your competitors?
  5. Testimonials: quotes and photos that convey trust and directly support the reason to take the call to action (often these address the fear or hurdle the audience may have)
  6. If appropriate, companies that love your service: product logos
  7. Secondary CTA: if visitors are not going to take the primary offer, can you give them a good reason to sign up for email or do some secondary act.
  8. Social icons

You need to consider whether a short, or long, landing page is right for your offer.

Eg. Short landing page:

Long landing page:

Assessment Criteria

  • All content must be original.
  • The content examples should be ready to post to the web. Format headings, subheadings, include links.
  • Appearance and design will be taken into account for the landing page. Think of this like a prototype. Mock-up the page layout, images, headline styles, form, call to action, etc.
  • The layout and content is more important than the design.
  • Your content will be assessed on a 100-point scale.


Content Marketing Strategy

  • Is the positioning clear?
  • Is the purpose of the content marketing plan clear?
  • Does it comprehensively outline the audience, topics of interest, keywords, tone and emotional triggers, calls to action, promotion and distribution channels, goals and KPIs (elements of #5: Plan Content)

Audience Traction Article

  • Is your headline professional and engaging? Will it prompt users to continue reading?
  • Is the content (text and images) interesting to read? Is there flow from one element to the next?
  • Is the content useful? Does it solve an audience problem? Does it follow PAUSE (see week 4 eg)
  • Does the content stand out? Does it feel like it offers a fresh perspective or approach? Strikes the right tone, uses appropriate arguments?
  • Does the content include a clear call to action?
  • Does the content describe the benefits of taking the desired action?
  • Is all content written in reasonably standard English? (Casual language is fine, unintentional errors are not.)
  • Is it scannable (well formatted, use of subheads)

Social Posts

  • Is your post useful and engaging? Will it attract attention and prompt users to like, comment, share, click through?
  • Is the image relevant?
  • Is there a sense of urgency? Or momentum—reason to read or tell others?
  • Is there a clear call to action?
  • Are the features of the chosen social network being used effectively (hashtags, mentions, etc)
  • Is all content written in reasonably standard English? (Casual language is fine, unintentional errors are not.)

Persuasive Email

  • Is your subject line professional and engaging? Will it prompt users to click through?
  • Is the content interesting to read?
  • Is the content useful to the reader? Does your content provide the reader with a sense of urgency?
  • Does content use a clear call to action?
  • Is the content persuasive?
  • Does the content describe the benefits of taking the desired action?
  • Is all content written in reasonably standard English? (Casual language is fine, unintentional errors are not.)

Persuasive Landing Page

  • Is your headline super clear and describes the offer?
  • Is the positioning clear?
  • Is the form and call to action appropriate?
  • Is the content (text and images) interesting and persuasive?
  • Does the content describe the benefits of taking the desired action? (1-10 points)
  • Are there 3-5 proof points included?
  • Is all content written in reasonably Standard English? (Casual language is fine, unintentional errors are not.)
  • Is a secondary call to action included (if appropriate)
  • Is this a layout optimized for conversion?
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