Content marketing has been the name of the game for a while now, but many businesses still struggle to incorporate a cohesive content marketing strategy into their business plan. This is especially true for smaller businesses, who may not have the resources to spend either on an internal marketing department or external freelancers to specialize in marketing for them.

Yet without a doubt, even small brick and mortar stores need to have a way to connect with customers online if they expect to thrive over time. If you are still wondering how to build a strong content marketing strategy, here are some of the most crucial points to implement.

1. Have a deliberate strategy

Too many companies approach their content marketing from a lackadaisical point of view. Companies set up a website, then let it go stale, create a Facebook page but never update or respond to comments, or create an Instagram account that gathers dust.

Before you start signing up for every social media platform, take a minute and consider. Who is your company’s target audience? Who are you trying to reach? Where do they hang out? What types of marketing are they most likely to consume? How are you catering to them?

You might decide that having an Instagram account is unnecessary, but a well monitored Twitter account is ideal for your needs. You might decide to have a regularly updated Facebook feed, but that your website is less crucial and only needs quarterly updates.

Just like everything else in your business, the best way to succeed is to proceed deliberately. Make a plan, adjust it as you go if necessary, but know what you’re getting in to and what you’re heading towards.

2. Invest in more video content

A study by Digital Media Group shows that the trend towards video content continued to grow in 2018 and is likely to continue to expand. Facebook is prioritizing live streams and video content, Instagram, and Snapchat have added the ability to create short videos and string them together into longer pieces, and Youtube continues to be a strong marketing force. With a smartphone in your pocket, you have everything you need to create basic videos.

Whether you’re doing a quick livestream of your new product launch or a behind the scenes video, developing tutorial content for your product, or commenting on the state of the industry, video content will help get your name into the world.

A note on video content: make sure to include closed captions for maximum accessibility.

3. Develop topical content

When companies develop content, there is a strong push towards developing useful content that is evergreen. This means that it will be useful for days and years to come. Tutorials, product specifications, and comparisons between different company products are all examples of evergreen content.

While this content is great, and customers appreciate it when they need it, it isn’t the kind of content that will draw new customers into your sphere. For that, you need content that is topical, interesting, and informative. Content that is relevant right now is more likely to be shared, be engaged with, and potentially go viral.

For topical content, look at the daily news, events in your industry, and other influencers. Consider tapping customers for their experiences with a new product, or interviewing another thought leader in your industry, or a related one.

4. Go long-form

In the early days of the Internet, we were assured that no one would read longer articles. More and more marketers pushed for shorter and more compact pieces. Modern customers, however, are bucking that trend towards shorter personal posts. Instead, they’re looking for longer, more in-depth pieces, which intrigue and stimulate. These pages perform better in search results and are more often shared than shorter pieces.

When writing long form, there are a number of factors to consider. Break up your piece with headers; these are great for keyword placement and give the reader a visual break in the neverending scroll online. Make sure the post is easily shared to various “read it later” tools. Treat your writing like a slightly less formal version of a college essay; have a thesis, an introduction, a conclusion, and paragraphs that support your argument.

Content marketing is often treated like a mystical process that some companies are good at while others can never achieve. While great content marketing might be more art than science, any business can achieve good, reliable content marketing with some consideration and effort. Instead of just throwing spaghetti at the digital wall until something sticks, plan carefully, track results, and see what works for your business.