Content marketing is a focus of online marketing.

Content is king, after all.

More than any other thing you do to promote your brand online, creating quality content is perhaps the most important. How you promote that content is equally important.

The Content Marketing Institute conducted a survey recently that found that 76 percent of organizations plan to increase their content marketing in 2016, yet only 30 percent considered their current content marketing to be effective.

It is important that develop an effective content marketing strategy to connect with your audience. Here are a few key elements you need for a successful 2017 content marketing strategy:

Create a Strong Brand Image

Before you can market your content, you need to have a strong brand image that your audience will be able to recognize no matter where your content appears.

Start with a strong name and URL that includes keywords or geo tags if possible. That means having a URL like www.durhampainters.com instead of www.bobshomeservices.com or something similar.

You will also need a strong, recognizable logo, colors, and slogan. You can attach these to your content when you are paying for posts or guest posting, and that will help your audience recognize your brand no matter what site they are visiting.

Once you have a strong, established brand identity, you can create a targeted content marketing strategy. Otherwise, your efforts will be scattershot.

Create Actionable Content

You can create funny or inspirational content — and it might even go viral — but unless you create actionable content, the only thing you will do is create a little brand awareness.

It is the actionable content that will get you real results, such as increased leads and sales.

The best way to create actionable content is to think of a problem that your readers have and to write a post that offers a solution. You see these kinds of posts all the time, such as the “How to Get Results from Twitter” or “Top Strategies for Increasing Email Subscribers.”

These are the kinds of posts that people will click through to read, and these are the kinds of posts that will inspire people to take action. They may hire your company to do the work, or they may buy your software or your guide to help them get the results themselves.

Employ a Guest Blogging Strategy

Publishing content on your own site will only get you so far. You need to post content on other sites if you want to reach more of your audience.

Identify some of the top publishers in your niche or in complementary fields. For example, if you run a home repair business, you might publish on blogs that are about real estate investment or landscaping.

After you have a list of potential publishers, study those sites and identify content that they need. If you write that content, you will increase your chances of being published on the site, and you’ll get more clicks from that site’s readership.

Every guest blog you post will result in a quality link to your site, which will increase your search rankings and send you more organic traffic. Those links will also result in more traffic from the site itself, and you can turn some of those users into your own loyal readers.

Promote Content on Social Media

Social media is the perfect platform for promoting your content.

So much of what people do on social media is share content, so it only makes sense to share your own.

You can get more exposure for your content by using relevant hashtags to help people find it. If the hashtag is trending, all the better.

Get more results by writing content that is about a trending topic in anticipation of sharing it on social media. Just be sure that you aren’t adding to the echo chamber. Add a unique perspective or write about the subject from a unique angle.

Engage Offline

You can get more impact for your content marketing if you also engage your audience offline.

For example, you can attend a conference or seminar and present a slideshow on a topic on which you wrote a blog post. Basically, you would turn your post into the presentation itself. You could then provide a link for additional reading in the slideshow or the materials you hand out to the audience.

You can also include a link to your blog on business cards that you hand out at trade shows and networking events.

With the right content marketing strategy, you can get the traffic you need for increased brand awareness and increased sales and leads. Use these tips to help you start reaching your content marketing goals in 2017. You can take your strategy to another level and start getting a higher return on your investment.