A content marketing strategy is essential for marketers – it defines who you’re creating content for, and why. 64% of marketers admit that they need to build a scalable content strategy – But what are the elements of a content strategy?
However, the truth is that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to creating your content strategy. It might be that what works for one company doesn’t work for you – the trick is creating a strategy that’s right for your business and your audience.
There is a huge variety of content you can include in your content strategy—all of which benefits your business in different ways. In this post, we explore every document that should go into your content strategy—from the content itself to supporting materials—to give your content the best chance at reaching your audience and turning them into leads. Today we’re going to look at the content and supporting documents you’ll need to create your own strategy.
1. Defining your audience
‘Content’ has become the collective name for any kind of creative work in marketing. It takes on many different forms when educating and engaging with your audience. The flexibility of content allows businesses to generate content in different ways – but whether you post one blog a week or two eBooks a month, you need to make sure that your content is tailored towards your audience.
But how do you define that audience? How do you decide how and when to post? There are some important marketing decisions you’ll need to make that will help you make those decisions.
What are your goals?
Before you create content, you need to define your goals – otherwise, you’re writing with no purpose. When you create content, you need to consider that different types of content have different aims – social content should drive traffic to your site, where an eBook will attract phone or in-person meetings. You need to decide if you’re trying to increase organic traffic to your website, nurturing sales leads, or driving conversions.
This decision will help you create Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which set out a concrete aim for each goal. Deciding on metrics to track will help you see the value in different channels – track your downloads, shares, unique page visits – and you’ll find out exactly what your audience wants.
Who are your target audience?
Your existing audience are the best people to tell you what kind of content you should create. The goal of anything you make should be to provide value to your customers – anything that’s just promotional content without any consumer value will come across to them as simply white noise. Make sure your content always prioritizes consumer value before direct sales.
With a combination of audience insights, demographics and psychographics, you can identify opportunities to reach both your current audience and new audiences. Find what they’re searching for online, the problems they’re trying to solve, and how they want to improve their lives. If you can offer them a suitable solution, they’ll choose you and become loyal to your brand.
How will you target your audience?
Personas help you define your audience and what they’re looking for – a persona is a document that outlines a fictionalised version of your average customer, what they’re looking for and why you’re the best option for them. This creates a character that you can target your content at – details like income, age, education and personality can help you visualise your potential customers.
Once you understand their motivations, you’ll find it far easier to create content that your audience are searching for. You’ll also be able to identify the most effective channels to reach them through.
What kind of voice does your brand use?
Your business’s voice is defined by the way you write and your tone of voice. From the stylistic and grammar conventions you use to the terminology and tone of voice everything you publishes needs to be consistent.
A concrete guide to how to write for your brand ensures that anyone internally or externally can write in your company’s voice. This can be a very useful document for maintaining internal understanding of your brand as well as developing your brand’s personality. An easy way to establish a brand voice is by picking three adjectives you’d like your brand to embody. For instance; knowledgeable, friendly and helpful.
What’s your unique selling point (USP)?
To gain advantage over competitors, you need to define exactly what sets you apart. Your value proposition explains why you’re the best choice in your market and what benefits you can provide. A good value proposition will sit on your homepage and many other subpages, and it will communicate to your customers exactly why they should pick you.
One of the most important things about value propositions is that they must be written in simple language – no jargon. Write a simple statement outlining what your business does, who you’re doing it for, and how it’s the best on the market, in the language that your customers actually use. Your customers want to know how you’re going to make their lives easier – so tell them.
2. Creating content
Depending on your industry, you’ll need to create different types of content to attract your audience. Using your personas and market research will allow you to identify the channels and content that best suit your audience so you can target accordingly.
Here are some of the types of content your brand can use in your content strategy.
Short-form content often addresses topical or time-sensitive issues, as it’s easier to quickly generate. Blogs and videos are more likely to be shared through social media, gaining you organic traffic and improving your brand visibility.
Blogs – Blogs are bread and butter content. Most businesses underestimate the value of a regularly updated blog, but it improves your SERP rankings and positions you as a knowledge leader in your industry. You can use online tools to generate ideas for blogs based on your keywords.
Social media – Social media channels are a great way to publish original content, develop your brand and reach new audiences. Once you’ve decided which channels will reach your target audience, social media planning software will help you schedule and post content easily.
Infographics – Infographics typically summarise studies with statistics, and while more labour intensive than blogs, are very shareable. Linking an infographic back to your website is very effective for creating backlinks to your website. Try surveying your customers and creating an infographic with the results.
Videos – If your audience responds well to video, you can create a wealth of informational clips which are engaging and easy to share. Including a video in a post increases organic traffic from search results by 157%, so if you’re creating video content, is definitely worth it. How-to videos and tutorials can perform very well, so consider creating this type of content.
Long form content provides long-term value for your business. Therefore, it’s best to pick an ‘evergreen’ topic that isn’t time-sensitive. Long-form content is valuable for SEO, because it offers you a chance to use more long-tail keywords. It’s a good idea to publish a longer form piece once or twice a month.
eBooks – These are examples of long-form content that sit between a blog and a whitepaper – usually between 1200 and 1500 words. They’re more formal than a blog, but less academic than a Whitepaper. eBooks are great for in-depth looks at topics that’ll increase the average page visit length.
Case studies – In order to extoll the benefits of working with your business, a case study acts as a testimonial. You can ask customers to help you tell the story of how they succeeded with you. Look at Google’s case studies for inspiration.
Research studies – Research studies are shareable in the same way as infographics. By commissioning independent research, you’ll be able to generate useful statistics that entice publications and influencers to share your work, widening the reach of your content.
Whitepapers – Written in a more academic style, whitepapers are often used in B2B marketing as they can provide a platform for in-depth, technical and academic findings and discussion. They’re often around 2500 words, so make sure you’re an expert in your industry if you want to publish one.
3. Creating your content marketing strategy
When you’ve decided what kind of content you’ll create and when and where you’ll publish, you have the basis of your content strategy. This is the guide you’ll use to generate ideas, create new content, and manage your existing content.
Once your content is in place, the final step is distribution: getting your valuable work seen by the right people to make it stand out in the crowd.
Schedule with a content calendar
A detailed plan of what you’ll publish and when—including team members’ publishing responsibilities and notable events that you can plan content around—will keep your plan on track. Your strategy is important, but without a solid outline of how you’ll execute your strategy, it’s likely your content won’t be prioritized.
A calendar will arrange the frequency and time of day that you’ll post content – you can figure out optimal timings by checking engagement through your content management system and seeing when people engage most with your content. Depending on your preference, you can schedule content with your existing team calendar or use your content management system.
Your content cycle doesn’t end at publication – measuring its success gives you insights about how your audience are interacting with your content and how you can improve your strategy.
Content marketing might seem difficult to measure but tracking the performance of your content will show you what you’re doing right and what you can improve. Tracking content ensures that you’re optimising your marketing ROI and making the best decisions about what kind of content you’ll produce in the future. Use metrics like downloads, page visits and shares to see how your audience are engaging with your content.
Planning for success
Content marketing is a method that incorporates any number of different creative outputs. Your creativity and your research are what makes your content strategy perfect for your business. To truly reap the benefits that good content brings, your strategy is just as important as the content itself.
By optimising the content you’re writing for your audience, and providing genuine value, you can increase organic traffic and conversions. And don’t forget make the most of the unique offerings your business has – they’re what make your business different. We’ll be posting a follow-up to this blog where we tell you how to create a content strategy.
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