- How you can get started creating your content strategy
- A 3 step process to help you create content for your audience
- Advice about how to improve your existing content strategy
Almost all marketers find themselves searching ‘how to create a content strategy’ at one point or another. Content marketing strategies can be intimidating because of the amount of detail that must go into them. But the actual process of routinely pushing out fresh, relevant content can be made much easier by first creating a plan.
Recently we wrote an introduction to content marketing strategies which you should consider reading before this blog. It offers a look at the key components that you’ll need to understand for creating a content strategy, and this blog will cover building out the strategy itself.
We’re going to look the three key steps that will help you define your content strategy by helping you create your own content strategy blueprint.
Step 1 – Decide what you want to achieve with your content
Content shouldn’t be created for content’s sake. Many companies feel like they have to have a blog or a social media page, but they don’t set out a clear goal for what they want to create and why. Your content needs to offer clear value to your target audience, or they won’t want to read it.
You’ll need to decide why you’re creating content – are you looking to increase revenue or site traffic? Improve your search rankings? Get better ROI on your marketing spend? Identify your business’s most pressing priorities and align them with your content goals. If you want to increase website traffic, you may want to focus on more attractive ad copy. Whereas if you’re looking to improve your search rankings, your priority will be finding and targeting the right keywords. Once you have concrete goals, you’ll be able to easily identify whether your content is effective or not, rather than by using guesswork.
To help you track the performance of your content, create key performance indicators (KPIs) that are measurable. KPIs will give you a true idea of how successful your content is by giving you meaningful metrics to monitor. For instance, a good KPI would be ‘To achieve a 20% click-through rate on our monthly newsletter by the end of the year’. This is something that can be measured and that will indicate how your content is performing. Depending on the KPI you choose, you can monitor its performance in different ways.
Content measuring tools
You’ll then need to pick the tools you’ll use to track your content’s performance across different platforms. Google Analytics and Moz are useful tools that’ll help you identify what types of content perform best, and the peak times you should be posting. Hootsuite allows you to post from multiple social media accounts, see analytics and monitor important topics in your industry. You can find a list of all kinds of content monitoring tools here.
Step 2 – Find out who you’re making content for
Whatever you’re creating should target a specific audience. To do this, you’ll need to know exactly who to write for. It’s impossible to create content that will interest everyone, so focus on providing the information that your key demographics need.
Depending on who your audience are, they’ll want different things. To help you define your audience, you’ll need to find out more about them. Demographics from your website, blog and social media channels are a good place to start. Use email surveys and the form fields on your website to collect information about your audience. Interview existing customers and leads to find out more about what kind of content speaks to them the most, and what they would like to see more of.
The demographics and market research you collect about your target audience will allow you to create personas. A buyer persona is a fictionalised version of a segment of your audience who you’ll target your content at. For example, if one of your personas is a millennial, you’ll be able to find the type of content that this demographic interacts with online and use that knowledge to influence what you create. Personas should include details like age, profession, their content preferences, their main problems and what they’re looking for. This way, you’ll be able to create content that solves their problems.
Your audience will look for content in different places. Social media has a very different purpose than a blog, and you’ll need to know where your audience is to attract them. Look at what your audience is searching for on Google and try to identify the language they use. Google Trends is a good place to start – you can see the specific terms people use to search in your industry and refine your keywords accordingly. Tools like Moz will analyse your audience and identify the industry they’re in, helping you create content that’s industry-specific with relevant keywords.
Obviously, you’ll need to decide what kind of content you’ll make. Your audience should help you choose – which platforms do they already use? What kind of content do they already consume? Most businesses opt for a mix of blogging, social media, eBooks and whitepapers. To start off, try generating ideas for ten blogs – if you’re stuck for ideas, use a blog idea generator. Social media works best when you’re posting about trending topics, so find out where you can join the conversation with tools like TrendSpottr.
Tone of voice guidelines
The style and tone of your writing should be adapted to your personas – language is key to grabbing a reader’s attention. An easy way to pick out your tone of voice is to choose three words that describe your brand’s voice, something like: helpful, informative, laid back. You also need to decide on the underlying messaging that speaks to your audience. Whether you’re creating blogs, videos, infographics, podcasts or any other type of content, the story you tell about your organisation and what you offer should be consistent and on-brand.
Step 3 – Create a content posting and measuring system
Organisation is a key part of your strategy. You’ll need to decide how and when you publish, because consistency is key when it comes to content. You’ll also need to know how to make the most of your posts by re-optimising and re-sharing existing content.
Now that you know what you want to create, you need to establish a process for writing and publishing. Tools like Trello and Asana can help you create processes with assigned tasks – accountability is important when it comes to content publishing, because otherwise the creative process can be messy. A structured process with at least one round of editing and proofing will ensure that everyone knows what they need to do and when.
You’ll also need to know when to publish to maximise engagement. Your engagement metrics will vary depending on what you’re posting and your audience. Key metrics you can measure include page views, total readers, finish rate or shares. A good practice to follow is to check your website and social media traffic to establish when your audience are most active and schedule posts accordingly. Start off by creating a schedule you know you can stick to, potentially three social media posts a week and one blog.
You should also continue to measure its performance over time. Posting content just once is a waste. Re-sharing your original content is an excellent way of increasing your SEO – the more people engage with your content, the higher your website will rank in SERPs. This is a great reason to create evergreen content like ‘how to’ guides. People will always need simple introductory content and it’ll perform well consistently over time. Tools like SEMrush can help you identify your best performing content. It’s great for your marketing ROI to improve your ranking content as well as posting new content.
How to create a content strategy: there’s no right way
All of the components you’ve created from steps one to three will form your overall content strategy. That’s not to say you can’t add extra components or change the format if you like – the whole point of this blueprint is for you to use and adapt it however you like.
Your content strategy is something you’ll need to develop over time as your business and your customers change. You’ll see how your content performs, then you’ll tweak, then you’ll create something new. It’s a process you need to be prepared to invest time in and see how it evolves. It’s up to you to decide on a process, content topics, and goals. There’s only one rule you’ll always need to follow.
Your content must always provide value to your audience.
As long as it does, your audience will seek you out. No amount of SEO or social media posts will trick people into engaging with you. Your content strategy, no matter what form it takes, should prioritise your audience and what you can do for them. The only way to create good content with value is to solve your audience’s problems. With that in mind, you’ll be on the right track.