Over the years, consumers have become increasingly distrusting of traditional advertising. Content marketing has since grown itself as the favoured digital marketing method of choice for contemporary marketers. However, content marketing must be utilized strategically to deliver the results you want.
In this article, we’ll cover:
• What a content strategy is
• Why you need a content strategy
• What steps are needed to develop a content strategy
What is a content strategy?
A content strategy is your businesses approach to creating and distributing content for your target audience. The management of which may take place across multiple channels, including social media platforms, newsletters and even a website blog.
A successful content strategy is one that seeks to understand the needs and wants of your target audience, and focuses on developing content that is educational, informative and relevant to this target audience. A successful content strategy is also one in which is planned carefully, with purpose in mind. When you develop a content strategy, there are a few key points to consider:
Who your target audience is?
Who is your content aimed at? How many audiences are you creating content for? If you’ve looked at your customer analytics, you will likely know you have a wide variety. Your content strategy can cater for all their interests and needs.
By employing numerous content channels and types, you’ll be able to create unique, targeted content that engages all of your customers, not just a specific persona group.
What format’s will you publish your content in?
In what form do you intend to publish your content? There are a plethora of different formats, each with their individual positives and negatives. Infographics, videos, images and blog posts can all be leveraged to convey your content in creative and engaging ways.
What digital channels will you exploit?
In today’s digital age, content channels are almost endless. Will you publish content on your website or blog? Will you send informational newsletters out to clients? Will you leverage your social media presence and publish content on your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages?
Why you need a Content Strategy
Businesses need a content marketing strategy in order to curate meaningful, cohesive, engaging, evergreen content that will continue to drive organic traffic to their website and generate sales. Content enables your brand to showcase its subject matter expertise, consolidating it as a trustworthy, industry leading business.
Creating content without a strategy in mind, simply for the sake of putting content out there, can be a costly and time-consuming mistake. By creating a strategy before publishing content, you will allow for the creation of more targeted, relevant content, which in turn will garner greater levels of engagement and is thus’ likely to result in a higher ROI for content marketing efforts.
Create your own content marketing strategy
1. Set your goal(s)
Why do you want to publish content? What do you hope to get out of doing so? Starting with an end business goal in mind will aid in keeping content focused and on topic. At this point in the content strategy process, it’s worth considering setting up your analytics software, e.g Google Analytics. These analytics tools will allow you to track imperative metrics, such as page views, conversions and social media engagement.
2. Identify your target audience
Researching your target audience should always be at the forefront of any content marketing strategy. By learning about your target audience, you know what content formats are preferred, what topics generate the most engagement and more. By knowing this information, you’ll be able to curate relevant, targeted content to meet their needs and generate subsequent conversions.
3. Undertake keyword research
If you’re not new to marketing, you’ll be familiar with the phrase, and process of, ‘keyword research’. It’s the seed of almost any strategy or decision in marketing - its importance unparalleled.
After you’ve determined your target audience – who you want to curate content for – the next step is to carefully and methodically research the keywords relevant to this audience. The aim here is to discover what your target audience are searching for and provide content for which they are searching. How do I find what my audience are searching for, you ask? There are a number of software tools on the market to aid in this. However, as a free and openly available tool, Keyword Planner is often a good place to start.
Based on the search terms you have found, identify a handful of topics, or longtail keywords, that your target audience searches for most. For example, for the industry of wedding cakes, you may identify the following longtail keywords: “wedding cake styles” and “wedding cake decorations”. You would then create content targeting these topics. You may write a blog post titled “Top Ten Wedding Cake Decorations”.
Learn more about how to conduct your own keyword research here.
4. Conduct a content audit
This step is less relevant to those that are running newly established businesses, with a lack of historic content. However, its crucial for those businesses that have been operating for a while, and therefore producing content over a longer period. Reviewing your content from last year, or the last few years for that matter, will allow you to assess what worked and what could have been done better. Use this information to set new goals for the upcoming year.
5. Perform a competitor analysis
Once you have identified your target audience, and the keywords in which you will target, it’s a good idea to analyse competitor activity. Review their social media and blog content to highlight the topic areas and keywords in which they’re targeting and ranking for. For their ranked pages, study the keywords used, content length, tone and use of embedded video or images. If you perceive their content to be deficient in any way, this is a prime opportunity for you to produce higher quality content.
6. Determine your content distribution channels
There are a plethora of distribution channels to choose from, including social media platforms, newsletters and blogs. Depending on how large your marketing team is, our suggestion would be to target only a handful of distribution channels. This way, your content won’t be spread too thin, and you’ll be able to focus on producing relevant, quality content, to the right audience and through the right channels.
7. Determine the formats you will publish content in
The most successful content marketing strategies often employ a variety of content approaches. Research, conducted by Content Marketing Institute, found that an average of 15 different content forms are used by marketers. The most popular of which are:
• Blog Posts
• Case Studies
• Social Media
Almost every website, no matter the industry or niche, will likely have a blog. This blog may vary from website to website in its purpose and objectives. However, no matter the objectives, posts should provide underlying value to the target audience. Research has shown that generally, Google’s algorithm prefers longer content (<1000 words). Don’t let this be a final decider though. Publish a variety of content, at varying lengths and let your audience decide what they prefer.
Case studies have grown in popularity over recent years, being used as an effective medium by marketers to convey a businesses’ ability to deliver on what their product or service promises prospective clients. Case studies aim to instil trust, highlighting the return-on-investment previous clients have gained from entering into business with them; a value proposition if you will, communicated via a compelling business relationship study.
Case studies have the potential to be extremely dynamic, able to take the form of either a blog post, video or infographic.
Infographics give your business the opportunity to convey important statistics, in an appealing, digestible way. Data being organised and visualised in this manner may aid in increasing engagement. For companies who produce a lot of data, infographics are a great content format option.
Around 7.1 million people in the UK now listen to podcasts each week according to the Media Nations 2019 report. This represents an increase of 24% on last year. By creating a podcast, it will help your brand reach this audience, who may choose podcasts as an alternative to traditional content consumption.
Videos remain to be one of, if not, the most engaging form of content a business can publish. With an estimated 5 billion videos watched per day on YouTube, 500 million Facebook users watching video every day and Snapchat generating 10 billion views each day, it’s fair to proclaim that video content should be a crucial component of any content marketing strategy.
Videos, compared to other content mediums, are proven to be more captivating, helping to draw the attention of users. In terms of engagement, video content is said to be forty times more likely to be shared on social media, compared to text-based content.
With 97% of marketers using social media to reach their audiences (Lyfe Marketing, 2018), it’s a recognised, imperative content medium. Posting on social media creates a crucial point of contact, allowing for interaction and engagement with your audience. The number of social networks available continues to grow. However, the main networks are:
Each social network is uniquely tailored towards a certain content format. On Instagram, for example, users expect to find creative images, videos and infographics, allowing for the quick visual digest of information.
Facebook opens more doors in regard to expected content variety. Users on Facebook have come to expect a variety of different content, including videos, promotional posts, blog posts and even podcast snippets! This is quite the contrary to twitter, with its main purpose being to provide short, easily consumable content that sparks conversations.
With social media, despite each platform having their standardised content formats, it’s worth experimenting with different formats across all platforms and seeing what your audience resonate with.
8. Establish a content calendar
Now that you have an idea of what to post and where, the next step is to establish how often. Depending on the channels you’ve decided to distribute content on, the frequency of postings is likely to vary. For example, a long and detailed blog post is likely to be posted less frequently than a social post.
When deciding on publication frequency, it’s always a good idea to dig into your analytics data. Analyse the times of the day when your audience are most active. Take a look at your previously most engaged postings and analyse when these were published. These statistics will help you decide on the perfect time to distribute content, in order to gain the most visibility and engagement.
Once you have decided on a frequency, it’s time to create a content calendar.
A content, or editorial, calendar can help you organise and control the publication of content across all of your chosen distribution channels. Some content calendar’s, such as Hootsuite, also allow for the automated scheduling of content. This saves you valuable time and will allow for the management of multiple channels with greater ease.
Conclusion - What now?
After reading this blog post, you may be feeling slightly overwhelmed. However, your content marketing strategy should be something you invest your time in, and really nail. With the information provided to you in this blog post, you’ll have armed yourself with a crucial foundation to build upon.