In previous posts, we have spent a lot of time stressing the merits and importance of social media marketing, SEO, and making your business’ presence known via online marketing. While social media marketing is an important piece of your business’ online marketing campaign, we should not discuss social media marketing without delving into an in-depth discussion on content marketing and the strategy which must go into building the frame work of a successful content marketing campaign.
To start our discussion on content strategy, it is necessary to develop a definition of what content strategy is. The go-to definition of content strategy comes from Kristina Halvorson, author of “Content Strategy for the Web”. According to Halvorson, content strategy is “planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content”.
To expand on this quote, content marketing is an ongoing, malleable process whose fluidity and evolution is guided by you based on in-depth market research and practical experience. It is not a single solution or a singular answer to all of your online marketing needs. Instead, think of content strategy as an ever changing process aimed at achieving a set of specific goals.
With this definition of content strategy in mind, it is also important to discuss content strategy in realistic terms with regard to the importance of investing considerable portions of your marketing budget to the creation of your own content strategy. While the initial time investment to get your content marketing efforts off the ground may seem steep, approaching content marketing with a well laid out plan means your efforts are supported by a solid framework which you are able to build off of.
Further to this point, the content strategy you develop is yours alone and therefore customizable to your needs and can be altered to fit into your budget. The important thing to remember is that without a plan in place for reaching your content marketing goals, you are far less likely to get where you want to be!
Before you delve into the task of building a content strategy, there is a considerable amount of leg work and research that needs to be done. Sussing out your competition online is a good place to start. Take the time to have a look at your competitor’s website, Facebook Page, Twitter, and all of their other social media profiles. Take notice of what type of content your competitors are posting, and how their audience is responding to it. This will give you a starting place when it comes to creating and posting your own content as you can learn from your competitor’s successes and failures.
With content marketing, as with most aspects of online marketing, you will find that it is heavily interwoven with search engine optimization. As such, your content strategy is going to involve a hefty amount of keyword research. Keyword research is of paramount importance when it comes to the success of your website. By finding the right keywords, you’re giving your business a leg up on the competition by allowing yourself to target, not just internet users, but you can expertly target the demographic that is most likely to invest in your business. For an excellent beginners guide to keyword research and search engine optimization, check out SEOmoz’s article “Keyword Research“.
The prep work for laying out a successful content strategy will also involve a lot of market research and analysis. The clients that you already have can serve as a great sample population for your research. An excellent strategy here can be to conduct surveys which are related to your clients’ purchasing decisions, their overall opinion of your company, and how they feel about the interactions they have had with your business.
The type of questions you ask your customers and clients will depend largely on your type of business and whether your company is B2C or B2B. When it comes to B2C clients, you are going to want to take note of specific demographic related information. You will want your survey participants to disclose their gender, age, occupation, and other personal details. You will want to go into depth finding out things like their annual income, family details and martial status.
B2B survey questions will be less personal, though you will still want to gather information about their specific industry, job title, etc. B2B survey questions should revolve more around the product or service that you offer.
For some examples and market survey templates, SurveyMonkey is a valuable resource.
The first step to take in building your content strategy is to set a goal. Make your goal as broad as you like. This goal, while it should not be looked at as a stationary entity, will serve to focus your content marketing efforts. To this end it will be important to begin measuring some important analytics such as your site’s traffic, page views, pages per visit, time spent on site, conversion rate, bounce rate, domain authority, linking root domains, and your page’s rankings.
By utilizing your analytics right from the start, you create a benchmark against which the progress of your content marketing efforts can be measured.
With the above measures in mind, it is time to take stock of the content you have already created and determine its usefulness, success, or failure. Creating a content audit provides you with the opportunity to learn from what you have already done and to seek out documents and information for future posts and opportunities.
Part of putting together your content audit will be analyzing what is already on your site and determining the success of it’s performance by utilizing analytics to determine how your audience engaged with that piece of content. Additionally, you will want to look at some SEO metrics such as linking root domains, and page authority. Finally, you will want to determine how relevant your content is to your audience and what type of user would find that piece of content useful.
Next you will need to think about how each of your pieces of content affect your audience and what your goal is for your post. There are 6 distinct areas which your content and posts will fall into:
Taking stock of your content in this way will allow you to know what type of content you will need to create going forward.
Before moving forward with your content marketing efforts, you will want to make clear the process involved with creating and posting new content. What we mean by this is that you will need to have a clear understanding of which members of our team will be involved in creating content, and who will be responsible for approving and posting your content. You will also want to take note of the timeline for content creation, approval and posting. Being consistent with the frequency of your posts is important and a timeline for posting needs to be established.
The team responsible for your content will want to decide on a tone and voice for your content. In determining your voice you will also want to agree upon the type of content that will be created for the site.
Once you have laid out the framework of your content marketing strategy, you will want to look into finding a community for yourself. Part of this is going to involve finding and targeting influencers. In order to find the influencers in your community, we recommend a site like Followerwonk.
Now that you have done your due diligence and set about creating your content strategy, it is time to begin creating your content. You will want to ensure that each piece of content falls within your pre-established guidelines for what you want to post and the tone and voice you want it to be posted in.
As you are creating your content, it is important that in addition to being an accurate portrayal of how you want the public to view you, it is compelling content as well. For some tips on creating top notch content, have a look at our previous blog post: “Tips to Compelling Content“.
If you’re unsure of what type of content to create, have a look back at your keyword research and build topics for your content out of these keywords. You should also take into consideration what the goal for the post is: Is it an Awareness post? Will it fall in the Trigger category? Or is it meant to keep your customer coming back to you, etc Having come up with a number of topics in this way, you will be able to hammer out a timeline for creating and posting this content.
When making a content timeline, remember that this process is ongoing and subject to change. Be ready to rework your timeline and content strategy as you go. You will quickly learn that some posts work better than others, and you will want to celebrate and learn from your successful posts.
When looking at your content strategy, envision a circle – something ongoing and cyclical. Like the circle, your content strategy will end where it began only to begin again. As you started out by utilizing analytics to get started, you will rely on analytics to give you an accurate measure of your progress as compared with the snapshot of where you were before setting out on your content marketing efforts.
By looking at how a piece has performed, you will be able to alter any further content marketing efforts according to your results. If a particular piece of content fell flat, you will know to avoid that subject matter or medium. If something performed exponentially well, you will know to replicate it thus changing the shape of your future content marketing efforts to give you that much more of a shot at reaching your goal.