Whether you’re just starting out with content marketing or are in need of a quick refresher course, having an effective content strategy in place is important for one key reason: content is king – and always will be.
Content strategies not only improve marketing results and return-on-investment (ROI) opportunities but they also enable businesses to more easily identify their target consumer, making other marketing techniques easier to carry out off the back of it.
The following statistics support this:
- 57% of digital marketers rate ‘relevant content creation’ as the most effective SEO tactic there is.
- 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing to reach customers, while 86% of B2C marketers believe it is a key strategy to use.
- 95% of people only look at the first page of search results – so, if you’re not on there, you won’t be seen.
- Blog content creation is a top priority for approximately 53% of marketers worldwide.
- Email marketing offers a £40 ROI for every £1 spent.
How to nail your content marketing strategy
There are 5 key questions that you need to consider before creating a sustainable content strategy, the who, what, why and how which we explain in more detail below.
Who will be reading your content?
One of the more pivotal questions you need to ask yourself is who exactly is your target audience.
If, for example, you have more than one type of reader you’d like to target, this will need to be drafted into your content plan, since it could impact the channels you later decide to use.
Likewise, your target consumer(s) could affect the type of content you produce – so, by focusing on just one type of reader to start with, you could end up overly narrowing your scope before you’ve really got going.
What problems are you looking to solve for your target audience?
The content you have available on your website should address a key issue you’ve identified your target consumer as having.
Take the recent release of the new Xbox Series X and Playstation 5, for instance. If you’re a technology company who sells both consoles, why not make the purchasing process a lot easier for your target consumers by creating content that outlines the differences between the two systems?
Your content should build trust and authority and, fundamentally, gently persuade your customers that you’re a company they can trust.
What is it that makes your business unique?
Unless you’re running an incredibly niche business, you will probably have a competitor or two offering the same products or services as you do.
Therefore, you need to emphasise to your customers what it is that makes your business better than the rest, highlighting the key reasons why they should choose you over the others.
Doing this effectively will, again, rely on the quality of your content and how trustworthy it comes across. In other words, you need to prove to your consumers why you are a company worth listening to.
Which types of content suit you best, and where do you want to publish them?
The types of content you produce will greatly impact the channels you use to promote them on.
Blogs, articles and other forms of written content are great to share on your website, for instance. But more interactive content, like videos, images, polls and quizzes, are better-placed on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
How will you manage the regularity of your content creation?
Executing an effective content strategy requires dedication as well as being realistic about how much content you can produce, and when you will be able to execute it. Do you have the capacity to write one, two or three blog pieces a week or month?
Creating and publishing regular content is essential from a marketing perspective so it is important to organise your content strategy into a realistic schedule before starting.
The golden rules of content marketing
Now that you have understood your target reader, the types of content you wish to produce and the schedule, it is time to start on the content strategy itself.
Developing your content strategy depends on the individual business in question. A construction company who targets locally, for example, will require different content to a global corporation.
Rule One: Define Your Goal
When defining the goal for your content strategy you need to ask yourself two questions – why do you want to create a content marketing plan in the first place? And what exactly are you looking to achieve from it?
If you identify and define your goals upfront it will help shape your strategy and determine whether the content was successful or not.
Rule Two: Conduct Market Research
Identifying and understanding your target market through market research is another golden rule of content marketing. It is especially important for start-up and smaller businesses to consider.
In essence, you need to create your content strategy around your target consumer. So, the easiest way to do exactly that is by knowing how they think, act and interact with various content channels.
Rule Three: Run A Content Audit
If you have been creating and publishing content already – whether it be website content, blog posts, newsletters, videos, eBooks, etc – it’s a good idea to conduct a content audit, a detailed analysis of all the content created so far.
In doing so, you’ll be able to understand what has worked, what has not and use these insights to inform your strategy moving forward.
While it may take a bit of time to do this, it will help align your strategy with data-driven insights and can also highlight untapped potential for example, updating or promoting existing content on new channels.
Rule Four: Set Up A Content Management System
While you may find it easy to keep on top of the content you’re producing at first, it will become more cumbersome over time. It is worth thinking about how you will create, manage and track your content and looking at ‘off the shelf’ content management systems (CMS) system or a spreadsheet to do this.
This will help you keep on top of all the information you need including the publication date, backlink profile, analytics etc and ultimately will help when you look back at the goals and success criteria set.
By identifying the best system to utilise within your business as part of your content strategy, you could save yourself a lot of time as a result, helping you focus your time on the actual content itself rather than organising it.
Rule Five: Think About Your Channels
While you may largely think of content in its written form, there are several different ways to publish your content.
From videos to eBooks to case studies to infographics to videos to podcasts, it’s up to you to decide which channels are most relevant to your business and target audience.
Going back to our Xbox vs. Playstation example, this sort of topic could work great as a podcast topic, video or written article. However, it may not work so well utilised as an infographic or eBook, largely due to the type of quick short-form content it is.
Therefore, with every bit of content, you decide to include within your strategy, you’ll also need to determine how best to publish it. Otherwise, you could end up producing a lot of quality content that people simply won’t see.
Rule Six: Get Creative
OK, it’s time for the fun part – coming up with creative content ideas.
Now you know your target audience and the best type of content channels to use, the content ideas should be flowing, seamlessly addressing any knowledge gaps you noticed while conducting your market research.
However, if you’re struggling to come up with your own ideas, websites like Google, BlogAbout, BuzzSumo and Feedly are great tools to utilise instead, highlighting some of the key things consumers search for that are relevant to your industry.
And ‘relevancy’ is the key thing to remember here; if you aren’t publishing content that meets your target consumer’s needs, you’ll only end up wasting time.
Rule Seven: Manage Your Content
Your content strategy doesn’t end after you’ve hit ‘publish’ – you’ll need to carry on managing it effectively to ensure you develop well-balanced and diverse content assets across your website and other channels.
To help with this, you should create an editorial calendar to organise the content you want to produce, and when. You can then organise the evergreen ideas you came up with originally and make space for the time-sensitive topics that you won’t be able to see coming just yet.
Cadence is vital when it comes to shaping an effective content strategy. Without publishing content on a regular basis you can lose vital trust signals.
To combat this effectively, produce your content in advance and utilise your CMS to publish it at the appropriate time – as well as inline with your editorial calendar.
We’ve covered the whats, whys, whens and hows of developing a content strategy and you should have enough information to get started. The key thing to remember is that there is no such thing as a one-approach-fits-all-type solution when it comes to content marketing.
Depending on what it is your business does, who your target consumer is and what you’re trying to achieve, the content you produce should be tailored to your individual circumstances and updated on a regular basis.
Creating regular, engaging, consistent content requires commitment and hard work but, as the statistics above show, it’s one of – if not – the most effective marketing technique there is.