May 12, 2014

Building a Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing can be an effective and versatile tool for any type of organisation, no matter what the size. It has benefits for SEO, customer engagement and retention, and many other areas of your business because it helps you to understand your customer, your products, and your marketing message. You aren’t directly selling to your customer – you are informing, influencing, and improving your relationship with them. But getting a strategy started (and maintaining that strategy) takes short and long-term planning. Regularly producing relevant content that drives customers to act isn’t a quick fix – but it is worth the time and effort!

Planning

Create a high-level strategy: The first stages of content marketing need to come from a high level in your organization – the director of marketing, CEO, etc. – who understands the audience, the marketing goals, and the overall business objectives in both the short and long term. Establishing a high-level strategy will allow others, like marketing staff or freelance writers, to confidently know what they are working towards. Here are some elements that should be established at the beginning of your content marketing plan:
·         Clear goals (e.g. Organic search rank, increased visitors, increased conversions, link building)
·         Target audience(s)
·         Topics to focus on
·         Content type(s) (e.g. Blogs, whitepapers, eBooks, video)
·         Where to delegate resources (i.e. Who is writing this stuff and how often)

Know the audience: Understanding your audience will influence so many parts of your content – from the language and tone to the choice of social media channels to the messages and offers you present. Pull from your existing knowledge of your audiences and build upon that information with analytics, social media strategy, and just asking for feedback – what do people want from you?

Design and devices: On a similar note, when distributing content, remember that your audience is most likely using various devices – from tablets to smartphones to work computers. For example, if your audience is mostly mobile, you may wish to focus on short-form content and cut back on images. Use data to find out what devices are being used and use this information to decide not only what type of content you’re going to produce, but how you are going to distribute that content.

Executing

Be transparent: All staff members – internal, freelancers, partner bloggers, etc. – must know and understand the content goals in order to produce the most relevant and valuable content that works for both the audience and your organisation. Sharing the KPIs associated with the content also allows staff to understand how their work is being used and measured – more on that later.

Distribute: Social media channels provide excellent avenues to share your content. But we tell our clients to host their content on their website because this is an asset you own (unlike accounts on third-party platforms). A blog, news section, or resources area on your website is where content lives, and then you can use social media to push out that content and direct users back to your website. The website is also where you can convert these audience members into loyal customers (and track them).

Consistency: A successful content marketing strategy must be nurtured, and this is often where a business falls short. By establishing your goals, topics you’d like to focus on, distribution channels, and the resources you can put towards the content (i.e. time and staff), you can maintain a successful content strategy – easy, right? Don’t forget one of the best tips in content marketing – repurposing existing content in new ways. Turn a whitepaper into a series of blog posts or videos, or update an old blog post with new ideas and updates. Get creative!

Improving

Measure KPIs: You carefully considered what goals to align with your content marketing strategy. Now it’s time to measure them. Establish a set of measureable KPIs that will determine whether you are reaching your content marketing objectives (e.g. X percentage increase in conversions). Determining KPIs that are connected to your goals will focus your strategy and help you make the right adjustments to improve your content marketing in the future.

Be flexible: Be ready to be flexible. Building a strategy and setting goals is essential, but don’t be afraid to change up the execution as you go along. See what’s working and what doesn’t, and make the necessary changes. 

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