From messy whiteboards to overambitious content calendars, building a content marketing strategy can get complicated fast. But, with a little prior preparation, it is possible to create an effective content program to compliment any marketing objective. Keep things simple, trim the bells and whistles, learn what works and stay focused on the prize.
Here are 10 tips to build your business’ content marketing strategy to get the results you want, without all the clutter:
1. Outline a clear goal
Whether you wish to improve organic rankings, bring more users to your site or just add more subscribers to a newsletter, defining what exactly you wish to accomplish with your content marketing plan is an important first step to success. Since different goals require different approaches, having a clear core goal serves a baseline to build out from. All subsequent content created through your strategy should be rooted in and contribute to this primary objective.
2. Identify a target audience
Who are you marketing your business to? Who are you creating your product for? Creating personas helps add a certain degree of creative light to your core marketing objective. Not only do personas add faces to your audience, but they also help outline what questions that audience might have about your product. Why might your target audience want your product? How are you different from other businesses in your industry?
When creating your personas, be sure to provide as much detail as possible. Get creative with them: assign names, ages, hobbies and even pictures. Because writing content that ‘Jim’ might like is much easier than figuring out what ‘male, aged 25-35, Toronto’ might like. This comes in especially handy, and provides a cohesive vision, when working with multiple content creators.
Still not sure who your audience is? Here are some tips on creating buyer personas using Google Analytics.
3. Audit existing content
To avoid creating duplicate content, look for internal linking opportunities to include in new content or to identify gaps in your existing content portfolio, run a careful report of all content on your site. Having a detailed snapshot of what exactly is on your site can help you identify gaps which need immediate attention, provide insight on new ideas for new pieces or flag outdated content which can use a revamp.
4. Brainstorm content topics
Having a well thought out bank of content ideas ensures you can deliver consistent current material. Once you asses your core goals, current existing content, target audiences and content gaps, try putting together a rough calendar or list of content ideas. This adds an overarching organizational structure to your content strategy and serves as a quick reference point to track the status of your strategy.
5. Choose a medium
Before creating your first piece of content, determine which medium works best for your target audience. Are short videos going to work better than long-form written content? Are photos the best way to convey your message? How is your content consumed? Does your target audience favour desktop to mobile?
Settling on a medium to present your content through also helps set the perimeters as to what kind of content ideas you can build on. For example, if your business is visual, photo or video might work best. Whereas, if your product is more abstract, written content might be better at conveying your core message.
The most important, and seemingly obvious, part of any content marketing strategy is execution. Once all the wheels of your strategy are in place, it is time to start creating and to keep the momentum going. As a rule: To avoid fizzling out, never bite off more content than you can chew.
Not sure what voice to use? The art of corporate storytelling is not as hard as it sounds.
Once your content is complete and ready to be shared with the world, determine how best to publish your piece. Details regarding your content, such as the medium chosen for presentation, can help lead you in the right direction. If you create a video, for example, you might consider writing a short accompanying synopsis for Blog or social media posts.
Don’t have a business Blog? Here is a quick checklist for setting up this powerful platform.
Note: For measurement purposes, try to diversify your choice of channels to publish on. Posting on multiple channels provides a more robust comparative model.
8. Look for amplification opportunities
To help give your content an initial boost, try reaching out to influencers within your industry. Whether a social media personality with thousands of followers or a respected information outlet, industry thought leaders can get your message out there and give it credibility. In addition to pumping out your content, influencers may even be able to contribute to your content or include your content in their own pieces.
To determine where improvements are needed and to provide insight into future pieces, keep track of how your content is performing. In particular, pay careful attention to how people are interacting your piece. Understanding the implications of different behaviour can help flag positive and negative parts of your piece.
For example, if you post a YouTube video on Twitter, and it is liked and shared by many people, and the same video is posted on your Blog, where it enjoys marginal success, you might consider Twitter to be your best audience for video. But other issues could point to how it is posted on your Blog or whether your Blog is mobile-friendly.
Note: Familiarize yourself with the analytics tools of the platform you post your content on. For example, YouTube Analytics provides data on different aspects of your videos, from what times people drop off to the device type viewers use to consume your content.
From applying new insights to discovering more about your audience, a good content marketing strategy is cyclical, with the lessons learned from one piece feeding into the next. Think of it like taking care of a plant: when a plant grows a leaf, we adapt our care to nurture that leaf, with the intention of growing more using the same methods. The same can be said of content, where repeated nurturing behaviour maintains a healthy system and spurs further natural growth.
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