What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word content strategy? Does it cause panic-inducing visions of poorly written blog posts, social media posts that lack any originality, or perhaps even worse: boring presentations with no real value? If so, then you’re not alone.
Many businesses struggle to find ways to effectively use content as part of their marketing efforts. In fact, according to HubSpot, only 11% of B2B marketers believe they have an effective content strategy. This means there are plenty of opportunities for growth and improvement within your organization.
If you want to improve your content marketing efforts, keep reading this blog post where I will define what a content strategy is, why it’s important, the top things you should consider, and finally where to get started so that you create an effective content strategy that hits the mark quickly while reducing the risk of failure.
Defining What a Content Strategy Is
Content strategy is the process of creating a plan for developing and distributing content across multiple channels. A content strategy aims to ensure that your brand message is consistent across all platforms.
Content strategy is a critical part of any marketing campaign. It helps companies develop their overall messaging and consistently communicate the same information to customers.
A good content strategy should include a variety of tactics such as social media posts, email campaigns, blog articles, etc. In addition, it should also consider the type of content being created (text, video, audio) and the medium through which it is being delivered.
I have found that failure to implement an effective content strategy is one of the primary driving factors that lead to a ceiling in your business growth and potential.
“Because It’s Not About You” – Why Your Content Strategy Matters
Your content strategy is important for a number of reasons. First, it helps you to focus your content on your target audience. By understanding who your target audience is, you can create content that appeals to them and helps you to achieve your business goals.
Second, your content strategy helps you to ensure that your content is consistent with your brand. Your content should reflect your brand’s voice and values and should be consistent with the overall look and feel of your website and other marketing materials.
Third, your content strategy can help you to save time and money by planning ahead. By knowing what kinds of content you need to create, you can avoid wasting time and money on content that doesn’t serve your goals.
Finally, your content strategy is important because it helps you to measure your success. By setting goals and measuring your results, you can adjust your content strategy as needed to ensure that you’re making the most impact with your content.
Content Strategy vs Content Marketing: A Comparison
Let’s face it, when it comes to content strategy vs content marketing, there can be a lot of confusion. And that’s because these terms are often used interchangeably when they’re actually two very different things.
So, what’s the difference between content strategy and content marketing? Here is a quick comparison of content strategy vs content marketing:
Content strategy is all about planning and creating a roadmap for your content. It is about understanding your audience and what kind of content will resonate with them.
Content strategy is focused on the long-term goals of your business and how content can help you achieve those goals.
A good content strategy takes into account all of the different ways that people consume content (e.g., text, video, audio) and creates a plan for creating and delivering that content.
Content marketing is about creating and distributing great content that your audience will find valuable.
Content marketing strategy is focused on generating leads and sales by providing helpful, informative, or entertaining content that speaks to the needs of your target customer.
A good content marketing strategy should be built on a foundation of quality content that is well-optimized and distributed through the right channels.
So, which one is more important? The truth is, they both are. A strong content strategy will help you create the right kind of content for your audience, while a strong content marketing strategy will help you get that content in front of the right people.
Which one do you focus on first? That depends on your goals. If your goal is to generate leads and sales, then a content marketing strategy should be your priority. But if your goal is to build a strong brand and establish yourself as an authority in your industry, then a content strategy should be your focus.
The bottom line is that you need both content strategy and content marketing to be successful with your online content. But which one you focus on first will depend on your specific goals.
The Elements of a Powerful Content Strategy
Now that we’ve answered the question “what is a content strategy?” it’s time to dive into the details of how to create one that will help you achieve your goals.
As we mentioned before, a content strategy is more than just a document or a plan. It’s a living, breathing guide that should be constantly updated as your business evolves and as your understanding of your audience grows.
That said, there are certain elements that every great content strategy should have. Here are the most important ones:
1. A Clear Understanding of Your Target Customer
2. A Focus on Creating Helpful, Informative, or Entertaining Content
3. A Plan for Optimizing and Distributing Your Content
4. A Commitment to Measuring the Right Metrics
5. A Connection Between Your Content and Your Business Goals
Use this list as a guide for the rest of the article as we will go into more depth about each one. Our hope is that our guidance will allow you to easily start fleshing out your own content strategy that will be effective from day one.
Developing Your Content Strategy – Where to Begin
Now that we’ve gone over the different elements of a great content strategy, it’s time to start putting one together.
The best place to start is by getting to know your target audience. As a business owner, it can be difficult to identify your target audience as there is a natural fear of neglecting to cast a wide enough net.
But if you want your content strategy to be successful, you need to have a clear understanding of who your target customer is.
Going through the process of defining your target audience can be a really eye-opening experience for business owners as it forces them to make considerations that they may have never thought of before.
Let’s discuss what this process looks like.
Define Your Target Market and Create Buyer Personas
Before you can create content that resonates with your audience, you need to first identify who your target market is. Once you’ve done that, you can then create buyer personas.
A target market is a group of people who share similar characteristics and who are likely to be interested in your product or service.
Some common characteristics used to identify a target market include:
Once you’ve identified your target market, you can then create buyer personas. Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customer. They take into account the characteristics of your target market and give you a more in-depth look at who your customer is, what they want, and how they make decisions.
To do this successfully, you should really concentrate on creating an avatar that is truly representative of an actual person. Be as specific as possible, and create a backstory for this person, the more specific you are the more easily you will be able to target their needs.
Creating buyer personas can seem like a daunting task, which is why we offer a template for creating your perfect buyer persona. Simply read to the end of this article and click the link to get access to our free buyer persona worksheet template.
When you’re done, introduce your persona to your coworkers or share it on your favorite social channel. Tag us in the comments as we would love to meet your persona!
Content Audits: A Potent Strategy for Success
Easily one of the most important parts of developing your content strategy is to analyze the content you already have, but what should you be looking for?
A traditional content audit will look at the following things:
Topic Gap Analysis:
This is a process of looking at the topics that you are already writing about and identifying any gaps in topics your audience would find useful that you haven’t covered or topics that you could provide explore in more detail to provide greater value
This is content that isn’t getting the engagement that you want it to. It could be that it’s not being shared or commented on, or that the bounce rate is high. Identify why it’s underperforming. Perhaps it’s as simple as rewriting the content or maybe it just isn’t of interest to your audience. Be willing to let content go if there’s no way to improve it or repurpose it into content.
This is content that is outdated and no longer relevant to your audience. For example, if you wrote a blog post about the best ways to use social media for marketing in 2014, it’s likely that much of the information in that post is no longer accurate. Rather than deleting this content, you can update it to make it relevant again.
This is content that is doing well in terms of engagement. It could be that it’s getting a lot of social shares, comments, or even conversions. Whatever the metric, this is content that you want to keep and use as a model for future content.
As you can see, conducting a content audit can give you a wealth of information about your current content strategy and where you need to make improvements.
One of the most important things to remember about your content strategy is that it needs to be fluid and ever-changing. Just because you come up with a plan that works today doesn’t mean it will still work tomorrow.
Be sure to regularly review your strategy and make changes as needed. By doing this, you’ll ensure that your content strategy is always working to achieve your business goals.
Defining Your Business Goals
The next step in creating a successful content strategy is to define your business goals. What are you hoping to achieve with your content efforts?
Some common business goals for a content strategy include:
- Generating leads
- Increasing brand awareness
- Driving traffic to a website
- Improving SEO
- Engaging customers
- Building customer loyalty
This is an often neglected part of developing an effective content strategy for non-marketers. Aligning your goals with your content creation needs to be a priority!
Failure to take this important step will be a roadblock in being able to develop a content strategy that works as it will be impossible to measure your success.
Measure Results – 4 Critical KPIs You Need to Track
So, you’ve gone through all the steps to conduct a content audit, determine your business goals, and develop buyer personas. But how do you know if your content strategy is actually working? The answer lies in measuring your results.
There are a number of different metrics you can track, but here are four of the most important KPIs you should be tracking:
- Consumption Metrics: How often is your content being consumed? This can be measured by looking at things like pageviews, the average time spent on a page, and scroll depth.
- Social Sharing Metrics: How often is your content being shared on social media? This can be measured by looking at the number of social shares for each piece of content. Often called engagement metrics, these can give you a good indication of how popular your content is.
- Lead Generation Metrics: How often is your content generating leads? This can be measured by looking at the number of leads generated from each piece of content. Creating a solid attribution modeling system can help you track this accurately.
- Sales Metrics: Much like lead generation metrics, sales metrics track how often your content is resulting in sales. This can be a bit more difficult to track, but it’s important to measure if your goal is to increase sales.
Not every business will need to track all four of these KPIs. It’s more important to focus on the KPIs that are most relevant to your business goals.
Keyword Research & Topic Clusters – Cover the Topics Your Audience is Dying to Learn About
Now that you know who your target market is and what they want, it’s time to start creating content. In order to create content that resonates with your audience and ranks well in search engines, you need to do your keyword research.
Keyword research is the process of finding words and phrases that potential customers are searching for in search engines. Once you’ve found these keywords, you can then create content around them.
To do keyword research, you can use a variety of different tools. Some of our favorites include Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, and Semrush
Once you’ve found a few keywords that you want to target, it’s time to start creating content around them. But before you start writing, it’s important to understand the concept of topic clusters.
A topic cluster is a group of related content pieces that all revolve around a central topic. Each piece of content in the cluster links to at least one other piece of content in the cluster. This helps search engines understand the relationship between the pieces of content and index them accordingly.
To put it simply, a topic cluster looks like this:
Central topic: How to start a business
-How to write a business plan
-How to register a business
-How to get funding for a business
-How to market a business
As you can see, each of the related topics links back to the central topic. This helps Google understand the relationship between the pieces of content and index them accordingly.
Not only does this help with SEO, but it also helps your audience because they can easily find all the information they need on a specific topic in one place.
Brand Strategy: Creating a Consistent Experience for your Audience
Careful thought and preparation paid to your brand’s story and messaging pay huge dividends when it comes to your content strategy. Your brand is what sets you apart from your competitors and gives your audience a reason to choose you over them.
Creating a consistent brand experience is essential to keeping your audience engaged. Every touchpoint that your audience has with your brand should reinforce the same message and story.
This means that everything from your website design to the way you answer customer service calls needs to be on-brand.
It goes without saying that your content creation and promotion need to reflect this consistency as well.
Creating a consistent brand experience can seem like a daunting task, but there are a few simple steps you can take to get started:
-Define your brand’s story and messaging. What are your core values? What makes you unique?
-Create style guidelines for your website and content. This should include things like your tone of voice, the colors you use, and the type of images you use.
-Make sure all your content is on-brand. This includes blog posts, social media posts, email newsletters, etc.
-Promote your content consistently. If you’re using social media to promote your content, make sure you’re using the same hashtags, colors, and style across all platforms.
By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to creating a consistent brand experience for your audience.
The Solutions to Your Content Creation Woes: Content Calendars
According to Marketing Profs, “63% of businesses don’t have a documented strategy”. Therefore, it’s no surprise to find out that according to Social Pilots “companies that publish more than 16 posts a month generate 3.5 times more traffic than those which publish less than 4. This underlines the importance of keeping to a regular documented editorial calendar
One of the biggest struggles for small business owners when it comes to implementing a content strategy is consistency. It’s kind of like a new year’s resolution, it’s easy to start off strong, but it’s hard to keep it up.
If this sounds like you, then you need a content calendar. A content calendar is a tool that helps you plan, organize, and publish your content. It’s basically a way to keep track of all your content in one place.
There are a few different ways to create a content calendar. You can use a physical calendar, a spreadsheet, or a project management tool like Trello, Wrike, or our favorite, Clickup!
Once you’ve chosen a method for creating your content calendar, it’s time to start filling it in. The first thing you need to do is decide how often you want to publish content. This will depend on a number of factors, including your resources and your goals.
Developing a regular release date will be your foundation for creating a content lifecycle or the systemization of your content creation process. Once you have a set schedule, you can begin planning out each piece of content.
If you’re just starting out, we recommend publishing one piece of content per week. As you get more comfortable with the process and start to build up a backlog of content, you can increase your frequency to two or more pieces per week.
Building Purpose into Your Content Strategy: Customer Journey Mapping
Have you ever wondered why some businesses are so successful with their content strategy while others seem to struggle? The answer lies in purpose.
Businesses that have a clear purpose for their content strategy are more likely to be successful than those that don’t.
One of the best ways to ensure your content strategy has a purpose is to map out your customer’s journey.
A customer journey map is a tool that helps you understand the different steps your customers take on their way to becoming paying customers.
By mapping out your customer’s journey, you can identify opportunities for content creation and promotion.
It needs to be said that a customer journey map can take many forms. The right format for your business could differ depending on your industry or the products/services you sell.
Most customer journey maps cover these 5 core areas:
When brainstorming your content strategy, consider which of these categories that content will fall into on your customer’s journey to purchase.
Taking this extra step will ensure your content is purposeful and aligns with your business goals.
What is Your Channel Mix?
How many ways are there to reach your audience? The answer is, there are many! The important thing is to make sure you’re using a mix of channels to reach your target audience.
Some common content channels include:
The best channel mix for your business will depend on a number of factors, including your budget, your audience, and your goals.
To determine the best channel mix for your business, refer back to the buyer personas you created. Where do they spend their time online?
Once you’ve identified your audience’s preferred channels, it’s time to start experimenting with different combinations of channels. The best way to do this is to start with a smaller budget and scale up as you see results.
We keep coming back to the idea of tracking your results. This is critical in determining which channels are most successfully helping you achieve your content strategy goals. It also will inform your decisions on what channels you can scale back content creation for or even drop altogether.
Which channels are getting results? Does it align with the buyer personas you created? Do you need to recalibrate your strategy to reach that audience?
These are all questions you need to ask yourself when analyzing your channel mix.
Reduce Content Creation Stress by Repurposing Content
If you have ever felt the stress of trying to come up with new content ideas on a regular basis, you are not alone. The good news is that there are ways to ease the content creation process.
One of the best ways to do this is by repurposing your content. Repurposing content means taking one piece of content and using it in multiple ways.
For example, if you write blog content, you can turn a blog post into a video, an infographic, a social media post, or even a podcast episode.
Not only does this save you time, but it also ensures that your content is reaching a wider audience.
When repurposing content, it’s important to keep your buyer personas in mind. Not every piece of content will appeal to every single one of your buyer personas.
When creating new content, always consider which of your buyer personas that content will appeal to. This will help you determine the best way to repurpose that content.
Content Amplification: Distribution, Promotion, and Resource Allocation
There are a ton of social media gurus out there that will tell you that organic reach is still relevant. To a degree, this remains true for established and popular brands, but for most small to medium-sized businesses, this is no longer the case.
Algorithm changes have refined the process by which social media platforms show content to new audiences. The result is that businesses now have to put more effort into content amplification in order to reach new audiences.
So what is content amplification? Content amplification is the process of distributing and promoting your content to reach new audiences.
There are a number of ways to amplify your content, but some of the most common methods include:
As with anything, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to content amplification. The best way to determine which methods work best for your business is to experiment with different techniques and track your results.
Did you know that according to a poll conducted by Marketing Profs, “the average percentage of total marketing budget spent on content marketing is 26% (among all respondents); the most successful, however, spend 40%, while the least successful spend 14% or less.” Budgeting the right amount for your content goals is critical.
When it comes to resource allocation, content amplification can be a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation. In other words, you need to put effort into content amplification in order to reach new audiences, but you also need to have an audience in order to amplify your content.
The best way to get around this is by using a mix of paid and organic methods. For example, you can use paid advertising to reach new audiences and then use organic methods like social media and email marketing to keep those audiences engaged.
By using a mix of paid and organic content amplification techniques, you can reach new audiences and then continue to engage them with your content.
As with content amplification, resource allocation will require testing to find the proper mix of paid and organic content that helps you achieve your content strategy goals.
Measuring accurately will pay huge dividends as you refine your strategy and mix. Once you have identified the proper mix you end up spending significantly less on overall reach as you will be able to create look-alike audiences that mimic your best customers and continue the cycle anew.
Connect With Customers On a Deeper Level
Creating an impactful content strategy and framework is just one of the ways in which you show your commitment to growing your business online and providing value to the customers that follow your brand.
Additionally, your commitment to providing compelling content that new audiences will find valuable, useful, or entertaining gives those audiences a reason to keep interacting with your brand online.
It would be very rare for a business to get their content strategy effort right the first time. If you don’t see results right away, don’t despair or give up. It is all part of the process. Reflect and retool as needed, take what you have learned, and adjust your strategy to better meet the needs of your audience. Remember, your content strategy is an ongoing process.
Regardless of the content types you choose for your strategy, be authentic, genuine, and engaging. The point of content strategy isn’t a one-sided arrangement, it’s about connecting with customers on a deeper level.
When you provide value and build relationships, you create loyalty and customer advocates that will continue to support your business for years to come.
Stay committed to a content calendar, look for opportunities to answer questions that come up often, listen to your customers, and meet them where they are.
By doing this, you set your business up for success now and in the future.
Do you have any questions about content strategy? Let us know in the comments below!
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