26 Jan 2021
Nearly 70% of businesses were actively investing in content marketing in 2020. The number is expected to grow in 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic has been relentlessly forcing companies to build up their online presence.
If you want to reap the real benefits of content marketing and make the most of your efforts, sporadic content creation is not what you can rely on. Persistent effort produces consistent results. When the content you publish is planned and purposeful, you have a much better chance of hitting your intended goals.
Content strategy is the string that will pull all your content marketing efforts together and give you a feasible action plan to follow. If you’re new to the world of content, no need to worry, we’re first going to cover what content and content strategy are and why they’re important for businesses.
Lastly, we’ll go over the step-by-step process of developing a potent content strategy that’s correctly tailored to your brand.
So if you’re ready to start exploring, let’s go!
Before you proclaim you don’t have a blog or a YouTube channel, which rids you of the need for a content strategy, let us first clarify the term “content.”
Content is the information you present to your audience through a particular channel, such as your website, social media, advertising campaign, etc. Content isn’t restricted to a written form. It can be auditory, graphical, kinaesthetic, and anything else you want it to be.
Delivering relevant, useful content isn’t solely about what you say. It’s also about how you say it, where you say it, and to whom you say it.
People have grown accustomed to promotional content to the point where they automatically tune out any message that’s too pushy or promotional. Bland marketing won’t take you far, which is why creativity in advertising is essential nowadays.
When people dedicate their time to you, they expect something of value in return. Be it insightful career advice, helpful facts about a topic related to your business field, or simply entertainment from your memes, your job is to ensure the audience gets exactly what they were expecting from your content.
Content strategy is the map to your set business goals through the use of content. Whether it’s offline or online, content that doesn’t have a pointed direction or purpose is likely to fail at establishing and sustaining a reliable, long-lasting connection with its target audience.
Your content strategy should go hand in hand with your overall brand strategy and be aligned with your brand voice. If you’re just getting started with content creation and haven’t yet toned and tuned your unique voice, check out our guide on developing your brand voice.
There are a few things you need to consider while shaping a content strategy that meets your business requirements:
We’ll discuss these points more in detail a bit later on, but now let’s see why content strategy is essential for businesses and how it can influence their success.
Producing content without a strategy is like going to the grocery store with no grocery list. We all know how this usually goes — we waste time and resources, plus, we end up buying all the things we didn’t really need.
A well-developed content strategy gives your content marketing efforts a clear aim and direction, thus making sure you don’t waste resources or get sidetracked along the way. Strategic content tends to be more structured and consistent. Consistent content is what develops brand awareness and continually drives in new leads that would otherwise be out of your reach.
With no content strategy, it’ll be hard to identify where you are in relation to your business goals. Unless you have specific destinations and a thought-out action plan, you won’t know how close or far away you are from your main objectives. It’s far easier to measure the performance of your content marketing when you have a strategy to adhere to.
With a full understanding of what content strategy is and why it matters for businesses that plan to invest in content marketing, we can now address the next big question — how to work out a plan to efficiently create and manage content.
Content marketing is not a linear process but a cycle. Creating and publishing the actual piece of content is a vital part of it but not the only one. There are other steps that precede as well as follow. Let’s have a look at the content marketing lifecycle:
Strategizing and planning beforehand and analyzing and refining afterward is just as essential as the creating process itself. With all that said, here’s our six-step guide on how to build your content strategy from scratch.
First things first, what are you aiming to achieve with your content? What are your main marketing goals, and how can content help you hit them? The first stage is all about your brand vision, strategy, and the big “why” of creating content.
The type of objectives you set for your brand will greatly impact the way you should approach them or the type of content you should create. Do you want to reach a new audience or deepen your connection with an existing one? If your business is still new to the market, and you don’t have an established audience yet, it’s crystal clear that you should concern yourself with the former and forget about the latter for a while.
Similarly, you can ask yourself where your prospective buyers are in the sales funnel. Are they on the awareness stage where they should be informed about your business and products, or are they well-aware of your solutions and should therefore be called to action?
The next critical step on our content strategy journey is learning the ins and outs of your intended audience. When we say “know your audience,” we mean do in-depth research to know who they are (demographics, age, gender, occupation, etc.), what they need, what they like/dislike, which channels they prefer to be contacted through, and so on.
Your target audience might even be divided into a few segments. It’s always useful to create a buyer persona (or multiple, in case your client base is segmented) with the distinctive demographic information and traits of your audience.
Once you know who your audience is, what topics they care about, how busy they are, and which social media platforms they prefer, you can then determine which piece of content will resonate best with them. This data is invaluable, as it lays the foundation for your content strategy.
So now you have a general idea of what types of content to create based on your marketing objectives and audience. Great! The next step to take will be to figure out who else is going for the same targets. Competitor analysis is crucial if you don’t want to end up with a wobbly content strategy.
Look at the website and social media pages of your direct competitors. What type of content do they rely on? What topics do they cover? Do they have an email newsletter or any other means of reaching their followers?
A great deal of valuable information can be traced from competitor data analysis. Not only will you know what’s already out there and how it typically performs, but you’ll also be able to discover any possible gaps in your market. By bridging those gap areas with your content, you’ll outscore the competitors and establish your authority in your niche.
Here’s where you solidify the content specifics based on the planning and analysis that you accomplished during the last three steps. Your content specifics should include:
When it comes to choosing what type of content to focus on, pick something that will make sense for your business and the topics you plan to dive into. Also, don’t forget to take into consideration your audience’s preferences.
Your options for the types of content to publish and the formats to follow are quite diverse:
You’re not required to stick to just one type. Select the ones that your followers like to consume and that you or your staff members are skilled at.
We’ve finally arrived at the stage of brainstorming, devising, scheming, and managing. Start by coming up with relevant, creative content ideas on each topic you plan to discuss. If you’re having trouble thinking of interesting ideas, you can turn to online tools for assistance.
There are a ton of content idea generators that can do the heavy-lifting for you. BuzzSumo, HubSpot, and Semrush are just a few examples of platforms that can help you generate content ideas on a given topic. Google Trends is another helpful content marketing tool to get a sneak peek into what people are searching for.
Of course, all the generated ideas will have to be organized in a solid content plan. An editorial calendar should be a part of any content strategy. Its job is to strategically distribute your content and keep your publications consistent.
For instance, it’d make sense for you to schedule your Valentine’s Day posts or videos around February and save Easter content for the spring. And if you’re active on multiple social media networks, a calendar will make it easy to balance out your posts for each platform.
Your content strategy won’t be relevant unless you can measure how relevant your content strategy is. In other words, you always need to keep track of your content performance once it’s published and analyze the results. Doing so is key to identifying any overlooked areas in your content strategy, which will allow you to readjust and repurpose your content for better results.
Every successful business has KPIs unique to its goals, and so should you. Identify the key metrics to help you assess your content performance. Your metrics could be traffic, search engine rankings, and bounce rates or engagement, social shares, and conversion rates — it all depends on what goals you’ve set for yourself.
Over time, you’ll need to evaluate and readjust not only your separate content pieces but also your entire content strategy. Marketing trends are in a constant state of flux, and it’s your responsibility to adapt to them in order to keep your business afloat.
Content strategy is the mechanism that systemizes your content and maps out the path to your marketing goals. A well-developed strategy stretches beyond just the creation of content and encompasses planning, researching, monitoring, and refining the latter.
In this blog post, we gave you a six-step guide to building a content strategy. Keep in mind that your strategy has to be fully modified to your company to ensure you target the right people and bring the most value to your business.
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