Any team that steps out on to a field, does so with a game plan. Content Marketing is no different. One does not simply produce and publish content mindlessly, or post whatever they’ve been able to create first. There needs to be an understanding, a purpose, an objective behind publishing every piece of content.
This purpose usually stems from the publisher wanting to achieve a goal, which could be higher brand awareness, increased traffic, deeper engagement, more conversions, etc. So, while strategy may sound like a complicated word. It gets simplified when we substitute it with goals.
Why You Need A Content Marketing Strategy
A content marketing strategy takes your content pieces and assembles it with a binding purpose. The strategy transforms the individual players (content pieces), into a team, that then plays to win.
Cohesion in Brand Messaging
Multiple publishing channels, catering to different sets of target audience and preferences, allow content creators to target well and publish smartly. In addition, some publishers have proprietary or captive platforms for distributing their own content. They can leverage content in different formats and cater to specific audiences, leaving readers enriched and engaged.
However, on the other hand, content creators, brand managers and even the audience can be overwhelmed with too many options, resulting in lack of focus. It is not necessary to have a presence on all “major” platforms. A sound content strategy can help you focus on the things that matter, while cutting out the clutter. It can help you ensure that the brand message is rich, consistent, and cohesive, across platforms.
Strong Brand Identity
A content marketing strategy helps create and maintain a brand persona. A strategy will give you a plan of action for what to say, how to say, when to say, and where to say. For example, if you want to show the lighter side of the organization, you can consider creating videos following popular social trends (such as Mannequin Challenge – watch team LexiConn show you how it’s done, Harlem Shake, etc.).
Good Content Works Like a Magnet
Customers rarely look for a specific website or a business, they look for solution and answers. In order for them to land on your website, it should rank prominently on search engines, which means your web content needs to be recent, relevant, and reliable. A well-crafted SEO strategy can make all of this happen.
Increase Content Efficacy
It’s not about how much, but more about why. Bombarding your audience with content may, at best, get you a handful leads, but at worse, feel like spam and lead to un-follows and opt-outs. A content marketing strategy will put in place guidelines, best practices, and most importantly, a purpose, behind every piece you publish. With your content serving a decisive purpose, you can expect to reach the most relevant audience, with more conversions, and higher levels of engagement.
Maximize Return on Investment
Content Marketing costs about 62% less than traditional advertising, while generating up to three times the results. A well-thought-out campaign allows even the smaller organizations to compete with those on a bigger marketing budget. Also, with less time and money being spent on producing content, there is higher productivity, and more conversions, which translate into a bigger bang for your marketing bucks.
Developing A Content Marketing Strategy
Define Your Marketing Goals
A strategy starts with a goal. This goal defines the direction. Your content marketing strategy should consider the current marketing and sales challenges, and the organization’s objectives. One size never fits all. Based on the nature of the product and its stage in the lifecycle, a strategy needs to be tailored.
Content Analytics and Audit
Along with goalsetting, one needs to audit the effectiveness and performance of the current content marketing activities (if any). This helps establish a baseline to gauge improvement once the strategy kicks in. The performance also needs to be benchmarked against competitors and industry best practices.
Create Audience Personas
Personas as fictional characters having similar characteristics as your target audience. You can have multiple personas for each product or service you offer. Creating ‘buyer personas’ for your products and services, and ‘ideal readers’ for your content helps you target better and customize the strategy.
List down what makes your persona tick, and on which platform. Once you understand your customer’s behaviour, you’ll know what they are looking for. When you know what your customer wants, you will know what you need to create. For example, Pinterest is visually driven, Facebook is community-driven, Twitter is brief and precise, while LinkedIn is thoroughly professional. Your customer’s behaviour changes across these platforms.
Brainstorm Content Ideas
Based on the preferences of the readers, create content ideas (both static and dynamic). Also take in to account the publishing platforms, types of content (infographics, blogs, articles, case studies, podcasts, videos, etc.), audience receptibility, and other influencing factors such as device preference, data consumption, reading habits, time spent, and so on.
Create a Content Calendar
A content calendar is the culmination of the brainstorming sessions. It carries detailed information about the plan of action and is an essential document for all the stakeholders. Some of the typical inclusions in a content calendar are:
- Product Type/Category
- Persona/Buyer Stage
- Targeted Keyword (for keyword-based content)
- Content Type
- Commission By (Date)
- First Draft By (Date)
- Roll Out By (Date)
- Targeted Platform/s
- Distribution Channel
- Call To Action
- Creating a content calendar builds visibility, helps to plan resources, build efficiency, and ensues continuity.
Establish Performance Tracking Indicators
Key Performance Indicators need to be in place to judge the efficacy of any campaign. For sales, one could look at the click rates, and the subsequent conversions. For brand awareness, audience growth and engagement is an indicator.
A lot of content marketing fails to deliver the intended results – this is also to do with the lack of performance indicators and metrics. However, as the field evolves, these tools and benchmarks are coming up.
Publish, Manage, and Maintain
Once the content is published, a new set of activities begin. Comments need to be monitored, questions to be answered and suggestions need to be acknowledged. Sometimes, unfavorable trends need to be addressed too. Online reputation management is a serious business.
Constant monitoring helps understand the effectiveness of the content. Suggestions and analytics work as a feedback mechanism for building and perfecting future content.
The Hallmarks Of A Good Content Marketing Strategy
- Tracked – A written (not verbal) strategy is the key to making it great!
- Targeted – Highly targeted campaigns usually result in higher conversions
- Unique – New, is interesting
- Agile – Change quickly to adapt to audience preferences
- Omnipresent – Showcase expertise across formats
- Quantified – “Show me the ROI!”
Yes, content marketing is in a nascent stage. Right from its very definition, to roles and responsibilities, measurement, KPIs, and success parameters; everything is still a mystery. But it is coming together, fast!
As an organization that was established even before the term ‘Content Marketing’ was coined, it’s safe to say that we understand all things content. Our experienced Content Architects can create unique strategies for your business goals. We can hand-hold you through the entire process, punctuating it with useful insights from the thousands of projects we have executed over the years.
Talk to us. Together, we can create a winning game plan!