The main difference between having a content marketing strategy in place and simply producing and releasing content is that one of these options allows you to determine the business value of your content. Can you guess which one it is?
Content marketing should be a strategic approach that provides your company with valuable and relevant tools to attract and keep your target audiences engaged. If everything is done properly, this will drive users down your marketing funnel and will increase the probability of converting them and keeping them loyal.
If you don’t have a clearly defined strategy, you’re not doing content marketing right.
Why should you do content marketing?
The ultimate goal of content marketing might be selling, but that is not its core function. The content you release to the world has the power to:
Establish you or your company as an expert and an opinion leader – publishing relevant, innovative and reliable information which will give you or your brand an authoritative position.
Build and increase brand awareness – people will start seeing your content. If they like it, they will talk about it.
Increase traffic and conversions – with great content comes great business. Your content will attract users to your website, where you can then turn them into customers.
Feed other tools in your marketing mix – the content you create can help the flow of information in your social media profiles, improve your SEO and connect with other experts.
Deliver insights about your audience – one of the things you can measure with a good content marketing strategy is the preferences of your visitors and clients. This will help you deliver what they want and how they want it.
If you think about it, content is everywhere, including in all (or most) parts of your marketing. This is why your content marketing strategy should take a ubiquitous and major role in your marketing mix, and not be treated as a separate tool.
Why should you have a content marketing strategy?
A strategy allows you to have clear and defined goals (that you can measure), reach the best possible audience, and control the whole process, from content creation to measurement.
Without it, it will be harder to keep focus on your long-term plans and to keep track of your progress. A documented strategy will help you understand where you are going and what you need to do to get there. Remember that content marketing is a long-term process and one that demands consistency, regular fine-tuning and a long-term view.
What should you include in your content marketing strategy?
The content strategy should be adapted to the specific needs and characteristics of your business, but there are some points that absolutely need to be covered:
1. Clear goals
What do you want to achieve? What are you aiming for? For some, the main goal might be increase inbound traffic to the website; for others, maybe the goal is to create engagement with followers. Whichever your goals are, to assess the success of a marketing strategy, you need to have defined and measurable goals, as well as a defined time frame, e.g. “I want to get 200 inbound leads via our website in 2018”.
Try to be reasonable and realistic – if you aim too high or too wide, you can have trouble focusing the strategy and end up diluting the power of your content.
2. Your audience
It is paramount to have a precise knowledge of your audience, which are ultimately your potential customers. Perhaps you think that everyone should read your content and buy your products, but that won’t happen. Define a buyer persona, a representation of your customers – what they do, where they live, how old they are, if they have dogs, etc. All the information you have can be useful.
Since you want to convert these people into buyers, followers or clients, you should give them what they want. Create content for them and for the moment they are in your marketing funnel. Otherwise, your conversion rates will drop and the whole strategy will be in peril.
Consistency, relevance and value. The Holy Trinity of content strategy.
Content marketing is done long-term, and this is why you need consistency and regular publishing. Create a content calendar and follow it, otherwise you will be either forgotten or seen as sloppy. But avoid the mistake of publishing low quality content just for the sake of delivering. Quality is what will make you stand out among the ocean of content out there.
Be always relevant. Give your audience what they want, when and where they are looking for it. Don’t talk about summer trends when it’s already august. Always try to put yourself in your reader’s feet – Will they like it? Will they find it interesting and useful?
And of course, don’t use this content for self-promotion.
Offer value: give out a solution to a problem or teach something new. If visitors find real value in what you have to say, they will probably come back, or even better, they might link to your article or blog and share it in social media, thus amplifying the reach and exposure of your content.
There are several formats that you can use, including blog posts, infographics, etc., so choose accordingly to the needs of your readers and to the content itself. And make sure that search engine optimization is done when you publish something. After all, you want your content to be found, don’t you?
4. Communication channels
You might feel the temptation of going all-in and spread your content everywhere. Fight that temptation. Publishing and promoting your content on every platform will increase the chance of being seen, but that is not enough. You need to deliver your content directly to your audience, your potential clients or visitors, so find out where they are and then place your bet. For example, if your audience is mostly on YouTube, why should you pay for promotion on a newspaper?
You can try a mix of channels to increase your reach and maybe find new audiences, and then start to discard the ones that don’t work. This way you can tune your strategy and improve it.
Measurement is one of the most important parts of a strategy. Why? If you don’t measure what is happening, you can’t know if it’s working! Once you have your goals established, define how you will measure each of them and set up the systems needed. You can measure the number of visits, the time they spend on page, the bounce back rate, the number of leads, sales… there are many possibilities. Choose which ones matter to your business and start measuring from the beginning. This is how you will be able to control your results and adjust the strategy along the way.
Once you begin to understand what works and what doesn’t, you will be able to improve the results by removing irrelevant content or by changing the way you distribute it. The other big advantage of measurement is the capability of translating your results into business value and ROI – something invaluable to CEOs and other executives.
Having a content marketing strategy will also facilitate the management and overview of the whole content creation, publication and promotion process. Describe who does what, when and how, and you will be closer than ever to having a great content marketing strategy that can take your company to a new level.
Are you ready to create the perfect strategy for your business? Drop us a line if you have any doubts or if you need help.
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