Any web content marketing strategy needs to be absolutely clear on:
a) what is your SMART outcome you want;
b) who your audience is;
c) what message you need to convey, whether that be: is it driving visits to your website; placing an order; joining a mailing list; ordering a trial pack?
That direction will dictate how you plan your schedule (when are you most likely to get engagement/traction), what you write about (are they actually interested in “what you want to talk about” or to be blunt what’s in it for them e.g. “discount code” or “Win Glasgow Derby Tickets” are much more likely to be engaging than “look at this nice website we built” v “find out how we transformed a clients online presence”, plus “where is the material sourced from” ie is it authoritative and trusted), and which platforms you need to be on (where does your audience congregate). Reflecting on and responding to the steps and factors that will deliver the outcome you want will shape your content marketing strategy.
It’s vital work today, as whilst content is undoubtedly king, distribution is most definitely the queen (and she wears the trousers). Social media platforms are free to join, so they’re crowded, noisy places, so if you want to enjoy the kind of brand appeal, reach and engagement enjoyed by the likes of Apple – you’d perhaps think this is beyond you can in terms of total reach, or brand appreciation and loyalty – but you’d be wrong. Your content strategy must build on your brand’s distinctiveness and help you spread awareness.
Not sure where to even begin? Here’s a few tricks to quickly build a killer content strategy.
Understand the benefit
Which brands do you aspire to be associated with by your customers?
What platforms are they using and what are the latest trends on those platforms? Data about this is everywhere, just check online for the latest insight. Undoubtedly content quality will leverage followers across all platforms. The brands who are most successful get consistently higher traffic precisely because their content is engaging for a wider audience. You can level the playing field with the biggest competitors in your sector through content strategy – they might have deeper pockets, but if you develop great content then the audience will respond to you, not them.
You need to do a lot of research and assessment, as well as be patient, in order to develop a really successful strategy. It takes time, and constant adaptation to react to your audience’s preferences and emerging trends online. So don’t expect instant solutions.
• Auditing your current content: Before you begin, examine what you’ve written to date and identify any immediate strengths and weaknesses in your content. Build a matrix grid of all the content you’ve created, identify what the topic was and who wrote it, how it was shared, what title you used, and what metrics you have on reach and response. From that audit, you can identify strong points, themes you can write about and delivery tactics you can take advantage of going forward.
• What makes your voice distinct: I recall hearing at a content marketing conference that we should “stand on the shoulders of giants” or be “be a thief of great ideas”, so take a look at your competition. What are their favourite themes? How do they engage their audience? What’s their tone of voice? Thinking about that, and the insight you have about your own brand from the first step, ask what sets the two of you apart? It comes down to brand personality, that might cover, ethics, culture,… This should shine through consistently in content and presentation, making your audience comfortable with any and every engagement. Write down a persona for you brand and zero in on the kind of voice you want your audience to associate with you: is it supportive, informative, quirky, funny?
• Develop your customer journey: You’ve identified what your customers respond to but do you understand who represents your “ideal” customer? Who is most likely to buy and recommend your product or service? What motivates them? Are they even present among the audience you currently talk to? Having identified whom you ideally want to talk to map out the customer journey you want to take them on to achieve a successful sale. What will become the critical decision points along your journey and what content is required to ensure a successful outcome?
• Leverage popular themes: You’ll know who the thought leaders and influencers are in your sector. What are they talking about today? Don’t just wade in, you need to find a creative “spin” on these popular subjects, a perspective you can apply to your content strategy that adds value. Try searching for those terms in Google trends and see what associations you can talk about with confidence. Take note of hashtags and include popular topics.
• Find the recurring questions: Building a content strategy based on meeting a particular need is a quick way to make progress. What questions crop up time and again when you are researching your competitors or appearing in Rich Snippets? Check your own website’s analytics, and other surveys, to identify the biggest concerns your own audiences have. Answer those questions first, in order to engage your audience immediately, and then you can develop more diverse topics from there.
• Answer how, why and so what: Your content strategy – and by extension search engine optimization (SEO) – will hinge on how relevant your content proves to be for your consumers. It’s better to create content that motivates you, as it’s likely to prove most informative and useful for your audience