A step-by-step guide on how to create a content strategy
It’s one thing to have a content strategy in mind, but drawing it out can be tough. By having your content strategy documented, and regularly updated, it becomes more effective and ensures you’re reaching the right audience with the right content and achieving maximum return on investment (ROI).
Follow the seven steps below to develop and execute your content marketing strategy.
1 – Objectives & KPIs
By setting your company’s content strategy objectives at the beginning of the process, it provides your business with guidance and direction. The aim is to plot where your business wants to be within a time period, which could be six or 12 months. For example, your business may want to develop as an authority on a specific topic within search engines by the end of the planned content strategy. To be able to achieve your company’s overall objective, you must have targets and key performance indicators (KPIs) in place.
The question that should be asked when developing your goals are: “Do you want an increase in website traffic, more leads generation or more conversions?” Though, when planning and finalising targets and KPIs, it is pivotal to ensure they are obtainable. Establishing your objectives and KPI’s to kick start your content strategy, will provide motivation amongst your team to achieve the results. The end result will also allow you to compare the performance of your campaign to your original KPI’s.
2 – Qualify Target Audience and Develop Personas
When building your content strategy, you need to know what audience your content should be targeting; these could be marketing managers, sales managers, business owners, etc. By getting this right, it allows you to reach a target audience who are more likely to be interested in a product or service that you provide. The target audience will also affect the overall tone of voice within your content creation, as it should be altered to match the reader.
To find your correct target audience there are an array of effective methods and tools you can utilise:
- Survey and Track: Gather data about each individual, by requiring them to fill out a survey and then monitor their activities across your website.
- Facebook Audience Insights: Make the most of the Facebook business platform. By using Audience insights, you can select interests, geographic, demographic and laser targeted behavioural insights to build the right audience.
- Google Keyword Planner: Once you have a rough idea of the audience you wish to target, you can use Google Keyword Planner to try and narrow down their pain points. If the search terms within the industry have a high volume and a reasonable level of competition, then this is the right audience for you.
- SEMRush: One of the main benefits of this tool is that you can see what your competition is doing. This is imperative as you can find and capitalise on market gaps by establishing an audience based on this. It is also a great tool for assessing your own website and whether your audience is engaging with the right content through keyword clouds.
Now that we have qualified an audience, we can delve deeper into their pain points and attributes to create personas. According to Hubspot, “personas are fictional, generalised characters that encompass the various needs, goals and observed behaviour patterns among your real and potential customers.” Personas also help you develop an understanding of your customers and their problems, which you can solve with your content pieces via your content strategy. By successfully identifying, educating and solving their problems, you establish thought leadership and brand trust. This results in you having the influence to move the persona down the buyer’s journey. Remember, there’s a number of online Content Management Systems (CMS), which can automate and track content consumption amongst your personas.
3 – Create content pieces via the funnel
Every piece of content creation brings you a step closer to generating a lead, which is why it’s important to use different types of material throughout the content funnel. When focusing on the top of the funnel, your content should highlight the buyer’s pain points and provide educational solutions. This can be done via tip sheets, white papers, infographics, blogs, and checklists. Emails with relevant content have also been found to be successful as a content distribution channel, with Marketing Cloud’s latest report claiming 91% of consumers check their emails every day.
B2B’s 2016 Content Marketing report also found the use of infographics increased from 51% in 2014 to 62% in 12 months. Whereas, Cisco’s 2015 White Paper reported 79% of global consumer internet traffic will be due to video by 2018. During the middle of the funnel, you should present a solution to an individual’s problem, in an attempt to convert them into a lead. This is where you can begin to introduce your company’s product/solution. The most important part of this phase of the buyer’s journey is to provide value-adding content without hard-selling your own solution. Whilst it is crucial to introduce and bring awareness to your solution, you must provide a holistic solution to this (giving a wider range of non-competing solutions), which can be done through video, comparison white papers, and case studies.
Once you reach the bottom of the funnel, your core goal is to generate leads and sales. It’s important to provide content that will reinforce and validate the consumer’s decision. This can be done via demos, free trials or consultations. Having a strong distribution and remarketing strategy in place can dramatically increase conversion rates here (Contact us to have a chat about one of these). After converting the individual, regularly provide them with useful information about your services and products via your content, as it will keep your business relevant to them. By nurturing them with your content and constantly providing value-adding offers, you can then encourage them to share your content or recommend your brand to others keeping your audience engaged. Now it’s time to decide how we’re going to deliver the content strategy we’ve developed.
4 – Distribution Channels and Strategy
After establishing your objectives and KPI’s, qualifying your audience and developing your personas – it is time to develop a distribution strategy. It is important to choose the right channels within the right industry. The channels we can use include:
- Google AdWords
- Marketing Automation
- Display Adverting
- Media Buying (Website, Print, Social)
- Affiliate programs
- Email Marketing
- Event Marketing
Many of these channels can be used for building a remarketing strategy, which allows you to re-engage with those who you can identify as having engaged with your content already (even without having their email!). This is particularly important in the middle of funnel and bottom of funnel stages of the buyer’s journey. Facebook and twitter both have very similar targeting capabilities – allowing you to create predefined audiences based on demographic and behavioural data (like website remarketing audiences mentioned above). It’s important to consider the context of each platform – Facebook has a broader user-base while Twitter can allow you to connect with specific groups. SEO is also a fantastic method of driving qualified traffic to your website. By optimising your content with relevant keywords, it may rank higher on search engines and class your business as an authority in the topical area – making it easier to be found by the end user.
5 – Analyse
Careful analysis of your content and campaigns can enlighten your business as to what content is best resonating with your audience and generating the most ROI. As Jerry Maguire stated, “show me the money”. From a content perspective, this means, show me which content generates conversions. It enables you to know exactly what content is being consumed at each stage of the funnel. A/B testing and multivariate testing are effective methods of analysing your campaign. These allow you to create multiple variations of your content and test which elements most effectively communicate your message to your audience.
Tools such as Google Optimise can be very effective in allowing you to split test your content and landing pages. According to HubSpot, careful analysis “helps you prioritise the content that drives customers to help your company close more deals.” Most importantly, content strategy reporting allows you to review the set targets and goals, while also making informed decisions about your business’ strategies.
6 – Optimise
Optimisation is an ongoing process of collecting data you have analysed and actioning small incremental changes to improve your performance. By keeping an eye on the data gathered, it will reveal where your challenges are, what changes should be made and where your business is achieving the most success. It also allows you to identify automation opportunities to then produce content that is targeted specifically to each persona. Though, factors that should be considered during this process include but are not limited to website behaviour, time since conversion, campaign response, conversion type, inbound communications and lead score.
7 – Report
Once you have implemented, analysed and optimised your campaign, it is time to report on it. Reporting allows you to mark and track your progress over time periods. Valuable insights and learnings can be gained from reporting on a campaign and create the foundation for future activations. The process of Analysing, Optimising and Reporting on your content/campaign should be a recurring process as it is crucial to your overall strategy.
To make the most of your reporting, look into the following tools:
- Google Analytics
- Google Data Studio
- Facebook Reporting Tool
Growing a thorough understanding of the important elements that need to be included within a content strategy will help generate relevant content and provide successful results for your business. Though there are many components that are needed to be covered for a content strategy, it is important that all are addressed and met to ensure the best possible outcome and results.