Strategise, plan, do and review - the path to success!
What is a content strategy?
A content strategy is a devised approach to connecting with a target audience through creating, publishing and distributing relevant content.
Sometimes called a content marketing strategy, it’s typically developed to improve leads or sales. A strategy often covers multiple digital marketing channels, including the website, email marketing and social media. It can involve the development of buyer personas. For larger brands it might also encompass content governance.
If you’re planning to develop you’re own strategy, you’ll find some excellent resources at the Content Marketing Institute.
Why create a documented strategy?
Strategise, plan, implement and review. It’s the order of almost any successful endeavour.
How do you apply that to the publishing activities of a business or organisation? By developing a content marketing strategy and a detailed plan. A content strategist can do this for you.
Many businesses spend a fortune creating and publishing content that doesn’t reach their target market, or doesn’t resonate with that audience. If your content marketing efforts aren’t yielding results, there may be something wrong at the strategic level.
When you do have a clear strategic approach, it’s easy to brief your content agency or freelance writers and ensure that the material they produce is aligned with your goals.
Creating a content strategy
A complete strategy takes the entire content cycle into consideration. The who, what, when, how and why of creating and distributing content for a business.
Everything from audience identification, buyer persona development and brand messaging to processes around the creation, governance and maintenance of content may be covered. The larger the business, the more there will be to consider.
The strategy development process will also help you clarify priority channels, formats and themes. Planning becomes easier for your marketing team.
Content audits and mapping
If you have existing content assets, including a content audit can be beneficial. It can identify gaps in creation, and low quality, off-message or outdated material that needs to be removed or revised. It also identifies opportunities to improve posts and pages, and increase traffic to your blog or website.
Here are a few examples:
A blog audit might reveal several blog posts that are short, have no sub-headings, but cover a topic relevant to your target audience. These posts can then be revised to transform them into longer and more useful posts.
An audit might also highlight opportunities for internal links between pages and posts. Or the reverse – it might uncover and issue with random internal linking diluting your SEO.
During the audit you might discover that most content relates to the ‘awareness’ stage of the buyer journey, but you have none for the ‘decision’ stage. This could mean you’re losing leads or sales by not publishing more detailed information visitors seek when almost ready to purchase.
Or you might discover that you have published several case studies, but none relating to a new market segment you are targeting.
Content marketing goals
As with any strategic planning, it’s vital to set goals. Identify what you want to achieve by publishing, and by reviewing your strategy.
Your content marketing goals should have a hierarchy – high level goals, as well as more specific ones. For example, a high level goal might be to increase traffic to your blog. A specific goal could be to establish an audience on a previously unused channel.
For each high level goal you identify, set specific goals that will help you achieve it.
Develop a content plan
A detailed plan can be produced once the strategy is defined. This directs and informs production. For some small businesses, the plan might double as an editorial calendar. For larger businesses, it will guide the creation of editorial calendars and campaign planning.
With an effective strategy and plan in place, each piece of content you create – from blog posts to videos to social media updates – should be on target.
Sticking to the strategy and plan
With a strategy and plan in place, you know a lot about the content you’ll be creating. You know its purpose and format, the audience it’s to be created for, and where each piece fits into the buyer journey. This makes it easier to brief writers, whether you’re using a content agency, or in-house writers. When you need copywriters to develop copy for new web pages, it’s easier to convey information about your audience, and the key messages that need to be included in the copy.
You’ll be in a position to create the right content for the ideal buyer, and have appropriate information available for each stage of their buyer journey.
Measure your results and review
Only when you measure your results do you know how well your strategy is working.
Benefits of a content marketing strategy
An effective content marketing strategy will help ensure you are:
- creating the type of content that will resonate with your target market;
- creating material for each stage of the buyer journey;
- reaching your target audience by publishing on the right channels;
- getting results from your efforts;
Over time, the result should be an increase in website traffic, engagement on social channels, and an increase in leads and sales.
Content marketing strategists
Should you engage a strategist? Yes! The larger the business, the more complex the strategy development will be. Engaging a strategist will usually be necessary, and the process is likely to take weeks or months. For small businesses, the cost of full strategy development can be a deterrent – yet it’s less expensive than paying writers for months or years to create material that just isn’t providing a good ROI.
What does developing a strategy entail?
For SMEs, our content strategy review can be the best place to start. It includes:
- a strategic audit of your published content and existing strategies across your website, blog and social channels;
- An SEO audit;
- Analysis of content (including website, blog, and social media), current strategies, performance and SEO, and any existing procedures you have around production;
- Analysis of competitor strategies and performance for comparison;
- Identification of issues and opportunities, and strategic recommendations.
The strategy review is designed to identify opportunities that could help you grow, as well as issues that could be deterring prospective clients, limiting your website traffic, or creating the wrong impression about your brand.