Ever since the digital boom, it’s been clear that content is king- and this adage has not changed over the years. 2017 saw a huge upwards trend in content strategy among marketers, with 70% polling in to say they were going to create more content.
More is good, right? Of course- but you have to remember that quality and quantity will have to go hand in hand for your content marketing to succeed. In practice, this means that you’ll have to develop a strategy, one that meets the marketing landscape of 2018.
So far, the focus has been on keywords driven research. The problem with solely keyword driven strategy is that it might not necessarily meet your audience’s expectations or needs. At this point, with the level of content saturation we’re operating at, such a strategy might draw organic traffic to your page without increasing brand awareness, or turning them into customers.
So, what’s the solution? An audience-focused content marketing strategy, where you can identify your target audience and create great content that will actually increase the ROI of your marketing efforts!
3 Steps to develop a Content Marketing Strategy
User-driven research and strategy have been dominating the markets- from technology, to development, to content. This buzzword might seem a little disconcerting to begin with, especially if your content team is making a shift from a more traditional keyword approach. But don’t fret- here’s a simple 3 step process through which you can build your content marketing strategy (one that is relevant for 2018 and beyond).
Step 1: Who are you developing this content for?
The audience, of course.
But who is your audience? When producing and marketing any form of content, you’re creating a fictional customer in mind, with certain characteristics and generalizations. To develop a valuable marketing strategy, you need to determine what are these ideal personas for your users? The term ‘ideal’ is to be noted here: this is the place where you determine what kind of customers you’re actively targeting, and appeal to them directly.
Another thing to note here- this should be a recurring part of your strategy. If you’re new to the game, and you’re trying to break into the system, this persona research will help you build your content strategy from scratch. If you’ve been in the game long- maybe your focus has changed in the past few years, or your audience’s priorities have. Users and their pain points are dynamic, and if you want to convert them into actual customers, you’re going to have to be updated on their needs!
How can you do this? There are a number of ways!
- Persona Research: Conduct audience/user persona research, by identifying your target audience first. You can do this by talking to some teams within your own organization- whether it is sales, or customer service, technical support, product management, or more. This will help you identify what kind of people use your product or service the most, and what are the touch points that you can intervene in.
- Use tools: Google Analytics is your best friend- whatever insight you need about your website and how it performs, you’ll get it here! Delve deep into Google Analytics to find your demographics and interests and user behaviour.
- Use predictive analysis: A lot of companies are now using predictive analysis as a marketing tool- and it can bring life to your content strategy as well. Developing a data driven approach to understand user behaviour, pattern, and needs will allow you to create high quality & legitimate marketing strategy.
Step 2: What do you wish to achieve through this?
Take a huge leap to the end: what is it that you wish to achieve with a content development and marketing strategy? This will determine where all your content marketing effort goes towards, after all!
There are multiple reasons why content marketing needs to be done for your organization- but you should be the one who defines the goals! Your content strategy could be for increasing the leads to your site, to get new customers, to gain x subscribers, or x percentage more course takers.
Let’s consider a case study: you’re a car dealership, and you want to develop a content marketing strategy. You have identified that your goal is to get people purchase a car from the dealership itself. Now that you’ve identified your goal (and also done the user persona mapping), you know what kind of content you’ll need. You’ll need blog posts about how to engage with car dealerships, FAQs answering locally relevant questions, and highlight the unique human elements of your dealership that set you apart from the rest.
Step 3: How do I implement this?
You know who you’re talking to, and you know what the goal of the conversation is.
Now, let’s get to the meat of the issue. This is where you put on your creative hat.
You know who your audience is, and what their pain points are. You know what the solution is that you’re offering them (which is the success indicator for you). Now, you can move on to the implementation strategy! This can be done through:
- Identifying your unique voice: This is where your brand and its image comes in. What kind of brand are you pitching yourself to be? A quirky one? A family friendly one? Your content will have to reflect this voice throughout the entire website, as it will give a uniform and reassuring feel to the consumer.
- Ideate on topics: Before moving on to what type of content you should be sharing, you need to know the topics. Make a wireframe and brainstorm the different content topics you want to cover in the year- from FAQs, to informative articles, to tutorials and guides, plan all the topics out!
- Brainstorm on the methods of delivery: Creativity in delivering content can go a long way in getting results. In the world of digital marketing, you’ll have to be cognizant about the content trends and you can harness them!
As a rule of thumb, we’d suggest have multiple forms of content delivery on your platform- blog post, video content, multimedia add-ins, infographics, all increase user engagement, and will definitely drive your point home!
- Search engine optimization: The purpose of your content should be to drive your goal- but in order to achieve this, you’ll have to be the first site people find on a search engine! It’s always a good practice to incorporate SEO practices and keyword research into your marketing strategy at an early space, so you can hit the ground running!
- Developing a robust marketing ecosystem: Good content will always speak for itself, but it’s always good to have a marketing strategy that includes other platforms and arenas, so as to have a more robust ecosystem. This includes social networks, influencer marketing, email marketing, and so on. An omni-channel approach to marketing will definitely yield greater results for your content promotion than sticking to one venue!
- Create a content calendar: There are various tools that allow you to create a content calendar for the entire year, where you can track the topics, keywords, deadlines, and archived content. We highly recommend the Content Marketing Institute’s editorial calendar template.
- Publishing and managing your content: There are two elements to this phase of the strategy: technology and human resources. How you publish your content and manage the same is determined by the content management system (CMS) that you’re using- the more agile, user-friendly and scalable the CMS is, the better you’ll be able to apply your content strategy. So, make sure you put in some thought into what CMS would work best for you.
Secondly, as Neil Patel, one of the stalwarts of marketing, points out- the roles of content managers will definitely expand in 2018, and you need to have a team that’s ready to meet these expanding roles and responsibilities. All the strategies developed would need to be designed and implemented- so don’t forget to keep your HR in loop!
- Determine your metrics for success: Based on your goal for the content marketing strategy, you’ll need to lay down some metrics to measure your success. The metrics could potentially cover social media reach, conversions, outreach, SEO ranking, or more, depending on the initial goal that you’ve set out for yourself.
And voila! Your rather robust and holistic content marketing strategy is ready for the upcoming year! Remember- content and customers are dynamic, so you’re going to have to evolve your strategy frequently. After all, it is a race out there- and you have to do all you can to stay in the game!
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