Where it was not true just 20 years ago, today it is critical for a business to produce content. The business world has gone digital and content is an essential component of that. To make it in business, you need to have a significant presence on the web. To do that, you need content. The benefits include:
1. Establishing your expertise,
2. Building trust with your target market,
3. Generating those all-important leads.
If content is crucial, then mapping the strategy which includes its goals is integral to business planning.
Table of Contents
What is a Content Strategy?
A content strategy focuses on providing valuable information in one form or another to current and potential customers to retain or acquire their business.
The content strategy is a component of the overall marketing strategy. Once the goals for revenue, sales, and marketing are established, one of the tools at the disposal of the marketing team includes content marketing.
The plan is not just about publishing content. It is about publishing the right content at the right time to work in sync with your overall marketing strategy. That takes careful thinking and planning. A coherent, yet flexible, content strategy works completely in tandem with the overall marketing goals for the organization.
Key Components to the Strategy
Content is really a communication stream with your audience. Different audiences need to be addressed differently in terms of information, tone, length, frequency, and timing.
Strategies should include the following principles:
1. Contextualize your content
You need to be clear on where this particular piece of content fits into the puzzle of your company’s overall communication stream.
2. Zero in on keywords and language
The simple act of compiling a list of keywords and phrases will go a long way in helping to shape and construct essential components of your strategy. Simple keywords strung together by phrases reflecting the company’s voice is a key first step along the path to your content strategy.
3. Build a relationship with your people
Understanding your keywords also helps you speak your audience’s language. You will be able to cut to the heart of the matter by addressing their concerns and quickly communicating that you understand their pain points and priorities.
4. Be evergreen and consistent
Organizations should not have to constantly re-work and re-write content. There is no time for that and it can even confuse the message and positioning. Consistent messaging stands the test of time, re-emphasizes key points, and, most important, keeps things simple.
5. Tout your brand
Content is your place to shine and show your stuff. Show the marketplace that you are an expert and have a specific niche and unique selling point. This not only can increase business, but can boost your reputation in your industry as well.
6. Watch the competition
The world is moving faster and faster each day. It is important to see where you stand on the playing field and how to keep your competitive edge. To do that, you need to keep your eye on the competition to make sure you are still outpacing and outperforming them in some important way. Quality AND flexibility are key to success.
Key Questions to Ask
Some find it useful to actually work these things out on a worksheet. During that exercise, the key questions to ask are:
1. Who is your target audience?
2. What is the purpose of each piece of content?
3. What need is it filling for current and potential customers?
4. How does this fit in with my branding and niche?
5. Is the voice and tone consistent with the company?
6. Where will this be published?
7. How will this be tracked?
Answering these questions formally and having the team use it as a basis for devising the strategy ensures you are all on the same page. Furthermore, it is one more guarantee that you will be executing a unified voice and consistent messaging.
Look for These Results
Content strategies have measurable goals. These goals should be constantly reviewed and matched to metrics to ensure that the content is performing the way you want it to. You will want to set key performance indicators (KPIs) so that you can monitor the success of each part of your strategy. The beauty of content is that if something is not working exactly right, you can easily adapt it so that it will.
Basic KPIs you should look for include:
1. Growth of organic traffic
You want more and more traffic to the money pages on your website where you describe the product or service you are selling. These pages should rank high enough on the search engines, usually the top ten slots of the organic search, so that people click on the link on the search page and go to your site. Of course, all content needs to be search engine optimized (SEO) so the search engines pick your content up. Furthermore, the longer we can keep a visitor to the website on the page, the more google thinks your website is important enough to rank. [SEO will be the topic of a subsequent blog post.]
2. Convert the clicks into leads
Once a potential customer lands on your page, you need to convert them into a sales lead or client. That conversion is most likely to take place by a sales pitch, offer, or enticing content of some kind. That is exactly what we call content! Of course, there needs to always be a clear call to action (CTA) so that no good content juice that was created goes to waste. A visitor clicking on your CTA means your content has scored!
3. More product sign-ups
This is the most obvious goal and the whole reason for being in business in the first place. More unique visits enable the website to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs), thus leading to more opportunities for more leads. The traffic should produce leads which should be nurtured so that they turn into sign-ups. [Nurturing these leads and customer relationship management (CRM) will be the subject of a subsequent blog post.]
Types of Content in Your Strategy
The format for your content can be flexible and varied. You have the freedom to be creative using these standard formats any way you wish. You can even blur the lines a bit. Some traditional products are:
· Website copy and landing pages
· White papers and e-books
Each format has a role to play in your overall content strategy. The thing is information/content is being thrown at us from every which way. If you want to try a new format that gets attention and is useful to your target audience – go for it!
Company Brand, Persona, & Voice
While you want to stand out from the crowd, you also want to be methodical and consistent in the way you build your company brand. Steady and consistent messaging is still the best way to make sure your message is hammered home to your target audience and your unique selling points remain top of mind for them.
Building your persona and company voice is quite important. To illustrate, it is clear how a cupcake decorating company needs to come across way differently than a medical equipment supplier. Voice and tone are critical to capture the right attention, instill confidence, and stand out among your competitors.
The right persona needs to be nurtured and maintained. Furthermore, every company should have a style sheet which includes rules of what and how they want to say things.
Once you have set your strategy, calendaring is critical to making sure it is carried out. Setting up a calendar of content creation, generation, and publishing is the key to making sure your hard work is implemented and yields fruit.
There should be the overall editorial calendar and sub-calendars for things like blog posts, social media posts, videos, and accompanying whitepapers. The process is time consuming at first, but makes the year so much easier. There are many services and software programs to help with this. However, the personal touch is required to make sure it is “write”.
It also is understood that the calendars need to be set up with some wiggle room so that if a major event or trend unfolds, you can show your audience you are right on top of it with appropriate and timely communication of some kind.
What to Include in a Content Strategy: Infographic
Goals & KPIs
Variety of Content Formats
The words I would use to sum up what is essential to a content strategy are research and planning flavored by flexibility. When you take the time to do both those things while being vigilant for latest trends on the horizon, you will likely have a fine content strategy. At the same time, the world of content is open to you to be as daring as you want to be in order to achieve your business goals. Remember, www can not only stand for world wide web, but winning with writing. Keep that in mind and oh, the places you’ll go!
Write Content Solutions was started by Phyllis Lehman who has a passion for writing and helping small businesses succeed so they can compete with bigger players. The internet is the great leveler. You can swim with the big fish! Contact us at 516.855.8551 for all your content marketing needs. We will make sure you feel heard and provide you with the highest quality content for your business.