These last few years have seen the veritable explosion of “content” as part of marketing plans. As content marketing finds its place in marketing strategies and budgets, it’s the task of developing an actual content strategy, to more effectively and accurately target content to better connect to and grow audience – and ultimately market share – that is becoming the more desirable, not to mention highly productive, approach.
Content Strategy: As you get to know your audience, you get to know the content that will resonate
With social media largely ubiquitous in business plans large and small, the concepts of content creation, content marketing and content strategy has gained significant parlance in audience engagement in the larger picture of brand development.
Content marketing involves identifying and developing the story that an organization tells and focusing on ways to engage an audience, using content to drive profitable behaviours – likes, shares, link clicks, visits, etc. Content strategy, on the other hand, digs deeper into the creation, publication and governance of useful content, actually helping an organization manage content as a business asset. Both essential in a focused marketing approach to better engage, inform and build an audience along with your business.
Do I need a Content Strategy?
Yes! Yes, you do! And here are some reasons why:
A content strategy ensures that content is consistent with brand values and messaging. Identifying to whom, or with whom, you are communicating is part and parcel of developing a content strategy. Content created on the fly often leads to a collection of disparate and random content with no identifiable focus, theme or purpose. The lack of consistency and directive can confuse your audience and, ultimately, reflect poorly on your brand.
A content strategy helps target your content to more effectively connect with, and build, audience. Identifying to whom, or with whom, you are communicating is part and parcel of developing a content strategy. This ensures that the content you create will resonate with, but more importantly, be of value to, your audience. If you provide content that engages and is valued it is more likely to encourage profitable behaviours. Bottom line: generic, stock, content doesn’t get shared.
A content strategy allows the content you create to build your authority and credibility in your market. Quality content is a great way to demonstrate your expertise, knowledge and experience in your marketplace. Creating and sourcing valuable content to provide to your audience sets you apart a having a more thorough handle on your product or service, building more audience confidence in your business, helping position your brand as a credible and expert resource. This allows for quality over quantity: less content that is meaningful and relevant has more impact.
A content strategy ensures that your content is geared to help you stand out from the crowd. Determine how you can offer fresh, thought-provoking perspectives through relevant and compelling content that will help generate interest and curiosity.
A content strategy lends to measurable efficiency & effectiveness. CMI data shows that 60% of B2B marketers with a documented content strategy “rate themselves highly in terms of content marketing effectiveness”, compared to 32% of those who don’t. The increased demand for content is driving the need for efficiency in content creation. A Demand-Gen report shows that 75% of B2B buyers rely more on content to research and make purchasing decisions than they did a year ago, with most buyers viewing 5 or more pieces of content before deciding to buy.
A content strategy helps identify & hit goals. CMI found that only 35% of marketers have a documented content strategy, but of those marketers, 94% indicate that their content strategy ‘very closely’ or ‘somewhat’ guides their organization’s content marketing efforts. Additionally, recent Aberdeen research shows that best-in-class companies that use a content strategy “enjoy five times higher revenue contribution from content efforts than their peers”.
Developing a content strategy
Establish the all-important “why” and the vision. Establishing a common vision is an essential first step. Consider why you’re creating content. Know your brand story and identify the greater messaging of your brand and outline how that will be communicated through your content. How will your content be used? How will the success of the content be measured? How does it relate to larger organizational goals and the bottom-line?
Outline your strategy. You can’t just jump into creating content at random. According to Aberdeen, almost half of B2B organizations create content “in an ad hoc fashion”, while only 7% of best-in-class organizations do. Clearly, the best-in-class never approach content flying by the seat of their pants. Their approach is one of focused planning. Define how content is created, compiled, and reviewed. What are the basic standards for content? These points can guide the process: (1) Why you’re sharing a specific piece of content, (2) who your target audience is, (3) what format your piece of content is going to take, (4) where it will have the greatest impact, (5) when you can gain the greatest engagement, and (6) how you will execute the strategy.
Know your audience. Whoa! Showstopper, for sure! Identifying to whom you are communicating is essential and, honestly, the most challenging. Knowing what is important to them with regards to your product or service, also essential and equally challenging. But more than worth the effort. This data informs your approach to the content you curate and create. The most effective and valuable content is the content that is relevant, resonates and engages. Important: you can re-use your content! Rule of thumb: a single topic can be explored from different angles to develop at least 5 different types of content. Also, consider the different mediums in which to connect: beyond words to images and video, for example.
Know your channels. Not knowing how to effectively distribute content is a most common problem. Companies will post to their website and blog but forget to disseminate throughout the channels that are most likely to actually reach people. It’s about social media, people! LinkedIn is a powerful tool for B2B, Facebook, Instagram and twitter for B2Community. This allows for maximum exposure to product, content, and message.
Analyze & optimize. Can you believe only 21% of marketers regularly measure the results of their content? If you aren’t measuring, how can you possibly know what works and what doesn’t and how to adapt and adjust strategy moving forward? Set metrics, collect data, and analyze the success of each content program. Consider common content marketing KPIs such as website traffic, sales lead quality and quantity, conversion rates, SEO ranking, time spent on the website, shares, and subscriber growth. The tools are readily available and these valuable, actionable insights can be utilized to identify what content and topics to focus on in your content strategy and to centralize, streamline, and optimize the use of content within your organization.
Consider a content strategy for your business. Perhaps you’ve already outlined your strategy and are simply in need of the content creation to make it come to life. Either way, upended creative can serve you soup to nuts, from strategy to marketing to content writing. Contact us today and let’s discuss how to best target your audience!
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