Content is crucial for a business to grow. It can help you generate leads, build trust with your target audience and establish your expertise. To effectively create content, you need a content strategy.
A content strategy ensures you aren’t aimlessly creating content for content’s sake. Designing and implementing a plan allows you to produce more impactful work that meets your short- and long-term goals. By examining your audience and your company’s objectives, you can set intentional targets and track them against benchmarks that help you determine if your content is driving the intended outcomes.
There’s a lot to consider when creating a content strategy. Read on to learn how to create one that delivers results.
A content strategy is part of a broader marketing strategy and should align to specific business goals, particularly as they relate to sales and marketing. Whether you want to increase revenue or grow traffic, a content strategy can help you get there.
Your plan should provide a clear vision of whom you will reach, what aims you hope to achieve through the content you will produce and what channels you’ll publish on. However, your strategy should be flexible. Sometimes even the best-laid plans fall short, or perhaps what worked for your business in the past no longer does. Additionally, as you learn more about how your audience is reacting to your content and your business goals change, your strategy should shift and evolve as well.
The good news is that with a content strategy in place, you can adapt. Because you are accounting for different variables, you can easily identify what is and isn’t working.
Key takeaway: A content strategy is informed by your business goals; it provides a clear vision of what you want to accomplish and how you plan to accomplish those aims, but it should be flexible.
It isn’t just big or established companies that need a content strategy; every business can benefit from one. A good content strategy provides the following benefits:
Key takeaway: Developing a content strategy can be beneficial for your business in multiple ways, including giving your content a purpose, streamlining how you create content, growing your organic web traffic and boosting your credibility.
While content strategies will vary among companies about the specific goals they want to achieve, a content strategy will include the following elements:
As you build a content strategy, you may also want to consider:
Key takeaway: While content strategy elements will differ among businesses, you must have a clear understanding of your brand, whom you are targeting and what you want your content to accomplish.
There are several types of content you can incorporate into your content strategy. One isn’t necessarily better than another. Whether it works for you will depend on execution, your audience, the topic and more. Here are a few you should consider using:
Key takeaway: Different types of content will engage your audiences differently; no one type is better than another.
There is a lot that goes into developing a content strategy. Here’s where to start:
Define why you want to create content and how it will tie to your goals. Some goals may include:
Make sure your goals are both measurable and timely. For example, “Increase organic traffic to service landing pages by 15% year over year” is a goal that is easily measured and has a clear time frame associated with it.
Defining your audience starts with establishing a buyer persona to serve as a fictional representation of your customer. Start with your most common type of customer and consider their geographic location, their interests, their aspirations and their needs. Flesh out a full picture of how this person comes into contact with your brand and what would help usher them along your sales funnel until they make a purchase?
Even if you have never created a content strategy before, you have likely used content to interact with your audience. Look over what you have created. Consider content on your website, social media channels, email, text messages and more. What have you done well? What hasn’t worked? What could be improved on? Pull whatever analytics are available to you to understand what types of content have succeeded and which ones haven’t driven engagement.
Just as you analyze your content, you should analyze your competitors. Visit their websites, follow them on social media, and subscribe to their email newsletters. What do they do well? What doesn’t work? Replicate the approaches that have been successful for them, and fill in the gaps where they haven’t built a strategic advantage.
Analyze your own keywords with tools like SEMRush and Moz so you better understand where you rank. You can also use search engines and Google Keyword Planner to find keywords that you may have missed.
After examining keywords, your content and your competitors’ content, you should know what topics you want to target. If not, you can use a few platforms, such as BuzzSumo, Feedly or BlogAbout to inspire you. From there, you can begin to plan your content calendar.
What content management system (CMS) will you use? Will you use a spreadsheet or something more robust to build your content calendar? When choosing tools, consider how your current systems may fall short, what features will make your life easier and how you plan to keep yourself organized.
To gauge how effective your efforts are, you must have a way to track results and measure ROI. This may be page views, time on page, social media engagement, number of new customers, newsletter signups or more. What matters most to you will depend on your business’s goals.
Consider your resources, and determine what kind of content you can produce and how often you can create and publish them. You can include this in your content calendar.
The last step is to get your content out in the world. After you publish your stories, you should look at what channels provide the best results for your content. You can do this by leveraging Google Analytics to review the performance of your blog and the landing pages on your website. Additionally, you can use the analytics tools on your social media page, email marketing software and the other software solutions your business uses to track key performance indicators (KPIs), such as user bounce rate, clickthrough rate, and more.
Key takeaway: To build an effective content strategy, define your goals and target audience, analyze your content and your competitors’ content, narrow down your keywords, create a content calendar, find tools that will help you manage and streamline your content production process, and measure your results.