You have a content marketing plan, but is it performing up to your (and your company’s) expectations? If not, it’s time for a refresh.
Content isn’t just the words on your website. Consider your blog posts, your Instagram story Boomerangs, your email newsletter, your gated download, your retweets. Is there a method behind the madness? The answer is “yes” when you have a solid content strategy.
A lot of people use the term “content strategy” to describe a broader marketing strategy. What exactly is a content strategy?
Marketing strategy and content strategy aren’t synonymous, but a successful marketing plan absolutely involves a content arm. Like we mentioned before, content includes every tangible asset you’re creating — whether words, design or video. The key to leverage these assets well? Content strategy.
A content strategy pairs an organization’s vision — the how and the why — with execution guidelines to achieve a specific business goal(s). In this official document (yes, it should be written out), an organization should include audience and competitor research, a current content audit, future content guidelines, success metrics and a distribution plan.
Where do you start?
When developing a content strategy, it’s crucial to consider your audience and business goals simultaneously — these two pieces are not mutually exclusive.
Audience: Outline both your current customers and your ideal customers. Who are they? Define their age, gender, location, etc. Consider how they communicate (social channels) and who they listen to (influencers). Where in the sales cycle do they interact with your content? And, perhaps most importantly, determine their pain points; how can you help make their lives easier?
Business goals: Why are you investing in content marketing? Now’s the time to identify specific business objectives content can help you achieve. A regional CVB, for example, may want to increase bookings during the slow winter season by 25 percent. A hospital system, on the other hand, may decide to focus content marketing efforts on growing prospective patients — with messages of awareness and preventive care — rather than current patients.
But what if you have those basics nailed down? Do you really need to “rethink” your entire strategy?
You probably know the answer: yes. A smart company reevaluates its business plan and initiatives on a regular basis; content marketing shouldn’t be any different.
Is your website converting customers? Do your leads and results continue to improve? Are you getting noticed by clients, competitors, your boss? If not, you should reevaluate your content strategy. This won’t necessarily mean a complete overhaul, but it’s important to objectively look at what’s working and what’s not.
What are the biggest mistakes marketers make when creating a content strategy?
- Using yourself as the target demographic. As appealing as it may seem to create content for you, by you, this isn’t the medium to do it. Don’t try to turn your organization into your personal lifestyle brand. Instead, consider all of your different audience personas and how you can reach them in different phases of the sales cycle.
- Equating content to blog posts only. Posting on a company blog daily will not necessarily drive results, nor is it the best use of company time and money. Think about how smart social media, segmented emails, gated downloads, etc. can bolster your brand story and reach different types of customers.
- Creating content without a solid distribution plan. Content creation and digital marketing go hand-in-hand, but distribution is often neglected (or left to people who aren’t experts). Wondering how to get your content in front of the right people immediately? We’ve outlined four channels you should consider for your content strategy.
Fair enough, but how do I make sure I don’t fall into these traps?
Creating a content strategy isn’t a quick task to check off your to-do list. The first step should always be research — into your own business, your customers and your competition. From there, an organization can really get to work on the content strategy planning and execution.
If it seems daunting, you’re not wrong. It’s a big undertaking, but the payoff can be even bigger. An outside perspective can certainly help, whether that’s with audience research, editorial planning or content distribution.