One of my favourite book series included a long, frustrating love triangle. I could have sworn that the entirety of the love triangle drama could have had its own book, it was so drawn-out. Looking back, I realise that the author was trying to eke out another book deal, using a plot device that a majority of readers are tired of. This is a bit like trying to build a content strategy: in an ever-changing environment, it gets hard to come up with brilliant and relevant ideas. Trends appear and then are quickly lost in the sea that is the demand for the newest and shiniest content that is worth the effort and time it takes to consume.
Rand Fishkin, co-creator of SEO consultant firm Moz, explains that content marketing isn’t a straight line up from clicking a link and then becoming a devoted follower, customer, or reader from visit #1. It’s a slow curve wherein a website is visited, hopefully browsed, liked and remembered, visited a few more times, and then a decision is made whether the consumer likes this company or brand enough to follow them on social media, subscribe to their mailing list, and/or purchase their products. Content creation is about building a relationship with the consumer by creating content that is relatable and interesting to consumers and enables them to interact with your brand on a more personal level.
The above depends entirely on your content strategy and goals. But how does one create a content strategy that will succeed in achieving your individual goals? I’m going to dust off my crystal ball and shuffle my tarot cards to show you the way to your future (content strategy).
Research: the crystal ball knows all ????
Building a content strategy requires you to do some important research on your company, as this will affect the type of strategy you use.
These key points need to be looked at and researched:
- The company’s business model
- The company’s website and social media use
- The company’s customers
- Who they are, what they do, why they converted to customers
- Conduct surveys and interviews
- The competition
- The industry the company works in
- The company’s best features (most popular web pages, best-selling product, etc)
- What attracts consumers to this company?
Data analysis: palm reading of your character and life so far ✋
The data you gather from your research will be useful in analysing your current content and how successful it is in bringing in traffic and creating converts.
- A benchmark audit to collect analytical data such as traffic, page views, pages per visit, time per visit, rankings, and conversion rate help you in comparing the results of your new strategy to your old one
- A content audit to determine just how well your company is doing online. Take a look at your top pages (the amount of pages you look at is determined by how much content your website has) and analyse how your content is performing through analytical metrics, SEO metrics, and content review (those top pages you collected should be reviewed to see who they attract and how they do it, such as the most searched keywords for example)
Planning: tarot card reading of your future ????
With your analysis complete, it’s time to determine your content strategy.
The strategy should consider:
- Your goals (increase in site traffic, brand awareness, audience engagement, etc)
- Your values
- What matters to your company? What does it stand for?
- The purpose of the content (to build awareness, to be shared, to create inbound links, to make a sale, to promote a new trend, etc)
- Gated content is useful for gathering customer data as consumers are asked to exchange information or create an account to be able to access larger amounts of content
- Curated content can be used to take a break from having to come up with a brilliant idea, instead gathering information and data and using it to your advantage, such as creating a fun infographic. (Just remember to always give credit when credit is due!)
- Different customers and customer needs
- Those surveys and interviews you conducted will differentiate your company’s different customer profiles
- These profiles will come in handy when creating content with a specific purpose or targeted to solve a problem a consumer may have; it’s always easier to write when you know exactly who will be reading and why they’re reading
- Defining features, themes, or topics evident in most of the content created; something your company can stand out with
- What’s your angle? What makes this piece of writing different to the other five on the same topic?
- Use of digital content such as social media or content platforms (aka video, audio platforms)
- Quantity (how much content you create weekly or monthly)
- Using a content and/or social media planning calendar is useful in maintaining regular posting and creation
- Planning calendars help ensure you are able to create quality content without being overwhelmed or running out of steam
Following the strategy: Magic-8-Ball says “go for it!” ????
The creation of content can be achieved through:
- Keeping on top of industry news
- Taking advantage of current news and events
- Eyeing the competition
- Create guidelines/checklists for creating content
Empathy, transparency, and passion evident in your content are the cornerstones to building a meaningful relationship with your consumer.
As you follow your content strategy and create content, make sure to regularly analyse it to see if it’s achieving your goals and whether it can be improved. If your content doesn’t do as well as you hoped, try to see why, and how you can fix this.
Building a content strategy includes a lot of sitting around and looking at numbers and drawing conclusions from those numbers in an effort to discover new ways to create and promote content. You’re almost a scientist, technically.
The best content strategies don’t create content for the sake of it, to sell (as the only goal), or to create click-bait. Content that engages with your audience, imparts useful knowledge, and resonates with the reader is the best kind. Consumers who feel like your company cares and that they (the consumer) matter will respond more positively and it will be easier to create a convert, subscriber, or brand loyal.