If you have stumbled across this post, you are probably aware of the importance of a content marketing strategy. You know you need one, but you also know that you have to get it right.
In case you are still on the fence, here is a great article from our friends at Hubspot that will provide you with enough reasons to get onboard and start your content marketing strategy right away.
Creating awesome content is the first step you need to take to get your strategy right. If your content is not awesome, providing value and answering people’s questions, the strategy you create will fail at the first hurdle.
Distribution of the content is also key. It would be a waste of time and effort if no one actually gets to read your content right?
But what is most important is making sure that you are sending out a unique, clear message which is tailored to your audience.
Content marketing is both a left and right brain activity. What this means is that it’s a combination of the following:
No matter how creative you think you might be, you need to understand that creativity is not enough on its own; you need to have a solid strategy and an understanding of the data and how to act on it.
Your content strategy should be documented and be the place that you put everything into words. It will be your invaluable resource that you can rely on when producing content. Get this done right and it will save you a lot of time creating the entire process.
Creating a strategy is also the initial step to building a content culture within your organisation. Get your team involved and make sure that everyone understands the content strategy in place. Content marketing is an investment that will pay off long-term. This is why it is important to follow a clear path right from the start.
So, as the title of this article says; there are some essential elements that you need to include for an awesome content marketing strategy. Let’s take a look at what they are.
Do not just create content for the sake of it. It is important to understand exactly what you want your content to solve. Creating clear goals is vital so that you can produce content that generates results.
Having clear goals in mind will impact every aspect of your content creation cycle. Some common goals for content marketers include:
- Attracting new visitors
- Building brand awareness
- Moving leads down the sales funnel
- Speeding up the sales process
- Improving customer relationships
You can have many different goals or just one main goal, it is different for every business. The important thing is that the content is customised accordingly for each goal. This will require testing different approaches and tracking the metrics of each approach, seeing what works and what doesn’t.
For example; infographics are a great way to attract a new audience – they are visually compelling and are easy to share through social media channels. On the other hand, an e-book is great for turning visitors into leads and moving them down the sales funnel. Dependant on the content piece and its purpose, you will have different call-to-actions and connect with other content throughout your library.
After you have finished setting your goals, you will need to define your primary message and any secondary messages you may have.
Why is this important? Because whilst you and your team will know what your company does and what products or services you sell, each member of your team will likely have a slightly different perception of the company’s message and values. Whilst diversity is a great thing, it can cause confusion and inconsistency when telling the story of your brand.
The core message that you send in your content should be a unique statement which sets you apart from the competition and embeds the essence of your company. This message needs to find its way into every piece of content that you create – from the tagline on your homepage to the welcome email you send to new customers. You need to deliver a clear and consistent message, no matter what channel the content is published on or what type of content you are producing.
Do not throw this message into every users face though. The message should be embedded between the lines. You need to be subtle, yet firm, while following a central theme that the audience is capable of comprehending every time.
Your secondary messages represent the set values of the company as well as the principals and ideas that are crucial to your service or product. These also need to be conveyed to your audience. For example: if you build your own products and you generate a “low carbon footprint” when doing so, this might be the main differential that sets you apart from the competition. Rather than brag about this fact, which can make you seem obnoxious, you should write in detail about the products journey and how it is carefully designed to increase efficiency whilst maintaining high quality. This is the art of storytelling; it will show your audience the extra care you take when creating your products, which in turn will trigger emotions in the reader which will be directly associated to your brand over time.
Do not worry if you cannot get it right the first time; storytelling is a subtle art which you can learn to master over time. The most important thing is to have a clear understanding of your product and its uniqueness, as well as an understanding of your users.
Personas and Buyer Journey
I cannot stress this enough: content marketing is not for bragging about your service or product, it is about knowing your audience, answering their questions and solving their problems.
After you have aligned your company message, you need to start understanding your audience and their needs. Creating personas is important as it will define the way you communicate to your users, including your language (friendly, professional, technical) and tone. It will also affect the channels you distribute on and the types of content that you end up using.
The most effective method for knowing your users comes from the combination of buyer personas and buyer journeys.
Below is a quote from Hubspot:
“A Buyer persona is a fictional, generalized representation of your ideal customer. It helps us internalize the ideal customer we’re trying to attract, and relate to our customers as real humans. Having a deep understanding of your buyer persona(s) is critical to driving content creation, product development, sales follow up, and really anything that relates to customer acquisition and retention.”
The buyer persona is not “static”. This means that the same persona will have different needs and may also be at a different stage of the buyer journey, looking for different information. A buyer’s journey represents the different stages they are at during the purchase decision; starting as visitors looking for information, turning into leads and then finally customers.
The 3 main stages of the buyer journey are as follows:
- Awareness – This is where the buyer is looking for general information, answers to their question or a potential solution to their problem.
- Consideration – A buyer at this part of the journey has defined their problem, and is likely comparing solutions.
- Decision – Here a buyer knows exactly what they want.
You will always need to update and refine your buyer personas and journeys. To do this effectively, and ensure you are getting reliable information, you need to approach your customers directly to find out their wants and needs.
Based on all the elements that we have talked about above (goals, core message and the buyers persona and journey), you can now decide on the type of content that you will produce. You can also assign different goals to the different types of content.
Below are a few things you will need to focus on:
- Type of content: As mentioned previously, different types of content will serve different purposes. To generate new traffic you can use infographics and blog posts that target the top of the funnel visitors who require information. E-books can then be used to capture the visitor’s details and help them move forward in their purchase decision journey. You need to be very clear about the characteristics of each type of content and what you want to achieve.
- Team Work: It is very beneficial when you have your whole team contributing to your content marketing strategy. Different people in your team will have different skills and will be able to provide valuable information based on their expertise. Build a core content team that is aware of your production schedule and work flows. If you outsource your content then ensure that the company you use has a range of writing experts in different niches, especially yours.
- Schedule: Your content calendar will define what and when you publish. You will likely have a lot of different content rolling out at the same time, with each piece directed at a specific audience. Your schedule is there to determine distribution and promotion of the content. You do not want to do this randomly or your strategy will not work. Make sure that everyone on your writing team is aware of the calendar and understands it.
- Tools: To make everything flow smoothly you need to decide on a set of content marketing tools. In your plan you will want to detail what tools are to be used and at which stage of the process. For example: Where do you want new content ideas to be posted? Via Trello or Slack maybe? Where will you set up your content calendar? Co-Schedule or Google Docs? How should team members contact each other? Email or Skype? You will need to organise this and ensure that your team stick to it.
So There you Have it!
Content marketing is now at an all-time high and no doubt your competitors are also using content as part of their marketing strategy. The way to stand out from your competitors is to be strategic about it.
It may sound like a lot of hard work but you do not have to do it all at the same time. Build and perfect your strategy along the way. Start implementing processes and work flows to help you along. You can also schedule your content on most CMS’s such as WordPress, as well as most social media platforms. If you can schedule your content a week in advance it gives you more time to plan the following week.
Hopefully this article has helped you in your quest to create an awesome content marketing strategy. If however, you would like to get in touch with us to discuss your content marketing needs, please feel free to do so via the contact form.
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