You would never start a business without a strategy.
Doing so is a surefire way to fail in business. If you’re after long-term success, would you really go into business not prepared for it? Without a business strategy, how do you know the next steps to take?
It’s a given that starting and running a business requires a lot of planning, so what makes marketing the content you upload any different?
Having great content is one of the most cost effective ways to generate leads and create a strong identity for your brand, especially in a world that depends on the online space.
Creating content is definitely not an easy task. So, to ensure that the content you publish is intriguing, relevant, and reliable, you need a solid content strategy.
Define your goals
In a previous blog, we discussed why it is important to start with the end in mind when writing your blog strategy.
Without an end goal in mind, your content will end up directionless, irrelevant, repetitive, incoherent, or just too uninteresting.
But by defining why you’re creating your content in the first place, you’ll be able to have content that is consistent with your brand and meaningful for your audience.
Three factors to consider in this step are:
- Your marketing goals.
- Your content goals.
- The type of products and services you’re selling.
By having these planned out , you’ll be able to focus on your objectives and upload content with more clarity.
Understand your customers
Every business has its niche.
The content that you create should be targeted to an audience, specifically your customers and your prospects. You want to create content that these people will enjoy and find useful.
This is why it is crucial that you know and understand your customers. By doing so, you’ll be able to create content that they feel is made directly for them. This will keep them interested and engaged, and more importantly, it will make them feel that you as a business truly care for them and their needs. So, as part of your content strategy, you should have a customer avatar in place.
Story League, for instance, has four ideal clients we want to work with and each has their own customer avatar. Each profile has a summary of the following:
- Their personal information (name, age, gender, job title, business, social status, education, etc.).
- What they do as a business.
- Their motivations.
- Their values.
- Their lifestyle.
- Their workplace environment.
- What problems they experience that we can solve.
By having this information in your customer avatars, you’ll be able to consider the needs, interests, and concerns of your customer base when creating content for them.
Assess the stories and content ideas you have
Based on your goals and the profiles of your customers, you should be able to assess what needs to be in your content. Here, you can start identifying major themes and breaking them down into more specific topics that you want to tackle per piece of content.
Even if you already have your main goals noted down, getting to the specifics is still a meaty process, with a lot of things for you to consider.
Know what content you already have. Is the content you have already rolled out still relevant to your goals? Do you want your new content to still be consistent with your existing uploads? Or do you want a new style and some minor rebrands with how you present your content? Once you’ve decided on this, it will be easier to brainstorm topics you have yet to tackle and identify ways to best present your brand moving forward.
Know where your target audience looks for content. Where do your customers go when they want content? Do they prefer looking through a businesses’ official website? Or do they depend on social media platforms? Which social sites are they on usually: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram? By knowing these details, you’ll know which sites you should have a stronger social media presence on, while still keeping your main website updated.
Know what Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) says. Most content creators now use SEO to get more clicks and views for the content they create. SEO is a dependable tool to get your story towards the top of Google, Yahoo!, or Bing searches. You need to know the questions your customers are typing into search engines. Study the most commonly searched words that are relevant to your business. From here, select keywords that you can consistently use in your content.
Know what your competitors are doing. Analyse your competitors. Identify the ones with better reach and engagements and compare their content with the ones who are barely visible. Know what works and what doesn’t. Identify what your major competitors are doing well and poorly. By noting both their strengths and their weaknesses, you’ll find opportunities for improvement and make your content stand out.
Know what form of content you want to create. There are many means to present your content. Some do copywriting, others do videos, and podcasting is becoming increasingly popular. Know what your audience wants and also know what your business’ strengths are and which form of content will show this best.
Identify what opportunities you have
In the online space, there are various forms of media that internet users like to consume, whether for entertainment or educational purposes, or for solving problems in their day-to-day lives.
How your content should be produced will greatly depend on the nature of your business and your audience, but these factors need to be considered.
According to a study by Quoracreative in 2019, 77% of internet users say they read blogs regularly. This alone already suggests that blogging is a reliable means of presenting your content.
Here are other statistics to consider about blogging, according to Optinmonster in 2020:
- About 409 million people view more than 20 billion pages each month.
- There are around 70 million posts being published monthly in WordPress.
- Websites that also have a blog are shown to have 434% more indexed pages.
- Companies who blog get 97% more links to their websites.
- Blogs have been rated as the fifth most trustworthy source for gathering online information.
While videos are generally a more popular medium of content than blogs, blogging still has its own strengths which really depend on your context.
For instance, blogging is much easier on both time and budget. If your target audience also usually go through content more during work hours, they would likely prefer reading blogs. According to SEO Expert Jeff Lenney, older audiences are more likely to read blogs than watch videos. And lastly, if you’re a better writer than vlogger, blogging is a better choice. In the end, it’s all about the quality of the content you upload.
If your goal is to generate leads, videos might be the best medium for you. A recent survey by Databox suggests that 74% of marketers consider videos more effective than blog posts for generating leads.
But again, this all depends on your own skills, what your audience wants, and what your products and services are. Some businesses will be able show off their product better through videos, especially those that require a lot of visualising that blogs might not be able to capture. Videos are also considered the most engaging medium since you use more senses to consume content.
Here are some interesting facts about video content in marketing for 2020:
- 81% of businesses use video as a marketing tool, 18% higher than last year. (Hubspot)
- Mobile video consumption rises by 100% annually. (Insivia)
- Users view more than 1 billion hours of video each day on YouTube. (Youtube)
- 72% of customers prefer to learn about a product or service through video. (Hubspot)
- Social media posts with video have 48% more views. (HubSpot)
- 65% of people use YouTube to help them solve a problem. (Google)
However, writing scripts, rehearsing, taking several videos, and editing takes a lot of time, and not to mention money, too. It might also be harder to sound more interesting and find more unique content in such a saturated market. Let’s face it: not everyone has the charisma of Gary Vee.
Podcasts are basically online audio broadcasts. As mentioned earlier, podcasts are becoming more and more popular, and that includes the realm of online content marketing.
Unlike videos and blogs, podcasts don’t use your sense of sight. Like how you multitask with music on, the same can be done with podcasts. Your customers might be reading, or driving, or doing chores, or whatever else they’re up to while listening to and learning from your podcasts. In such a fast-paced environment, it’s no wonder why podcasts are so ‘in’ these days.
Here are some statistics on podcasts in 2020:
- There are 850,000 active podcasts and over 30 million podcasts episodes. (Podcast Insights)
- More than half of all US consumers above the age of 12 listen to podcasts. (Statista)
- More than half of listeners are more likely to consider buying from the brand after hearing its advertisement on a podcast. (eMarketer)
- Podcast advertising revenues are expected to surpass 1 billion USD in 2021. (eMarketer)
- 82.4% of podcast listeners spend more than seven hours a week listening to podcasts. (Discover Pods)
How to build enough material to create a content strategy
Knowing that your content needs direction and that you have to roll out several pieces of content spanning across the next few months, it’s a challenge to keep coming up with new topics to post about.
An effective way to come up with content in a systematic manner is to first have a main content theme each month. Break this theme into smaller topics, depending on how frequent you roll out content—two if you post every fortnight, four if you post weekly, etc. Decide the styles in which these topics will be presented, whether it be through Hero’s Journey, Thought Leadership, Opinion, etc.
Here are seven steps to follow for you to create an effective content strategy:
- Assess the quality and audience-interest of your current content.
- Identify what video, podcast, and/or blog options are available to you.
- Compare good content from bad content.
- Understand the importance of creating a content strategy for your brand.
- Analyse your competitors (what they do well and what they do poorly).
- Identify story ideas you should be producing content on.
- Study how to turn these ideas into stories
Be consistent with your content
For your content to gain more and more traction, you need to post regularly. Decide on a frequency for uploading that you believe you can commit to (e.g. every day, week, or fortnight) and stick to it.
When your audience realises that you have a schedule for content posting, they will have something to look forward to. This will also boost your reach on social media, when algorithms such as those of Facebook and LinkedIn detect your frequent activity. Having an irregular schedule or an inactive social media page may cause your posts to stop showing up on other people’s news feeds.
Consistency and retention are your best friends when posting on social media.
Review and assess what’s resonating with your market
Once you’ve gone through all the steps mentioned above and started applying them in your regular content posting, you should keep track of all the numbers each upload gets.
How many viewers did each post have? Which one was the most popular? Which one didn’t have as many views as the rest? What post had the most comments and engagements? The most shares? Which one had the least?
Review your reach monthly. When you identify the topics that seem to gain more traction than others, try to focus on those in the coming months of your content strategy. Know what works better than the others and capitalise on it.
Having a content strategy is essential in successful content marketing. If you have a strategy and you do it right, you’ll get lots of viewers and followers that you can convert into loyal customers of your brand.
“Success is 20% skills and 80% strategy. You might know how to succeed, but more importantly, what’s your plan to succeed?” — Jim Rohn, Entrepreneur, Author, and Motivational Speaker.