Once you have your website up and running, it’s tempting to hope that your customers will suddenly notice you and flock to your business now that you have a presence online.
Tempting – but wrong.
Certainly, a well-crafted and fully-optimised website will draw more traffic your way. Here at FabSite, for instance, our pay-monthly website packages ensure that all our clients are at the cutting edge when it comes to search engine optimisation. Regular updates and amendments make sure that your website is ahead of the curve as far as adapting to changes in Google’s search algorithms.
However, there is another key component in getting fresh eyes on your site on a regular and consistent basis. You need a Content Marketing Strategy.
By the numbers
In sheer numerical terms, the advantages of a competent Content Marketing Strategy are difficult to dispute. Recent figures from DemandMetric, Contently, and Deliate Digital (among others) demonstrated some of the more impressive benefits. These included:
- 97% more backlinks
- 434% more indexed pages on search engines
- 55% more traffic
- 5x more leads
- 13x more likely to provide ROI
- costs 62% less than traditional marketing
With so many advantages, how do you set up a Content Marketing Strategy for your own company?
Let’s start with the basics
What is a Content Marketing Strategy?
We all understand what it is to create and distribute content. Most companies have a blog or a social media presence, whether they run it themselves or entrust it to a third party provider. However, a Content Marketing Strategy involves rather more than content creation and distribution.
Rather, it is a strategic approach to marketing that utilises fresh, original content to draw in and engage with a specific audience clearly defined from the start. The goal is to do more than attract casual visitors to your site, but to pull a designated type of potential consumer, one who is already predisposed to interact with your company and spend their money with you.
What does a Content Market Strategy involve?
There are four key elements to a successful Content Marketing Strategy – brand positioning, owned media value proposition, a business case, and a strategic plan. Don’t worry if that sounds complicated. As we break them down, you’ll see they are really common-sense approaches to any marketing solution.
Customers identify with brands more than they do with products or services. A clearly defined brand allows you to provide a consistent experience for your existing audience, whilst giving your the room to build on that brand name with a competent Content Marketing Strategy.
Owned media value proposition
When you enter the world of content creation, you’re no longer competing with rival companies in your own industry. You’re also competing with third party content creators. From bloggers and YouTubers, to Instagram influencers and online magazines, you need to establish something that will set you apart from them.
What makes your content attractive to prospective viewers? What do you have to offer, apart from your brand identity? You should check out some of the more popular content channels relating to your particular sector and find out what sets them apart from the competition. This is a crucial area of research, especially because now, you are the competition.
A business case
Of course, a Content Marketing Strategy is driven by providing value to your target audience. However, it remains a key part of your business and must therefore demonstrate its worth in terms of driving business forward. You need to draw up a business case for your strategy, in the same way you would for any other promotional project.
If nothing else, a documented business case will give you a better understanding of both the costs and benefits of your new strategy, as well as the amount of investment required to make it a success.
A strategic plan
A Content Marketing Strategy is not something to run into blindly. You need to know what you want to achieve from such a strategy and how to go about it. Putting together a strategic plan will help you determine who you want to reach with your content, how to deliver it, and how to measure your results.
Creating your Content Marketing Strategy
Now that we know what a Content Marketing Strategy entails, it’s time to get to the meat of the matter – creating one.
This is a seven-step process, each step building on the foundation laid by the others. It’s not something that can be dealt with quickly – a successful Content Marketing Strategy requires forward planning and an honest analysis of where your business stands and where it hopes to be.
Step 1: A content audit
Auditing your existing content is the best way to plan for the future. You need to analyse customer data as it pertains to your current content. This is more than just the search keywords that lead clients to your site (although that’s certainly a part of it). It is closer in nature to a market research project, but one focused on those customers who already follow you and use your product or service. You need to dive deep on every blog, every shared video, and every social media posting. What went down well with your core audience? Which content received the most number of likes or the most number of shares? How many people commented, and what was the nature of their interaction? How did this engagement translate to sales?
Once you have completed your audit, you should be in a position where you understand your audience better in terms of the content they want to see. You should also be able to see a direct correlation between popular content and successful content – that is, popular posts, blogs, and videos should result in higher engagement.
Learn from this – understand what your existing customers want to see more of, and you’ll be able to translate that into future content that draws more visitors from that same audience.
Step 2: Setting your goals
This is ultimately how you will be able to gauge the success of your Content Marketing Strategy – by setting goals and using your strategy as a tool to attain them. While you might have some specific sales targets and engagement figures in mind for a new product launch, you shouldn’t let your strategy be determined by short-term goals.
Remember, you’re in this for the long-haul and your Content Marketing Strategy should reflect that. Certainly, your individual marketing campaigns for a specific sales event should still have an eye on those short term milestones, but your overall Content Marketing Strategy should be focused on the long-term growth of your business.
As with all things in the digital age, versatility and agility are key considerations in setting your goals. No Content Marketing Strategy should ever be set in stone. Flexibility in the face of a changing marketplace and consumer base will repay itself many times over. Consider using the CLEAR framework when goal-setting. This allows your company to be more agile when it comes to producing content that resonates with your audience.
CLEAR goals are evaluated by their main characteristics:
- Collaborative: your goals should encourage teamwork
- Limited: your goals should have a defined end in both scope and duration
- Emotional: your goals should inspire and motivate your team
- Appreciable: your goals should be broken down into smaller mini-objectives
- Refinable: your goals should be versatile, to be redefined according to need and circumstance
Step 3: Determining your audience
Your content audit should have helped you with this already, but there is always more to learn. To run a successful Content Marketing Strategy, you must understand your audience – their lifestyle, their concerns, their problems, and their needs.
It’s important to remember that you audience is just made up of buyers. A significant proportion of the people you are marketing to will be interacting with you and your brand long before they have any intention of making a purpose.
Indeed, many major brands create content that is only tangentially – if at all – related to their product. Rather, it is related to the interests and concerns of their wider audience. Companies like Red Bull, for instance, create online content about extreme sports. Often, these barely even mention the Red Bull product, but they get significant engagement from their audience.
Another thing to remember when determining your prospective audience is that many of them don’t know that they want your product, or even that your product exists. They don’t want a sales pitch, they want a piece of content that resonates with them. Don’t think about an audience in terms of who want to buy your product or service. Rather, think of it in terms of what sort of problems and concerns will our audience have, and will these be solved or alleviated by our brand?
Once you understand what both the problem your audience has and the results they envision, you are in a position to deliver content that offers a solution. This is what transforms new viewers into lifelong brand advocates, and feeds back into our notion of a Content Marketing Strategy as a long-term goal.
Step 4: Developing an editorial plan
This is the high-level view of your Content Marketing Strategy and it can be summed up as: “what are we talking about today, tomorrow, and in the future?”
Content creation requires forethought and a Content Marketing Strategy even more so. It’s not enough to think of a new blog or video topic at a weekly meeting and create content of the back of it. You need to create a narrative, something that builds up from one piece of content to the next and maintains your audience’s interest.
The idea is to create an emotional journey for your audience, so treat it as such. Plan key moments of your strategy well in advance and target your content towards those moments. Your strategy will be nimble enough to change course along the way and explore interesting diversions, but having these key moments in place will see to it that you remain on track.
Successful marketing in any medium tells a story and with the resources you have available to you in terms of platform and distribution, there has never been a more free-form method of storytelling. This is great for content creation and brand awareness, but it needs those markers in place to keep you heading towards your goals.
Step 5: Planning content production
Every piece of content you create should support your visitors at every stage of the customer journey. Focusing too much on the decision stage of the journey – that is, the hard sell – will put off a lot of would-be clients. This is why a healthy mix of content is so important. Instead of trying to sell a product, create content that informs customers about the problems your product can solve. Create videos that educate customers on a range of solutions to their problem,. Of which your product is just one.
This seems counter-productive, but it will engender trust in your audience. Not only does this improve your rankings in Google and other search engine results, but studies have shown that trust is one of the defining traits when it comes to brand loyalty.
It’s also important to diversify your content. While different reports will show certain content types getting the lion’s share of attention, focusing your Content Marketing Strategy on a single outlet leaves a huge section of your potential audience unaccounted for. Try a mix of social media, blogging, and video releases to cast your net as wide as possible.
You can also use content created by your audience – with appropriate credit given, of course. If somebody references your product in a TikTok video, share it on your company’s social media accounts, or embed it on your blog. This sort of audience interaction is worth its weight in gold. What’s more, it is reciprocal. An appearance on your Facebook page or Twitter stream can improve their number of views, which will make them even bigger advocates of your brand.
It’s also worth remembering that you can repurpose your old content into something new and exciting. If you write an informative essay packed with relevant (but rather dry) data, you can turn that into an infographic at a later date, or even a video explaining the figures in layman’s terms.
You can also rewrite your content and have it posted on third party sites. This is a particularly good strategy if the site in question is recognised for its authority on your industry sector as it can result in positive backlinks from a trusted source, boosting your own brand’s authority.
Step 6: Planning content distribution
Once your content is created, you need to know where to distribute it. There are so many different distribution paths available that any serious Content Marketing Strategy should adopt an omni-channel approach to distribution.
This means setting up a wide-reaching social media presence and understanding how best to tailor your content for each platform.
Here are some of the key distribution channels you should consider:
- Pinterest: great for visual content like infographics, original illustrations, and schemas.
- Instagram: ideal for creating a visual narrative around your brand and developing your brand identity
- Snapchat: this platform has a younger user base, making it essential for businesses with that demographic in mind
- Twitter: less useful for content, due to its limit of 140 characters, but an effective way to direct followers to your content on other platforms
- Facebook: still the largest and most widely-distributed social media platform in the world.
- YouTube: the world’s premier video streaming site. Great for sharing video content and allows you to run live streams and Q&A sessions for even greater audience interaction.
Step 7: Analysing your content’s performance
We have already talked about a Content Marketing Strategy being flexible at its core, and this is the reason why. By analysing the performance of each piece of content you release into the world, you get a better understanding of what is resonating with your audience. There are various metrics you can look at as part of your analysis, but you should take a holistic approach to the numbers.
Don’t worry – your audience will make it quite clear to you what content attracts their attention and holds their interest. This will make developing new content much easier, as you will have a clear field of reference for creating something intriguing.
There are four basic metric groups that you should consider:
• User behaviour: number of unique visitors, pages visited per session, bounce rate
• Engagement: number of likes, shares, mentions, and comments
• SEO results: organic web traffic, visitor dwell time, number of backlinks
• Company revenue: number of leads, conversion rate, existing leads affected
Find the help you need with FabSite
Like so much to do with digital marketing, the specifics behind a successful Content Marketing Strategy are liable to change over time. As more businesses become wise to the concept, the distribution platforms will change their algorithms accordingly, so only the most dedicated performers will be able to stay on top.
However, the fundamental principles of the strategy will remain the same – trust the live data, create first-rate content, and ensure you’re aiming it at the right audience.
Here at FabSite, we can help you with all of that. From online content created by experienced professionals, to expert analysis of your engagement statistics, and more. For further information, or a free, no-obligation consultation, get in touch with us today.