When it comes to creating a successful and effective marketing plan, your content strategy is key. But what exactly is a content strategy? To summarise and explain it in the most basic terms possible, a content strategy refers to the planning, development, management and deliverance of content. The purpose of a content strategy is to ensure that the content you are publishing is aligned with both what your buyers are looking for and your business’ objectives.
Your content strategy ensures that all the content you create has a purpose and is aligned with achieving your business goals. Typically, when people think about content, they think about content that is written, like blog articles and website pages but your content strategy should include all forms of content like videos, images, presentations and infographics.
The thing to remember about content creation and creating a content strategy is that it needs to be well-planned, and perhaps more importantly, it needs to have a purpose. For years, digital marketers have been saying ‘content is king’, and while this is true, it has unfortunately resulted in content being published just for the sake of publishing content, rather than aligning it with what your buyers are looking for. The result of this is that the modern consumer is now drowning in content that doesn’t have much substance or value. This is why it’s important to have an effective content strategy that is focused on publishing valuable, helpful and/or entertaining content that is relevant to your buyers.
Here are some of the key things to consider when beginning to create a content strategy:
Now that we know a little bit more about what a content strategy entails, let’s jump straight into everything else you need to know about a content strategy, like why it’s important, how it will help you achieve your business goals, how to create an effective content strategy and more.
In today’s highly competitive and saturated social media environment, getting the right message to the right customer and at the right time is vital. Being able to reach all those touch points demands a well-planned, brand-specific content strategy. This is why having a content strategy is key if you want your marketing efforts to actually be successful, generating the high quality leads you need and ultimately, turning those leads into customers. Below I’ve outlined just a few important reasons as to why having a content strategy plays a central part in your overall marketing efforts.
A Content Strategy Makes Content Creation Easier
Content creation can be tough. It’s not easy to always think of great blog ideas, and writer’s block is a real problem. However, if you understand ‘why’ you are creating content and the purpose of that content, it becomes a lot easier to generate ideas, topics and inspiration. Once you understand your buyers, and the buyers’ journey you’ll know what information they’re looking for at each stage of the buying process. Then you can brain storm content ideas that answer your buyers questions, using the keywords they use, for each stage of the buying process.
Content Strategy Improves Your Consistency
When you publish content just for the sake of publishing content, you’ll start to find you have a lot of disconnected and random pieces of content floating around your various channels, which will ultimately confuse your audience. Furthermore, not having a consistent tone of voice and publishing irrelevant content will also confuse your audience and lead them to look elsewhere for content. Having a content strategy in place helps you to stay on-brand and ensures your content is of interest and value to your buyers.
Content Strategy Helps You Target the Right Audience
A content strategy that is aligned with what's important to your buyers will provide you with the insight to make sure you know not only what content to publish but also what keywords to use and where to publish your content so they can find it. Optimising your content with keywords your buyers use will help them find your content online when they're searching. And publishing your content on the social media networks they use will help to get your content in front of people likely to buy from you.
Gaining new customers and keeping your current ones is imperative for business success. Most marketing efforts centre around gaining new customers to increase sales, and content marketing is no different. So how can a content strategy help you achieve your business goals? Well, firstly you need to define your business goals, and then create a content strategy that will help you achieve those goals.
Some of the common goals a content strategy can help businesses achieve include:
OK, so how does a content strategy actually work to help you achieve your business goals?
A content strategy will help establish you and your business as an industry thought leader. Creating content, whether it be blogs, videos, eBooks or infographics, allows you to communicate to your customers and prospective buyers that you are an expert in your field and an industry thought leader.
Publishing content that is optimised with the keywords your buyers use will boost your Google rankings, making it easier for people to find you when they’re searching online and ultimately drive more traffic to your website.
Sharing relevant, helpful or entertaining content on social media will boost likes and shares – helping you to reach more people online.
Offering gated content that is highly valuable to your buyers will help to boost your lead generation. Gated content could be in the form of an online webinar or ebook where people have to give you their contact details, via a form, to get access to the highly valuable content.
Publishing content that educates your buyers or provides answers to their questions will help to boost awareness, leads and close customers. Case studies or customer success stories are perfect content ideas that will help to close more leads into customers as your prospects can easily read how you were able to help other people, or organisations.
Whether you’re jumping on the content strategy bandwagon for the first time or you have been working from the same plan for a while now, it’s never a bad time to start or revisit your content strategy to ensure it’s relevant, original and strong. If you’re having trouble starting, here are my best tips for creating an effective content strategy that will start getting you the results you desire.
1. Develop buyer personas
The first thing you need to do when it comes to creating an effective content strategy is to understand the people who buy from you. When creating content, you want it to centre on things your buyers will find relevant, useful and valuable. However, you can’t possibly know what your buyers want if you don’t know who they are. And, the best way to understand your buyers is by creating buyer personas. Learn more about Buyer Personas here.
2. Create a list of relevant keywords
Your buyers should be the ones driving the content you create. If you want to start seeing an increase in your organic traffic from content marketing, then you need to cover topics your buyers are searching for. How? Ask your customers what they search for online and how they describe their problems or challenges - that you help solve? The words they use are what you need to use in your content - not industry jargon or words you use - but the wording your buyers use.
3. Determine the content your buyer personas enjoy the best
Your buyer personas can help you identify the type of content your ideal customer wants to see. While blogging is a popular and highly effective form of content, it’s not the only type out there. According to the Content Marketing Institute, businesses who are the most successful at content marketing use a large range of content approaches – 15 on average. And while I’m not suggesting you dip your toe in to every type of content form there is (that could be very time consuming), what I am suggesting is you should try and use different forms of content every now again. At the end of the day, your audience will lean towards a certain type of content, and this is what you ideally should be focusing on. Some popular content forms you can play around with include: blog articles, short videos, webinars and emails.
4. Create a brand personality
The most successful brands have their own unique style and brand personality, and consumers will usually gravitate towards a brand and personality that’s similar to their own. Think of it like this: you’re trying to establish a rapport with your buyers, so you need to present yourself as someone who they can relate to. Someone who understands them.
5. Decide how often you’re going to publish content
Determining how often to publish content can be difficult, but generally speaking you should be guided by the type of content you’re publishing. For example, how often you publish a blog post will be different to how often you update your Instagram feed. Typically, the longer content takes to produce and the more effort that goes into it, the less frequently you’ll be publishing it. Once you’ve decided how often you’re going to produce and publish your content, it’s important you make a schedule and stick to it. The easiest way to do this is to make a calendar, marking what type of content you’ll be publishing, where you’ll be publishing it and at what time. Most social media channels offer insights into what days and times your audience is most active, so make sure you take advantage of this data when planning and scheduling your content.
Search Engine Optimisation, known as SEO, is key when it comes to the success of your content marketing. It is important you keep up with Google’s latest updates and make sure your content is relevant to both your target audience, and search engines. This is where having a content strategy in place comes in handy. Chances are, you’ve spent a lot of time creating valuable content and you want your buyers to be able to find it. That’s why working to make sure your content can be easily found online is vital when it comes to reaching your buyers.
To get you up to speed, today’s best practice for SEO is the ‘topic cluster model’. OK, so what does this mean? Basically, on your website, you should have a ‘pillar’ page for your main keywords. The pillar page is the main hub for content for an overarching topic. Then, whenever you create new content that’s related to that topic you link it back to that pillar page. For example, this is the pillar page for the topic (and keyword) content marketing. The point of all this? It essentially sends a message to Google that your website is an authority on that particular topic and therefore should rank accordingly when people search for information on that topic. You can have as many pillar pages as you like, but just remember that your pillar page needs to broadly cover the topic you’re focusing on, so when you link blogs related to that page and other pages on your website back to it, it makes sense and all ties in nicely together.
Why is this important to know? It’s important because SEO and content marketing are essentially two sides of the same coin. Content marketing does not work effectively without SEO and your SEO will be more effective with the right content strategy. Now that you know a little bit more about SEO and the topic cluster model, let’s look at some other reasons as to why SEO needs to be part of your content strategy.
1. Better Organic Outreach
If you want your audience to actually see your content, you need to ensure they can find it when they’re looking. While social media and email marketing are effective to an extent, they only reach people who have already connected with your business. What about the people in your target audience who are actively looking for the content you are publishing, but haven’t visited your website or even know you exist? Optimising your content for search engines ensures people who are searching online are more likely to find and connect with your business. Implementing the topic cluster model is one of the most effective ways to optimise your content and improve your organic outreach.
2. A More Relevant Audience
SEO helps make your content more visible, but more importantly, it helps make your content more visible to the right audience. However, for this to actually be effective, you need to have a clearly defined buyer persona from the start. This will help you choose the right keywords and topics to cover, to reach your ideal audience.
3. Helps You Convert More Leads and Customer
Optimising your content for keywords and topics your buyers are looking for means not only that they can find you online when they’re looking. It also means the content is of interest to them and relevant to where they are in the buying process. By publishing relevant and helpful quality content you will increase the number of people who know about your organisation thus increasing your chances of generating more leads and customers and improving your brand, again boosting your chances to convert more people into leads and customers.
Blogging is, and should be, an essential part of your game plan when it comes to your content strategy. While yes, other forms of content like videos, infographics and eBooks are effective, you only need to look at the statistics to realise the effectiveness of blogging. For example, according to Tech Client, you have a 434% greater chance of being ranked high on search engines if you have a blog on your website. Furthermore, according to HubSpot, businesses who use blogs in their content marketing strategy get 67% more leads than those who don’t. If those statistics aren’t enough to convince you that blogging will significantly improve your content strategy, here are just a few more reasons.
Blogging is an Important Content Marketing Tactic
The Content Marketing Institute’s latest survey showed that over half of its respondents agreed that blogging is their most critical content marketing tactic. This was followed by email newsletters, social media content, eBooks, in-person events, webinars and video.
Consumers Trust Blogs
In a highly technological world, it’s important to remember that we are still human. That’s what makes blogging so powerful – it allows business owners to showcase the human side of their business. Blogs allow you to discuss and write about your audiences’ issues and concerns, and it’s a place where you can show what makes you stand out from your competition. Also, according to Search Engine People, blogs are the 5th most trusted source for accurate information online.
Blogging Increases Your Website Traffic
As you build your blog, you are effectively building a collection of articles, keywords and expertise that search engines love, and more importantly, rank highly. This is important because research shows that 75% of internet users don’t click beyond the first page of search engine results, so you want to be sure your website is ranked as highly as possible. The more relevant and insightful content you publish, the more likely it is that people will link to, and share your content. Which means that search engines will rank you higher in the search results, driving more traffic to your website.
Blogging Enhances Your Social Media Presence
Once upon a time your blog and your social media channels were two very different parts of your content strategy. These days? Your blog informs your social media posts, or at least it should. If you’re doing it right, you should be promoting your blog on your social media channels, enriching the experience of your followers with valuable and insightful articles and other content. Without a blog to promote on your social media channels, you’re missing a massive opportunity to create quality engagement and connections with your audience.
When it comes to creating an effective content strategy, working with different forms of content is key. While I’ve already mentioned that it’s important to work within your niche and the needs of your target audience to determine the best form of content for your business, I want to talk more in-depth about some of the best and most effective forms you can experiment with.
eBooks are an effective lead generation tool that prospective buyers can download in exchange for their contact information. They are usually longer and more in-depth than blog posts, and are typically the next step in the inbound marketing process. For example, at the end of a blog post, visitors might want to read more about the topic, so they provide you their contact details in exchange for an eBook on that topic. Visitors are provided with something valuable, and in return, you’ve just secured yourself a new lead.
Modern consumers enjoy digesting content that is short, visually appealing and engaging, such as infographics. Infographics are a great way of organising data and information that can sometimes be more compelling than words alone. They are a good form of content to use if you want to share a lot of data that is clear and easy to understand.
Videos are quickly becoming a popular way to create and share content. While videos do require a bigger investment in terms of time and resources than written content, they are in fact 40x more likely to get shared on social media than other forms of content, according to HubSpot. HubSpot research also shows that video is currently the most preferred form of content and captures the attention of consumers more than any other type of content.
While podcasts have only recently grown in popularity, they are quickly becoming an excellent way to create and disseminate information. Podcasts are great for people who don’t have the time or desire to read content every day. So if your business is in an industry or field that has interesting people to interview or topics to discuss, try experimenting with creating a podcast.
Blogs are one of the most popular and effective forms of content, and for good reason. Not only do blogs help boost your organic website traffic, they also help cement you as an authority figure in your field. Your blog articles should provide valuable content for your audience that is relevant and insightful – information they will want to share. I’d recommend your blog posts should be anywhere between 600 to 1,200 words in length. However, it does depend on the topic you’re writing about, and the type of content your audience wants. Try experimenting with different blog lengths and see what gets the most engagement.
Evergreen content has become something of a buzzword in the content marketing arena. Along with words like timeless, sustainable and relevant, evergreen content is actually much more than just a trending topic. So, what exactly is the value of evergreen content and why is it important when it comes to your content strategy?
Defining Evergreen Content
In basic terms, evergreen content is content that never loses its relevancy or worth over time. Evergreen content adds value to the audience reading it and is highly informative, whether it’s consumed on the day you publish it, 6 months from now or even a year on. It is an important part of your content strategy because it doesn’t lose its value or relevancy as time passes. Basically, it’s content that just keeps on giving. Also, evergreen content doesn’t just have to be a blog post. It could be an infographic, an eBook or even a video. The only requirement of evergreen content is that it’s high-quality, educational and timeless.
The Value of Evergreen Content
Evergreen content is valuable because it drives traffic, generates new leads and ultimately has a massive impact on your content strategy. Here are some of the additional benefits of evergreen content and what makes it so valuable.
Good for SEO
Evergreen content is great for your SEO strategy because it remains relevant for your audience over time. This means people will find your information helpful months and years after it was originally published. People are more likely to link to evergreen content as it isn't time sensitive plus Google prefers older content.
Evergreen content is a good investment in terms of time, money and resources thanks to its endless value. Evergreen content continues to work for you long after you first hit publish, whereas time-sensitive content is only relevant for a short period of time. Evergreen content offers endless and continuous value, which is vital in today’s online landscape that is often saturated with meaningless content.
Helps You Build Authority
Evergreen content helps you build authority in your field or industry. This is because the content is valuable and addresses the needs of your audience, which builds trust in your organisation. If your audience trusts you, they are much more likely to become a paying customer than someone who does not believe in your authority.
Can be Repurposed
Perhaps the most valuable thing about evergreen content is that it can easily be repurposed for other platforms and medias, so you can use the content in more ways than one. For example, if the evergreen content you create is a 3000 word step-by-step guide, at some point you can turn it into several blog articles, a video, an infographic or a presentation. Because evergreen content is timeless, it can be used in more ways than one and still remain relevant and helpful.