Do you know what a content marketing strategy looks like?
A lot is being said, in print and from the podium, about the need for a documented content strategy. But recognising a need is different than being able to determine what should be included in a content strategy. Before you invest time and money, take a few minutes to find out what should be included in an effective content marketing strategy.
A fully formed content plan is going to contain three essential components. Each of these components is required and must work in cooperation with the other two. Your CMO, Digital Content Manager or any person investing budget on content marketing should understand how each of these components affects the performance of their marketing activities.
Initial thoughts on strategy
Before diving into the detail of a content strategy, it’s essential to tie your activity to business objectives.
- What goals are you trying to achieve?
- How do you plan on meeting those goals?
- What activity are you currently undertaking that may be generating interest but won’t convert to one of your objectives?
It’s very easy to get immersed in a specific tactic or excited by a positive reaction to something you’ve posted. If it’s not contributing to a conversion, the excitement is probably misplaced.
So what comprises a content strategy?
1. Original Content
The first component is also the anchor for any content strategy. Original, high-quality content drives your marketing efforts. Examples of popular content types include:
- Blog posts
- Articles – both in print and online
- Case studies or customer success stories
- White papers
- Slide decks
- Product Reviews
- Buying Guides
- Comparison Charts
The key to success with original content is that it must be:
1) High quality – Since your content represents your brand, you want to make sure it’s of the highest quality possible, both in the ideas presented and the production used. Spelling and grammar are incredibly important.
2) Consistent – To develop a loyal audience, you have to commit to a publishing schedule. The best results come when your audience knows when to expect new information from you. If you start a blog, make sure you publish at the same time whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly. Likewise, your newsletter should go out at the same time. Dependable publishers enjoy higher rates of return.
3) Frequent – It’s been proven time and again: the more you publish, the greater success you’ll have. While you have to find the right mix for your business, having several different types of content allows you to stay in touch with your audience without getting into a rut.
Consider this: High-quality, original content is a long-term asset to your business. It has the ability to draw customers to your organisation now and into the future. It also gives you a way to demonstrate your expertise and establish your authority with your target market. The money you invest in content stays in your business and continues to work for weeks, months or years into the future.
2. Social Media
This will rile a few people but here goes. Social media is a tactic of content marketing, not a strategic activity. That’s right, your social networking should be planned as it relates to the distribution of your content. As Andrew Davis stated way back in 2009, “Without content, conversation is mere networking. Without conversation, content is dead.”
Having said that, it’s an incredibly important tactic to support the original content you’re creating. While it can be daunting to try to keep up with the latest trends, it’s not as demanding as you might think. Remember, social networking activity is fruitless if your prospects and customers are not active in the same channels. According to the Social Media Examiner, the most commonly used channels for business are:
As you can appreciate, this list changes all the time due to a continual mixing of consumer preferences, algorithm changes, and the introduction of new tools, among other things.
FURTHER READING: Quick and easy? It’s not a content marketing strategy
3. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Once considered a viable strategy in its own right, SEO now sits firmly as a tactic of content marketing. As Google continues to pursue a lengthy and costly exercise of delivering the most authentic search results for their users, it’s become increasingly difficult to use SEO to influence search rankings. In fact, many traditional SEOs have either rebranded themselves as content marketers or advise their clients to start producing content.
- Be developed for users, not for search engines
- Not deceive your readers
- Avoid tricks to gain better search results
- Stand out from every other website
There’s only one way you can achieve all four guidelines and that’s with original content. You can’t ignore SEO entirely, but Google says focusing on original content developed specifically for your audience is rewarded with higher search rankings.
But creating content isn’t quite enough. You’ll need to make sure your content includes the keywords and phrases your target market is using when they’re searching for information. You’ll also need to be aware of the ever-changing SEO guidelines for title, sub-headings and META information. Lastly, certain social channels are particularly good at boosting your online authority and it’s worth taking these into consideration when you’re planning your strategy.
- LinkedIn Company Page
FURTHER READING: Why your content strategy requires SlideShare
It’s a lot to take in, which is why many businesses focus on content tactics. A documented content strategy should include three distinct sections addressing original content, social networking and SEO.
If these three items are not considered in relation to each other, your content marketing strategy is flawed. The time and budget you invest in your content should be directly related to business goals. Most importantly, you should be able to measure the success of your strategy against these goals.
If you would like help developing a content marketing strategy, give us a call.
Image Credit: Three Galahs by Richard Taylor