Businesses strive to achieve specific goals for which they develop marketing strategies. Content is a useful medium to achieve these objectives. Content marketing is a cost effective medium to achieve these objectives. It not just helps save costs but also deliver higher Return on Investments. To achieve tangible results from your content marketing efforts, you must lay significant emphasis on developing their content strategies to achieve them. Content strategies must be easily implementable and understandable by your team members and other stakeholders or else they will fail to deliver the expected performance. This article is a step by step guide for developing and implementing viable content strategies.
Setting Measurable Objectives
Time is an important measurement tool, and, therefore, any strategy must be time-bound. There must be a definitive beginning and end. It is advisable to split the entire duration into shorter blocks and have smaller strategy milestones attached to them for measurement. It will ensure that the strategy is on track. The objective that a business aspires to achieve through its content marketing strategy is subjective and may include elements based on the actual requirement. However, there are certain general parameters that can be implemented as a part of the content strategy of a company.
Below parameters and examples are the frequently used parameters
Lead Generation – Define the types of leads and number of leads you would like your business to generate. Content marketing strategy is developed from a long term perspective and hence the objectives must be defined accordingly. Lead generation activity needs be planned carefully since it is an ongoing activity. Also, you may require to follow up on the generated leads as they may not close immediately. Persistent efforts will lead to more lead closures over a longer term. You may set specific targets for lead generation and review their achievements periodically. For example, a company may target generating X number of B2B leads within the first twelve months of completing the campaign and review it after every three months.
Website Traffic – Driving web traffic to your content is critical as more audience of your content means a better chance of generating business and increasing revenue. You could decide the number of visitors you would like to have to your content in a specific timeframe. For instance, set an initial target of “X” number of visitors. After achieving it, target for an incremental 1000 visitors each day.
Engagement – Getting the audience to view your content is just an initial activity. It is even more important to engage them. For written content, it is crucial that visitors read it and share it with their acquaintances, like it or comment on it. Continuing with the above example, you may target “Y” number of engagements every week for your content.
Awareness – Your target audience must be aware of the content or else your content marketing strategy is rendered futile. To increase the awareness of your content, set a precise goal that would include number of visits and a time frame for these visits.
Establish yourself as a domain authority – Write good quality and unique content. If your content is just a rewritten version of other contents available online, then it will fail to achieve its purpose. Publish content that is unique and adds value to the audience. Your content must be authentic and credible. It will set you up as an expert in the specific domain. It will help you get more audience as people who need information specific to your domain will turn to your content for it.
Ad impressions – It is specifically for the publishers. Advertisements displayed on your content page and seen by the visitors count as impressions. It is an important source of revenue generation and higher the impressions higher the revenue from the content. It is an important monetisation tool for your content.
Generate support from the audience – The power of online marketing is that your audience or customers become your brand ambassadors. When they link your content or share it, they are promoting it. It is the best form of marketing. Develop a content strategy that will entice and motivate your audience to support and promote your content.
After you have decided the objectives, next step is to identify and develop the right content. Evaluate what kind of content you require and in what proportion. Check if a single content will suffice the purpose or you will require multiple contents to achieve the defined objectives of the strategy.
To achieve it, consider the following elements
Target audience – Identify your target audience. If you are a business owner, based on your business model, identify who are the intended clients. For example, your content could be tailor-made for B2B or B2C purposes or developed to evoke the interests of CEOs of your targeted companies. Similarly, it may target founders of start-ups or small business founders. Alternately, your targeted audience could be regular people such as students, parents, newly married couples or old couples. This categorisation of the audience is critical to developing the right contents.
Understanding their behaviour – Understanding the behaviour of the end users is important. See things from their perspective to understand their needs and what kind of solutions do they seek. This will help you develop and offer the right deliverables communicated through your content.
Identify specific topics – Identify topics for your content that will offer value to your audience. Focus on developing contents based on these topics.
Identify formats – Identify specific format for your content. Decide whether you would like to write a blog, a social media post, Ebooks or emails.
Few other critical elements of content strategy
Hiring content writers
Hire efficient and quality writers for your content. You can use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other Outsourcing sites for hiring writers. The qualities to look for in good writers are – quality work, timely delivery, honesty and right work ethics. If you hire writers from a social media website or an outsourcing portal, check for their online credentials. Ask them to work on few samples before finalising the hiring process. Acquaint them with your overall content marketing strategy and resolve all their queries.
Produce very precise and accurate content. Your initial focus must be on developing useful content for your audience that will deliver superior value to them. Produce contents based on the requirements of your targeted audiences. B2B clients prefer more fact-driven and informative content whereas B2C audience prefer contents that appeal to their emotions. Hence, for B2B clients, efficient content is the one that reports facts while, for B2C clients, effective content tells a story. You may decide upon the specific amount of content in terms of words or number of articles that you are going to produce per week. Setting this goal is important irrespective of fact whether it will be published or not.
Decide the medium where you would like to publish your content. It can be your corporate blog, industrial blogs website as a guest writer, LinkedIn or Facebook. Before publishing any content, plan a schedule for publishing it and strictly adhere to the schedule. The schedule may include date, type, number of contents and type of contents that you would published every week or month. An advance scheduling for a week is beneficially. Also get it approved from the concerned authorities.
Identify specific channels for promoting your content. Be specific and choose maximum three channels instead of a large number of mediums. Email is an efficient promotional tool, and you can use it judiciously. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr could be the right medium based on your products or services. If required, you can also promote your post on Facebook or use “Sponsored Updates” feature on LinkedIn to ensure that your content reaches larger target audience. It is important to remember that simply publishing content is insufficient and it is equally important to adequately promote it.
Measure the performance of your content using tools such as Google Analytics. It will give a clear indication of the efficiency of your content and whether it can meet your objectives. Periodic review of the performance is essential to gauge the actual achievements of the objectives vis-à-vis planned objectives. For this activity as well, you may develop and follow a schedule.
Refining your Strategy
Based on the performance your content delivers, refine and realign your strategy. If the performance is better than the set goals, raise the bar and increase the target. If it is below par, evaluate your strategy and make necessary changes. From my personal experience I can state that 90% marketers ignore this step. Refining and realigning your strategy is an important part of your existing campaign and it will also facilitate better planning for future campaigns.
To conclude, content marketing can deliver brilliant results if planned meticulously and executed properly. Before jumping to start a content marketing campaign, spend enough time in research and understanding the competition. A good strategy can take your business to greater heights as compared to your expectations.
A well-planned and implemented strategy leads to long term sustainability and growth in a ferociously competitive world of online business.