At its core, an effective content strategy allows you to tell your brand story, educate your audience, and offer solutions to their pain points. That strategy is then executed by creating content, selecting keywords, optimizing web pages, and building links around the terms your audience is searching for online.
Seems simple enough. Right? But whether you're a for-profit marketer, a nonprofit marketer, or a higher education marketer, there’s a right way to go about capturing your audience’s attention and building lasting relationships with them. We’ve narrowed down 6 key elements that should be included in your content strategy.
1. Goal Setting
What are you trying to accomplish? What challenges do you want to overcome?
Whether you’re looking to grow or reinforce brand awareness, generate more leads, convert or nurture more prospects, build loyalty, retain customers, increase social engagement, raise funds, recruit new students, or sell products, it’s imperative that you focus your strategy towards meeting your goals every step of the way.
As part of the goal setting process, you’ll need to identify some quantifiable key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of your content strategy and your content marketing program. Ideally, these metrics should be based on consumption, engagement, and conversion.
2. Persona Development
Who is your ideal audience? How well do you know these people?
Rule of thumb: Know thy audience. Even if you’re targeting businesses, at the end of the day you’re attempting to engage in conversations and build relationships with real people who have specific needs, motivations, habits, and goals.
To do this effectively, you'll need to create audience personas for your business. Audience personas are fictional representations of your ideal target audience. They allow you to:
- Identify the audience you want to reach
- Gain a deeper understanding of your audience's behaviors
- Segment your audience into different groups
- Create the right content for each audience segment
- Tailor your content specifically to appeal to your ideal audience
3. Research & Ideation
What’s on your audience’s mind? How can you help them meet their goals and perform better at their jobs?
Before you can develop relevant content that suits your audience’s needs, you have to put in some work—brainstorming, keyword research, audience surveys, and social listening—to discover which topics are top-of-mind with your audience.
There are several web monitoring and discovery tools available to help you identify topic trends and influencers to follow (e.g., BottleNose, MindMeister, Google Trends, LinkedIn’s Content Marketing Score to name a few).
4. Content Creation
What type of content will you create? How will you position your content?
Don’t take a willy-nilly approach to content creation. Focus on creating fresh, relevant, valuable content that educates the market and positions your organization as a trusted brand and resource. The idea is to provide your target audience with useful content that answers questions and offers solutions. And in turn, your audience will reward you with their business, trust, and loyalty.
Be sure to tailor your content not only to your expertise, but also to the prospects you want to reach based on where they are in your engagement cycle. Determine the content types that work best for your audience. A diverse content mix might include a combination of blog posts, social media posts, ebooks, videos, infographics, interactives, and slideshare presentations.
Also keep in mind that content creation requires a high level of detail and organization. It cannot be effective without a well-defined team structure and a sustainable workflow process.
5. Distribution & Promotion
You've identified your audience. You understand their needs. You’ve created great content. Now what?
Just because you create content doesn’t mean your audience will automatically find and consume it. With so much content circulating on the Internet, you're always competing for eyeballs. You have to actively distribute and promote your content across the channels and platforms where your audience likes to hang out.
Don’t just push your content out there without a plan—be strategic in your distribution. Optimize your content to each social media platform, and make it easy to share with social share buttons and calls-to-action that encourage sharing. Also consider one of the many social promotion tools on the market, like Buffer, to help boost audience engagement. And don't forget to leverage email marketing to further promote your content.
6. Measurement & Optimization
What’s working? What’s not working? What changes can be implemented to improve your content performance?
Moment of truth: Despite your best efforts, a content marketing strategy is only as good as the yielded results. To measure the effectiveness of your content strategy and each individual piece of content, use the KPIs you identified during the goal setting phase to track your content performance against your goals. Again, you’ll want to look at consumption, engagement, and conversion metrics to gauge success and determine where strategic adjustments need to be made.
Find the right analytics tools available to help you measure your content performance. Whether you use Google Analytics, Bitly, built-in channel and platform insights, or other solutions, you’ll want to set up a dashboard of metrics and charts to track and analyze your progress on a daily basis.
Download our free ebook to learn how audience personas can help you grow your business!