6 Steps to Creating a Compelling Content StrategyPosted on 22nd November 2013 By Brian Honigman - Comments
Content marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach your customer today, regardless if your business is focused on B2B or B2C. Storytelling is something businesses have been doing for decades, but now these stories are becoming more crucial to the dialogue with consumers and the future your growth of your company.
According to the Custom Content Council, 61% of consumers say they feel better about, and are more likely to buy from, a company that delivers custom content. Meet the needs of your customers with content to continue to build trust with them, while sharing the value of your company’s expertise, products and services.
Here are six steps to pulling together a compelling content strategy:
1. Start Listening.
The first thing your business should do when putting together a content strategy is listen to the market, your customers and your audience online to better understand what content to create and for what purpose.
Listen to what type of problems need to be solved in your industry, what types of questions are commonly asked, what type of content is well received by your target demographic and truly listen to the feedback of existing and potential customers.
This can be done in many ways, depending on the size of your company and where your audience lives online or offline.
One common approach to listening to your audience is by polling them by using your email list, social accounts, web traffic or by including a survey on a receipt to gain more information about your customers perspective on your company and the industry.
Another way to garner insights is by using a social channel like Twitter to survey the conversations around your industry to see what type of topics consumers are interested in the most.
If you’re in the B2B industry, it’d be prudent to look to what competitors are talking about on Twitter, as well as what conversations consumers are having with the on the network.
If you have a following on Twitter, it’s obviously prudent to see what others are tweeting at your account and then take steps to categorize this feedback to analyze trends amongst these conversations. Focus on following your industry, it’s players and consumers to best understand what content to create.
2. Build a Newsroom for Your Business.
Begin creating a content team for your business, similar to a newsroom to focus on content creation. For an enterprise business, this could look very similar to a small publication living and thriving within your company.
On a small to medium size scale, this could work by organizing existing marketing staff with editorial experience alongside external contributors like a freelancer or consultant to focus more consistently on content.
According to Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs, companies with less than 10 employees allocate 42% of their marketing budget to content. Regardless of the size of your team and budget needed to run your newsroom, it’s quite common for smaller companies to have a major focus on content marketing.
This team of talent will continuously execute and strategize on what content to create for your business, at what frequency and with what specific goals in mind. This newsroom will tap into the pulse of your company and your customers, connecting your content with the interests of your audience, matched with your business values.
By having a team focused on content, they’ll be better equipped to integrate storytelling across your company by identifying story opportunities as they arise throughout your day-to-day business functions.
3. Focus on Content Creation and Distribution Across Channels.
Multi-platform content creation and distribution is critical to the success of your content marketing efforts. Create different forms of content that speak to the different interests of your audience that also can be distributed using various marketing channels.
Focus on a few types of content to make sure your efforts aren’t spread thin too quickly in relations to your new approach to content. Create videos, blog posts, eBooks, images, white papers, emails, magazines, newsletters or whatever other type of content that’s best suited to the interests of your audience.
Choose a few channels for the distribution of your messaging that best suit your customer base and the type of content being shared. Experiment by using email, social media, blogging, syndication, search marketing, billboard adverts, TV advertising or any other channel that best meets the needs of your business.
For example, social media sites and blogs reach 8 out of 10 of all U.S. Internet users and account for 23% of all time spent online, further stressing how important it is to be active on complimentary marketing channels to reach the largest, most relevant audience for your business.
Multi-channel content marketing is critical to your business to ensure you’re capturing the attention of customers on owned, earned and paid media channels.
4. Establish a Content Formula.
By testing out which marketing channels work for your business, your team will continually learn what type of content works on what channels and where to best allocate your time and spend.
Define what formula works best for your business by continually testing, optimizing and listening to your audience to better inform the content you’re creating. The formula for success when it comes to content is different for every business, which is why there is often trial and error involved when it comes to communicating with your audience.
In order to fully commit to content, your company must be willing to be flexible, try new things and take risks to best reach your customers and build trust with the value you’re sharing with them.
Content helps to differentiate and position your company from others in the industry, which is why it’s critical that your business identifies the process that works best for you in scaling your messaging.
5. Measure the ROI.
The goals your content team sets from the beginning of your content strategy should be consistently analyzed by attributing metrics to each of these benchmarks. Content goals are different for every business because they must align to your unique positioning in your industry and with the larger initiatives of the business as a whole.
Understanding if your content drove traffic to your web properties, increased visibility of your business in the marketplace, grew your lead generation efforts or impacted your bottom line are all-important benchmarks to repeatedly analyze.
Content marketing metrics also vary per the channel your content is distributed on as well, like content send via email versus Facebook. Focus the structure of your analytics to measure four to five key components of your campaign to better understand how content affects your business.
On a granular level, the conversations with your customers can also be quite telling when it comes to the insights they provide from the content you’re distributing. Listen to what your customers and online audience is saying to tweak the direction of your content to ensure it continues to perform in the future.
The feedback from your customers can be a compelling component to the data being collected using tools like Google Analytics, which helps to paint a more complete picture on how your content marketing is performing.
6. Infinite Optimization.
Creating content and disturbing it is an ongoing job that never ends. In fact, your efforts to optimize are infinite. The quality should always remain consistent when developing content, but the scale at which your developing content should continually rise with time. The consumer today is flooded with content on an ongoing basis, seeing thousands of marketing messages throughout their day.
To stand out amongst the chatter, it’s important for your business to create a compelling story that is consistently being optimized within your content ecosystem based off of the success of past content, customer feedback, consumer trends, industry updates and changes across your organization.
There’s always an opportunity to further optimize your approach to content due to the ever-changing nature of the digital landscape, which is why it is so important for your business to stay in tune with changes to the industry, changes in the behavior of your customer base and how your company plans to continue to evolve for the future.
What’s holding your company back from using content to market your business? What steps have you found successful for better incorporating content for your organization? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
Brian Honigman is a freelance writer, content marketing consultant and a social media advocate. He’s an active contributor to Mashable, Forbes, the Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and others. Follow his tweets on the social web @BrianHonigman or on Google+.