One cannot build a solid house by randomly throwing bricks in a pile. Before starting the construction, you need to work out a plan and create a drawing. Similarly, before proceeding with any content marketing activities, you need a carefully thought out strategy. Otherwise you risk ending up with miscellaneous pieces of content that bring no value to your audience or your business. In our latest #SEOcafe Twitter chat, we discussed how to create a perfect content strategy, how to integrate it in wider marketing mix and how to measure the results. Let’s find out the answers with our chat participants and special guest – leading copywriting agency Express Writers.
What are the key ingredients of a perfect content marketing strategy?
Start by answering the following three questions, and this will help you build the foundation for a good content strategy: what are my goals? what are my audience’s needs? how do I know if I’ve achieved my goals?
What are my goals?
Each piece of content that we produce, we create on purpose: to educate or to entertain, to announce your company news or to attract new customers. Building the right content strategy starts with understanding exactly what you expect your content to do. Do you intend to establish yourself as a thought leader or boost your sales?
And needless to say, without aligning your content goals with your general business objectives, you’re just wasting your time and money.
What are my audience’s needs?
We all know how important it is to provide value with our content. In a nutshell, content that provides value is content that solves the audience’s problems. So the second step, after understanding your goals, is understanding your customers’ needs.
How do I know if I’ve achieved my goals?
Before you start implementing any strategy, it is important to understand how you’re going to assess its success or failure. Define key performance indicators that are appropriate for your content and your business. Here are some examples of content marketing KPIs:
- Number of website visits
- Content asset downloads
- Number of social shares
- Bounce rate
- Time on page
- Inbound links earned
- Number of leads generated
- Conversion rate
But we’ll come back to content marketing metrics a bit later.
How can marketers come up with content ideas that are relevant to their audience?
To deliver to your audience the most topical content possible, it is essential to keep up with the latest news in your industry. Identify key websites in your niche that are delivering the freshest news and covering the hottest topics, add them to Feedly, and begin each work day by looking through your feed. Use BuzzSumo to see what engages people, hunt out the most interesting ideas, add some creativity and develop them into your own content.
Study platforms where people ask questions, and interact and see what they’re discussing. Some excellent sources for relevant content ideas are:
This popular Q&A platform allows you to search by keyword or topic and see what is being asked by your targeted audience.
Check the “Front Page of the Internet” for subreddits that are relevant to your niche or use the Advanced search feature to look for your targeted keywords.
Search popular answers by relevant category or by typing in keywords.
Social media can also be a goldmine of content ideas, as people gather on these platforms to communicate and discuss what they’re interested in. Explore Facebook or LinkedIn groups, and participate in Twitter chats and other online meetups.
Besides studying your potential customers, listen to your existing customers and discover their real needs. Most likely your team has members that interact with your clients closely and regularly, and know the most popular questions, the most essential needs and the most common problems.
Does every company need a content calendar?
All our chat participants unanimously agreed that a content calendar helps you stay organized. A well-organized editorial calendar is a smart way to make your workflow more effective and structured. This is a tool that can actually turn your content efforts into a content strategy.
Let’s take a closer look at the advantages you will gain by utilizing a content calendar:
- It provides you with a panoramic view of your content, and it helps you stay on track with your goals. Plus, it reveals possible gaps to fill in.
- You can combine your editorial calendar with your calendar for other marketing activities and events, holidays, product launches, etc. This will make it easier to plan content around important dates.
- You can ensure you’re varying your topics and keep your readers engaged by publishing diverse types of content.
You will find plenty of free editorial calendar templates on the Internet. And for practical tips on creating a content calendar, check out the article “4 Steps to an Awesome Content Calendar (and 6 Things You Need on It)” by James Scherer.
How should marketers integrate content with all other marketing activities?
Even a well thought out content strategy may not bring any meaningful results if it isn’t closely intertwined with other marketing channels. All marketing activities share the same goal – to attract and retain customers. That’s why it is important to join the forces of all the marketing departments.
- Ensure your marketing teams collaborate
United we stand, divided we fall. PR, SEO, content, social media and any other marketing processes cannot be effective in a silo. Make sure all marketing departments have the same brand vision and that the same message is being sent to the customer.
- Promote your content across multiple channels
By using cross-channel promotion, you can deliver your content to different audiences and significantly increase its reach. Let’s take a simple example. You’ve published a blog post. How can you promote it using other marketing channels? You can:
- Share it on multiple social media channels
- Promote it via podcasts and webinars
- Include it in your newsletter
- Reach out to influencers who were mentioned in the post
- Connect with experts who might be interested in similar topics.
- Repurpose your content
Your marketing activities can be an inexhaustible source of content ideas, so don’t let them pass into nothingness! And vice versa – repurpose your content to nourish other marketing processes. Turn your Twitter chats, webinars and even offline events into posts; turn your posts into SlideShare presentations and infographics. In this post by CoSchedule you’ll discover more than 50 possibilities for repurposing your content.
To learn more on how to tie together content marketing and other processes from SEO to sales, check out the article “How to Integrate Content Marketing – Your Path to ROI” by Brad Miller.
What are the content marketing metrics every marketer should measure?
To understand whether you’re moving in the right direction or not, you need to measure and evaluate your content marketing results. And defining the relevant metrics “goes back to your goals and what you’re trying to accomplish with your content,” according to Express Writers @ExpWriters.
You can use four types of content marketing metrics recommended by Jay Baer:
- Consumption metrics (page/video/document views, downloads, social chatter) that indicate how many people interacted with your content.
- Sharing metrics (likes and shares, forwards, inbound links) that show how engaging and resonant your content was for your audience.
- Lead generation metrics (e.g., for completions, email subscriptions, blog comments, conversion rate) which help you understand how many of your readers turn into leads.
- Sales metrics (online and offline sales) that demonstrate whether your content has made you any real money.
So what are your favorite secrets for building a perfect content strategy and measuring its results?