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A Guide to Developing a Content Strategy
When you go online, whether on a desktop or phone, you’ll most likely be inundated with entertaining photos, memes, and videos on social media and view a variety of informative blogs, podcasts, and infographics on websites. There’s a wide assortment of content out there on the internet, which is why it’s important that the content your business shares with the public is not only high-quality but also rich, informative and direct. Your target audience should be able to easily understand the message that you’re sharing. Although it takes more work to make high-quality content, in the long run, it pays off.
Since there is an overwhelming amount of content online today, it’s obviously critical to have a content marketing strategy in place so that you can reach your target audience and compete with your competitors. However, there are a few other reasons why you should develop a content strategy. We’ll share 3 reasons why you should consider developing a content strategy.
Research says that having a content strategy works.
Various studies suggest that a content strategy is something that every company’s marketing team should focus on. Here are a few stats to think about:
- Year-over-year growth in unique site traffic is 7.8 times higher for content marketing leaders compared to followers (19.7% vs 2.5%).
- Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads.
- 78% of CMOs believe custom content is the future of marketing.
- 20% of internet users’ online time is spent on content.
A content strategy can boost Google rankings.
A study from Ascend2 shares that 57% of marketers rated relevant content creation as one of their most effective SEO tactics. Creating SEO-friendly content is a great way for you to boost your website traffic. By using common SEO practices in your content like keywords, title tags, and internal and external links, you’ll be able to boost your website’s SEO.
A content strategy engages people more effectively.
The average attention span of a person in 2000 was 12 seconds, and in 2015, it dropped to 8 seconds. Holding people’s attention is more important now than ever, which means that the content you produce needs to be eye-catching and high quality. Higher quality content is more engaging, which means that people will be more likely to share it, engage with it, and employ it. It’s important to develop a content marketing strategy that actively engages users online for this reason.
Now that we’ve discussed the reasons why every business should have a content strategy, we’ll provide an all-encompassing rundown of content strategy, including a deeper explanation of what it is, how you can create your own, and 3 suggestions if you’re new to it.
What is a content strategy?
Content strategy is the creation, outlining, improvement, transmission and management of content. The overarching goal of content strategy is to share an engaging, informative, and helpful message with your target audience.
Read more: How to Create Great Content for Your Website
Types of Content
There are a wide variety of types of content. You’ll want to select the form of content that best supports your objectives. Some popular forms include written content like blogs and visual content like videos. Here are some other examples of content.
- Case studies
- White papers
Read more: 5 Popular Types of Content
Examples of Top Content Strategies
We’ve collected three examples of brands who’ve developed stellar content strategies.
TED is a nonprofit devoted to sharing ideas, usually in the form of brief, insightful talks. TED gives authors, experts and leaders the opportunity to share their ideas through video and podcast recordings. This global platform has channeled their content in various ways, with huge success on their YouTube page, where they have 17.3 million subscribers. Additionally, TED has been wildly successful by channeling their content into podcast form—they have 10 original podcast initiatives.
IKEA is a Swedish furniture retailer known for its stylish and functional low-price furniture. IKEA has capitalized on its own branded blog, called IKEA Ideas. When you browse IKEA Ideas, you’ll find stunning photos of their products in real homes, along with useful information about things like seasonal decor, revamping your wardrobe, and curtain ideas. IKEA’s blog content provides them with creative ways to further promote their products so that customers can fully utilize them.
GoPro invites people to celebrate living in the moment by using their cameras, apps and accessories to capture their lives. Their target audience is mainly people who enjoy adventure sports, such as surfing, skiing, or motorsports. GoPro encourages people to share the videos they’ve created with them on social media. They use this user-generated content to further propel and promote their brand on their social media platforms. Obviously, it’s working for them, since these action-packed videos have helped them accumulate 17.1 million followers on Instagram and 8.97 million followers on YouTube.
Read more: 4 Creative Content Marketing Strategies to Try
How to Create a Content Strategy
Determine the audiences
First, before creating any content, you’ll need to determine your target audience. You may have more than one target audience, depending on how many different types of customers there are that you want to focus on. Remember that your content strategy can vary between different audiences. By using a variety of research methods, you can determine your target audiences. For example, you could review your website or social media analytics. Look at your brand’s average consumer’s demographics like age and gender. You might also want to consider where your target audience members live.
Set an objective
After you’ve thoroughly researched your potential target audiences, you can create an objective based on the audiences that you’ve selected. You can set a goal to educate, inform, help, or solve a problem for your audiences. Going forward, keep both this goal and your target audiences in mind while creating the rest of your content strategy.
Select format of content
Before developing a complete content calendar, decide on the format of the content that you’ll need to produce. Choose content formats that fit your objectives and target audiences. For example, if you want to spread awareness about a certain product or service you offer, you could choose to use a short informative video. Selecting the right form of content is important since an improperly formatted piece of content could reflect poorly on your brand.
Optimize content for channels
The type of content you may want to produce can vary by platform, so you’ll also want to determine which channels you want the content to go out on. Channels for content can include websites, email campaigns, social media accounts, advertisements, press releases, or newsletters. Cater each piece of content for its designated channel.
Keep your branding consistent across all channels by using the same color scheme, font, font size, and voice. Everything you share with the public becomes part of your brand image, which is why it’s important to be consistent with the content you create.
Choose how to manage content
While creating your content calendar, you’ll need to decide how you will manage your content creation and publication of content. You may have a content team or person assigned to create content, or you may want to hire a freelancer to help you out. Consider hiring a graphic designer, videographer or photographer if you need someone with more experience to construct content. Or, you can hire a marketing agency that is equipped to handle all your content creation and publication needs.
Decide how to publish content
After you decide on content creation, choose how you will publish your content. Often, agencies or companies rely on publishing tools for social media content like Sprout Social or Hootsuite. These tools are advantageous for people who want to plan out their content and want to save time by not posting natively. By following these steps, you’ll be able to develop an outstanding content calendar.
How to Know If Your Content Strategy is Working
Now that you’ve created a content calendar and are starting to publish content on different channels, you need to make sure that you are tracking your content’s performance. Tracking analytics can also help you know if you’ve met your goals or not. Make sure that you connect your website to Google Analytics so that you can see if your content is driving more traffic to your website. You may want to make a weekly or monthly report to track your site’s traffic with analytics like the number of users, new users, sessions, average session duration, bounce rate, referral traffic and individual web page traffic.
Along with website analytics, track social media accounts and email campaigns. With social media accounts, focus on engagement analytics, such as comments, likes, views and shares. When reviewing email campaigns, track email opens and clicks on links to your website.
Audit your content
Along with tracking your analytics, you should also audit your content. Although your analytic reports will tell you weekly or monthly what is going on, you should also periodically take a step back and look at the big picture. Auditing your content helps you evaluate it to make sure it still is inline with your original goals. For instance, look at what types of content are most engaged with on social media over a long period of time. If videos are receiving more engagement than other forms of content on your channels, you might want to focus more on publishing videos. Or, review the popularity of your published blogs on your website. If a “how to” blog has performed exceptionally well, then consider writing more “how to” blogs in the future. Periodically auditing your content can help you see the big picture and what’s actually driving business forward.
Read more: 3 Types of Content Marketing Analytics to Focus On
3 Tips for Developing a Content Strategy
Experiment with unique content
Although you may research and review other companies and competitors for content ideas, don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and create content that is completely unique and original. Oftentimes, by experimenting with new content ideas, you’ll find something that works well for your business.
Use helpful tools to generate ideas
There are many tools to help you brainstorm ideas for content, including tools specifically designed to assist you with finding ideas for writing blogs, lists, articles, emails, and more. Try out BlogAbout, a tool that generates common headline formats. Other tools that can help you discover trending topics or content ideas are Feedly and BuzzSumo. Using any of these tools can take your brainstorming to the next level and assist you with creating a better content strategy.
Create content that is action-oriented
Every piece of content that you produce and publish should be actionable. Obviously, your content shouldn’t be commanding or demanding, but rather should be respectfully giving advice based on correct information and wise experience. Use call to actions when you feel it is appropriate in your content, but be careful not to overwhelm users with too many.
Read more: Top 7 Content Writing Tips for Beginners
A successful content marketing strategy can help your business stand apart from competitors and grow. Choose a target audience and objective, and then get to work creating a unique content calendar. Don’t forget to track analytics and audit your content to make sure everything is going according to plan. Although it takes a lot of hard work and time to build a successful content strategy, in the long run it can pay off immensely.
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