As a business owner, you need to be continually working on aspects of your brand to ensure success.
For the modern market, where being online plays a huge role in how successful your company will be, you need to be constantly working to improve your content marketing efforts. This applies to the content you publish online and relates to various platforms, including social media and search engines.
The key to getting noticed online is to offer something valuable to your target audience, something they cannot get anywhere else.
This is why creating a content strategy for your brand is essential and requires ongoing work to perfect.
In this guide, we are sharing everything you need to know about content for the modern market and how you can develop a successful content strategy that will help you reach your business goals.
Table of Contents
What Is Content?
Before we can discuss what goes into making a successful content marketing strategy, we first need to talk about what content is and how this applies to businesses these days.
While there are many different interpretations for content, as there are many different forms, business owners need to understand what this term means for their own brand and how it can apply to the wider picture of their company.
Content is the term used for anything you publish online and is a key aspect of digital marketing.
There are several content formats you may be interested in based on your target audience and the platforms you want to use. However, no matter what kind of content you create, there are four main components that should apply to everything you publish online.
One of the core elements of all high-quality content is the information you are providing to your target audience.
Whether this information is regarding your business, the services you provide, or your wider industry, valuable content will educate audiences in some way. This does not mean content has to be dry or boring, as information can be provided in many different ways to ensure engagement.
Context is important both when you are creating content and then trying to market content, as it determines who it is for and what it can provide.
A key aspect of any content strategy framework will be the context behind all content, as this will affect everything else, from the audience to the platform and even the information provided within the content.
The best platform for your content will vary based on your potential customers and where they are most likely to be found online.
All content aims to increase organic traffic, bringing more people to your business so they can be led through the sales funnel and eventually bring in revenue through sales.
This will only be possible if you appear in the right places.
Most businesses create content for multiple platforms at once, including several social media channels.
Content format will vary based on the platform you choose, as well as other information revealed during market research.
When it comes to online content, there are multiple forms you can use, including audio, imagery, writing, and video. Not only do you want to create usable content for your audience, but you also want to make it easy to distribute content across all your platforms, so the format needs to be considered carefully.
How Does This Apply To My Business Goals?
Understanding what is required for successful content creation is the first step in improving your online reach.
A business’ content strategy is a way to market to an audience without traditional advertising techniques or push advertising and is proven to be highly successful. Digital content, from blog posts to social media, are ways for potential customers to interact with your brand organically and develop a relationship with your company, which can eventually lead to sales.
As we have already mentioned, the sales funnel is still important for businesses these days, but the way customers are drawn into it has changed.
Content production that focuses on information and engagement is much more successful in obtaining customers than push advertising and can meet them at several stages in the buyer’s journey.
While content creation is primarily focused on the Attract and Delight stages of this journey, it can also be used to reach your audience at other stages and bring in more website traffic.
Whether they are just discovering your brand and want to learn more through a blog post or social media, or they already interact with your company and want to get more, valuable content is a way to build these connections.
What Is Content Strategy?
Now that you understand what content is and what this means for your business, it is time to look into how you can take action.
Developing a content strategy is essential if you want to be successful and produce content that is going to bring in more customers and, therefore, revenue for your brand.
Content strategies are a way to connect your business goals with your content ideas – helping to plan how you will use your content ideas to increase organic traffic, bringing in more customers. A content strategy is an ongoing process and one that requires constant attention to ensure success.
When done well, a content strategy can help promote your brand to the right people and ensure that your business stands out in the sea of competition present today.
What Makes Content Strategies?
Every content strategy should start with an overview of your business objectives. This is a way to remain focused when you create content, as well as within all marketing efforts, and ensure you are leading your brand down the right path.
Creating content without this focus on objectives is not a content strategy; it is simply content, and as a business that needs to make money, this is not the right path to go down.
Understanding your business objectives is vital in creating an effective content strategy, and there should be a firm understanding within the team, as well as between business owners and their audience, what these objectives are.
While it could be said that the main business objective for all brands is to make money, and this can certainly contribute to your content strategy, content optimization comes from a deeper understanding of your brand’s objectives.
Even small business owners who may have just taken the leap into creating their brand need to be aware of their objectives and how this can influence their content strategy.
Even though content may not be your main focus at this time, your content strategy is something that should be continually worked on to develop a relationship between brand and customer.
It will be easier to create content when you have a content strategy framework to work with, and taking the time to understand the main objectives of your brand is the first step.
These business goals will inform the rest of the decisions that go into making your content strategy and, therefore, the content you create from here on out for the good of your business.
Benefits Of A Content Marketing Strategy
If you have yet to create a content strategy, a content calendar, or relevant content for your brand, then you are missing out on the potential these provide.
Many benefits come with the development of a content strategy, no matter what kind of business you run or your target audience. These include:
Improved Online Visibility
There is a lot of competition online these days, and it can be difficult to stand out.
Even if you offer the highest quality products or a wide range of services, there is always going to be other brand competition for the same customers, and you need more ways to stand out.
This is where your content strategy and content marketing come in.
A content strategy defines what kind of content you will create and where it is easier to remain consistent with this process. A business that can consistently make content is going to attract more customers as there are more platforms to generate leads with.
Planning ahead of time and giving yourself a wider image of your content tactics, such as in the form of a content calendar, makes it easier for you to reach these goals and publish content consistently. This then gives you more platforms to use within your marketing efforts.
Obtain More Leads and Customers
You can increase the number of leads generated for your business through content alone, as each of the content formats you consider can draw in an audience and get them closer to the sales funnel.
As we have mentioned, consistency is key, which is why a plan is essential, but other elements also come into play. You need to be consistently creating relevant content, as well as engaging content for your audience.
The better the content, the more organic traffic it will obtain, and the more people are likely to be pushed through the sales funnel.
A sound content strategy allows you to plan every social media or blog post, ensuring it meets the requirements of your audience and offers value. Quality content cannot be rushed or made on the spot, which is why a strategy is required if you want to get the right attention.
Improves Brand Authority
If you are continually producing quality content, you are actively contributing to the reputation of your business and increasing the authority of your brand voice.
While developing a good reputation can take a long time, a content strategy allows you to work on this and ensure you are putting the best face forward in your niche.
The more content you produce that remains informative and useful for your audience, the greater your authority will be within your industry. This is then used to develop trust between your brand and potential customers, who, over time, become familiar with your brand voice and will rely on your company over others.
Better Customer Engagement
Much like in developing a good reputation, your content strategy can also lead to forming a loyal customer base.
With regular content and engaging posts on social media, for example, you are encouraging your target audience to interact with your brand. Sharing your content or information not only results in better exposure for your business but can also contribute to successful marketing, such as through search engines to give you increased traffic.
The more your content is referenced on quality sites or social media, the better your ranking on search engines will be, which in turn leads to greater numbers of traffic.
With a good strategy, you can be successful in content marketing and reach bigger numbers than you ever have before.
The more numbers you can reach, the greater your chances are of obtaining a bigger marketing budget in the future.
How To Make A Content Strategy
It is time to create a content strategy for your brand that can inform not only your content calendar and overall content management but also other marketing tactics that may be used to gain attention.
Creating a content marketing strategy can take some time because research is required, as well as an analysis of your current standing as a business and how this affects the plan moving forward. There is a lot of work to be done when developing a content strategy, but the long-term effects are worth it.
What Are Your Goals?
As we have mentioned, having a deep understanding of business goals is essential in creating a content strategy and ensuring success.
When it comes to outlining the objectives of your business, it is a good idea to work within the SMART framework, which stands for:
- Time Bound
This framework not only applies to the wider business but also to what you want to get from your content strategy. Making the wider objectives of your business actionable and specific within this framework can inform all ongoing decisions, as well as provide a template for your content strategy.
What Goes Into Content Marketing?
There are five key elements to any content strategy that you need to consider when making this plan for your business.
These elements are essential in ensuring successful content marketing, increased visibility, and more revenue for the business and make up the backbone of your content strategy. They are:
1) Buyer Personas
Conducting market research is the first step in almost anything you will do as a business owner, and this also applies to developing a content strategy.
Performing research and data analysis of your audience is required before you create content because it informs who is listening. Understanding who your audience is and what they want will inform all decisions in terms of content creation and content marketing, including the kind of content you create, the platforms you use, and even your content schedule.
There are various ways that you can access your audience and determine who you are targeting with your content, such as:
- Survey existing customers
- Research industry trends and patterns
- Research competitors’ audiences
It is also a good idea to identify the customers you want to avoid, as this can provide your content teams with a better understanding of who their work is aimed at and the kind of content they should produce.
If you already have been working on content, you may also be able to use any existing content to see what kind of audience you already attract and determine whether this is something you want to continue working towards.
This information regarding your target audience can then be used to create an in-depth buyer persona, which is a specific document or outline that personifies your ideal consumer.
Within the persona, offer a few examples of age, interests, demographics, and even desires for a business to create an in-depth document, which can then be used to support content creation. This persona gives your team something tangible to work towards, which can aid in improving content quality and relevance.
2) Brand Story
Now you understand your audience, it will be easier to develop an appealing brand story that can be used to inform your content strategy.
The story of your brand will inform all the content you create and is a key aspect of developing your brand voice, which needs to be consistent on all platforms to develop the right relationship with your audience.
From user-generated content to blog posts, all the content published from your business needs to be accurate to the brand story you are creating. This same story will be used by the sales team to maintain online traffic and ensure they get into the sales funnel.
A brand’s story is made up of the history of the company as well as the mission, values, and overall purpose of the business. This can be tailored to suit your audience persona and will inform everything within your content governance because all content needs to be relevant to the brand it is representing.
Much like researching your audience, developing your brand story and ensuring it is relevant to these customers allows you to remain focused on your content strategy and create content that truly works for your goals.
3) Content Marketing Mission Statement
Your mission statement will help ensure your content strategy remains focused on the objectives of the business. It is made up of not only the platforms you own and use for content, such as social media platforms, but also the purpose of these and how they offer value to your audience.
While most businesses have their own social media platforms these days, you want to create processes to help your brand stand out, and this can be highlighted in your mission statement.
The main focus and value of your business is what sets you apart from the rest and will vary based on your audience and brand story. Determining these will give you some ideas regarding the benefits your content can provide over any other, as well as other information regarding platforms and format.
It is the values and benefits of your content strategy that should be outlined in your mission statement, helping to provide a focus for all content marketing as well as giving the sales team a guide for how to best bring customers into the business.
4) Documented Business Case
While you have been focusing on the goals of content marketing so far and have a good idea of the benefits you can provide when managing content, your content strategy needs to cover all bases.
This is where the documented strategy comes in, as this outlines not only the benefits of content marketing but also the risks and costs that are associated with this kind of plan.
A content strategy will not be complete without a complete understanding of the costs and how the benefits outweigh the risks in terms of moving your business forward.
To develop this, a content audit may be required so you can see where traffic is coming from, the most successful search terms, and other elements that can inform content creation in the future. Weighing your current moves with the goals of the business can give a good insight into what else needs to be done and, therefore, where the costs and risks most apply.
Tools such as Google Analytics can be useful during your content audit, helping you to see how your business performs on search engines as well as getting insights into competitors. This process can also highlight any outdated content on your social media or website that needs to be removed for your new, better brand image.
Social media also needs to be considered during this research as it is most likely a huge part of your content strategy and will continue to be so even with these new insights.
Following this research, you can see which areas require additional attention, which brings in the most traffic, and where energy is wasted. All of this can be used to inform your budget for content and an overall focus for the strategy moving forward.
For example, if a large percentage of your traffic comes from search results, then you will need to account for content that is search engine optimized and the costs that come with this, such as writing, keyword research, and website performance.
5) Action Plan
This is where you will create a content management system, such as an editorial calendar, that is used to outline your main marketing plans.
A formal content plan, such as an editorial calendar, is a great way to have a complete overview of your business’ content management and allows you to see what is coming up.
It is a way to plan for creating content, marketing as well and any additional costs that may come with this, as well as ensuring your website is ready for the influx of traffic that will come with each new campaign.
What To Include In Your Plan
The more information you can provide in your content plan, the easier it will be to implement and the better results you can expect. There are various things you need to include in this plan, with the main focus being:
Topics For Each Campaign
To ensure that all the content you are creating is informative and valuable to your audience, create an outline for topics ahead of time.
You want to ensure that you are creating unique but relevant content with each campaign, and outlining topics is a great way to stay focused.
Content Formats To Be Used
Using your insights from Google Analytics and the research you have performed, you can determine which kind of content is most successful for your brand.
The format can also vary based on the topic. For example, a video may be more useful than a blog post when it comes to explaining how your business works, as it is engaging, informative, and easy to understand.
Channels For Distribution
Again, using your research, you can determine the best platforms to produce content for.
This will vary based on where you get the most traffic, which is based on your audience persona. The format you choose for your content can also influence the best channels for it, as each platform has its own unique focus that should be optimized for the best results.
How To Make A Content Calendar
When you have an action plan for content, it is time to plan out optimal times for things to be published and promoted.
This can be done on a content or editorial calendar, which will be used by your team to determine when campaigns go live and, therefore, what needs to be their main focus at the time.
Much like making the action plan for your content strategy, some key elements need to be included in your content calendar to ensure it will help you reach your goals.
Topics and Keywords
This keeps you focused on the kind of content you will be creating, as well as the research that is required.
You want to ensure that content is published consistently but without overwhelming your audience.
Spacing out content based on topics also ensures that you are always providing value to your audience, as opposed to repeating the same thing each time.
Again, this can help keep you focused in regards to the specific content and provides your creation team insights into what they need to do ahead of time.
Choosing the format of content not only informs the creation process but also allows you to ensure you are providing a good variety to your audience based on the platforms they use the most.
While you have a generic audience persona for your whole customer base, it is also a good idea to have small groups or clusters within this to help keep each piece of content focused.
Highlighting the audience you are specifically targeting on your calendar prevents repetition in content and ensures you remain focused on your goals.
Using past campaigns as a guide, you can also include the kind of numbers you expect to see with each content release, as well as using the calendar to track how successful your content has been since publication.
To ensure success in today’s market, businesses need to stand out.
A content strategy helps businesses remain focused and gives them a guideline to work alongside when it comes to publishing content online and ensures they can reach their goals using this technique.
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