As the growth of content marketing explodes into 2015, it has become increasingly difficult to stand out as a business amongst all the online noise. To become effective you need to create compelling content on a consistent basis and deliver it to the right platform at the right time to ensure that it will be seen by a large portion of your target audience.
These tasks can be overwhelming if they are not clearly planned, managed and delivered and they will ultimately limit the effectiveness of the results. Take a look at these percentages taken from organisations surveyed about their content marketing methods:
- 60% with documented strategy considers their organization to be effective at content marketing
- 32% with verbal strategy considers their organization to be effective at content marketing
- 7% with no strategy considers their organization to be effective at content marketing
It shows that at the heart of maintaining an online presence there should be an effective content marketing strategy, with a clear, well documented framework of what, you as a business, would like to achieve in the digital space.
Let’s look at five factors to consider when planning your content marketing strategy.
1.Goals and Objectives
Obviously your marketing goals should align with your business goals so decide on these with your business aims in mind.
Write them down! Have a brainstorm of all the business goals you can think of and then prioritise them according to how realistic they are, their potential returns and their scalability.
Look at setting the larger long term goals first and then narrow these down to short term objectives so they can be built on step by step. These short term aims can be created with resource and budgetary requirements in mind.
Make sure that the main goals have the ability to be measured; whether based on statistical evidence or sentiment score. The ultimate measurement should be the ROI you have gained through the implementation of your overall marketing strategy.
Defining these goals and objectives from the start can make the planning of a strategy so much easier as you work on implementing small productive steps that contribute to the wider aim.
2.Target Audience and their Online Location
The determination of your target audience will be based on both internal data and industry | competitor research.
Internal Data Analysis
If you have an established database of clients and have been collecting the RIGHT data you should be able to build up a number of client profiles based on age, location, buying habits, interests etc.
Internal data can also show the query types that may require customer service resource on an on-going basis such as email and phone. This information can be used to determine the type of content you wish to create to educate the client as you turn the query resolutions into accessible, evergreen content.
All this data is extremely valuable given the ability social platforms have to narrow the target focus of their users when it comes to online content promotion.
Industry & Competitor Research
If you are a new business or have not used data collection as a marketing tool then there is a wealth of general data already online. Use search to find how similar businesses are using the online space by checking out the social platforms they use, the type of content they create and the level of engagement on it and also how they use content on their websites.
All this is valuable information but do not use this type of research to plagiarise. You want to stand out from the crowd remember!
Where are your Clients?
The results of your research will identify the main platforms that your target market will read and engage on.
The great, yet also scary thing is that your clients can talk about your brand wherever they please online and if you do not employ listening tools and find that conversation then you are missing a huge opportunity to get involved and direct the client to the relevant content or resolution to their query. Seeking out the conversation should lead to a decision as to whether to promote your content on that particular platform.
Research into your target audience and listening to their online conversation around your brand will also determine the type of content that is required within your strategy. It can be a factor in the topics you decide on, the delivery of this content and the scheduling consistency for maximum impact. Make sure you do your research!
The type of content created is the key representation of your brand online so you need to consider what will create the maximum impact for your target audience.
Competitor research will indicate which type of content generates the most engagement online and this will allow you to brainstorm the different content sections you need for your strategy. This could be:
- Creating awareness
- Opinion driven
Once you have a list you can narrow down the number you wish to focus on. Providing a good mix of content substance will determine that your online brand appeals to a broader segment of your target audience. This can be dependent on business type, of course (I mean you don’t want to provide humorous content if you are in the funeral home business) however these types of decisions are ones that will come naturally; based purely on sensibility and logic!
Turn your definitive content list into a Content Calendar, determining the substance, frequency and platform you wish to share your post on. We will cover this topic in more detail in a future post so keep an eye out!
The great thing about digital content versus traditional advertising is in the longevity of the interaction with the target audience. Evergreen content is content that can be referred to over a long period of time and still holds value for the client. As mentioned previously; a way to manage resource and cost efficiency is to deliver educational, evergreen content that will limit the time and cost of other forms of customer service communication like email or phone.
Types of evergreen content can include:
- An extensive FAQ page on your website can reduce the amount of calls made to your staff.
- Using blogs and infographics to exhibit products and the functionality of the same by writing quick step guides that will also alleviate the time taken to answer client queries.
- Converting those quick step guides into a video playlist to communicate trouble shooting resolutions is also a good way to manage efficiency.
Whether you are a sole trader or have many cross –functional departments it is advisable to assess the scale of the content marketing strategy you wish to execute and then make a decision on the type and size of the resource needed to manage the workload.
When planning and implementing a content marketing strategy a business has the option of using internal resources or a content outsource solution.
This could be a key member of staff or a full scale marketing team. Whoever works on a content marketing strategy within the business should have a wide understanding of every function or communicate with the experts in each area and encourage them to become an integral part of the strategy with their own content creation. This is a great way to naturally create brand advocates within the organisation.
Employees should have clear roles and responsibilities and an understanding of the ethos and brand image that you wish to portray. This is important as the work they show will most probably be the first impression a potential customer has with your brand online.
They should implement the strategy as a framework for consistency yet be flexible enough when monitoring online conversation around the brand to change or add to the strategy within a given situation.
Content Outsource Solution
A content outsource solution alleviates the budget and time limitations that a business may have. Often more cost effective than employing a marketing executive on a full time salary; this solution also limits the need for ongoing training and holiday cover amongst other things.
A content outsource solution works effectively when presented with a detailed brief of the tasks they need to implement which is why a clear content strategy is vital when outsourcing. Clarity of objectives means there is there is limited opportunity for misrepresentation and, in most cases; the experts will provide ideas and solutions with regards to digital that you may never have thought of. Most content providers will also already have the most up to date tools needed to provide measurement data on your strategy too and will use their knowledge and expertise to make recommendations for future improvement.
Whichever the resource suitable for your business, the framework and detail of the strategy will be the most important factor in driving your business online.
5.Measure and Analyse Results
A company should always be finding ways to improve all aspects of their business on all levels. Through analysing and executing on strategy in all areas of development a business can utilise data to become a lead differentiator within their field.
Customer insight is key to improvement strategy. A busy agent dealing with queries and mentions on a daily basis is not going to have the time to be strategic and pick up on innovative ideas that can be found in an online engagement around a piece of content and its topic.
This is why it is important to employ strategic insight from the intelligence data and use the brand experience as related by the consumer to look out for successful commercial opportunities and ideas they may have to implement in your future content marketing strategy.
There is always room for improvement and the online consumer’s appetite for content will ensure that content methods and marketing strategies will consistently shift to match their requirements.
What is an important factor in your content marketing strategy?