Content is king. This saying can strike fear into many companies that simply don’t have a lot of it. Do you know where it came from? A guy named Bill Gates, way back in 1996. It’s been over two decades since Gates’ statement, and we’ve seen with each passing year just how crucial content really is. We live in a content-saturated world. Never has a solid content strategy been more crucial.
Does your business have a content strategy? If so, is it working? There’s no doubt about it—creating a content strategy based on strategic objectives can be tough. Here are some quick and simple tips to help you get off and running when it comes to your content strategy.
1) Start with a goal
What do you want to get out of your content? In other words, what do you want your content to do for you? Do you want it to generate awareness around your brand? Do you want it to increase leads or drive conversions? If you don’t have a goal behind your content creation, there’s really no point in creating content. If you have a goal, on the other hand, every piece of content can and should be laser focused around that goal. You may even opt to have different pieces of content serve unique purposes and target people in different parts of the sales funnel.
Here are some common goals for content:
- Generate brand awareness
- Gather leads
- Drive conversions
- Increase sales
The type of content you produce will depend greatly on which of these goals you want to focus on. If you wish to gather leads, for example, you may consider producing a robust piece of gated content, where users provide their contact information in exchange for access to a guide or an ebook. If your goal is to increase sales, you may opt to focus on pieces that will encourage potential customers to make the decision to buy.
2) Do your research
Now that you’ve decided where you want to end up, you need to figure out how to get there. The first step is research. But what exactly does “research” mean? There are several different levels of research, and the best strategy is to start broad and get more specific. The more targeted you get in your research, the more effective your content will be at achieving your goals.
Start by getting a basic feel for the conversations that are happening in your industry. Your sources of information will depend largely upon your industry, but generally LinkedIn, Twitter, and Reddit are good places to start.
Keyword research is a crucial part of any content marketing plan. (97th Floor held a thorough webinar on keyword research several months ago, which you can find here.) Keyword research involves discovering the terms people are searching for in Google and other search engines, and then building your content around those specific themes. You might use a tool like Moz or Ahrefs to determine search volume and difficulty. You’ll usually want to focus on keywords that have high search volume and low difficulty (lower competition).
For instance, if your company sells guitars, your keyword research might reveal that the phrase“ultimate guitar” has high search volume and low difficulty. This might lead you to create a piece entitled The Ultimate Guitar Chords Chart as a robust piece of gated content. You could also write an accompanying blog post containing other high-opportunity keywords with a form for users to provide contact information to get access to the guide.
3) Don’t rush the content creation process
A clear, solid goal and impeccable research mean nothing if your content doesn’t deliver. Too often, companies spend so much time coming up with the perfect goal and spending hours on tedious research, only to forget to put the same care into actually creating the content.
Take the time to ensure your content is polished and professional. And don’t trust just anyone to create it. After all, everything your company publishes under its name is a reflection of your brand. Make sure your content captures your brand voice and feel and fits with the style guide you’ve hopefully created. Invest the proper time and resources to find a solid writer and a sharp graphic designer who have an intimate understanding of your brand. Valuable content builds credibility, while half-baked and amateur-looking content full of typos can bruise your brand’s reputation and cause you to lose credibility at a rapid pace.
Not only should your content be professional and in line with your brand, it should also be seamlessly tied to your objectives and the extensive research you’ve performed. In everything you do, ask yourself, “Is this piece of content helping achieve the overall goal behind our content marketing strategy?” If content is truly king, then you should treat it like royalty instead of an afterthought. Be thoughtful, be thorough, and be professional. It will pay dividends.
4) Don’t forget to promote your content
So many executives think that if they create quality content, people will naturally flock to it. In the real world, however, this is rarely the case. You’d be surprised by the number of supposedly “organic” and “viral” pieces of content out there that actually had some major strategic promotion happening behind the scenes.
How much time should you spend on promotion?
At the very least, you should spend the same amount of time and resources promoting your content as you do creating it. In fact, some suggest spending as much as 80 percent of your time promoting content and 20 percent creating it. Even if you do create a piece of content that people want to share naturally, you’ll still want to invest some resources into promotion. Give your content the best chance for success by giving it a boost instead of just hoping it will get picked up and shared.
5) Monitor and tweak
It’s critical to pay attention to how your content is performing and determine whether or not it is achieving its initial goals. Google Analytics and other content monitoring programs can be effective tools to help you understand how people are responding to your content.
By keeping a close eye on your content, you can see what’s working and what isn’t. If a particular type of content is achieving a specific goal, keep producing similar pieces of content. If something just isn’t sticking, try to understand why and change future content accordingly.
Keep in mind that you may have to experiment with several different types of content in order to achieve your original goal, but that’s okay! Don’t be afraid to pivot and shape your content strategy around user preference. Don’t be afraid to ask users what kind of content they’d like to see. Give them what they want and they’ll likely give you what you want, including their time, their attention, their Facebook likes, and even their business.
Remember, figuring out the right content mix takes time, plus a little blood, sweat, and tears. It’s not easy, but zeroing in on what works is worth the time, as it will help you reach your goals and increase revenue.
How do you decide on the right content mix?
Take a look at your industry. There are likely some successful players from whom you can glean some great insights. Who are your competitors? What are they doing right? What are they doing wrong? Are there pain points in the industry that no one else is addressing that you could address? How can you do what your competitors are doing, but a little better? A SWOT analysis might help you here.
The type of content you produce is often dictated heavily by your industry, but it doesn’t have to be. Don’t be afraid to break the mold, being careful to do so tactfully. Make sure that the content you produce matches the feel of your brand. If you want to be a cutting edge brand, don’t be afraid to produce some edgy content, but be sure to do it right. Content that is too far “off-brand” could prove destructive.
Don’t forget about your biggest piece of content
Perhaps your biggest piece of content is your product. Bill Gates said it best: “When it comes to an interactive network such as the Internet, the definition of ‘content’ becomes very wide. For example, computer software is a form of content—an extremely important one, and the one that for Microsoft will remain by far the most important.”
Microsoft’s product was software. What’s your product? Have you invested enough time and resources into improving it? If you haven’t, you should consider doing so before you focus on other content. Your actual product is your most important piece of content.
Who is your audience?
Figure out who your target consumer is, and narrow in on them. What are they most interested in? What specific information do they crave? What can you give them that no one else can? If you understand your audience and their needs, you can tailor your content to fit.
Rule of thumb for good content: provide value
The best content provides some kind of value to its viewers. They will have to spend time watching or reading your content. What are they going to get out of it? Information? Entertainment? How will the content make them feel? What will the content make them do? Will it drive them to Like your post, subscribe to your YouTube channel, or make a purchase from your website? Will it prompt them to share it with a friend? Figure out what you want users to do with your content, then make sure the content lends itself to making that happen.
Not sure what’s missing from your content strategy?
Here is a great resource.