Step two: strategize
If step 1 was about understanding why content marketing matters and where to find your audiences, part 2 is all about taking all of that information and putting it to good use. How, you might ask? By building an actionable and realistic roadmap. This is what keeps everyone in the game with their eyes on the prize; it keeps them creating and sharing content that is unified and consistent. The other perk of getting everyone on the same page? It forces you to clearly define and communicate a clear yardstick by which to measure content, share content, and track results.
So. You ready to put your money (and your energy) where your mouth is?
Four Steps to an Honest-to-God Strategy
First and foremost: take a look at your existing content. Taking a serious look at your existing digital brand presence can help you identify patterns both good and bad – allowing you to learn from past mistakes and successes. Generally speaking, you want to feel like your digital presence has grown alongside your brand; that it’s explored new territory and found increasingly creative ways to showcase your product or solution. So, gather all of your content: blogs, website content, social media posts, Adwords - anything that speaks to your brand – and start crunching numbers. Clear metrics will allow you to make informed and unbiased decisions about each channel’s contribution to your end goal.
Bonus: downloadable doc - list of metrics to use to evaluate existing content
Your content audit will also help you analyze your current content and look for any holes in your knowledge base. After all, you’re the expert in what you do - it’s time your content reflect that even if it means, *gasp*, creating more content.
Now it’s time to look at who has been interacting with your content most consistently, and how well have they been converting to a client. This is where you want to touch base with your favorite member from the sales team. If this is you, kindly humor us and consult your alter ego – we don’t want anyone feeling left out.
All jokes aside though, your salespeople have on-the-ground information about what does and doesn’t seem to be jiving with the people they’re in contact with, and what your current client is really looking for when they reach out. That information is absolutely crucial to keep your finger on the pulse. This is where you’re really going to lean on the information gathered in part 1.
Remember how it felt to show up on the first day of school in what you thought was a totally cool outfit, only to discover that, apparently, your outfit was so 2001? That’s what it feels like when the content you have is speaking to a completely different target demographic than the one you’re looking to work with. Hopefully, any trends or gaps in your content and audience audits aren’t too glaring, but if they are - it might be time to go back to the drawing board on some of your existing content to bring new life to outdated messages and posts. Another way to measure your success? Conversion rates: the number of times your readers complete your call to action.
Noticing a black hole drop-off point where customers seem to drop off the face of the earth? Try experimenting with these 30+ proven and effective abandoned cart emails.
4.Creating an editorial calendar
Oh, my word. You’re almost there. The finish line is within your grasp, and your team has come up with some great content ideas. Now all you need is to go back to your high school English class and outline your 5 W’s:
Who: Who is responsible for developing the content? Who’s responsible for posting it and primping it for Social Media? Also, don’t forget the ‘Who are we talking to?’ portion of the equation - after all, it’s what got you to this finish line in the first place!
What: What’s your reason for wanting to release this content out into the world? What information will it contain that will improve or simplify your reader’s life? What is it that you actually want them to do in order to separate them from their hard earned cash?
When: Creating good quality content takes time, so you’re going to want to work backwards from any particular goal deadlines to a) give your team time to work their magic and hone their wordsy chops and b) give the content it’s time to infiltrate the masses within your target demographics. Bonus points if your content and audience audits included metrics regarding the time of day that your audience interacts most with your content. Sometimes when to post things can be as important as – if not more so than – what you post.
Where: This is where you’re going to lean on #4 of the 5 Key Elements outlined in step one: Where are you going to find the people who most want what you have to offer? Because crossed wires and wrong venues can leave you dancing by yourself, my friend. Find the networks and communities where your target market congregates, and figure out how to best get in front of them. Is it paid advertising? Forum chats? Sponsored content?
Why: Now for #5 in our 5 Key Elements: why are you creating content for your clients? What outcome are you expecting and what is your actual goal? Tracking these outcomes is key to determining the success of your content strategy and giving you, and your team, the warm fuzzy feelings of a job well done. It can also help your team find areas for improvement, or areas where you want to expand your content ninjitsu. Win-win!
Step three: measure
It’s simple: define and track success. We’re not going to beat a dead horse here as we’ve spoken a fair bit about success metrics so far, but do pay close attention to this step, because without it, you’re wandering around in the dark and you left your flashlight in the data.
Step four: iterate
And finally, a good strategy is never truly effective if it doesn’t have the baked-in flexibility and curiosity to iterate and adjust. Look at your results from the previous steps and identify small changes you might implement to resonate more powerfully with your target demographic. A/B testing can also help you test your intuition and hypothesis by putting your content through a rigorous battle of the messages. And if you’re looking to find new ways to intentionally improve and experiment while increasing your conversion rates, take a look at our 100+ CRO ideas – you’ll get inspired!
Well, there you have it folks - you now have a content strategy. Still a little unsure of what that should look like? Check out this great collection of templates by Curata to get you started. Soon, you’ll not only be boosting acquisition rates – and your bottom line – but you’ll be maximizing your content talent, your advertising and marketing budget, and last but not least, your impact on your target demographic. The perfect ending to any content marketing story, if you ask us!