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The 5 secrets of content strategy

Most people go into content marketing without a strategy, not realizing how much this hurts their efforts. Having a strategy in place greatly improves your chances of succeeding, and thankfully they don’t have to be long or complicated. Here is a quick and simple exercise you can use to create a content marketing strategy. Consider the answers to the following questions and use the information to put a strategy together.

Who is Your Audience?

Be specific about your audience. This can be tough, but it forms the centerpiece of the whole strategy. Think about your current customers, or – if you don’t have current customers – do some digging.

Creating a marketing persona can take time, but there are some things you can do to speed up the process. Read industry analyst reports, look through case studies, go to online networks like forums, take advantage of Facebook audience Insights, conduct interviews and surveys, and even use social media.

Here’s what you want to know:
  • Why do people buy products and services like yours?
  • What do they hope to get from them?
  • What do buyers consider when looking at their options?
  • What things about competing products and services do they consider most important?
  • Why would someone NOT purchase your products or services?
  • Why do people feel your product isn’t the best choice?

No matter what, avoid getting overwhelmed. Start out small and talk to a few people, and build the persona from there.

Where Are They Online?

This is something that should come out while going through the previous step. Identify where your audience are going online, and avoid spreading yourself thin. Remember, it’s better to be good at one or two channels than having a partial presence on every channel. Narrow down where you should focus your online efforts to a few places. The things you did in the first step – talking to customers, holding interviews, etc. – also help here.

What Content do they Enjoy?

This is something that you should start to see from the above steps. If you learn your audience is on LinkedIn, then they would enjoy whitepapers and articles. If they use Facebook, they want list posts and videos. What you want to do is determine the type of content they don’t want to see to avoid wasting time, effort, and money on something that won’t work well.

What do the Audience Need to Know, and What do you Want your Content to Do?

You shouldn’t expect readers to buy from just one bit of content. You need to think about what you want your content to do; it’s purpose. Think about the sales funnel and buying cycle. What kinds of content would users find most helpful at each stage? Maybe you’re looking to drive them to a webinar, get them to download a whitepaper, or join an email list. Just make sure that this initial offer is attractive and free.

Ask yourself what your customers need to know before they will do business with you, what issues you need to help them overcome, and how you can help them overcome them.

Tracking the Success of Content Marketing

The best part of any strategy is being able to watch it and measure the success of it. Consider how to track the success of your efforts – from tracking and engagement to conversion. Think of the tools you need. Do you need dedicated landing pages and Google Analytics? Thinking about what you need and getting the tools you need saves lots of time and frustration later on.

There’s no need to make a content marketing strategy complicated to make it effective. All you need is a reminder of where you’re going, where you are, and where you started from. Write down the plan, create and build on it, and move towards content marketing success.

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