How to Build a Content Strategy
Crafting a successful content strategy is essential for any business that wants to stand out in today’s crowded digital landscape. A well thought out strategy can help you develop engaging content that will build brand awareness, gain customer interest, and position your business as an authority in your industry.
This article will get you started with creating a comprehensive content strategy that will help to drive your business objectives and maximise your content marketing ROI. We’ll explore the key elements of a successful strategy from the type of content you should include to planning specific topics based on two key models.
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Why You Must Have a Content Strategy
Content marketing helps increase brand awareness, boost sentiment around your products and services, drive sales, and improve customer retention rates, but you need a have a strategy in place to make sure you are creating the right content.
So, what is the right content? You want to create material that they are genuinely interested in, and this is a key to fostering a lasting relationship with them. Also keep in mind that some of the topics you discuss will shape how your audience feels about your brand – for example, if your audience is environmentally aware, discussing content that demonstrates your values regarding sustainability will make them feel that you are aligned with one another.
Your content strategy is not only about creating the right content – you need to create it at the right time (I’ll be talking about this more in a moment).
Content Formats to Include
You don’t need to use all of the types of content listed below but generally, the more the better. In addition, your content distribution depends on where your audience segments are most active, which is something you will need to research if you have not done so already. (Using a mix of short and long form content is also beneficial.)
- Video: Video is a must-have; it is convenient for almost everyone and is preferred by the younger generations, especially on platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and Facebook. Live streaming is also growing in popularity, so it’s worth considering.
- Immersive experiences: VR and AR has been making its way into marketing for some time. It’s worth looking into how these types of experiences may align with your products and services to see whether it makes sense to include them in your content strategy.
- Audio: Podcasts and audiobooks provide a convenient way to absorb information. Such sources are also likely to produce strong leads; given that listeners are willing to invest time in this content format, their level of interest in your business is likely to be higher.
- Tools: Tools such as mortgage calculators are a great way to capture leads. They provide a great deal of value to users and therefore help develop loyalty. It may not be obvious at first which types of tools could relate to your business but it’s worth getting creative and seeing what new angles you can come up with.
- Images: Remember, this is not just about Instagram posts – infographics are a great way to present information to readers within articles and other written pieces.
- Written copy: Blogs are important for SEO and resources like e-books are not only helpful for lead generation but again, can provide a lot of value and improve customer loyalty.
Approaches to Content Planning
In my digital marketing books, I talk about several models for planning content. Using them in tandem helps you to cover relevant topics as comprehensively as possible.
Proactive vs. Reactive Planning
Proactive planning is all about having a detailed plan in place well ahead of time. You can use the Content Bubble model (see below) to inform what that plan includes. However, your content creation process needs to be flexible enough to include new content when unexpected events arise within the company or on a broader scale. That’s what reactive planning is – responding to events when they occur.
Whilst some events will truly be out of the blue, others, such as a sports match, can be planned for. If tennis were a relevant topic for your audience, for example, and you wanted to comment on the Wimbledon finals, you can plan a piece ahead of time and complete it once the event had occurred. You could even prepare two separate outlines for the piece so that you’d have a clear angle to discuss in each case.
Proactive and reactive planning work together – when planning your content, pencil in any major events that are relevant to your industry and be ready to respond in a timely manner when they occur.
The Content Bubble
The Content Bubble is a model that helps you plan content in a comprehensive way. It ensures you discuss topics that are specific to your company as well as a range of broader themes. It works as follows:
- The smallest bubble: Company content such as product launches, events, and any other news.
- The middle bubble: Topics relevant to your sector, such as industry trends or regulatory changes.
- The largest bubble: Everything beyond the bounds of your industry, whether that’s elections or sports events.
Always keep in mind the relevance of those broader topics, addressing them in a way that your audience will be interested in. To clarify, let’s go through an example.
Imagine a company that produces software relevant to the energy industry. The smallest bubble may include content about new feature releases and updates; the middle bubble could discuss industry trends such as the introduction of new technologies; and finally, the largest bubble could discuss events that impact the energy markets on the whole, such as the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. In all of these cases, the company’s audience would have a vested interest in the topics.
How do you narrow down the precise pieces to discuss based on the steps above? Keyword research. Finding out what people are looking for should be what determines your final decision on content in most cases (of course, that doesn’t apply when it comes to discussing company news and so on).
A mistake that many make is talking exclusively about what they want to tell their audience, neglecting what their audience wants from them. Staying impersonal is the key here – there is no point in being attached to publishing something that is not going to get results. Instead, focus on what will pay off in terms of ROI.
As well as keyword research, you can conduct polls or simply ask your audience on social media what content they would like to see more of.
Creating a Content Calendar
A content calendar will help you to stay on track and ensure that you are consistently publishing high-quality content. You can use project management tools such as Monday.com to keep track of it, and various social media management tools let you plan and schedule content ahead of time.
Developing High-Quality, Engaging Content
It’s important to be consistent and publish content in a timely manner, but quality over quantity is the key to keeping customers engaged in the long-term. The internet is saturated with website after website repeating the same old information without contributing anything novel or useful; companies that make a point of going above and beyond the obvious are those that stand out to consumers.
No matter the channel in question, content should be useful, entertaining, or both. It should also be:
- On brand and authentic
- Relevant to the audience, as mentioned
Tone of Voice
When creating content, be mindful of the tone, style, and voice that you have established; this will help ensure that your content remains consistent. If multiple team members are working on content, it’s helpful to create a brand guidelines document.
Measuring Content Performance
Once your content is optimised, it’s time to start measuring its performance. The metrics you’ll need to track will depend on the objectives you defined previously.
If your main goal is to increase brand awareness, you’ll want to look at metrics such as the increased number of followers; to measure the ROI in terms of sales, you’d want to look at the leads generated by your content and the sales generated as a result.
It’s also beneficial to keep your content up to date by doing a content audit from time to time, and regular content pruning.
Successfully executing a content strategy will require ongoing effort and commitment. You will need to continually invest in planning through keyword research and the other methods discussed.
If starting from scratch, the first thing to do is establish which platforms your target audience are likely to be using, then plan your content calendar for each channel. Video, images, audio content, written content and immersive experiences all have their place – and whilst not all of them will be suitable for your business, generally speaking, the more content formats you use, the better.
Ensure that your content is consistent – in terms of posting frequency and quality. Quality means providing genuine value about topics your audience wants to learn about (value may also come in the form of entertainment). As well as being useful and entertaining, your content should be sharable, credible, timely, unique, on-brand, and relevant to the audience. Finally, make sure you review its performance often and make adjustments as needed.
If you need assistance with your digital marketing strategy, or simply don’t have time to manage it yourself, please feel free to get in touch – my team and I would be happy to assist.