Content strategy: road stretching into the distance

Pathway to success or road to nowhere? You decide.

A content strategy is vital if your business has a blog or creates web content.

Don’t be put off by the phrase content strategy, essentially it’s just a plan to help you frame the work you’re doing and pin it down to your business goals. A strategy keeps you focused by preventing time and energy being wasted on content efforts that don’t serve your business needs and goals. It’s that simple!

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be publishing a series of how-to guides on creating and executing a content strategy for your business. So, make yourself a cuppa and let’s start at the beginning.


Why should my business care about the content it creates?

Your content is a reflection and extension of your brand. It should be as good as you want your business  reputation to be. It should be useful and informative enough not only to attract visitors to your site, but strongly actionable  to convert them too.

And if your business is investing time and money in content that hasn’t been properly thought through, then that’s not a waste of time. Consider how you’d react if you were spending money on something else that wasn’t delivering ROI – be it a staff member, a service or a piece of equipment. It would be expected to shape up or ship out. Content really is no different. It is often the very first interaction a new visitor will have with your brand. As we know: you only have one chance to make a first impression.

To add to that, the internet is in a state of infobesity at the moment. There is, quite simply, too much content, particularly of the poorly written variety. It’s clogging up the internet’s arteries. It’s hard enough for great content to be seen these days, so the days of creating content for the sake of it are over. That’s why a content strategy is so imperative.

Content strategies help you kick goals

A content strategy will help your business kick goals

Okay, fine. I’m convinced. What should my content strategy goals be?

So, you’ve had an idea for a blog post. But is it worth writing? This is exactly why you need a content strategy – it will help you decide what and who the content is really for.

Any content you create should have a specific purpose. Here are some examples:

  • Drive brand awareness in particular markets
  • Increasing visitors to your website
  • Boosting sales, signups or registrations
  • Pushing traffic to a particular landing page

A piece of content can serve multiple goals. Yet if it doesn’t serve any of them, you should consider a new idea.


But lots of likes and retweets is a content goal isn’t it?

It’s always nice when we get retweets or likes on our content. But what else are these readers doing? If this adoration doesn’t convert to boost the bottom line of your business, then it’s all just vanity.

That may sound a tad harsh, but if your content is tied to the actual goals of the business,that means it will be aligned with the goals of other teams in the business too. If you can tell them ‘these articles resulted in this many sales’, then that’s a language the rest of the business will understand.


How should I measure success?

As you come up with each goal, you need to find a way to measure it in real, tangible terms, like a dollar amount, a number of unique visitors to your site or a percentage increase in traffic. This can take a bit of time, but laying the groundwork is essential to evolving and improving your content strategy further down the line. Improving the customer journey and the messaging across your site can result in a major uplift.

It’s important to be rigorous at this time. Make your goals realistic. If you have a goal you’re unable to measure, find a way to measure it or create a different goal. There’s no point aiming for a target you can’t see.

When it comes to brainstorming for content ideas, don’t put the cart before the horse! It’s far more creative to generate a bunch of ideas and think of how to tie them to your goals, not just use the goals to inspire content ideas. That can create very predictable and uninspiring content.

Audience research: think of it as turning the house lights on in a theatre.

Who is my audience? How can I get to know them better?

A blog without an audience is much like sitting in a dark room talking to yourself. It’s not enough to dangle content out there to see who bites. It’s far better to be strategic about who you want to reach. As the saying goes, fish where the fish are.

Trying to sell without knowing your ideal audience is a bit like flying blind. Start by building a list of customer personas, and write with these people in mind.

Furthermore, start with two or three personas. Give them a name. Where do they live? What job do they have? Do they work in a large company or run their own business? How old are they? In addition, all the research you put into this will pay off for sure.

When you’re fleshing out your personas, consider these questions:

  • Where do they hang out online? Which blogs/sites do they read? Which social networks and forums do they participate in?
  • What types of content will they share with their networks? What format is it in? What’s the tone? Is it long or short?
  • What’s the ideal way to reach them? Organic social media? Social advertising? Google Adwords? Email?

Once you have some personas created, you’ll realise how much easier it is to answer questions like – What are their career goals and how can you help with them? What are they really struggling with at work? What bores them online? Whose opinions do they respect?  Furthermore, all of these questions will help you fine tune your content so it speaks to your kind of customer.

If you aren’t sure who your audience is or should be, you need to start gathering information. Social listening, customer feedback forms, Google Analytics, Facebook and Twitter insights – these are all great places to begin getting to know your audience better.

Creating a content strategy can be a daunting prospect, but we assure you it’s thoroughly worthwhile.  Most of all it can help to have an experienced person by your side who knows the questions to ask and the places to look for data, while also having the creativity and know-how to execute the final plan. We’d love to help your business set goals and totally smash them too! Please contact us for a free Skype consultation regarding your content strategy creation.

That should be enough to get you started. In our next post in the series, we’ll be looking at content creation and execution. What types of content are best suited to your goals? How will you promote your content? And who will be responsible for coming up with content ideas and keeping the content pipeline full?

Christian Taylor is a writer and social media manager and part of the VKN Digital team. VKN Digital is a digital marketing agency in Hertfordshire, UK. We aim to help SMEs overcome marketing hurdles and create compelling digital content that drives results. If you need a leg-up with your content marketing or social media, get in touch via our contact page.

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