A content strategy can seem overwhelming. There are so many components, many of which seem to require different skills sets, tools and platforms to do properly. Don’t worry, our seven-step guide to building an effective content strategy means you can deliver ROI and engage your audience with entertaining content that actually matters to them.
The first step is to build out the overall strategy. To make this manageable, we will break this into three phases:
- Who is Your Audience?
Build a target persona or personas so that you know your audience’s motivators, needs and aspirations. Any content you produce must talk to your audience and the things that matter to them. You can build this via customer feedback, talking to your customer-facing staff, looking at high-value search keywords around the industry and monitoring social conversations.
- What is Your Brand?
How does your brand relate to your customer and what is the opportunity for you? This must be at the core of the strategy, as it will determine the fundamental message that you want to convey. Think about your brand’s voice, the tone and style of your content and messaging, and how you ultimately want your audience to interact with your brand.
- Review Your Content Ecosystem
A content audit — to see how your existing content is performing against industry benchmarks and your competitors — gives you a good foundation as to where you should invest time and resources. You should also be reviewing your entire content eco-system: how where is your content published, how is it distributed and how are your social channels performing?
These three steps should culminate in a core strategy statement and clearly defined objectives that every subsequent component of the strategy is aligned towards achieving. As much as we want to put a clear rationale behind our decisions, to an extent they will be deductions that must be proved or disproved through our content’s performance. To ensure that we can measure that we are on the right track, assign metrics that relate to key objectives, whether that is awareness, engagement, conversion or retention.
2. Content Creation
Knowing what we know about our brand and our audience, we now need to identify appropriate content buckets that align to the brand’s core and the audience’s needs. This should include appropriate content topics, types and formats for the relevant channels.
The rationale for the stories we tell can be determined via SEO keywords, brand feedback, qualitative market analysis and quantitative analytical data — but never underestimate the power of good storytellers to come up with a fantastic attention-grabbing idea or concept.
3. Platform and Publication
You need a content hub. Social channels are fantastic and they are usually where your audience lives — but they are essentially rented land. You do not control it to the same extent, you will never get the same level of insight into your audience from them, and it is much tougher to ultimately monetise your content on social. A content hub gives you all three.
Create a multi-channel editorial calendar that will take into account content creation or curation, stakeholder feedback and approval, delivery schedule and publication.
Your distribution is how you get your content out there. Fundamentally, this boils down to organic and owned or paid. As a rule of thumb, see how a piece of content does organically before putting dollars behind it to promote it — either as a piece of sponsored content on a social channel, via content discovery networks or via influencers.
5. Analysis and Optimisation
Test and learn. We have made calculated assumptions about our brand, our audience, the stories they respond to and where they consume content. Now we analyse if our hypotheses are correct. Now, review your content performance using quantitative data and then look for trends and patterns to apply qualitative analysis. What concepts, formats, platforms, distribution and amplification processes performed best?
More money, time and resources can be invested where it works, and scaled back where it does not.
This is the most important part. Are we on the right track towards accomplishing our objectives? Review the metrics to ensure that there is an upward trajectory in the areas that you know are important to you. And if there is not, then look at possible factors. Most of all, keep your content consistently relevant, engaging and actionable. If you do that, the rest will come.
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