Photo courtesy of Stefan Erschwendner on Flickr
By Rob Swystun
Like most other things, it pays to be organized when it comes to a content marketing strategy. It’s not enough to just do content marketing, you need a plan for doing it aside from just shooting off guest blog posts into the black void of cyberspace hoping they land somewhere. (Do people still say cyberspace, by the way?)
What a documented content strategy should include
Don’t worry, this isn’t some kind of template that you are supposed to follow religiously. I’m not even gonna call it a process. It’s just a checklist that you can run through to determine what your content marketing plan may be lacking.
A successful content strategy should include the following:
Objectives – You should be able to explain why your brand is dedicating resources to content marketing and the achievements you hope to gain from it.
Measures – You should know what the KPI is for each objective and how you’re going to measure it.
Target audience – Marketing is getting more and more targeted all the time. It’s not just about demographics anymore, it’s about marketing to narrowly defined groups of people. These groups should be so narrowly defined, in fact, that you can create a fictional persona to represent that group of people. Data mining can dig down and get so specific now that there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to put together a few profiles of your average consumer. Research your existing clients while you’re developing your strategy to determine who your brand will be speaking to, how they consume their content online and, most importantly, what value your brand’s content will deliver to them.
Alignment of objectives and content – Content for customer retention, content for lead nurturing, content for organic SEO and content designed for social sharing will all be different in format, tone, actual content and dissemination strategy. While you’re coming up with your strategy, you need to decide how each piece of content will work to help you reach your objectives.
Content development process and timelines – Developing content means having an outline in place for the process that also takes into account the frequency with which it will be created and who will be responsible for each task. Even coming up with a simple blog post has quite a few steps to it:
- idea generation
- strategy alignment
- keyword and topic research
- content creation
- proof reading
- image sourcing
Dissemination tactics – We all see those blogs online that have great pieces of advice but that also have no comments and interaction. A blog post is simply a waste of time and resources if it doesn’t reach an audience, particularly your target audience. While you’re creating your strategy, establish how you will use paid, owned and earned media to disseminate your content so it reaches the right people.
Measurement, analysis and optimization – Like anything else with business, you have to determine what metrics you’ll be measuring to determine if your content strategy has been successful. You also need to determine how often you’ll be measuring these metrics and reporting them to the people who need to know. And, lastly, you also need to figure out how to translate these findings and inject them back into your content strategy to make it even more successful.
Gone is the time of just creating content for the sake of it and spewing it all over the web hoping to get some traffic. Now is the time to consider the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of content marketing so it’s focused and doing all it can do to help you reach your overall business goals.