Content Marketing. Is it just another marketing buzzword created by so-called gurus or does it actually mean something? Here’s the truth, content marketing has been around for as long as marketing itself; we just thought about it in differently.
The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) defines content marketing as:
“a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
For those who’ve been involved in the marketing since before the birth of the web, this seems like what all good marketers have been doing for years. It’s how good companies become great companies; by giving the customer what they want, when they want it. The difference now is that the content is primarily delivered via digital channels and that opens up many doors.
Know Your Audience
While developing a content strategy takes time and planning, it must always start with the audience. Understanding the needs of the customer, their wants and aspirations will help guide what type of content is created. Having a clear idea on the type of customer that you want to attract will make it easier to craft your message. Knowing where different buyer personas drop into the buying cycle will influence when and where certain messages appear.
As with all good planning, objectives need to be set at the start when formulating the content strategy. Having objectives that are SMART goes without saying and by putting in benchmarks you can measure the effectiveness of the content strategy.
It’s highly unlikely that the first content marketing strategy will be so successful that no other work will ever be needed again; therefore, it’s important your objectives provide the opportunity to deliver actionable insight which allow improvements to the strategy. For example, one objective might be too increase visits to a page, but it is not meaningful if the visits do not lead to an increase in sales.
By conducting keyword research, you can identify where resources must be focused for the content strategy. Remember, content has to be relevant to the buyer and therefore knowing what people are searching for is key. Broad based marketing rarely attracts the buyers you seek. The world’s biggest search engine has some really useful tools for identifying long tail keywords to be used as part of the content strategy.
Another key word from the CMI definition is “valuable”. A content strategy that doesn’t involve content that adds value to the users’ experience is a strategy that will fail. Defining what’s valuable can only come from knowing the audience but it needs to be content that offers them insight, tells them something they don’t already know or that elicits an emotional response that drives your desired call to action.
Often referred to as media rich content it includes things such as webinars, videos, infographics or application tools. How-to guides and whitepapers are also other forms of content that are well received and classed as valuable by users.
Digital media needs to be responsive which can be both good and bad depending on your perspective. As such a content schedule should be developed that maps out what type of new content will be created and when it will be delivered. This helps keep the content fresh and up to date which will improve the user’s experience and increases the likelihood of engagement. However, the schedule shouldn’t be so rigid that it prevents the firm responding to external influences.
Developing a content strategy is all about empathizing with how the user feels at the moment of interaction. If there are disruptions to the political or natural environment, then that could impact on the content you post.
Test and Learn
The content strategy should also cater for testing and learning. The beauty of digital channels is that content can be changed quickly allowing firms to respond to what is or isn’t working. The strategy should embrace the fact that not all ideas will work and sometimes the only way to find out is to try and that what worked yesterday might not work tomorrow.
In summary, a truly killer content strategy is focused around the user, adds value to their experience, delivers content in an engaging way and is forever evolving.