How to Develop a Content Strategy: A Start-to-Finish Guide
According to Gary Vaynerchuk, a well known American-Belarusian entrepreneur, " Content is king but marketing is queen and runs the household". The words coming out from a digital marketing expert are quite convincing that every business should focus on content marketing.
It is all about spreading the word about the things you have created or "own" related to your brand. You may write a stellar blog post but poor marketing can narrow down its reach.
You are not going to like the outcomes when your word is not reaching the potential customers. The simple way to begin is to craft a solid content marketing strategy.
Table of Contents
- How to Develop a Content Strategy: A Start-to-Finish Guide
- What Is Content Strategy?
- Why Marketers Need To Create A Content Marketing Strategy
- The 12 Types of Content Marketing to Increase Brand Worth
What Is Content Strategy?
It is the piece of your marketing plan that is going to demonstrate what your brand is. The term "content strategy"refers to the effective management of every possible media content that you create and own. It could be audio, video, or written content.
You will use all these content types to show your expertise to the industry and how does your brand help your customers. It is one of the most reliable ways to improve brand awareness and create an identity for yourself.
Your primary aim should be to create valuable and interesting content. Most of the businesses understand the value of content but find it challenging to create one that works. There is no specific answer but if you want to sum it in two words, it is about "relevance and usefulness". You should be asking yourself these important questions before making a content strategy.
1. Who Will Be Reading Your Content?
The most important question is who will be reading your content. Understanding your target audience is imperative to your success.
Are you writing for attracting new customers? Do you want to create helpful content for the existing customers? Do you write for industry professionals? For how many audiences are you going to create the content? Answer all these questions before you set out to create a piece of content.
Ideally, your content strategy should cater to all the related types of readers and users. A simple solution is to use different channels to market your business so that you can reach the maximum number of people. In this era, you have to be available on every platform.
2. What Problem Will You Be Solving For Your Audience(s)?
Ideally, your business is there to solve certain problems of your audience. If you understand the problem you are going to solve, telling your customers is far easier.
The content should be created to coach and educate your audience about the problem. It begins with how to identify it and then comes to the process of addressing it. A great content strategy caters to people present on both sides of your services or products, the ones who are learning the identify the usefulness and the people who are already using it.
Help the users to overcome the challenges of the buying process. Educate them with tips and tricks to better utilization of the product.
3. What Makes You Unique?
The product or service you offer is most likely being sold by your competitors already. You can make it in the plethora of options without proving your worth. What are your unique selling points? What makes you stand out from the rest of the options available to your potential customer?
In the first place, you should clearly understand them and carve out the best way to present them. Your content can be very helpful in convincing your customers why and how is your business unique. Use multiple channels to present your unique selling points smartly.
4. What Content Formats Will You Focus On?
There are a lot of formats to be used for content marketing. Thanks to ever-evolving technology, the number of platforms is increasing for good. The formats can be written, visual or audio files. The written content can be in the form of blogs, articles, guest posts, press releases, or newsletters. We will dive into the details of various content formats later in the post.
The visual representation of your content as infographics is very popular these days. Plan about the formats you will use the most and what kind of content is most helpful.
It is important to remember that content marketing is an ongoing process. You need to analyze and adjust the strategy according to the performance of the content.
5. What Channels Will You Publish On?
There are numerous channels for each kind of content. For example, when it comes to video marketing, there are dozens of platforms. YouTube may be the first thing that appears on your mind but there are other channels with millions of users.
Think about all the possible channels. They could be your own media channels or you can get space on other channels. Social media properties such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn can prove to be very useful if used in the right way. If you are creating products for younger audiences, social media marketing is more like a shortcut to your success.
6. How Will You Manage Content Creation And Publication?
After deciding what to do, it is time to think about how to do it. By now you must have realized it is a lot of work. Creating the content, publishing it, and then promoting it takes a lot of hard work and consistency. You have to decide whether you would do it on your own, create a team for help or hire a professional agency.
If you want to prevent clutter and chaos, it is important to stick to the "topic clustering strategy". Plan a content editorial calendar to make things more tangible.
Why Marketers Need To Create A Content Marketing Strategy
Business owners, consumers, and marketing agencies have switched from traditional marketing methods to digital marketing. The shift in trend is not pointless. Digital marketing is much more effective and budgets friendly as compared to traditional marketing tactics.
For instance, you own a fruit farm. If you were living in the past you had to pay the print media to publish your advert. Getting a place on billboards is also quite costly. Both of these means do send your message but imagine how many of the people looking at the adverts actually need them? Only a handful of them.
A lot of your money and efforts can go to waste. In digital marketing, your business is presented to the customers when they are actively searching for businesses like you or the ones related to you. These simple examples set the precedent of why marketers need to create a content marketing strategy.
The 12 Types of Content Marketing to Increase Brand Worth
Here are some details about the 12 types of content marketing.
According to Forbes, business websites that have a separate webpage for ‘Blog’ have 434% more indexed pages as compared to the ones that don’t. The stats are pretty much enough to emphasize the importance of blogging in content marketing. The more indexed pages you have, the better is your brand growth.
The aim should be to design a blog that corresponds to your product or services. It should answer as many questions of your users as possible. The great thing about blogs is that they can be used to boost the search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. Use a cluster model to organize the content topics on your blogs.
For instance, you own a make-up brand, you should be writing everything your prospective customers can look for. It could be about the ingredients that go into the product, comparisons, how to use them, how to save them for longer periods, and whatnot.
According to recent surveys, more than 54% of the customers want to see video content from the brands they are using. The numbers are much more as compared to any other means of content marketing. This alone should be enough for you to start making videos.
The topics of your videos and the content can be optimized for search engines but firstly they should be "useful" to your customers. It is a versatile medium that can be used to post interesting content about your business. Include the process of making, the highlights of your efforts, the methods to use your products, and a lot more.
Customers trust the video content more as they can "see" what is going on. You don’t need a heavy setup to begin video making. All you need is a good quality phone and some editing software to create videos.
There is no point denying the fact that long texts can get boring in a heartbeat. Other than creating an interesting and engaging written content, it is important to focus on infographics. The visual cues and fun and easy to understand.
Find some shoulder niches and you can make use of colors and their psychological effects on human minds to create attractive infographics. They can be "instructographics" by detailing out the step-by-step guides for quick references.
Customers are almost always looking for quick solutions. There is nothing better than creating an infographic for them as well as embed backlinks for your SEO strategy.
If you haven't given a thought to writing an e-book about your business, it is high time to do it. Think of an e-book as a long term blog. Make it easily downloadable and you may be reaping its benefits long after you clicked "publish".
If you consider e-book as a direct marketing tool, it may not be as useful as it can be. The best way to get the desired outcomes is to put valuable information in the book. Let your users read it and share it for good reasons. It becomes an indirect marketing tool without rubbing the customers in the wrong way.
5. Case Studies
Case studies can further your interests like no other means. It is a direct recommendation by a user. They are effective or leads who want to learn about your business from the people who have trusted you in the past.
Write down objective details of the related case and pour in as many accurate details as you can. This increases the validity of the case study. You can add links that may take your reader to the customer ready to talk about the case. The case study is more effective as it takes the user through the whole journey.
How many times have you searched for certain checklists? If the answer is " a lot" it is easy to comprehend. The checklists can be used to keep track of your progress and human minds love quantifications. It helps us understand what we are doing and when will we see any success.
Think like your customer and create helpful checklists for them. They show a step-by-step method on a guide that is easily printable for future uses. Be creative about the topics and never stop addressing the burning questions about your industry.
7. User-Generated Content
Your customers can also help support your content strategy. It is an amazing method because it works both ways. People respond and trust user-generated content more than others. Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are very reliable means.
For instance, a customer tweets your business name with some great comments. You are not directly creating the content but your customers are writing for you. The thread can lead to conversions at your end. All of your satisfied customers are your marketing channels much more powerful than other means. It is still the time of "word of mouth".
Memes are relatively new in the marketing industry. They have been used for comics and humor but businesses are using them to spread a word. There are no stats to back up its effectiveness but you shouldn’t knock it till you try it.
A meme is an image set with culturally relevant text that rapidly goes viral online. If you are on point, it can drive in a lot of traffic to your business. It makes use of the "hype". It requires a lot of digging in the current social climate to create one that is relatable at that time.
9. Testimonials Or Reviews
Testimonials and reviews are coming straight from your audience. It is a digital form of word of mouth and we are still living in a time when people trust it. A testimonial is a quick view of how your company stands out from the rest.
You can use testimonials from industry professionals and well-known customers to validate your claims. Invest your efforts in making review writing easier and fun for your customers. Provides some incentives to encourage them to write about your business.
10. Influencers And Paid Marketing
You can always compensate your efforts by paying for Google Ads. It may not be the guarantee to get you to the customers but if you are relatable enough, your chances improve greatly.
Influencers and celebrities can prove to be very helpful in your paid marketing. Influencer marketing can be used to reach an entirely new audience within a short span.
11. White Papers
A lot of people confuse e-books with white papers. If you are one of them, you are in the right place. When you want to communicate stats about your business, publishing a white paper is your way to go. It is densely packed with data and information about your business. You can add visual cues to make them more effective and easy to understand. Marketing experts swear by the effectiveness of pie charts and graphs.
12. "How To" Guides
A huge majority of Google queries begin with "how to". It is not surprising that the best performing articles on the internet are generally titles like How-to guides. They are much more relevant to the searches. You may already be addressing the frequently asked questions on your FAQs page but it is essential to write "how-to guides".
All of the above-mentioned types of content marketing are effective but this isn’t a definitive list. You have to choose the ones that work best for you. Create content around the topics that are working well. Improve the ones that are not doing well and don’t be afraid to experiment. Track your progress to stay on it!