Content Strategy, Long Form Content

Content marketing is nothing without strategy. You can have the most interesting, thought-provoking piece of content out there, but it’s nothing if it can’t be found by the right people. No matter what stage of your content creation you’re in, whether you’re in pre-planning, development, or finishing up and wondering how to present it to the world, now is the time to start thinking about the best strategy for optimizing and distributing that content to your audience.

Do I Really NEED a Content Strategy?

Yes! The point of your content is to be seen, read, heard, and, most importantly, shared, so what good is your content if it’s never seen? Research has shown that countless brands who develop and follow a content marketing strategy consider their content marketing efforts to be more successful, found content marketing in general to be less challenging, and were later able to justify a higher content marketing budget that allowed them to invest in higher quality content.

What Does a Successful Content Marketing Strategy Look Like?

Your content marketing strategy should be a part of any content creation your company does. While there are no defined “rules” for building a content marketing strategy, it’s important to include these key components:

1.      Understand your audience (buyer persona, research)

Every piece of content your brand develops should be created with someone in mind. Consumers are more likely to make a purchase with a brand they can identify with, and that begins and ends with that brand showing an understanding of their audience.

Understanding your audience includes very basic factors such as their age, gender, education level, and even income, but it also goes deeper than that. What does your audience want? What problems are they facing? How can your product or service solve those problems?

Don’t just assume. Research your current audience and see who’s already engaged with your brand. You can even set up simple online surveys to send to your current audience, and build audience profiles based on the results. Your audience won’t fit a single category, but research can help you develop a primary “buyer persona” that fits the profiles of much of your audience, as well as several secondary personas.

2.      Keyword research

Now that you understand your main audience, place yourself in their shoes. What are they searching for when they need your product or service? Make a list of basic keywords surrounding your brand, as well as any variations (‘New York painters’ and ‘New York painting,’ for example.) You know your niche well, so draw from all possible terms used for what you have to offer. Once you have these keywords, integrate them into your content. There are a few reasons why:

  • Integrating keywords into blogs and other content is good for SEO and generating organic traffic.
  • It allows your audience to figure out quickly whether or not they’ve found the content they need before moving on.
  • It establishes your brand as an authority in your field.

3.      Identify effective content

Next, you need to ask yourself, what sort of content will my audience respond to? What are they looking for? If your audience is more likely to read a blog post, would you waste time creating a video? If they want how-to guides, will they spend hours looking at case studies that only tell them ‘why’? Probably not.

Identifying the most effective content starts with identifying and listing to your audience, but it will likely also include some trial and error as you experiment with different types of content to see what works for you and your content strategy.

  • Blog posts and articles
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Ebooks and whitepapers
  • Email newsletters
  • Social media posts
  • Podcasts
  • E-courses and webinars

4.      Decide on placement

Another reason to develop an understanding of your audience is to determine where they’re looking for online content. Are they searching YouTube for the latest videos on your niche or do they spend most of their free time browsing Instagram for great photos?

For content such as blogs, articles, and landing pages that lead to additional content, implementing an SEO strategy is a good start. It’s also important to maintain active business pages for any relevant social media platforms. Influencer marketing can be another effective way to expand the reach of your content and build brand awareness.

5.      Develop your brand’s voice

The most successful brands develop a “personality” that its audience can recognize and identify with. This is often overlooked in content strategy, but it’s also one of the most important aspects of a brand.

As with every stage of your content marketing strategy, start with your buyer personas. What sort of personality will they most identify with? Is that voice friendly, formal, or silly? What sort of language and terms will they understand? What do they not want to hear about?

6.      Stay consistent

The key to knowing whether your content strategy is effective is to stay consistent. If you make one post per month on Facebook, it shouldn’t be surprising that your Facebook page isn’t growing very quickly. Develop a content schedule and stick to it.

7.      Analyze the results

Whether it’s weekly, monthly, or quarterly, never leave your content without tracking the results. This can include monitoring view and click rates, reading customer comments and responses, or even tracking ecommerce stats in relation to your content releases. Data tracking will allow you to analyze the results of your content marketing efforts and learn what’s effective and what isn’t.

8.      Revisit and revise

Why track the data if you’re not going to utilize the results? It’s a good idea to sit down with your content marketing team at least once per year, if not once per fiscal quarter, and go over your current strategy. Take note of what worked, what didn’t, and where you’d like to improve, and adjust accordingly.

9.      Try new things!

Research is great, but it never hurts to try something new if your content marketing timeline (and budget) allow for a little experimentation. Jump on social media trends, try out a new technology, or reach out to your audience and ask them what they’d like to see. Just make sure you’re always tracking the results so you can revisit and potentially add something new as part of your successful content marketing strategy.

Now that you’ve developed and followed your content marketing strategy, it’s time to go through the entire process again! Content marketing strategy is a never-ending process that needs to be followed, analyzed, and revised on a regular basis if you want your strategy to be effective at capturing leads for your business. Engage, refine, and rework on a regular basis, and your content marketing efforts will show better results consistently.

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