How to Create a Content Strategy for Your Business
You can’t escape it, content is everywhere. We’re inundated with content online, on social media, and even through our headphones. Standing out in an endless sea of information might seem impossible, but with an effective content strategy you can rise above the noise and reach the right people.
After you create your own website, it’s a great time to implement a new content strategy or update your existing one. Whether your business is just starting out or you want to revamp your existing content marketing efforts, it’s never too late to take a deep-dive into your strategy and make it more efficient.
In this article, we’ll go over the basics of developing a content strategy, including different types you might want to try, and going through the steps to get your own off the ground.
What is a content strategy?
Before diving into the nitty-gritty of creating a content strategy, it’s important that we clearly define what it is.
A content strategy identifies what type of media your business needs to use in order to reach its target market. It also outlines a calculated plan for creating and distributing this content, which can be anything from the images or videos you post on Facebook and Instagram, blog posts or an e-book. This is a key element of your overall marketing strategy, since content is what allows you to cement your brand’s voice and identity in order to communicate with your audience.
All the content you publish has a purpose. That purpose should be defined by your business goals, so that every piece of content works in tandem to push you closer to achieving them.
Why do you need a content strategy?
A content strategy will further define your marketing goals and help you reach them. A clear strategy for your content marketing will help you (or your marketing team) work more effectively, providing clear tasks for creating and publishing content, defining goals and monitoring your business’s progress.
By proactively strategizing your marketing efforts, you’ll start to understand what techniques work and which ones don't for your business. For example, you’ll be able to discern what marketing channels are the most effective, or what topics engage your target audience most.
What can you achieve with a content strategy?
A business’s content strategy will vary depending on their marketing goals. Here are a few things a strong content plan will help any business achieve:
Create brand awareness
This is an incredibly important goal, especially if your business is just starting out. Before you begin making sales, your customers need to learn about who you are. Brand awareness is often achieved on social channels, so part of your marketing strategy should focus on creating a detailed social media calendar, and content that will spark interest, foster engagement, and improve your brand’s visibility.
Drive traffic to your website
One of your business goals might be to drive traffic to your website, and compelling content can help you achieve this. In your content strategy, this might mean making a blog with regularly updated and well-written posts. Each post can be optimized with targeted keywords and other elements to help improve SEO, or search engine optimization, so that your blog posts appear first in Google searches for relevant topics.
Once your content strategy has proved effective in driving traffic to your website and social channels, the next goal you’ll want to achieve is converting leads into customers. At a brief glance, ways to do this are by including calls-to-action in your content, or nurturing the leads you have with regular content (such as a newsletter) that will convert them into regular clients. For example, a weekly newsletter is a great way to update your leads and keep them engaged with your business.
Types of content marketing
The term “content” casts a wide net over different types of media, networks and platforms. As new channels seemingly pop up overnight, it can be tricky to know which type of inbound marketing will attract customers to your brand. Here are some of the most common forms of content small businesses will turn to:
Social media posts
There are several social media networks out there that prove effective when online advertising, but that doesn’t mean your business needs to be on all of them. Consider where you can reach your target market most effectively, and select a few channels to post on regularly. Next, optimize your content based on the types of media your audience engages with most - such as images, videos, text, or interactive posts.
Blog posts can be used to provide extra value to your customers in the form of guides, information about your services, or to highlight how other clients used your product. Creating a blog will build your online presence, and on top of that - the more you post, the further you’ll cement yourself as an expert in your niche.
Videos - whether tutorial or promotional - provide an opportunity to speak directly to your customers. Revealing a more personal side of your business, video content has the potential to be highly engaging and shareable. You can use them to demonstrate how to use your product, introduce your staff, highlight case studies, or to create some clever advertising campaigns. If video content works for your strategy, consider starting a YouTube channel for your business.
Podcasts have exploded in popularity over the last few years, but of course there’s always a yearning for new voices. A podcast can cover a wide range of topics, so be sure to focus on one that will appeal to your audience, and further establish your own authority in your given industry.
An e-book is a detailed piece of written content, working as a multiple-page marketing asset for your business. Like blogs, e-books give extra value to your clients by providing them with useful information, helpful tips, guides, or insights into your business or industry.
Oftentimes, people don’t want to spend time reading a blog post or an e-book, but rather want information served to them quickly and in bite-sized portions. Infographics provide a great opportunity to summarize key takeaways from long-from or data-heavy written content into a concise visual representation that’s consequently more shareable.
In a case study, you can share a story of a previous client who benefited from your business or product. This type of content helps potential customers better understand your brand while also establishing trust. Case studies are pretty versatile, and can be produced in various formats such as blog posts, social media content, or videos.
Emails are not only a crucial part of digital marketing, they’re also a great way to show your content to the right customers. Email marketing is generally used to highlight the content you’ve been working on, update customers, increase awareness, and deliver regular content.
How to Create a Content Strategy
Let’s break down the process of creating a content strategy. Before you generate content, it’s helpful to go through these steps so that you don’t waste your precious resources with material that has no purpose or value.
Building a new content plan from scratch can seem daunting, but it’s worth it. That’s why we’re going to go through it one step at a time:
Determine your goals
Get to know your audience
Check out the competition
Choose your channels
Create a content calendar
Measure and adapt
01. Determine Your Goals
When starting your content strategy, you want each step to move you closer to your end goal. So, it stands to reason that your first plan of action should be to define SMART goals (goals that are “specific,” “measurable,” “attainable,” “relevant,” and “time-bound.”) Each piece of content should have a distinct purpose and shouldn’t be released just as filler or for the sake of it.
In addition to the goals we mentioned earlier (creating brand awareness, driving traffic, and converting leads) - you might have other business goals. Perhaps you want to attract new talent, improve customer service, or rebrand your company. Whatever the goal is, create a specific content strategy in order to achieve it.
It’s also important to keep a level of flexibility with your goals. Throughout the process of content marketing, you might find that your end goal changes. For example, if you’re just starting out then brand awareness might be your goal, but once that starts improving, you might begin aiming to get more leads. As your business shifts and grows, your relevant goals should continue to guide your decisions.
02. Get to know your audience
Once your goal is defined, the next step is to conduct detailed research. If you’re going to be producing content, you want to make sure that your intended audience will react to it.
Create questions about your audience that will help you find answers, such as:
Who am I trying to reach with my content?
What is this audience interested in?
Where does this audience go to find information?
What are their pain points?
Once you have answers to some of these questions, you can start developing a buyer persona. To do this, discover more detailed information about your intended clients, such as where they’re from, their job title, and what they value. If your business is already up and running, a good place to start is by looking at your website’s Google Analytics. There you will find information about your audience’s interests and demographics.
If you don’t have Google Analytics, then you can still conduct your research in other ways. Talk to people, send out surveys, and listen to what users are talking about on channels like Facebook or Twitter. Throughout your research, you might find that your target audience is different than what you initially thought, which is why this step is so important.
03. Check out the competition
Another key part of your research should be looking into what your competition is doing with their content. If your competition is ranking highly on search engines, look into their keywords and try and find out where their traffic is coming from. You can use SimilarWeb to gather data and analyze differences between your site and theirs.
Conduct further research on your competition by putting yourself in the shoes of one of their customers. Make a purchase, leave your contact details in a lead form, or even contact a member of their team to see what types of content you’re exposed to in the process. You can also do this by looking for their customer reviews and testimonials online.
While researching your competition, pay close attention to any gaps in available content that you may be able to fill. Perhaps your main competition is really strong at releasing high-quality blog posts, but doesn’t have a strong social media presence. Paying attention to their weaknesses, along with their strengths, can help determine which avenues present an opportunity for you as you begin your content strategy.
04. Choose your channels
In this step, narrow down the focus of your content so you have a better idea of what channels you want to use.
When starting out with a fresh content strategy, try not to overwhelm yourself or your team by asking them to be active on every single channel. Start by developing one or two channels that seem like promising outlets, ideally ones that work well together. For example, a blog can work well with a Facebook or Instagram page, since these are places where you can build an audience and share your content.
Your budget might also determine which channels you use to distribute your content. Video production typically costs a lot more than creating other types of content, like blogs or infographics. Start with more budget-friendly options until you’re able to scale up your efforts.
05. Create a content calendar
It’s time to put your strategy into action. When it comes to actually creating and distributing content, a lot of people will enthusiastically put out content they consider good quality, without considering whether it stays true to their strategy. This is where a content calendar comes in handy.
After choosing the channels you want to focus on, you should sit down - along with any members who have a stake in your business’s marketing efforts - to create a content calendar.
Creating an editorial calendar will help you plan out your content for important events, like holidays, product launches, or specific deadlines. It also helps you stay consistent with how and when you’re putting out content. Eventually, you’ll develop a rhythm that your audience will notice and they’ll begin to expect content from your business.
Developing an editorial calendar in advance is also a great way to plan out your resources and set tasks for your team. Especially if you have a small team, it can be overwhelming to ask them to create content and post on multiple channels every day. With a content calendar, you can manage expectations and also anticipate any additional resources or marketing tools that your team might need to complete a task.
06. Measure and Adapt
Once you think you’re done with your content strategy and it looks like your effort is paying off, it’s time to take a close look at web analytics to see how your content is really performing. You want to identify areas that can be improved, monitor your target audience, and decide if you need to reassess your goals.
There are a few different ways you can measure the effectiveness of your content strategy. Take a look at metrics like bounce rate, time on a page, and others to see how visitors are interacting with the content on your website. You can also check if your current demographic matches the buyer’s persona you initially created.
In addition to Google Analytics, platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram also have integrated analytics so you can see metrics like your reach and engagement levels. There’s no magic number to look for, but depending on your goals, you either want to see positive growth in your metrics or a steady pace.
Aside from only looking at numbers and metrics to determine the success of your content strategy, you should also speak to and listen to your customers. Pay attention to how they’re interacting with your content on social media, listening to the feedback they provide in the form of reviews, comments, or questions on your blog posts. Often, your customers will tell you exactly what they like and don’t like, and as a business, it’s in your best interest to pay attention.
By the Wix Team