The content strategy has proven to be quite effective to achieve business objectives related to the acquisition, retention, and loyalty of customers. In the following article, I share the steps to follow to create a content strategy for your business. This article is especially dedicated to small digital businesses, online stores, start-ups or offline businesses that want to start with digital marketing. Regardless of the size of your company or the resources you have for execution, the following steps will help you optimize your resources and get the best return on investment.
What is a content strategy
The content strategy refers to the planning, development and management of content. The content produced as part of the strategy should help your business to:
- Improve the positioning in search engines and the traffic to your website
- Improve the positioning of your brand
- Increase the number of potential customers
- Increase the level of loyalty of your current customers
To achieve success with your content strategy, you should pay attention to plan engaging content, promote it and meet the expectations of your target audience. Before starting with the content strategy, you should take into account the following:
- The content strategy requires creating content designed especially for your audience, about their specific needs or current situation.
- The main channels for promoting your content are SEO and social networks. SEO will help you with the general positioning on the web, while social networks will help you create your virtual community.
- You will need the implementation of a good lead tracking system to generate sales. The content on your platform will bring you leads/prospects as results. The implementation of a CRM system or a method of tracking and segmentation of your contacts is essential.
Steps to follow to create a content strategy
Once we have reviewed the basic concepts of the content strategy, it is time to create your own strategy. There are multiple tactics to follow to create such a strategy. At the same time, some marketers focus on tactics where the CTAs (Call To Action) are the hero; others prefer to focus on the personas or the audiences of your product.
The steps below illustrate how to create a content strategy for your business. The steps are described to optimize your time. In the end, while being owners of a business, time and resources are limited, especially when it comes to finding a balance between planning, executing and analyzing the effectiveness of your ideas.
1) Define the objectives of content marketing and its role in your company
Before starting your content strategy you should have clear your objectives, what you want to achieve and what are the optimal results you would like to get with it. As mentioned earlier, the main objectives of content marketing should focus on:
- Increase brand recognition
- Increase traffic to your webpage or virtual store
- General enquiries and quotes for your product(s)
- Increase sales
In this step, it is important to be clear about what results from content marketing you expect and what are indicators to take into account to measure your success. If we think about the business, indicators such as several shares, likes, followers in social networks are valuable as long as these followers generate sales and growth. For example, having 1,000 online followers with only 10 of them generating sales per month is not as valuable as having 200 followers, with 30 generating monthly sales.
Focus on the quality of your followers and readers of your content. Remember that the content should attract those who are more likely to become your customers. Once customers, the content should help you offer value to your audience and generate recurring sales.
2) Profile and segment your audience
Once you have defined the objectives you want to achieve with the content, you should now think about the characteristics of your ideal client. Who is this customer, what does he/she do, what places does he/she frequent, what is his/her work routine (or study), what are his/her interests, how does he/she use your product or service, etc.?
Social networks can help you with this purpose. You can think of them as a tool to answer questions such as:
- What types of content are most valuable to my audience?
- Which themes are more shared in social networks?
- What social channel is the most used by my audience?
- Through what channels could I promote my content to reach my audience easier?
- Which marketing channels would be most effective to reach my audience?
Content marketing has a high potential to help you generate sales; however, for this, you must determine your “personas” and get to know their behaviour very well. The creation of “personas” implies complementing your description of the ideal client with the mental and emotional characteristics of the individual who is your target. Your ultimate goal will be to have a real image, from different perspectives, about the person to whom you want to sell your product.
3) Define the “customer funnel.”
The “customer funnel” defines the stages that your customers follow from the moment they know details of your company until the moment they acquire a product or service. The importance of defining this for your content strategy lies in knowing the different topics needed to convince
A potential client is ready to buy your product on infrequent occasions during the first visit to your page. In general, there are doubts about the need for the product, how to use it, its characteristics, its comparison with similar offers, etc. Your goal will be to:
- Define the steps that your prospect undergoes before buying the product
- Define what type of content your prospect needs to know in each of these steps of the customer funnel
- Define the channels through which your prospect looks for information in each of the stages of the funnel
- Define what information, offer, query, etc., help your prospect overcome each stage in the “customer funnel” and be closer to the purchase.
4) Decide the type of content that you would like to produce
Content marketing offers multiple types of content that you can produce for your business. Each type of content varies depending on the objective you have and the resources assigned to the production. Below you will find some types of content classified by objectives. Of course, the classification below is not rigid, and there
- To acquire new prospects, web traffic and/or increase brand awareness
- Videos tutorials
- News and trending topics
- Content in cooperation with experts
- Guest blogging o publications in important media for your target audience
- Ads on social media
- Collaborations with famous bloggers who write to similar audiences than yours.
- To increase subscriptions, enquiries of your product or persuade prospective customers.
- Special offers
- Explanatory videos about the functions offered by the product
- Useful tools
- Successful stories or testimonials
- Templates, checklists
- To close sales
- Product demonstrations
- To increase returning customers and loyalty
- Contests and competitions
Your job at this stage is to review your budget, available resources, objectives and select the types of content that best fit your strategy. Of course, in the future, you can expand your strategy and reach more audience.
5) Create your content calendar
The goal of creating your content calendar is to organize and designate responsibilities. The content calendar should help you answer the following questions:
- How often do you post content?
- What types of content are published in the week?
- What pieces of content are published and when?
- Who is responsible for creating the pieces of content?
- Who is responsible for the promotion of the content?
- What is the objective of each piece of content, and how to measure it?
There are different ways to organize the calendar. Most marketers prefer to use simple options such as
Regardless of which method you use (colour codes, project management techniques or applications for content management), focus on organizing your content, your team and your time in an optimal way.
6) Promote your content
The general rule to promote your content is to distribute it in all your marketing channels. To understand the distribution of content simply, I am going to group these channels into 4 clusters:
- SEO: this refers to when a person searches for content on the web (via google, bing, Yandex, etc.), and your page gets suggested in the search results, hence getting more traffic and web recognition. Optimizing your SEO requires knowing your audience and the words they use when searching for services like yours. SEO is a gigantic world in digital marketing, therefore at the beginning of your digital content strategy, do not get obsessed with it; it is much better to learn about it slowly or seek expert help. This first stage is enough to use keywords in your content that attract users and allow you to position yourself. Think about what words are essential for your business and try to incorporate them into your content.
- Social networks: once the content is published, share it in your groups and social channels. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram are means to use to suggest your publication to your followers. In this way, you generate more engagement with your brand, and more people consume your content.
- Newsletters: offer your audience the opportunity to subscribe to news about your business or more content delivered fresh via email. Once you have these subscribers, keep the constant communication through newsletters and promotions. Keep in mind asking for the consent of your subscribers before sending them content. In the digital era is highly important to respect the privacy of your fans and subscribers.
- External channels: remember to share your content in external social groups that are relevant to your audience. In the same way, you can try the guest blogging technique or suggest a recommendation of your content on platforms visited by your audience. Finally, the promotion through influential people is usually quite effective; just take your time to choose the type of influencer that best fits your business and objectives.
The promotion in marketing channels can be free or paid. Depending on your budget, you can incorporate in your content calendar additional notes to specify the type of investment you wish to make to boost a particular article. To start and gain some experience, you can start the paid promotion via Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads or Instagram. These options offer good targeting options and easy optimization tools to bring good results with lower efforts.
Do not focus only on producing good content. Use your content as a presentation card to reach more people interested in your product.
7) Measure results and improve your strategy
To measure the results achieved with your strategy, even with each piece of content published, it is essential to determine points of improvement and optimization towards the return on investment.
The easiest way to do this is to return to step 1 and review the objectives we have with the content strategy. Taking into account that the final objective should be focused on the generation of sales, the most suitable indicators would be:
- Number of contacts acquired
- Number of potential customers (warm leads)
- Number of successful sales
Now, with the aim of understanding the level of engagement of your customers and prospects with the content that you produce and its efficiency when generating new contacts, we can also measure:
- Traffic from search engines
- Mentions in social networks and in general on the web
- Impact on marketing channels: likes, shares, traffic to specific articles.
The important part is to focus on the results that lead to the business’s sustainability and growth, and not superficial metrics that can be confusing and misleading. Never focus on improvements of indicators of minor importance at the expense of time and resources for the real growth and sales of your business.
Once we have reviewed the steps to create your content strategy, it’s time to get down to work and start working on it. During the following