In one of our last articles, we talked about what a content marketing strategy is and why you should spend time creating one. Now, we’re going to talk about how to create a content strategy by reviewing your data and better understanding your target market.
Understand Your Audience
Every good strategy considers the full landscape of your business. We have to first know who we’re talking to, what they want and how we help solve their problems. To really walk in someone else’s shoes, we like to go through a customer journey mapping exercise, which includes target market research, so we can really start to think like our perfect customer.
In our research, we want to develop a persona not only looking at their known demographics, but understanding how they make decisions, what tools they use to form those decisions and what challenge we ultimately help them solve. Through this we can better understand what messages to use and where best to deploy them.
Create Content Pillars
As you align messaging with the customer’s journey, you’ll notice primary themes in questions, resources needed and key information that helps someone make a decision. These are your content pillars and they should be treated as lead generators like downloads, blogs, landing pages and webinars.
From there, break your content pillars into small subtopics and activate those as tips, tricks, case studies and all of the things you do to fill your social feed. This is how you build engagement, increase SEO and deliver results.
Detail Your Distribution
Now it’s time to activate all of the data you’ve gathered about your customer and their decision making process and blend it with our content marketing plan and get your expertise out there!
Start to look at each channel and how you would use them as “awareness builders” or “engagement drivers.” You always need to drive awareness, but you should focus more attention on those that engage because they’re more likely to be clients one day – or at least great referrals.
And don’t just limit yourself to known digital channels – consider networking, community engagement and other activities where you or your brand is known. How might these help influence decisions?
Once you’ve identified how you should use your channels, mash that in with all the previous information and you’ve got yourself a solid content marketing plan.
Set Key Performance Indicators
The strategy is not complete until you know how you’ll measure its effectiveness. Start by creating a SMART goal for a set of campaigns that align with the company’s sales goals.
Using historical data you might have, or pulling industry benchmarks, start outlining what kind of engagement you want to see from each channel to know whether it’s successful. Track posts with UTM codes to help identify channels and content type that drives the most engagement to your content pillar. Implement a CRM likeHubspot to help you identify the full user journey.
Know that in the beginning, it’s almost like taking an educated guess at what you should want to achieve. That’s the beauty about benchmarks – when you exceed them, you can create stronger ones.
Let Your Content Loose
Our plan is in place, we have the content ready to roll – it’s time to get your content out there. The great thing is now that we’ve got this engine rolling, we can start focusing on our next batch of content. Once you’ve got a few pillars in motion, you’ll find that your social media and marketing calendar becomes full. This now frees you up to focus on day-to-day happenings for social media flavor – or a big hairy initiative that always seems to fall to the back of your desk.
Set milestone checkpoints so you can ensure that your creative team (in-house or out-of-house) can also review the data with you. One of our favorite things is bringing creatives in the fold with progress – when you bring all the brains together, you can create magic.
This was probably a bit more than you expected – this outline is not your “10 easy steps” to content marketing, but as you can see, if you truly want to make content work for you, you do need to be strategic about it.
What we typically find at Bondfire Strategy is that businesses are great at understanding their customer, generating ideas and implementing the plan – but they tend to miss the middle piece of mapping out this puzzle and making it work for them. This is usually because there are so many day-to-day tasks that it can be difficult to find the thinking time needed to really fit in the planning.
All this to say, if you find yourself in the same boat, give us a call. We love to help teams get unstuck and looking toward the future.