Whether you’re publishing a blog post thanking people for attending an event, or seeking to draw in new customers through advertising and awareness campaigns, creating and managing a content strategy has never been more crucial to your success as an online business.
What is content strategy?
First, let’s look at what we mean by “content” as applies to your website. The content we’re talking about is more than just what’s on you About page, or your product listings – it’s everything that relates to your business online. Facebook profiles, wall posts (from you and others), email newsletters – even standard email footers. Your letterhead, your twitter profile, your Google Local Business listing – all of these places count as content, related to your business, online.
Looking at it that way, a content strategy involves making sure all of the places your information appears are up to date, that you know what you want them to say, and that new information is made available in a way that’s meaningful to your customers (either existing or potential).
With that in mind, let’s look at the easiest ways you can improve your content strategy, starting today.
Define who your content serves, and how it should be used.
Lots of businesses follow the “Ready, Fire, Aim” formula – if you’re going to say everything about your products eventually, why not just get started? We’ve found it’s much easier to focus on who’s reading, as part of making sure you’re reaching the best-qualified potential customers for your business.
Begin by identifying your target audiences. What does your ideal customer look like?
- If you’re a mechanic, chances are you don’t want to waste effort marketing to people who neither own, nor have access to vehicles.
- If you’re an insurance broker, you’re probably most interested in adults, and not children.
- Someone manufacturing cases for a particular phone model (such as the Apple iPhone) is unlikely to want to spend time producing content for people who don’t, or won’t own a phone your product works with.
Most of this seems drop-dead obvious, but it’s still important to review these audiences regularly, as changes in your offerings or business environment may change what you believe your best customers look like.
Next, figure out what your audiences need.
Before you can create any compelling content, it’s worth knowing what to create. There are many ways to get this information – customer response surveys, targeted searches and strong use of Google Alerts for example. Whichever means you use to gather information from your audience, consider this information fuel for developing new content.
For example; when you search for a product you sell, what kind of responses do you get? If you’re seeing requests for clarification about features, or questions about a specific part of the product, then you’re in luck – and you should consider answering those questions immediately as a way to start a conversation directly with those who are asking.
Figuring out not only where people are talking about you and your products, but what kinds of unanswered questions and natural gaps in the conversation exist, is a very important part of determining what you can do to provide your audience real benefit through content.
Now we’re ready to start creating content! But what kind?
Some information lends itself well to being written as a tweet. Some, to being formatted as a step-by-step guide on your blog. Others – such as complex tutorials or multimedia presentations – really benefit from video production.
- As a mechanic, finding out about recalls, and being the one to alert your customers could be a big deal. Or, your content could be as simple as making videos detailing how to diagnose common problems (which you can then fix).
- Insurance brokers could serve their clients – and reduce their extra work – by producing simple guides to their products, or (as with mechanics) alerting their clients to changes in brokerage regulations or laws that apply to them.
- Tech accessory manufacturers have a tougher time creating content – but if you happen to be set up to make custom accessories, or if your case does something fancy (like include port covers, or a kickstand), demonstrating these less-obvious features can increase interest.
It’s all about finding out what keeps your clients up at night, and being there for them at the point of need – whether your clients know that need in so many words or not.
Now we can decide which channels to approach.
If you’re never going to tweet, Twitter’s not going to help grow your business. The same can be said of Facebook, YouTube, or a blog.
Once you’ve got some example content laid out, you can begin assigning it to the appropriate channels –and begin backing it up with cross-channel promotion. If you’re posting a new blog entry, there’s no reason not to let your networks on Twitter, Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn know about it as well.
It’s also worth considering advertising at this point, as well. Depending on the weight and nature of the content you’re producing, and what it’s promoting (especially if it’s related to a new product or promotion), advertising can act as strategic content and lead to some big returns.
We have content, we know where it’s going… But how often should we share, and how much?
Now we’re getting into ground most marketers know well, the world of the Editorial Calendar. You don’t have to be advertising, tweeting, or blogging constantly to see the benefits of strong content marketing. In order to save effort and reduce confusion, it’s in your interest to create a schedule that fits your needs as a business.
Finally, what sort of user cues will you leave behind?
We’re talking about marketing here, so there should be a clear expectation – both on your behalf, and on that of your customers – that you’ll be encouraging them to do business with you at some point. It doesn’t always have to be a hard sell (there are only so many ways to say “please buy our things”), but it should be there.
Whether you’re leading someone back to your website for “more information” – asking them to share, follow, or subscribe – or directly encouraging them to make a purchase, make sure that your cues are clear, and fit the tone of your content. We try to do that at the end of each of our blog entries – which we’ve reached now.
Developing a strong content strategy can be a challenge – but it’s a valuable one. If you’d like more information about building a content marketing practice for your business, get in touch – we’re here to help.
Source: Hello BLOG