We’ve probably all heard it said that “content is king”, but what does that mean for your business? You might think it sounds like a great strategy for huge corporations and large companies with marketing departments, but content creation can be beneficial for ALL businesses and no matter how big or small you are, having a solid content plan can make or break your digital marketing. So before we jump into how to make your own content strategy, I wanted to share some definitions of what a content strategy IS (these definitions were found on this blog post from Distilled)
I had to read this one two or three times, but once it sunk in, I love the comparison to “traditional” marketing and the focus on the buyer journey:
“A content strategy flips the tables on traditional, linear marketing by defining the process and then securing the right resources for producing a consistent stream of content mapped to buyer needs across all phases of the buying cycle.” ~ Michael Brenner, SAP
The second definition is pretty much a summary of the other two but I like the simplicity of it and the emphasis on tying content to your objectives.
“A content strategy is a high-level vision that guides future content development to deliver against a specific business objective” – Hannah Smith, Distilled
So in short, a content strategy is simply a plan to use content to help you achieve the goals you have for your business. It’s a way for you to engage your customers and lead them to the next level of the customer journey.
And because I am a sucker for cold hard statistics, here are some stats that prove that content marketing works.
- Pit content marketing against paid search and content marketing gets three times the leads per dollar spent.
- Content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less.
- Small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth than small businesses without.
- Websites with blog content end up with 434% more search engine-indexed pages than other business sites that don’t publish content.
Stats from the Content Marketing Institute
So whether you’re goals are leads, SEO rankings or awareness, content marketing is one of the best avenues to get you there!
How to Create a Content Strategy
1. Write down your goals.
What objectives are you trying to achieve through your content plan? Some examples: Increase Christmas Sales by 50%, Grow E-mail list by 500 subscribers, Build awareness through social media audience growth. This can be any tangible thing you can write down that you can measure, you will likely have more than one and different goals for different parts of your customer journey. If you’re trying to build awareness, the content will be different than if you’re trying to convert your warm leads.
2. Map out your customer journey.
Map out your typical customer journey, from a cold lead to loyal customer. What similarities are there? How do most people find you initially? And what takes them from one place to another. This is also a good place to look for opportunities you might be missing. Maybe a new audience demographic will open up or you’ll see a trend you hadn’t noticed before. Consult your Google and social media analytics to get a full picture for this step. I do encourage you to physically map this process out so you can visualize it and see how your content could help the different stages.
3. Determine what type of content will work best for you.
Now that your customer journey is written out, you need to decide what kind of content you feel comfortable creating and what kind of content will serve your audience best. It could be YouTube video tutorials, blog posts, Facebook Live Feeds, E-mail opt-ins, basically anything you can create that will give your audience VALUE. And usually, there will be more than one type of content here. For example, you might want to be increasing your email list so you will create a free opt-in to get email addresses, but part of this strategy would also be blog posts related to your opt-in that drive people to it.
4. Write down your potential customer’s pain points.
What are the pain points of your average lead or customer? What problem does your business solve for them? Don’t assume you know the answers to this, if you can, try and schedule some interviews with clients to get their opinions. Dig deep and try and get to the root of their needs.
5. Write down your customers top 10 FAQs.
What are the top 10 questions you hear from people before they buy from you? Write these down, and if you have more than 10 write down as many as you have! This is an invaluable place to go for content ideas. This list combined with the pain points will become the basis of your content plan.
6. Attach your content with your goals.
At this point you’ve decided what kind of content will serve your customers, so now it’s time to look back at your goals and figure out how the content can support them. For example, if you are trying to raise awareness about your business, content focused on those basic pain points will be excellent for catching the eye of a lead. The next step would be warming up that lead with some of the FAQs to help guide them to the next step in your funnel.
7. Write out a content calendar.
We all know the best way to get something done is to give it a deadline! Make a calendar for your content. Create your content as often as you possibly can without over-extending yourself of burning out. I recommend at least once a week, more if you can manage it. Plot out the next couple months of content and do what you can to make sure you stick to these deadlines.
8. Figure out the promotion.
How will you get your content out there? You’ve worked hard to create amazing content for your audience, make sure people see it! This is where social media, email lists and advertising will help greatly. Build your social media strategy around your content plan and be sure you are creating graphics and social media friendly ways to promote each piece of content you do.
9. Stay consistent.
This content strategy will only work if you stick with it. Use scheduling platforms, outsource tasks you don’t need to do (i.e. podcast editing, graphics creation, etc) and put content creation time into your calendar so you are sure you have the time you need.
Good things take time, results won’t be immediate (although they could be!) but it’s just like a snowball, the more you do it the bigger and heavier the results will be!
Example of a Content Strategy
Goal: Grow email list by 25% (300 emails) by December 31st.
Content plan: We will create a free checklist guide and a free mini-course that will be available to those who give us their email address. We will write a 6 email follow-up sequence that will be automated to go out after the person signs up. We will also create blog posts related to the checklist and the mini-course that we can use to drive more traffic to these opt-ins. Each week we will go live on Instagram to promote that week’s blog post.
Promotion: We will create graphics for each opt-in for Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to include titles and quotes from the blog posts. The opt-in and the checklist will be promoted once a week on all platforms, blog posts will be promoted twice. We will spend $150 a month pushing content out to targeted audiences through social media advertising.
Take this info and put it into a calendar!