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This year, the Content Marketing Institute reported that only 38% of companies that invest in content have a documented content strategy (this figure isn’t far off for B2C companies at 36%).

Putting in place an effective content strategy is the first step to making content work for your marketing objectives. It should chart the research, planning and measurement that will go into producing content your audience will love, as well as acting as a practical tool that clarifies content production workflows and processes within your organisation.

As Content Strategist at Spindogs, it’s my job to help clients reach their audiences with high-quality content that engages people but ultimately increases leads. We do this by offering Content Strategy Training and bespoke Content Marketing Services.

Why it’s important to document your content strategy

62% of companies who’ve had the most successes at content marketing have a documented content strategy. Putting a strategy in place means you can maximise the opportunities to convert from content:

  • Content nails early stage prospects. Sending an email stuffed with valuable and relevant content that isn’t overtly promotional builds trust and brand awareness amongst your target audience, even if they aren’t ready to purchase yet
  • Content marketing can be cheaper than traditional marketing initiatives. Taking control of your owned media is cheaper than some traditional marketing methods, such as sponsorship or print advertising
  • Content maximises the worth of your loyal customers. Sharing content with your customers creates a culture of positivity, setting the perfect scene to upsell or cross-sell your products or services

What is content marketing?

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “…a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Companies winning at content marketing include:

  • Land Rover Stories travelogues documenting scenic landscapes
  • Dell Technologies’ Perspectives content hub combining thought leadership and podcasts on innovation and technology
  • General Motors About Us landing page which uses an interactive infographic to showcase its status as a world-leading vehicle brand
  • Lego, traditionally a toy company, branched out into content marketing with the release of its movie franchise

What is a content strategy?

There’s no set definition of what goes into a content strategy – that all depends on your marketing goals and business strategy. However, at a minimum, it should address the following key areas:

  • Content goals
  • Target audience
  • Content formats and ideation
  • Promoting content
  • Measuring success

1. Content goals

Identifying your content goals in the form of a strategy statement is an opportunity to align your content plans with your overall marketing goals, and clarify where they fit within your current digital marketing needs.

By taking the time to think about what you want to achieve with your content strategy and anticipating any challenges, you create a foundation that gets buy-in from all levels of stakeholders at your company or organisation.

Example goals:

  • Driving traffic to your website
  • Converting more leads on your website
  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Boosting SEO
  • Earning links

2. Target audience

To create valuable and relevant content that people love and engage with, it goes without saying that you need a clear picture of your target audience. To get the fullest representation of your audience groups, interviewing key customers will get the most valuable information.

Realistically, however, limits on time and resources mean that a full customer persona evaluation is not always possible. A cost and time-effective solution would be to gather a range of internal stakeholders, from customer-facing staff to senior managers, for a workshop and ask for their input on the challenges faced by different target audiences.

Codify how your product or service offering solves that problem, and use the session to capture key messages to send to these groups and capture different customer journey experiences.

3. Content format and ideas

Now you’ve gotten to know your audiences, the challenges they face and your value proposition, it’s time to consider the content formats and ideas that will present them with the most value. This will form the basis of your content planning.

In terms of content types, is your audience interested in expert analysis and thought leadership that will assist them day-to-day? Perhaps they would be best served with an expert guest post from a leading figure in your industry. Convince & Convert provides a comprehensive list of content types to inspire and engage your audience here.

4. Promoting content

Deciding on the optimum channels to reach your existing and prospect customer base is essential to drive results and opportunities for conversion.

“Free” owned media is publishing content on your website, email marketing campaigns, SEO and link-building. Content can be effectively promoted to maximise conversion opportunities across most paid digital marketing channels, such as PPC, paid social, PR, sponsored content and native advertising.

5. Measuring success

What sets a content strategy apart from a content plan is defining and agreeing on metrics for success. These will depend on your content goals and can include:

  • Increased email subscribers
  • More leads generated on the website
  • Goal completions e.g. newsletter sign-up, contact form, brochure download
  • Engagement rates across social channels
  • Improved SEO ranking

By tracking key metrics, get ready to report wins (and losses) to key stakeholders. Every bit of learning counts and will help inform future content planning.

6. Invest in content strategy training

I discuss each of these components and more at my Content Strategy Training at Spindogs HQ. Whether you need a content strategy refresh or guidance on building your strategy from scratch, then this session is for you.

How can we help?