How to create a Content Strategy
90% of the data on the internet was created from 2016. With bloggers, businesses and publishers all creating content at exponential rates, is content marketing still a viable method for marketers to be using?
According to this infographic, 80% of B2C marketers can demonstrate with metrics how content marketing has increased their audience engagement.
Why do you need a content strategy?
Recent research from the Content Marketing Institute has shown that only 37% of businesses have a content strategy. Of those businesses studied, those that were considered the most successful, the percentage with a documented content strategy increased to 62%. Furthermore, 89% of those successful businesses also considered themselves “extremely” or “very” committed to content marketing.
With 89% of the B2B researchers looking online for information, it makes sense for your business to be online too.
So, we know content marketing is important – but why do we need a strategy? Well, 68% of marketers attributed strategy as the reason behind their content marketing success (Second only to increase in content quality which was voted for by 83% of marketers).
2018 needs to be the year that we fix this. I’ve created a fairly simple overview on how to create a content strategy below. Dedicate some quiet time to sit down and plan your content strategy.
Once you have the basics of your strategy (steps 1-3) pitch the plan to a senior stakeholder and ask for their backing. Agree on budgets, timelines, schedules and goals for the content marketing and make sure your stakeholder is both happy with your plan, and willing to stand up for your plan.
Without securing stakeholder sign off, you run the risk of putting a lot of time and effort into developing content which will never see the light of day.
Step 1: Research
Who are you targeting? What kind of content do they enjoy – video, blog, e-book? When are they online?
Find out as much information about your audience as possible, this will help you to develop the base of your content strategy.
If you are targeting people who are online Monday to Friday 8am – 6pm then you know there is no point in publishing content over the weekend. If your audience are podcast fans, then developing a series of e-books would not be the right move for your business.
If you don’t have this information, and don’t have the time or funds for marketing research, then benchmark your data. Compare the engagement/views of each content type by content topic and find out which types and topics resonate with your chosen audience best.
You can also use this research to generate stakeholder buy-in.
Step 2: Develop Templates
Please don’t take this to mean that all of your content should be identical in format. What it means is that by developing basic formulas, you are less likely to suffer from the dreaded writer’s block – as you will have content prompts in the form of your templates.
Develop a template for each type of content you intend to create. For example, if you were creating a listicle (similar to this post) you could create a template like this:
- Introduce the topic and core issue your content aims to solve.
- List each item with brief description. Some may have links or images.
- Conclude article with a summarisation of your list, and either ask for comments or show where more information on the subject can be found.
As you can see the above template is very short, however it lays out the steps you should take in creating a listicle type blog. You could include additional information such as image sizes, or boilerplate text that your brand wants displayed on each article.
Step 3: Processes in Place
Agreeing the content creation processes with a senior stakeholder will save time in the long run.
You should have a set process in place for proof-reading, link checking, image selection, and most importantly – sign off/authority to publish.
If there is no set process in place, then it is more likely that a step may get missed. If you have different sign offs for different content topics or types, then ensure this is documented and there is a process in place to deal with absences.
Step 4: Create your Content
This is the point where you can finally start getting creative. Create posts, articles, blogs, and ensure they are saved regularly and stored in a safe location.
Using your earlier research and your processes, develop a content schedule. Perhaps you will write 4 blog posts a week, and the sign off and quality control takes two weeks. Maybe you want to post every Tuesday and Thursday at 10am. Maybe you think it would be better to post at 9am Monday and 3pm Thursday.
Be consistent, and ensure you always have a stock-pile of content for those times when sign off takes longer than expected, or to account for holidays and absences.
Step 5: Review and Revise
One of my favourite aspects of digital marketing is the sheer volume of data it provides us. Therefore there is no reason for you to not be able to tell how your content is performing.
Review what works, and what doesn’t – and revise your content strategy accordingly.
You should have a goal in mind when developing your content, are you trying to a build an audience? Drive brand awareness? Get visits to your website or generate form completions? Whatever goal you are aiming for, set yourself a SMART target relating to this goal and revise it monthly. At the end of the year review and mark down any trends. Maybe August is a slow month for you, but April was stellar.
Use this knowledge to constantly improve.
This is by no means the only way for you to create a content strategy. You can add or remove steps as you feel necessary.
I would recommend that even if you are a marketing team of one, you find someone who is happy to proof read your content for you. I find it impossible to proof my own content, as my brain knows what I meant and so skips over any mistakes. Make sure you know how often they are happy to proof for you, and what the timeline for proofing will be. Work this into your publishing timeline, so that you aren’t chasing them to meet your deadlines.