Does your business have a content strategy yet?
If it doesn’t, you are losing out on a wonderful opportunity to improve brand awareness, reputation and authority. It is important not to confuse content strategy with content marketing although both are connected.
While content marketing is the process of placing quality content in front of your target audience to build deeper relationships, content strategy is a ‘mindset’ that according to Kristina Halvorson, the founder of Brain Traffic includes “planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content”.
Without a content strategy in place, there is very little chance your content marketing efforts will succeed. Your content strategy helps your business create a framework wherein your business and the needs of its customers are constantly evaluated to improve content production and the content processes that help produce this content.
The whole idea behind drawing up a content strategy is to ensure that the content is able to drive your brand‘s engagement with its target audience and takes your brand interaction to the next level.
Content Strategy and Your Brand
84 percent of marketers who aren’t finding success with their content marketing efforts say they do not have a documented content strategy in place.
Learning – Content strategy is of critical importance to brands if they are serious about their content marketing efforts.
Think about content strategy as something that helps you maximize the potential of your content. There are businesses/marketers, who think just writing content (high quality content) will help you rank in search engines, enhance the reputation of your business and help people identify your brand.
They are wrong.
You need a content strategy in place to leverage the immense potential of this content. A well-defined content strategy gives your content a sense of purpose and its own personality and identity. You must know who your target audience is and the kind of content they are looking for. A strategy is also needed to ensure your content is aligned with your business, its products and services and still caters to the needs of your target audience.
Content strategy also determines your writing style, choice of content format and how you will market this content to ensure your audience finds it when they are looking for it.
Not Just Content Strategy but an Effective Content Strategy
A content strategy is as good as its comprehensiveness. The components of an effective content strategy include the following:
- Defining the Objectives
What are your objectives with respect to your content? Are you using it to build your brand’s niche authority or as a means of boosting your search engine rankings or something else? Also, what is the content format you want to use; will it be videos, blog content, online magazines, tutorials or pod casts amongst other formats?
You need to pick a format that your target audience can easily access and consume.
- Defining Content Creators
Who will create the content? Will you have an in-house content writing team or outsource your requirements. If you do choose to outsource content creation, you will need to ensure you zero in on the right writer/team of writers.
- Who is your audience?
Identify your audience, but don’t just identify the audience, you also need to understand them and what they expect from your content. You must also make sure your audience doesn’t receive content that overlaps with your existing marketing communication.
- Distribution Strategy
How are you going to bring your content in front of your customers?
There are plenty of channels you can choose from, but more often than not, it is the content format that determines the channel you use. Explore the various channels available; make sure you know the strengths and costs of each and also ensure that your customers are active users of these channels. This will help you make an informed decision with respect to the content channel you choose and guarantee you make the most of it.
- Identify Content Performance Metrics
How do you know your content strategy is working or not? This is where content metrics enter the equation. You need to zero in on the performance metrics of your content that will allow you to measure your success or failure. You must know whether your content is helping satisfy the needs of your customers and if you’ll need to refine your strategy.
At the end of the day you also need to take strategic inputs from every important stakeholder in your business to come up with a content strategy that delivers on your expectations.
Benefits to your Brand
- Brand Reputation
Your customers are looking for high quality content. The kind of content that is useful, relevant and actionable. They want information that helps solve a problem and if your brand can provide a solution that enables them to take informed decisions, they’ll become loyal followers of your content. What you are also doing is using content as a means to trigger personal interactions with your brand. If they’ve come across a content piece they like and feel strongly about, they’ll comment on it, which can give rise to interesting discussions on your comment feed.
Your content acts as a bridge between your brand and its customers. Your brand comes to be identified with its content and if you consistently produce and publish content that adds value to the lives of your customers, it will be reflected in the enhanced reputation of your brand. Your content will be the ‘go-to content’ for a target audience looking for specific information.
- Taming Search Engines
Google’s incessant efforts in improving search quality for users have meant it is not business as usual for webmasters and SEOs. They cannot get away with everything that they could get away with, a few years ago. Quality is the name of the game now.
Gone are the days when they could just fill up content with keywords and build links from just about any source and get away with it. What’s more, there was every chance their website would be rewarded with high rankings on SERPs.
Things have changed.
The focus is now on quality and earning natural links from authority online sources. And the one thing that helps make this possible is great content. The more high quality content you publish, the more backlinks you can attract from reputed websites/blogs. And this results in higher search engine rankings, which in turn means more website traffic thus improving your website’s chances of conversions.
And all this because of content!
- Content for an Active Social Media Presence
Social media marketing is the buzz word these days and why not. Just about every brand is using social media to boost its branding efforts and it is shareworthy content that lies at the very root of every successful social media campaign. When readers like your content, they want to share it with the people they know so that even their friends and family can benefit from this content. This means your content is shared, re-shared and then shared some more. Your content represents your brand, which means it’s not your content but your brand that is essentially going viral.
It’s all about compelling content
Your content strategy will go nowhere if you don’t have a sub-strategy to create compelling content in place. Compelling content is the kind that readers love going through. It’s not about creative excellence but about content excellence.
You need a certain kind of mindset to produce such content. You need to say to yourself that you want to be the leading provider of niche related information to your target customers. If you aim to play a leadership role as an information provider, you will make the necessary effort to satisfy the needs of your customers.
Think of your content like a product and judge its usefulness. It needs to be high up on the utility scale if you want it to succeed. For this to happen, you’ll need to understand the kind of information your customers are searching for. You need to listen to the conversations happening around your domain (social media networks are great listening posts) and create content that revolves around these conversations.
To create compelling content you must be in sync with what your customers want. So make sure you know everything about them.
Tips to Keep in Mind While Implementing a Content Strategy
When you work out a content strategy for your brand, the next step is to implement it. But before you do, you need to keep a few tips in mind:
- Content strategy requires different sections of your business to work as a team. Whether it’s your web design team, copywriting team, web development team, the public relations team or your marketing team – every single one of them should work together to make a decisive impact.
- Understand that you are in it for the long haul and immediate results might not be forthcoming.
- Make sure your writing matches the understanding of your target audience. The literacy levels of different people that belong to the same target audience group are different. So choose a writing style that can address the least common denominator in your audience. Writing not only includes the way you write but also the ideas you come up with and the research you do.
- Make sure you stick to your strategy and not veer away from it during implementation. Otherwise it makes your job more difficult.
- Your style must be your own. The tone and voice you adopt to make your point must reflect your brand personality. Do not ape somebody else’s writing tone or style. Create one of your own and work towards refining it every step of the way.
- Mix up your formats but make sure you focus on your strengths. If you do not have the expertise to come up with some solid video content, don’t. On the other hand, if your forte is topical white papers make sure you get one out on a regular basis. The idea is to not make any half-baked efforts with respect to the content you publish. Your customers are looking for the best information available and which makes good use of its content format; you need to be able to deliver the goods all the time. So don’t take chances.
Content strategy and your branding efforts need to keep pace with each other. In fact, for many brands it is content that is acting as the main fuel of their marketing efforts. It is a purely content driven marketing strategy and more often than not it is delivering the results they are looking for. Content helps your brand come out looking like an expert and somebody who has the ability to deliver on the expectations of its customers. This in a nutshell is why content strategy needs to be a part of your branding efforts.