Content marketing has evolved to become an essential part of marketing, to the point where without a strategy, businesses would find themselves struggling to be seen on the internet. The majority of businesses do not have a dedicated team of content marketers and are without a mapped out strategy to work on.
There are some businesses that think that such a strategy is not required at all and there are other more experienced marketers that don’t have a documented strategy in place. There is no doubt, that without a strategy in place it is very easy to lose track and have no direction to which the marketing is heading.
In this article, I am going through the process of setting up a content strategy from scratch and thought it would be great to share what I am doing. I have summarized below some of the key areas and I hope the reference would be handy for your business.
What do we understand by the term “document”?
As far as my knowledge goes there is no standard template for this. It differs from one individual to another. So what can be right for you may not work for others. But I would like to stress that documentation should be something more than just a mission statement.
Big picture strategy slogans are great but to basically make it happen is not an easy task. You need to have a lot of detail. The team working should know where to look for information and who should go for it when they want something.
Definitely, if there is no proper documentation in place, then obviously they will look for you to get information and you have to go on answering the question. Now that is not a good job to do.
A little bit of effort to put things together would really work. Some documents might already exist in some form or it is unstructured. For which some effort would work and collecting useful documents in addition to a goal-oriented series of targets will assist you to keep things moving in the right direction. The team will express gratefulness for it especially those who are new to this field.
Let us have a look at four key areas which we have to think about(goals, tactics, people, processes) and the others that are slackly filed under productivity ( assets, tools, and tech. The whole process of business and its success depends upon or revolves around a goal. So let me start my journey from here.
There is a content marketing team that lends hand to achieving business goals. There may be some important and others not so serious. Goals can be categorized as strategic or tactical, In addition, it can also be based on task completion.
As far as possible goals should be written down and best perceptible across the team. Since you will be working with others performance data should be visible too. This is mainly because transparency brings results that are very positive.
There should always be a feedback process to gauge what is working and what is not working. There is no way you can perform efficiently without analyzing and also the chances of not maximizing diminish. In a way, it has a bearing on the return on investment.
As far as goals are concerned there are three main things to figure out.
You can make use of tools to set, allot and watch goals or get something together in Google Docs and share it with others who will need it.
When the goals and targets are clearly defined you can take some checks to see the metrics as to how you have forward. You can set up your analytics reports and watch the performance as you go up the ladder.
Mission statement- This is like an elevator platform and you can just do it into one single sentence. The clarity should come out in few words to answer queries like “What is the need of investing in content marketing?”
Once the goals are defined, you can now decide upon how to achieve the goals defined. This is where tactics play a role. Some key aspects in tactics include research, content mapping, personas, formats, user journeys, funnel, distribution, and SEO.
Tactics should revolve around and not based on opinion. So definitely there is a need for research. Make use of many sources of data and facts you can create to develop a picture of the segment according to your defined target audience.
Try to make out what your audience wants, what makes them go crazy, how and what they respond to. What competitors are they talking about and who they consider as friends and many more this kind of information should be researched to better understand.
It is good to know what are the activities of our competitors but nothing to be obsessed about them as everyone has a different game plan to succeed.
It is important to have knowledge of who is your present customers before discovering similar people. How do the customers perceive your brand? What will work for the customers?
Personas and user journeys
Have some collection of personas, user stories; the journeys of customers and ensures that everybody is conscious of the track you want visitors to take.
This is purely based on the audience’s need and queries than the technical SEO basics such as making your site quick enough. The search results indicate customer objectives and it is your task to develop the kind of content that ranks well for target phrases.
Keyword research works well only when it is truly strategic with content mapped to specific business goals. You content only stands out only after you have defined and prioritized your wishlist of keyword, otherwise, you are getting it wrong. Using keyword planner in an effective way is sure to bear results.
The customers who are now yours definitely went through the process. Try to figure out the journeys through the funnel. Get an analysis done on what is working and how your content can play its part in each stage.
Good news! Now you have mapped content throughout the tunnel. But how would you deal with someone who has now become a customer? If you want to be in business then obviously go for increased customer retention and customer advocacy. Thus your content will go a long way in assisting the basic business goals.
After having completed your homework begin the process of thinking about the actual content. This process of thinking will shape your content what you want to create and the formats you can utilize. But a lot will depend on your team, your budget and your platforms.
To get the best out of channels it is important to have a distribution channel strategy. There is no use in making a video when you haven’t given a thought to YouTube. How will people discover your article? What are your social strategies? Are you planning to go for any paid distribution? Try to find a way out how to get the best out of your main channels and you can earn a lot from your piece of content.
In all probability, the devs have to be informed about your preferred search setup. Surely you would agree. The time you put together it will be much easier to direct your hard work and alter track if needed. The bottom line is that the quality of content created will decide on the success factor. Here you can provide documented guidance and share internal and external information and make it effortlessly accessible across teams.
You may have a good idea of everyone and what they matter to you? But what about the rest of the team. You have to keep in mind the various people who will benefit from your success and not forget those who took the risk when you started your journey.
There are so many stakeholders and not just the boos. All has to be effective and bring forth results to sustain success. So how can content marketing support? What are your promises? Make the business case study available to the team so they also know what is expected of them. You would be better if you share presentations and team goals.
Who are the members of the dream team? Who is your leader? What is the matter everyone is focusing on? How well everyone communicates? That should as simple as sharing a simple organogram and a bunch of invitations to Slack.
It may be a case where you have taken the service of a PR agency that should be made aware of the major content campaigns on the anvil. There may be a situation where you have four freelance writers who don’t work sitting in your office but makes some kickass videos from his home. What about these people work together with others and where can their contact details be found if somebody needs something.
Influencers-It is very important to know who are the people who want to get friendly with you. These leaders can help you in a big way. What can be done to attract their attention? The best way to store influencers is to do it in a spreadsheet; other people’s Twitter Lists can work golden for you.
This is the point where action starts. What activities to be done before and after publication? What has to be done to get a piece of content over the line?
Where do we keep our Ideas? How frequently do we get together? What are the tools we are using? What is the method of deciding what kind of content to generate? Whiteboard sessions and mindmaps have a role to play.
How do we work as a team and as team members? How should we coordinate with other teams? What’s the way out for submitting work?. There are different tools and it is better not to settle with one goal-oriented platform. There are a plethora of tools and people use them according to their convenience and so some kind of protocol should be followed.
What is all about metadata? What is the common vocabulary for labels, tags, and categorization? What should I write Ecommerce or ecommerce or e-commerce? How does the tech work to support this kind of thing? In case you have some rules laid down, then it is your duty to police them.
What has to be done before publication? Or sign off? What are the boxes which need to be ticked?
Is there a sign off process? Who has the final word? Is there a real need to run everything beyond the PR agency? Who gets the publishing rights? Who has permission to edit?
Assets, tech, and tools are very vital and have to be used, referenced, and updated during the production phase. This stuff must be placed between the three key areas and the goals.
They are like brand guidelines that should cover all the aspects you need to know before publishing the event the smallest status update. Authors must have a knowledge of your brand in detail before they represent it.
You will be tailored to meet success if you take the trouble of developing a schedule, it can be that of a shared calendar or loose or a plan based on a spreadsheet. Insert some dates in the diary and get some targets to achieve and observe for the things on the brink of falling off the radar.
This indicates how the tech team can help enhance efficiency and performance. For instance, if you are blogging what are your CMS needs? What way the editing interface be enhanced? What way bugs can be reported?
Platforms and technology can be optimized which is where the UX comes into play. Content stays at the heart of UX but there are certain factors that are beyond the control of the content team. UX also encompasses persuasion which is like an art form among switched-on content marketers. Thus we have at our possession Tools which basically position between people and process and should assist you to get things done.
Just put a little bit of thought if you are part of an existing team and don’t have the perfect documentation in place. Where to be on the lookout for that style guide? Exactly what type of person am I writing for and what is the reason? Who should sign this off? Surely these are the kind of questions no right-minded team leader wants to answer on a regular basis.
Are you tempting to jump into content creation but in the long run it would be better to have a well-documented plan of attack in place with goals and supporting assets all systematically lined up?
It would be good to review your strategy on a regular basis and updating your documentation particularly when adjusting the course. Now I hope the content strategy would help you to get together a clear picture. I would like to hear any feedback and other approaches, so if you have anything more to say leave it in the comment section below or get in touch.