Before you can begin marketing your business online, you need to create a strategy that outlines exactly how your marketing will work. Just like any goal, establishing an online presence is a process that needs to be planned out, step by step. This way, you can use the content to spread your business’s name and help your business grow. A content strategy is a plan that you can use to determine what content you publish, when to publish it, what platform you use to publish it, and what it will achieve.
Creating content is a great way to promote your business. And methodically planning out what content you will present to your customers will help you shape the message you want to convey. This a huge part of building your brand.
So how can you create an effective content strategy? Here are four steps to consider:
Determine your business’s goals
The best way to plan out a content strategy is to start with very, very specific goals. Why specific and not broad? Beginning with the end in mind will help you to work backward and create clear, actionable steps to get there.
A good goal might be something like: I want to have a ten percent increase in leads for product X by the end of next quarter.
Do you see how that immediately makes everything so much clearer? Instead of floundering around wondering what content to produce and then hoping it somehow goes viral, you’ve already made some decisions. You now know that if you’re going to get an increase in leads for product X, you’ve got to create content related to product X. And you also know that if you want to increase leads by a specific number by a certain date, you’ll have to produce Y amount of content and promote it by Z amount.
To be sure, there are still a few unknowns in the preceding paragraph. For example, it can take time for content to help your organic search traffic, and it might be difficult to estimate just how many pieces of content you’ll need to bump the lead count. You’ll have a better idea of how your content is received as time goes on. But by basing your content strategy on business goals, rather than using the so-called “spray and pray” approach, you’ll get results much, much faster.
Determine your audience
Choosing a specific demographic group for your content is an extremely important part of disseminating your message. Figuring out the exact target group can help you determine what types of content should be shared, what medium you should share it through, and even the specific phrases you need to use.
Specific phrases? Really?
If you want your audience to be your customers, then you have to speak their language. For example, let’s say you sell high-end audio equipment, and you’re trying to grow your sales revenue. You could create several highly technical articles targeted at the sound geeks who get into heated debates over the best speaker cables to use. But are those the people who are coming to your store, or visiting your website? What if the people doing that are saying things like “I want something really good, but I don’t know where to start” or “All of this seems so intimidating!” If you use similar language when creating a piece of content that solves a problem your audience has, your audience will feel that you are speaking directly to them.
Your content needs to cater to the needs of your audience, so you need to keep their interests in mind when you plan the content you intend to share with them. The more you know about your audience, the better the experience they will have when engaging with your content.
What format and why?
One of the most cost-effective pieces of content to produce is an article, especially if you outsource the writing part of it to allow your team to concentrate on their core skills. However, other types of content might be appropriate to your audience. You could produce an infographic, a video, an ebook, or an email course. Again, think of your audience and their needs. What format best serves them?
How will you share it with your audience?
To reach your demographic, you need to share your content in a place that your customers will frequent. If your audience doesn’t know a Tweet from a twit, there isn’t a lot of point spending time promoting your content on Twitter, is there?
Take the time to find out where your customers hang out. You can do that by asking your sales staff, your customer service teams, checking your referral logs in your website analytics, and even just straight up asking your customers via a poll, or in a direct conversation.
Having a good long think about these factors will help you figure out your content strategy. And remember, a long term strategy beats short term tactics any day.