When it comes to content, a strategy is essential for success
A 2014 study found that 93 percent of B2B marketers use content marketing and that there is a significant difference in the effectiveness of content marketing if a strategy is in place – 60 percent of companies who have a documented content strategy in place consider their efforts to be effective as compared to 11 percent of companies with no documented content strategy in place. Similarly, the study found that companies who put a person in charge of content marketing were more likely to be successful than those who did not (86 percent vs. 46 percent).
In short, the majority of companies do not have a strategy in place despite the fact that companies are budgeting for and creating content and, that those who have a documented content strategy in place are more effective than companies who do not have a strategy in place. If your company is going to be effective at using content to drive profitable customer action, your company needs to have a strategy in place. Arjun Basu wisely said: “Without strategy, content is just stuff, and the world has enough stuff.”
Here are 11 steps to a content strategy.
1. Put someone in charge
If you want your company’s content strategy to be effective, you need to put someone in charge. Make sure they are in charge not just in name, but also in execution. That is, make sure the person in charge is given the authority to execute the strategy.
2. Define your goals
Why does your company want to create content? Do you want to shorten your sales cycle? Increase leads? You don’t want your content to be just stuff. You don’t want content to be ineffective. Therefore it is important to define what it is you want your content to do for your company.
3. Define your audience
Who is your audience? Create a persona. Take your time. Be honest. If you identify and define your audience correctly you will be more likely to reach your target audience and engage them than if you get this step wrong.
4. Define your metrics
Determine how you are going to track and measure success. Determine the metrics that you are going to track on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.
5. Identify the right distribution channels
When it comes to content, distribution is essential – your content will not reach your target audience and will not be read unless it is distributed. Take the time to identify the distribution channels that are right fit for your company, your content, and your goals.
6. Create a publishing calendar
A publishing or editorial calendar provides you with a framework to create and distribute content. It helps you create content that is consistent, that is quality, and is tailored to your company’s goals. It is also helpful in terms of managing workflows, meeting deadlines, and managing writer’s block.
7. Create content
Valuable and relevant content is not a sales pitch. It is not content that pushes your products and services. Rather, it is content that communicates valuable information to customers and prospects so that they have the knowledge to make better informed decisions. Moreover, it is content that establishes your business as a reliable source of knowledge – as the thought-leader within the industry. Be thoughtful when you create content.
8. Distribute your content
Distribute your content via your target distribution channels. Distribute the content consistently over time and at the right time.
9. Engage with customers and prospects
Once your content has been distributed, engage with your audience. Respond to comments, respond to questions, and provide clarification. Make your content more than words – make it a relationship.
10. Track and analyze your metrics
Track and analyze your metrics on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis. Take a look at what is working and what is not. By tracking and analyzing your metrics you can see, for example, what type of content is most effective and which distribution channels are helping you achieve your goals.
11. Make adjustments as needed
Your strategy should not be set in stone. Your strategy should be flexible. Look at your metrics, look at the feedback you are getting through your engagement with customers and prospects – make adjustments to your strategy as needed.
Remember that when it comes to content it is important to think marathon not sprint. An effective content strategy requires patience and determination. Many companies make the mistake of giving up on a content strategy too early; make a long-term commitment to your strategy.