Any brand can increase their brand awareness, but having a strong content strategy in place will help you achieve your business goals. Whether you’re only starting out or just looking to refresh your content strategy, there are a couple of things you should always keep in mind.
Before we delve into how to develop a high-performing content strategy plan, we want you to reflect on your own brand and think about how you would answer these three questions:
- What is your overall business goal?
- Who is your target audience?
- What are your competitors doing?
Step 1: Set your goal(s) and KPIs
Now that you know your overall business goal, think about how your content strategy is going to help you accomplish that goal. The key is to know what you want your content marketing to actually achieve. For most brands, the ultimate goal is to attract more customers and drive increased sales. However, it’s always important to think about what your brand wants to accomplish, so your goals may also include include:
- Increase traffic to your website
- Boost brand visibility
- Reduce your cost-per-conversion (CPC)
- Increase social media engagement
- Generate new leads
- Boost on-site engagement
The truth of the matter is, having a clear goal in mind will help you to develop a strong and high-performing content strategy. You need to put meaningful plans in place that will help facilitate the growth and development of your company.
To determine what success looks like, your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the metrics you’ll monitor to evaluate your progress toward your goal(s). But, when choosing your KPIs, ensure they are specific and measurable metrics that will easily demonstrate the progress. If your goal is to increase sales, then an example of a KPI would be to analyse the number of conversions on your website.
Step 2: Research and understand your audience
After outlining your goal(s) and KPIs, you need to understand your audience. This would include their age, gender, education, income, etc. By understanding more about your target audience, you will be better equipped to know the type of content they will find interesting and engaging. Doing so will also provide you with key insights about what they currently think about your product or service, what their most urgent needs are, their pain points, and how you can address their problems.
A great way to outline and visualize your target audience is to create a buyer persona. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customers, based on data and research. They help you focus your time on qualified prospects and develop your content to suit the needs of your target customers.
In a study completed by NetProspex they found that companies who created buyer personas saw an 100% increase in page views, 900% increase in site duration, and 171% increase in ROI. This just exemplifies why it’s important to take the time to understand more about your customers and what they truly care about.
Step 3: Conduct keyword research
Now you’ve set your goals and have a strong understanding of your audience, it’s time to conduct some keyword research. This will help you to have a better understanding of user search queries and trends i.e. what are users searching for on search engines, like Google?
By conducting keyword research using tools such as Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Ahrefs and more, you can identify popular search terms and queries to target with your content. Or, you can create new content around these topics to increase your visibility for these keyphrases.
Keyphrase research is a crucial part of any search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, as it will help you to reach the top of the Google search results for relevant keywords. You’re probably wondering: ‘How does this apply to my content strategy?’ Well, ensuring your optimize your content for SEO ensures that your content is visible to your target audience during their time of need.
Like the old saying goes: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” The same holds true for your content. If your content is on the internet and no one is around to see it, does anyone read it?
Step 4: Analyze the competition
Understanding your competitors is imperative to building and growing your brand. You need to be aware of what your competitors are doing, so that you can stand out from the crowd and outperform them.
Evaluate your competitor’s content strategy and then then take a look at the quantity of content, the frequency in which they post and the quality of their content. When analyzing their content, as yourself the following questions:
- What’s their Unique Value Proposition (UVP)?
- How accurate is their content?
- Are there spelling or grammar mistakes?
- What is their tone of voice?
- How in-depth do they go with their content?
- What content types do they have (blogs, eBooks, whitepapers, video, webinars, or other content)?
- Is their content free and available to anyone?
- Who is writing their content?
By analyzing your competitor’s content strategy, you can identify what works well for them, as well as what your unique selling points are and how you can leverage them. Things you should look out for is where they are advertising, what social channels they are on, and what type of keywords they are bidding on. This is the time for you to discover where your competitors are lacking and uncover potential opportunities for your own content.
Step 5: Assess your existing content
After you’ve analyzed your competitors, it’s time to evaluate your own content. If you’re revamping your content strategy, it’s time to separate your content into three categories: keep, improve, or remove. Content that falls into the ‘keep’ category should be high-performing and helps drive traffic to your website, whereas ‘improve’ would be posts or content that isn’t performing well, but has the potential to help grow and develop your brand if it is optimized correctly. Finally, any content that doesn’t fit into these two categories will fall into the ‘remove’ category and should be deleted from your website.
Once you’ve categorized your content, it’s time to figure out how to improve and optimize the content that still has potential. This can include:
- Content doesn’t delve deep enough into the topic
- ntent of the content isn’t right i.e. the content isn’t answering user search queries for target keyphrases
- Not targeting the right keywords
- Content isn’t in the right format e.g. it is a blog post, when it should be a video tutorial
Assessing your existing content will help you to understand what is currently working for you and how you can improve it in the future - even if this means creating content from scratch.
Step 6: Determine your distribution channels
It’s time to decide which distribution channels you should focus your efforts on. Something simple would be to start by choosing a small handful of channels to use, such as a blog, YouTube, and social media channels, like Instagram and Facebook.
To determine where you should focus your energy, look at where your target audience is most active. Ask yourself: where does my audience spend the most time? These are the channels you should be leveraging to share your content.
Some distribution methods could be through social media, collaborating with influencers, running paid social campaigns, an email newsletter, or even guest posting on another site to help build your reputation and brand awareness. When creating content and determining your distribution channels, always take into consideration the 80/20 rule. This rule states that 80% should be spent on promoting your content and 20% of your efforts should be towards creating it. If you want to be on multiple platforms in the long run, it’ll be easier for you to start slow and gradually ramp up throughout the year.
Step 7: Create an editorial calendar
Once you have checked all of the above off your checklist, it’s time to iron out the details of when, where and how your content will be published – this is known as an editorial calendar.
Creating an editorial calendar will help you to plan out, and keep track of, your content. It helps you to ensure that your content is well-balanced and diverse to keep your audience interested and engaged. This can include anything – from a series of weekly blog posts to social posts to webinar sprints. There is no definitive way in which to create a content calendar, so it can include any content you like, as long as it helps to meet your business goals.
This step is essential for creating the bridge between your content strategy and the actual implementation. There are many different types of software out there that will help you to organize and monitor your content, but if you’re a small business on a budget, using Google Sheets can be the easiest and most cost-effective way to share and collaborate with your team.
Always build out your content based on the pillar topics that address your target audience’s pain points, as this will help you remain focused and relevant for your buyer personas.
Step 8: Implement your content
You’ve laid the groundwork, so all that’s left to do is implement your content strategy – this means publishing your content.
You’ve now created a robust content strategy based on business goals and now it’s time to see your hard work come to fruition. Using your editorial content as a guide, try to schedule as much of your content as possible, while remaining agile – as you also want to publish content that is timely, as this can help to generate spikes in traffic.
During the implementation stage of your content strategy, be sure to monitor the performance of your content using both the analytics of your website and any software or site you might be using to publish your content. This will help you to determine what is working and what is not, so that you apply these learnings to future content strategies, or tweak it for improved performance.
Creating a high-performing content strategy is no small feat. It takes time, effort and organization to produce a robust content marketing strategy that helps you to achieve your business goals and it can, at times, be a slow burn waiting for results. From building the foundation of your plan to organizing your ideas into an actionable plan, you can create a successful content strategy that aids in the growth and development of your business today by following these simple steps.
Want to find out more about content strategy and how it might help your business? Learn more about our content strategy service today.