Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Six steps to a content marketing strategy

strategy image
People who know me will know that I am not big on strategy or at least drawn out strategy discussions. I tend to believe that actions are what matter. However, even I accept that a little strategy and planning can go a long way. Thus when thinking about our new campaign I came up with six essential steps that I thought should form the backbone of our content marketing strategy.

My aim was to keep it simple but cover the essentials, so I came up with:

1. Planning and research

Identify the target customers and build out some personas.
Understand why they buy or engage with suppliers.
Think about the type of content required to meet their needs.
Identify where they hang out. Which I really like, recommended by Kate Graham.

Understand the competition.
What do content they produce, how does it compare?
What is your edge or angle? We all need an angle or unique proposition.

2. Create targets

Where are you now?
What is the current performance - from page views to rankings to engagement, such as comments and sharing.
Create clear targets - such as build awareness, increase traffic, improve conversions, develop engagement, etc.
Reflect on the type of content most likely to help you achieve these targets.

3. Content development strategy

What content is required to fulfil the ambitions and targets set out above?
What types of content do you need to produce?
What is the purpose of each piece of content?
What keywords do you need to address?
What is the editorial style, brand and tone of voice?
What is the review and approval process?

4. Create content

Ok, I admit I have been known to start here but that does mean much of my time can be wasted. The three steps above don't take long and they can dramatically improve the performance of your content.

Absolutely fundamental to me is creating content that adds value by which I mean creating content that is original, that is informative, that is backed by research or case studies.

Written content whether articles, white papers, case studies or top tips should be well written, well structured and easy to scan.

The content should be developed in a variety of formats such as a video, animation, slideshow, ebook or podcast. Make the most of your quality content.

5. Content distribution and promotion

The key here is to use appropriate channels but to use multiple channels.
Use you own accounts on Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Blogs, Google+, Facebook, etc., to distribute content.
Post summaries of the content and links in appropriate forums, LinkedIn groups and Google+ communities.
Write and distribute online press releases as appropriate.
Engage with the key influencers in your market.
Be relentless in promoting your content, don't be afraid to retweet though do it selectively.

6. Review and adjust

How are you doing? In step two you will have established a benchmark against which to measure performance and set targets. Now you can see how you are performing.
Be honest, what has worked well, what has worked less well, what types of content got shared, what led to productive conversations, etc.
Adjust what you are doing accordingly and review again.

Hopefully this is a simple framework and a helpful six steps to improve the performance of those that like to create content rather than develop strategies.