I did a presentation this week on content marketing strategies. For the keen of eye, with initials CMS, Content Marketing Strategy is something Caversham Marketing Services is very good at.
For the uninitiated, a simple way to think about content marketing is this is the part of your marketing plan that refers to the development and management of any tangible media that you create and own, and this could be in any form:
Before you embark on a plan for your content, though there are some key elements you should consider first, specifically:
- Who you’re creating it for
- The problem it’s going to solve for that audience
- How it will be unique
- The formats you’ll focus on
- The channels where it will be published
- How you will schedule and manage creation and publication
- How will you measure its effectiveness
To help frame some of these considerations, maybe start with the buying-decision process your consumers or clients go through. Whether it’s for a B2C or B2B audience; you sell a product or provide a service, consumers all go through a very similar decision making process before they buy. The timeline can vary from seconds to months, or even years, but the individual steps are always apparent.
The process usually begins with recognition that there is a problem. This may not always be triggered by the customer; it might be stimulated by some content you share about your product or service, helping the potential customer realise that they have a need that should be sated.
Once a problem is recognised, the process of information gathering starts. Your clients are looking for brands or sources that are trusted, knowledgeable or even simply top of mind- or rather search rankings.
When a prospect is satisfied with their research, the evaluation process begins, then, and only then, once they are confident of their choice do they make a purchase. And with the explosion of available sources of (primarily) digital information, your post sale or aftercare comms are as important as ever as the client wants to feel vindicated in their choice. This though is for another blog.
With a streamlined system that makes identification, research and purchase seamless, you may ask, why you even need a content marketing strategy. Well, for one, content marketing helps deliver a reliable and cost-effective source of website traffic and new leads. It works when you don’t. Or it works when your customers are buying- and this isn’t always in office hours. You can create just one blog post that gets a steady amount of organic traffic, or embed a link into an ebook or ‘free’ tool that will continue to generate leads. What’s more, this organic source of evergreen content will allow you to experiment with other sources of paid for lead generation to provide a direct and organic source of lead generation.
Plus, your content doesn’t just help attract leads — it will also help educate your target prospects and generate awareness for your brand, pre and post-sale.
As search engines continue to define how many of us begin our search and evaluation processes, the role of content marketing has also evolved.
One tried and tested method of creating rich content for your web site was to create a key word search that provided a list of terms your business may be found for. However, with a multitude of long-tail search results, this list could be almost limitless and mean the strategy had to focus on thousands of common search terms. An almost impossible task.
So, to combat this, but still work with Google’s crawlers and bots, the method of Topic Clusters is a new way to define your content strategy.
Explained simply; each topic (or pillar as they are sometimes referred to), would be something you felt your business could or should write about or be known for. This could be product, or service related, about the market or a about a differentiator in the market place. The ‘clusters’ then are the streams of copy or channels that you split this topic into. The ways perhaps you define your product, for different markets or the different benefits of your service.
Do this five, six or however many times and you have a number of topics with a number of clusters, each relating to a key brand message. Using hyperlinks or common phrases throughout the clusters can also support the keyword method too.
When one cluster performs, the whole ‘pillar’ performs. And, by choosing topics carefully, you will start to stand out as an expert on your topics!
Finally, to help get started, here are six steps to create a content marketing strategy
- Define your goal
- Conduct some persona research
- Do a content audit
- Brainstorm ideas
- Determine what you want to create
- Create a system to create, publish and measure your content