Content marketing is a critical driver for helping businesses build credibility and increase engagement. But it’s not just about cranking out content. Backing it with an effective content strategy is equally important.
Taking a strategic approach helps ensure that what you create and how you use it delivers more value. And what that looked like even a few years ago has changed.
Even when 84% of organizations claim to have a content marketing strategy, 51% say their toughest problem is creating content that generates quality leads.1
Now, content strategies need to be more nimble. You need fresh perspectives that keep pace with rapidly changing customer expectations and attitudes. You need new ways to stand out in a tsunami of content, and approaches to get more brand exposure with limited marketing resources.
If your content marketing isn’t delivering the results you want, it may be time to refresh your strategy. Here are some questions and approaches that can help you get on track for success.
Key questions to refine your content strategy
Your content marketing strategy should align with both customer needs and business objectives. But one feeds the other. We’ve consistently seen that if you focus deeper on what customers care about, you have a better chance of delivering on the business goals.
1 – What are you trying to achieve?
A common pitfall is being too general with your content. Take a closer look at specific marketing goals. Do you need to…
- Increase brand awareness?
- Generate leads?
- Accelerate the sales cycle?
- Strengthen existing relationships?
Different business goals often need different types of content, different channels, even a slightly different voice. It all depends on where you are in the engagement lifecycle.
Are you a startup or launching a new product, or just new to content marketing? Your content strategy might aim for more broad appeal in information shared across your website, blog and social media. However, to enable sales teams to nurture leads in the pipeline, you may need a more focused strategy. For example, using a personalized channel like email newsletters with content that addresses specific interests or concerns.
2 – Who are you trying to reach?
Even great content can fall flat if it doesn’t reach the right people. Be clear about your target audiences and segments. Customer personas can be a powerful tool to help you understand who you’re talking to and what’s most relevant to them.
Many companies now rely on predictive analytics as a marketing intelligence tool, and it’s a great way to boost your content strategy as well. You can gain insights on customer needs and sentiment by analyzing data sources such as surveys, social media, call center notes, and more. Backing your content marketing strategy with a data-driven approach helps you provide the right information to the right people, which increases marketing effectiveness.
Quality leads start with quality engagement. The more you know about the people you’re trying to reach, the more you can hone your content to build trust and inspire conversation.
3 – Which types of messaging are best for which audiences?
Once you have deeper clarity about who you want to reach and why, you’ll have a better idea of how to focus your storytelling. Your strategy should plan for different types of messaging at different stages of the buying cycle.
Early on, both consumers and B2B audiences need to understand the “why to care.” That’s when your messaging strategy might center on real-world examples that focus first on how customers benefit. Nurturing leads often includes success stories that showcase how others are making the most of your offerings. And to drive purchase decisions, your audiences may want insights on how to solve specific problems or make challenging decisions.
Your content strategy should also factor in how you’ll keep existing customers engaged. Providing tailored messaging relevant to specific segments can help earn loyalty. For example, financial advisors may be more likely to increase client lifetime value by reaching out regularly with helpful insights on investment strategies.
4 – Which forms of content will resonate best?
Your strategy also needs to map out which content formats may work best for specific audiences and channels. For instance, video is now the most used format for social media marketing. Images and infographics can also be great attention-getters.
Of course, the written word still holds power. Particularly for B2B marketing, sharing deep-dive content in blogs and white papers is an important way to demonstrate your thought leadership and expertise.
Again, you’ll want to consider who you’re trying to reach. Customer personas can help you identify which channels and forms of content different audiences prefer. It’s also effective to take a ‘test and learn’ approach, especially with social media. Publish iterations of content to explore which messaging and content types get the best responses.
5 – How will you amplify the value of your content?
Want to generate 10x the value from content you already have?2 Reusing content creatively should be part of your content marketing strategy.
We like to call it “snackables.” Taking longer-form content (like a white paper) and repurposing it into a series of short blogs, social media posts, even an infographic. And don’t forget video. You can capture key takeaways from longer content and create an eye-catching teaser video of a minute or less. These snackables can go to work driving traffic to gated lead-gen pages for downloading your long-form content.
The snackable approach isn’t just for long textual content. You can break down an infographic and share it across a “tweet thread” with multiple successive posts to increase engagement on Twitter.
Along with gaining more value from a single piece, repurposing content enables you to speed up distribution. 47% of buyers view three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep.3 So the more breadcrumbs you can drop in various channels in diverse ways, the more likely you’ll create a path to your door.
6 – How will you optimize for SEO?
Effective content strategy isn’t complete without considering SEO. But are you thinking beyond your website? In the rush to produce blogs, optimizing that content for search ranking tends to fall by the wayside.
Plan to do some SEO homework before you create content. For example, before writing a blog, identify the keywords or phrases that best describe the core topic. Also consider how people are more likely to phrase a search query for that topic. Then optimize your content around a primary keyphrase and related synonyms. Yoast SEO is a helpful tool to guide you on how best to distribute your target search terms within the content.
You can also apply basic SEO to social media posts. Again, it takes a bit of research. You’ll want to find hashtags directly relevant to your topic, and which have a large number of followers. It helps your posts get exposure in busy threads. Another strategy is to tag some of your connections on a post, and encourage them to comment. If they do, your post becomes visible to all of their connections as well.