It’s no secret that content marketing is crucial to business success. It’s that way in which your brand gets your message out to your target audience and positions your product. Content forms the tone of your brand through both words and design, and from the business perspective, it gives your brand a chance to share what you’re doing with your customers and how your solutions are helping them. Not only that, it can help you close a sale.
That being said, most marketing organizations publish loads of content each year to generate interest from different personas, leading them to make a sale. But oftentimes, this content doesn’t have a marketing strategy or KPIs behind it. Marketers fail to ask themselves why a piece was created in the first place and what value it’s going to provide a campaign. As a result, content teams receive ad hoc requests that don’t relate to the goals of a campaign.
That’s why your business needs to develop a successful content strategy that will help your brand use the content it produces wisely. A strategy can give your campaigns team a chance to communicate their content creation goals to all other marketing teams, so everyone is aligned with one common goal.
Creating a successful content marketing strategy consists of four steps:
Planning the strategyCreating the contentDelivering the messageMeasuring the results
The first step in creating a content strategy is to define a plan. As a marketing organization, you need to decide how frequently you want to publish content, on what topics, on what channels, and what kind of content you want it to be. One tool that can help is a content model. The most well-known content model is the hero, hub, and hygiene model.
The hero, hub, and hygiene model helps organizations create content the falls into three areas: hub, hero, or hygiene. Think of this model as a pyramid with hero content at the top, hub content in the middle, and hygiene content at the bottom. Each type of content has its own characteristics, frequencies, and common content types.
Hero content is content that surrounds a large campaign to drive mass awareness. This type of content is at the top of the pyramid, as hero content builds awareness at a broad scale to reach a mainstream audience. Hero content is created one to two times a year to entertain and inspire viewers with emotional storytelling. This can also be content that covers a broad topic such as sales or marketing. Two examples of hero content are the “State of” reports that Salesforce puts out annually and Red Bull’s Project Stratos.
Hub content is meant to keep an audience coming back. It makes up the second level of the pyramid and is meant to be regularly updated, valuable, and engaging. Typically, hub content is a way to focus on content creation around relevant consumer passion points. It can take the form of content pieces such as an ebook, white paper, or infographic. An example of this content is this white paper outlining the everyday value of machine learning from IBM.
Hygiene content is created around the core interests relevant to the ideal target customer. This type of content is specifically created to capture readers and viewers searching terms related to your brand. Great examples of hygiene content are blog posts and how-to videos that focus on a specific use case or pain point. The idea is to cater to the appropriate keywords or questions that people would search when looking for content.
Once you’ve defined your content plan, it’s time to create your content.
Though it seems self-explanatory, there are a few questions your team should keep in mind when creating content to make sure it resonates with your target audience.
What topic is the content going to cover?
The topic is the most important aspect you need to consider when creating your content. You need to make sure it’s relevant to any marketing campaigns or thought-leadership initiatives your company is running. This is also where content creators should think about the angle they’re going to take on the topic.
How is this content going to be presented?
This refers to the type of content you are going to create. You need to think about the best format to present your topic: Will it be an ebook, infographic, white paper, or blog? Make sure that the presentation of the content best fits the topic at hand; for example: you wouldn’t want to present a highly technical topic in an infographic.
Who is this content appealing to?
In order to create successful content, you need to think about the persona the content is going to appeal to. Is it going to be for a high-level business persona or a more in-depth technical persona? The audience is going to determine how you write the content in terms of the language and terminology. You want to make sure the persona you’re targeting understands the content the first time they consume it.
Where is this content going to live on the website?
Once the content has been finalized with layout and design, you need to decide where it’s going to live on the website. Is it going on a product/solution page or will it go in the resource library? Will it be part of a specialized content track for a campaign? These are the questions to consider when publishing your content and will determine where it’ll be accessed from, both internally and externally.
Now that your content is created, now you need to work with your teams to figure out how to best deliver it.
The next step in developing a content strategy is to decide how your content is going to be delivered. This is how your content is going to get to your target audience, so you need to think carefully about the best methods to deliver and utilize it.
Find a method to deliver your content
When your content is published, you need to think about how you’re going to distribute it and what pieces of follow-up content you’ll need to do so. Will you be promoting it on social media? Do you need to write a blog article to help promote it? These are a few ideas to consider when finding the best way to deliver your content.
If you’re using social media, you also need to think about what platforms would best suit your audience. Which ones do you get the most traction on? Work with your social media manager to make sure your content reaches the greatest amount of people and put a proper promotion plan in place.
Reuse, reuse, reuse
Content should be looked at like money, not tissues—it’s meant to be reused. Don’t let your content go to waste by finding different ways to repurpose it. Use it as part of an email nurture or account-based marketing program. This way you don’t have to spend time, money, and resources creating new content that can just be reused. Additionally, you can look at your metrics to see the best performing content over a specific period of time and put a plan in place to revamp, reuse, or re-promote those pieces.
In order to test the success of your content, you need to have a measurement system in place.
This is the last stage in developing a content strategy. Measurement is key to proving a return on investment from your content to executives and encouraging more production. But to do that, you need to pick a set of metrics to measure.
Define the metrics you’ll measure
To measure the success of your content, you need to pick a set of metrics to focus on. This can be page views, form fills, bounce rate, or more, and will likely vary per type of content—a blog article isn’t going to have the same type of metrics as a white paper. Choose your metrics wisely, based on what you think will have the most impact to the greater organization.
Use data to show the ROI to executives
The best use of data is building a digital marketing dashboard to communicate results to executives. Even if you don’t have data visualization software, you can visualize it in a program such as Excel. By communicating the data to stakeholders and executives, they can get a better sense as to how your content is performing and how it can improve moving forward.
Successful content is vital to any marketing organization. But in order to produce successful content, you need to put a strategy in place. With a content strategy, you can make sure that you’re covering all aspects of the process, from planning to metrics. If you do that, you’re sure to win, not only for the content creators but for the organization as a whole.
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