A Brand with a Plan: How to Develop a Content Strategy That Works
There’s no way around it, content marketing is the lifeblood of online lead generation. If you’re finding that your content marketing efforts are yielding very little tangible results in the form of traffic or leads, it may be time to rethink your content strategy. Below are some simple yet effective tips to help you develop a content strategy that works.
Begin with the End in Mind
For you to get the most out of your content marketing efforts, you must have a plan in place that keeps the end result in mind. In other words, what exactly do you want your audience to do in response to your content? What actions should they take? How will your content persuade or convince them to take those actions? In order for you to accurately answer those questions, your key business goals must be taken into consideration. You must have a concrete idea of how you wish to guide or direct your potential prospects through each phase of your conversion funnel, so they’ll ultimately become buying customers, and hopefully repeat customers. Once you’ve given ample thought to these ideas, you can then craft specific and persuasive calls-to-action that will lead your target audience in a predetermined direction, thus increasing your chances of a successful conversion.
Take Target Buyer Personas Into Consideration
When you hear the phrase “target audience”, what does that look like to you? Answering this question is absolutely necessary in order for you to stay focused on the people you’re creating the content for. A target buyer persona is basically a profile of the “ideal customer” for your products or services. Personas should include demographic information (e.g., age, income, gender, etc.), as well as what type of problems, challenges or needs this type of person may have that your product can address. When it comes to creating your content, referencing your personas helps ensure you won’t communicate a message that isn’t relevant to your target audience.
If you are unsure as to what your ideal buyer might look like, take some cues from your past marketing data. What are the general characteristics of the types of leads you’ve been able to garner so far? What keywords are people using to find your website and landing page? Which products or services tend to be your most popular offerings? Pull this information together in two or three personas.
Develop Content Ideas and Create a Publishing Schedule
Brainstorming content ideas is much easier when you’re already well aware of the buyer personas you’re intending to reach. You can offer several different types of content (e.g., blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers, infographics, how-to videos, etc.) to address the main questions or “pain points” of your target audience. Once you have decided upon the content that you will provide, be sure to create an editorial calendar so that you can keep track of what will be published, and when your content will go live. If you are running any particular promotions or special events, make sure to publish related content on the dates that coincide with these occurrences. Frequency will probably vary from business to business, but whether you publish several times a day or only once a week, the important thing is that you stick with whatever publishing schedule you create.
Make Sure That the Quality of Your Content Remains High
High-quality content never goes out of style. When creating your content, aim for “evergreen” topics as much as possible, so that you can increase the longevity of your content on the Web. It may be necessary to go back and freshen up some of your previously published content every now and then, but in order to give your messages the most mileage, focus on creating high-quality content that will stand the test of time.
Action Steps for Developing a Content Strategy
Using these tips above as your guide, let’s go through the process of developing content step-by-step.
- Target Buyer Personas
Once you’ve identified the buyer personas that are best suited to your product offerings, make the conscious determination to only create content that addresses and serves this particular demographic. For example, if you sell camping or hiking equipment online, it would be safe to say that you’re dealing with people who love the outdoors; with this in mind, infuse your content with an outdoorsy or adventurous feel. Keep your ideal buyer personas at the forefront of your mind throughout the content creation process.
- Create a Keyword/Keyphrase List
Once you’ve nailed down your ideal buyer personas, develop a list of long-tail keywords and keyphrases that relate to their specific wants, needs, preferences, questions, concerns and pain points. This can be done using a variety of free keyword tools available on the Web, including the Google AdWords Keyword Planner, WordTracker or Trullian’s Keyword Discovery tool.
- Create Keyword-Focused Content
Now that you have your keyword/keyphrase list, focus solely on creating helpful and informative content that incorporates those particular search terms and phrases into the mix. For example, if your long-tail keyword is “what to bring on a camping trip”, you could create a list-based blog post such as “10 Must-Have Items to Bring on a Camping Trip”. Remember to utilize a variety of content types, such as blogs, infographics, whitepapers and downloadable ebooks. Be sure to generously offer your readers as much helpful and engaging content as possible; this will do wonders towards strengthening your overall brand image and fostering genuine connection with your potential prospects.
- Distribute Your Content
Now it’s time to distribute your content through all of your brand channels. Utilize social media, blogging, email marketing, video marketing, etc. in order to guide people into engagement. Make sure to keep a close eye on responsiveness, so that you can get a feel for which distribution channels attract the most attention. From there, you can customize your content specifically to take advantage of every facet of that particular medium.