Developing exceptional content can mean the difference between reaching and resonating with a large portion of your target audience several times or being ignored completely. Fundamental to great content is strategy.
But before we deep dive into how you can build a pivotal content strategy that aligns with your goals, let’s zoom out on precisely what we’re talking about and why it’s essential.
What is Content Strategy?
Content strategy involves planning, creating, publishing content, including written, visual, or audible paid, earned, and owned media. It’s a thought framework that precedes your website relaunch, series of blog posts, and any content your company publishes online.
Why is Content Strategy Paramount?
Have you ever skimmed through an article and asked yourself, “What did I just read?” Today, consumers are devouring social media and online content at ever-increasing rates and have little appetite for poorly planned content and unnecessary information overload.
Misaligned messaging that does not resonate with your target audience will not produce positive results regardless of how you promote it.
Focusing more attention on the message that best supports your business goals before zeroing into delivery channels will help you as a marketer to publish content aligned with your customer’s needs.
The strategy must also consider why people search or engage in specific social media or website content in the first place. Understanding the intent behind queries is also critical to providing highly resourceful content.
Bottom line, investing more time to examine the strategy behind your content will undoubtedly improve the effectiveness of your digital marketing efforts and drive tangible ROI.
What are Critical Inputs into a Content Strategy?
According to an INSIDER Intelligence poll of content marketing executives worldwide, most respondents describe critical content strategy inputs as a mix of company goals, competitor analysis, audience needs, and digital data.
The following information will help you build an improved content strategy that leverages best practices and this commonly accepted input framework.
Steps for Creating a Superior Content Strategy
Step One: Know Your Audience
The first step in developing effective content within any effective marketing and communications plan is to know your audience. To do this, ask yourself a few questions regarding your target audience:
1. What problems, pain points, intentions, or decisions are potential customers trying to resolve relative to your business when consuming certain content?
2. How can you grab and maintain your audience’s attention via unique, fun, and resourceful content throughout the product or sales lifecycle?
3. What are your options for call to action, and how are these options reflected throughout your marketing funnel? In other words, how are you helping them learn or decide after gaining their attention?
Step Two: Understand Related Topics of Interest within the Customer Journey
After understanding your audience’s pain points and content consumption patterns at various customer journey stages, the next step is to research search engine queries around subjects or products, in addition to the demand or search volume for these search terms.
For example, by typing in “flat screen tv” into Google Trends, you can see related topics and queries, as well as the regional breakdown of interest.
Ultimately, many marketers want to list organically or be thought of first when someone searches for your product, service, or content. However, with more competitive topics, you should begin by addressing the long-tail perimeter, less competitive area of the discussion surrounding the central theme.
After getting a sense of core or pillar search phrase behavior, you can dive deeper into lengthier, more specific queries and questions. Answer the Public can help by giving you related questions surrounding topics, products, or services.
By typing in “flat screen tv” into Answer the Public, you can view all the related questions, long-tail queries your target audience conducts, and opportunities for content development to support these searches, such as “best times of year to buy a flat-screen TV.”
By publishing and amplifying content completely around a given topic, you position your brand as a trusted authority for related searches and consequently for shorter-tail, more popular associated searches.
Plus, by exploring more detailed searches surrounding your product or service, you better understand the nuances that feed into your customers’ decision-making process.
Sample regional breakdown of keyword interest (Google Trends)
Step Three: Deliver Exceptional Content that Demonstrates Your Expertise
Folding the insights from steps one and two into unique content will demonstrate your level of expertise while making you referenceable as an authority on this subject. The stronger and more comprehensive your content is, the more likely it will be referenced, promoted, and backlinked.
Understanding your audience more comprehensively from step one provides an empathetical lens to build content with a greater likelihood of likes, reposts, follows, and links.
More Tips for Exceptional Content Creation:
1. Identify the purpose of your content within the customer or buyer journey (Brand Awareness, Consideration, Decision) and build a range or editorial calendar to support this.
2. Be altruistic. Take a step back from only focusing on driving new leads and instead focus on the problem you’re solving for your audience while weaving in your unique brand personality.
3. Demonstrate your expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) by producing high-quality content with unique insights, case studies, and metrics surrounding tangential points of interest.
Go beyond providing content by creating a comprehensive, referenceable resource on the topic you’re covering.
4. Review current results, social media discussions, and competition for the phrases you’re targeting, and identify ways in which you can provide a better experience at each stage of the funnel.
5. Deliver through different content formats, including infographics and videos and additional content types (white papers, case studies, e-books, testimonials), while amplifying through social media platforms and other owned media channels.
6. Include a call to action to drive lead conversion or engage your audience further and bring them to the next step within your marketing funnel. For example, ask readers to download additional, valuable content that they are likely to share with others.
7. Optimize content for mobile user experience (and Core Web Vitals) as over half of web traffic originates from mobile devices. For example, keep intro paragraphs brief considering the amount of info can display on smaller mobile screens.
8. Take your time and create mini masterpieces. Cream rises to the top of search engine rankings and audience attention.
Step Four: Leverage Data Insights to Guide Ongoing Efforts and Distribution
Analytics are fundamental when it comes to measuring success and deciding ongoing efforts. With proper analysis, you gain perspective and insights on content performance, helping you guide future content efforts towards messaging that resonates best with your target audience.
Incorporating data insights into your content strategy enables you to:
• Conduct market research to uncover the most relevant topics to approach
• Pinpoint where and how target audiences consume information
• Understand channel-specific preferences which drive sales enablement
In closing, developing a successful content strategy involves a thorough understanding of your target audience and the topics they consume in various customer journey stages, bringing your brand to the forefront with a framework of empathetic, exceptional, and data-driven content that boosts your brand authority.
For over 15 years as a digital marketing agency, we’ve helped numerous B2B and B2C clients develop content strategies for SEO and paid media efforts. Reach out to us today to discover how we can help develop a superior content strategy for your business.