You most likely have heard the phrase “content is king” more times than you can count. But getting the right message to the right person is not an easy task in a society that’s tangled in a web of digital content, and it requires a top-notch content strategy.
A solid content strategy can help create meaningful, cohesive, engaging and sustainable content that attracts new customers and retains existing ones. Despite the importance that great content can have on your business, two of the biggest challenges for content marketers are knowing how to prioritize marketing efforts for one audience over another and communicating a content strategy effectively across teams so that everyone is on the same page.
Content marketing is different than your typical product marketing efforts as it includes digital materials that answer specific questions and provides customers with valuable tools and information they aren’t getting anywhere else. These include:
- Educational articles
- Social media
Planning a content calendar that includes every item on this list may seem daunting, but there are simple ways to get started. The idea behind smart content planning is simple. You want to plan content in a way that is:
- Tied to an overarching business objective
- Linked directly to audience needs and desires
- Can be shared in a simple and consistent format
The result is a content calendar that is more relevant to what people are searching for and is also differentiated from the competition. Today, smart content planning tools that use artificial intelligence are becoming more readily available and are making adopting this process a no-brainer.
While a Google search will yield a laundry list of best practices, the following three pillars – or fundamental building blocks – will help you create a successful content strategy that drives results.
UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE
Once you’ve created an objective statement, your entire team can focus on the true reason behind producing content in the first place: your audience. It’s easy to get caught in the whirlwind of day-to-day tasks. In that moment of desperation, marketers choose between creating content the right way and simply getting content out the door. In reality, content is the very first glimpse of a brand that customers see and first impressions matter. Not only is content your front runner for garnering new customers, but it guides customers through every stage of the buyer journey including initial sale and retention.
A recent survey showed that 70% of consumers feel closer to a company as a result of content marketing. However, this is only possible when you understand your audience at a deep level so that the content you create answers the questions they have, helps them do their job more effectively, inspires, or entertains them.
Understanding your target audience’s needs and desires requires the right tools. One way to make sure your content is helping the customer is to build – and then reference – personas when creating content. The modern marketer has access to content intelligence tools that provide key insights to help choose which topics to share, what channels to use and when to go live during the buyer journey. Using multiple data points like CRM, search data, the website traffic, and social listening can diminish false assumptions about your target audience and provide insights on:
- Targetable characteristics
- Customer journey
- Needs and desires
- Perceptions of our strengths vs. competition
- Content format preferences
- Marketing channels where our audience hangs out
- Past content performance