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In the hyper competitive world that we live in today, the first step to getting an edge over peers is to have a rock-solid, smart content strategy in place. After all, if the Google Gods don’t know of your existence, who will?

Still, according to Content Marketing Institute, merely 39% of B2B organizations had a documented content strategy in place as of 2019. See where are we going? That’s a lot of money left on the table, just for lack of a plan. Sure, publishing content is a lot about blogging (the most popular activity on the list!), but not only is it a whole lot more beyond that, but it’s also not likely to stick unless it’s based on a plan.

That’s why you need a content strategy – one of the most critical components of your overall digital marketing plan.

Content Strategy Explained

So, what is content strategy?

Content strategy is the planning of the creation, distribution, and management of all brand and third-party content with the sole aim of establishing industry expertise…and of course, achieving a bunch of business goals along the way. It involves figuring out the right content to reach the right target audience, at precisely the right time and place to maximize the chances of growing a brand – whether in terms of direct measurables, such as sales and revenue, or indirect measurables, such as customer awareness or loyalty.

How do you develop a great content strategy?

As is the case with any plan, creating a content strategy involves following a logical approach, which can be broken down into the following five simple steps:

Define your goal

What’s the overarching aim of your strategy? Is it to increase brand awareness, or to engage and convert your existing customers? Maybe you’d like to establish some strong thought leadership to indicate industry expertise, or perhaps boost your employer branding to attract the best available talent? Keep in mind that more often than not, you’ll have a whole bunch of such objectives to deal with. But once you know your goals, it gets a whole lot easier to decide on the content types and distribution platforms best suited to your strategy.

Outline your key performance indicators (KPIs)

Once your goals are in place, make sure that you identify the KPIs that you’ll use to measure success – without those, you’ll never be able to figure out how well your strategy is doing. Common KPIs include organic traffic growth, unique page views, session durations, and number of new followers on social media. A word of caution, though – try not to overemphasize on the metrics. Content strategy is essentially a long-term plan, and takes time to show tangible results. Make sure to give every effort a fair amount of time to gain traction instead of constantly revamping your plan when the numbers you want don’t show.

Research your target personas

Your audience base is by no means a uniform one. So when you’re targeting a variety of buyer personas, be prepared to cater to their varied tastes and preferences. For instance, if you’re predominantly targeting millennials, Instagram is a great platform to reach them. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more serious, business-oriented discussion, you’re better off using LinkedIn or Twitter. What’s more, your content type is also affected by your buyer persona. So, if you want to ensure an effective content strategy, do your homework and profile and segment your audience in as detailed a manner as possible – by demographic, preferred social platform for communication, challenges that you help overcome, etc.

Do a content audit

Find out how well your existing content has performed/ is performing – have your weekly blogs kept attracting new visitors? Do your social media posts garner sufficient engagement? How well have you organized and tagged your website content (SEO bells ringing!)? How relevant is all your content for your audience? If things are going fine, you can even mix things up. if your standard operating procedure has relied on blogs up to now, try out an ebook and see how your audience reacts to it. Long-form content such as “Ultimate” guides and “How to” handbooks have proven to be very popular among serious buyers. Infographics and videos are great too. Case studies work awesomely to convince and convert an already-interested customer.

Repeat

Remember, content strategy is a long-term, iterative process. Keep checking your metrics and results after reasonable time intervals, and tweak your efforts to keep your plan on track. Repeat what works, stop what doesn’t work, and refresh things once in a while to keep things interesting. The important thing is to keep at it. Content strategy is all about finding that sweet spot with your audience – and making them resonate with your message.

Wrapping up

Marketers have come a long way from when they adopted the spray-and-pray approach with their efforts. Given the unfettered access to data these days, all you need is a plan, and you can make anything fall in line over time, given a reasonable amount of intelligence and time. Content is no different. For a crash course on content strategy and its role in your overall digital marketing strategy, sign up for our Digital Marketing Nanodegree program. You won’t look back.

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