When you launch a content marketing campaign, how do you ensure it works strategically and effectively? Even the best strategy can bring you to a dead end and resolve as a waste of time and money if you don’t pay attention to core elements. This has always been the key aspect many are concerned when the need to focus on content development and curation gets in their way as small business or startups with no budget to waste.
The problem relies on a two-faced approach: on one side, there are compelling reasons for investing in content; on the other, business owners fear their inability to measure “what they get in return” because metrics are different when applied to an ineffabile matter such as content.
Problem is: how can you get the most out of your content marketing strategy? I think it’s a matter of 5 key steps.
1. Define Who You’re Talking To
Targeting a specific group of people rather than everyone, it’s the first thing to do when building up your strategy. Why? Because speaking to everyone usually resolves in speaking to no one. Given this, you should segment a group of those who might want to reach and get to know them by finding answers to the following 4 questions:
- What are they interested about?
- What are they looking for?
- What specific needs are they trying to satisfy?
- What tools/services do they use to satisfy their needs?
If you’d like to get deeper in creating your personas, Heidi Cohen’s long list of questions is the best place to start.
Essentially, learning your niche from the point of view of its core and most intimate issues gives you the scope for your future “bricks of content”, which would be blog posts, social media updates, white papers and so on.
2. Divide Your Content Marketing Strategy Into Small Chunks
A well-structured content strategy gives you the whole picture, but getting more users and leads it’s a step-by-step process.
Ben Finklea’s post provides useful insights about the most important phases within a content strategy you should take into account. It’s pretty unlikely someone alone is able to take full responsibility on all these new actions and tasks. That’s why you should start thinking about outsource at least some aspect of the process related to content, thus setting roles among your coworkers may also be required – looking for people responsible for keyword research, the very writing procedure, promoting your content in social media and other resources, and so no.
3. Research For The Best Suitable Content Formats
Each business has its own way to spread its story and core message toward its audience. You’re supposed to know how customers and prospects experience your different type of content (see Step 1): do they visit your website regularly? Do they comment your status updates on Facebook or engage via Twitter? How about those via mobile devices? They keep growing, be alerted.
When trying to launch a content strategy, determine the formats that perfectly address your customers’ behavior to generate the most interest within your particular niche. Videos, blog posts, native ads, ebooks, slideshows, newsletters, etc. Done with it? Great, now you need to determine which writing styles your audience is mostly interested in – humorous and fun, data-driven, etc., but don’t undervalue this aspect or you may end up spreading your content across to someone who will treat it as something they don’t need, even if they actually looked for it online.
4. Develop a Scalable Strategy
Despite the utmost importance of creating and developing a content marketing strategy, lots of businesses (like startups) still find it too expensive and time consuming to apply some costly content marketing tactics. In order to start right away, you need a list of what I call content-atoms, which are the core elements you must create content about, and then grow your content outputs upon them accordingly. Some examples are: new products announcements and updates, how-tos showing how to set up your products/get the most out of it, corporate news (acquisitions, merging, and similar). Think of content atoms as minimum viable products you need to measure, test and validate each time you share them and lead your decisions (and investments) for content-related issues.
5. Meet The Content Strategy Goals
If you’re sweating your guts out and squeezing your budget in order to focus on content, there’s only one thing left: after you bring your content strategy to life, make sure everything fully meets your goals. No idea about where to start setting goals? Tommy Walter suggests these 4 major content marketing goals:
- Drive Comments
- Get Shared
- Attract Leads
- Make Sales
Measure your success and check the effectiveness of your content strategy by determining which formats and tactics work, which need improvement instead, which stages require changes and which ones need no tweaks at all because they already work great.
“Getting real” with content is effective, but could be scary because a) you don’t have any clue about where to start, b) you’re worried it’s way over your budget or c) you can’t measure it the way you always measured other metrics in your business.
If you’d follow the aforementioned 5 steps, I’m sure you’ll be able to kick-off your first content marketing strategy with good results. From there, it’s up to you to develop a great one or simply get in touch with me and we’ll discuss how to make it a real blast!
[Image: Anna Creech]