You may have heard content can provide your business with all kinds of benefits and decided you don’t want to miss out. But to put together an effective content strategy you need to first answer some fundamental questions.
Who Are You Creating Content For?
Knowing your audience is fundamental for anyone publishing content. For businesses, a good place to start is identifying your buyer personas. These are the broad categories your typical customers fall into. Having an accurate picture of your personas will help you create content that will resonate with them. If most of your customers don’t use social media for instance, then creating a content strategy which relies on social engagement isn’t going to work.
Your audience, along with the subject matter you’re covering, will also influence the tone of voice you choose to adopt. For instance, you may choose to use humour sparingly and stick to a matter of fact tone.
Here are just a few things that are useful to know about your audience:
- What’s their average age?
- What’s their gender breakdown?
- What level of education do they have?
- What are their interests and hobbies?
- How often do they use the internet?
- What are their favourite news sources?
- How often do they use social media?
Why Are You Creating Content?
Having a clear reason why you want to create content will help prevent you wasting a lot of time and money. Some of the main reasons businesses create content include:
- Building brand awareness
- Fostering customer loyalty
- Generating leads
- Nurturing leads
- Generating sales
A lot of these reasons relate to creating content that is relevant to the buying cycle. Pinpointing what stage of the buying cycle you are aiming to cater your content for will help you focus on being persuasive.
- Awareness – At this stage, your customers have identified their need for a particular type of product, so you want to make sure your content makes clear what you can offer. You might want to highlight your diverse range for instance
- Consideration – The customer is now doing their research and creating content that helps them reach a decision, like a buyer’s guide, will make them interested in what you have to offer
- Intent – As they get closer to making their purchase, they’ll be scrutinising your products more closely, so you want to make sure content like your product descriptions are well presented and don’t leave unanswered questions that may put doubt in their mind
- Purchase – You’re now getting close to making that sale, so it’s the perfect time to highlight any offers you have and convince them to buy from you
- Repurchase – Make sure you stay front of their mind for future purchases by getting customers to sign up to your email newsletters, or follow you on social media
John Lewis does a good job of producing buyer’s guides for their more expensive products, like this one for washing machines. Customers might be overwhelmed by the choice offered and will appreciate being given the knowledge to make a decision that won’t leave them wondering if they’re over or under spending.
It’s also worth pursuing goals that aren’t purely product led. More than anything, you need to give people a reason to buy from you rather than someone else. Making sure your brand stands out is therefore key. Content can help you create a brand image that makes you attractive to buyers. It can do this in a number of ways, it can showcase your expertise or portray you as forward thinking, reliable, fun or trustworthy. Whatever you think will help build your client base.
What Will Your Customers Get out of Your Content?
When you create content, remember to give your customers a reason to read it. Every piece of content you create either needs to be informative, entertaining, or ideally both. If you use your expertise to create content that solves a problem for people, then they’ll be more inclined to buy from you. Take for example the online garden centre Potter and Rest. They share a wealth of useful information for gardeners:
If you know the kind of questions your customers ask that relate to your business, then create content that gives them the answers they need. Carrying out a content gap analysis is a good place to start. It will help you identify the queries people are typing into search engines that are being poorly catered for. Then, if you can serve their needs, you stand a chance of creating content that will gain traction.
Where Will Your Content Live?
Creating lots of lovely content is no good if nobody gets to see it! You need to be strategic about where you place your content on your site. It’s no good burying it so deep into your site’s navigation that only a few people will ever stumble across it.
You can take several approaches to making sure your content is found but hopefully you want to do a mixture of these.
You can decide to give your content a specific home on your site, by creating a blog or a content hub for instance. Or, you may choose to incorporate your content at the relevant stage of your customer journey. If you’ve created a buyer’s guide, place it next to the relevant products.
You may even choose to host your content mainly on social media. For example, if your product lends itself well to video content, you could choose to have your content live on You Tube. After all, it is now the second largest search engine!
Blendtec has a taken a pretty out-there approach to their content production by creating a YouTube channel full of humorous videos aimed at showing how effective their blenders are. They’ve clearly got something right as they’ve got nearly one million subscribers!
How Will You Measure Your Content’s Success?
This is probably one of the most vital aspects of creating content but also one of the easiest to ignore. You may find the idea of dealing with numbers daunting, or feel you don’t have the time for analysis, but you’ll only be doing yourself a disservice if you bypass measuring your performance.
The insight you get from your content metrics should steer you towards the best course for your content marketing strategy. It will help you identify where your efforts are best spent and, in the long run, it should make your life easier.
You may find you’re spending time creating lots of content when you’d be better off narrowing your focus onto specific types of content that work for you.
There are several metrics you can measure but here are some you should look at including as part of your content’s KPIs:
- Dwell time
- Page views
- Unique Visitors
- Lead conversion
Don’t be tempted to dive into content marketing before you’ve taken the time to think through your strategy. It’s the only way you’ll get the results you hope for!