Content has and always will be king, yet; it can only be so when it serves not only your business goals but also the needs of the customers. Now, more than ever, setting a content map out is no longer something that can be done by following fly-by-night industry schemes and shortcuts.
To set an effective one that isn't merely established for the sake of posting on a schedule, you need to ask the right content strategy questions and put careful thought into obtaining the most detailed answers. So, what are the questions to ask? We've compiled them below to make it easier for you!
What Is in a Content Strategy?
For different people, content strategies mean different things. Definitions include anything from posting blog posts twice a week and defining personas and customers to frequent social media posting and more. But if we stop for a second, are those strategies or ideas?
To answer that question, they're just tactics. They're undoubtedly vital, but they're only part of the much bigger picture. Your content strategy should lay out the objectives that your business is looking to achieve through it, followed by a detailed blueprint that includes the approach to successfully accomplishing them, using content as a means.
Ask yourself and your team this question: how am I going to create, distribute, and measure the performance of my content efforts? And we want to stress the measurement aspect – remember that your marketing efforts will require resources and budget, so you want to be sure you have clear goals and metrics to measure the results.
Are you trying to increase brand awareness? Sell more of a product? Provide better after-sales service and customer experience? Outperform your competitors? Have more readers on your blog? Improve conversation rates? When you know your objective, you'll know what tools to use to measure it and which metrics to look at.
What Is a Content Strategy Framework?
The content marketing framework goes a step further to structure and detail the plan. Key components in a coherent and operative framework include objectives, personas, audiences, customer segmentation, funnel stages, user touchpoints, content type, tone, voice, distribution channels, and more.
Why Is Content Strategy Important?
Most businesses use content in one way or another – be it through a blog article every couple of months, frequent posting on social media, email marketing campaigns, uploading a video on Youtube every now and then, and more. In most cases, the aim is to promote the organization and its brand, but the process isn't well-formulated or thought out.
One of the essential marketing questions to ask is why a content marketing strategy is important. Simply, when you have a guide in place, you're better able to increase the ROI of your company from marketing strategies. How so?
Because instead of just posting a random photo on social networks, you take the time to "think" about which ones to post by considering the customers you're trying to reach, what product or service you're promoting, which channels to leverage, and ultimately, what you're hoping to achieve.
Answering such questions will help guide your content process, and in doing so, content curation and creation will be second-nature to you and your team. You'll better meet your target customers' expectations by being consistent in the type of content you distribute, the messages you communicate, and the channels you use.
Of course, that'll ultimately result in better brand perception and increased value for customers!
What Are the Four Key Questions Before Creating Your Strategy?
So it's time to develop the master plan – how do you go about it? Here are the four questions to ask about when content planning is involved.
Who Is the Perfect Buyer? - Creating a Persona
Every company or business has its target market, a set of potential customers who are likely to be interested in purchasing their products, consuming their services, and becoming regular clients.
Long ago, when traditional marketing campaigns were involved, marketers didn't have many targeting options to reach their target customers and attract new customers.
Nowadays, the best thing about digital marketing is that marketers can perfectly target your customers – new customers or existing ones – if you have a proper marketing plan for your company in place.
So, what's your target customer like? Create a persona for them; a fictional character representing that person or group of people. How, when, and why will they purchase your product or service? Think demographics, behavior patterns, work/job, motivations, challenges, and everything you know based on market research, social listening, and analytics.
Create between 3-5 personas for your clients, depending on your business size and the diversity of your products and services. It can be tempting to create more, but remember, your buyer personas need to be as distinct as possible from one another.
What Is the Clients' Goal in Cooperating With You?
Among the crucial marketing questions that a lot of businesses sometimes don't ask themselves and their team members is: what does the client get out of this? And by this, we're referring to the product purchase, service consumption, or even interacting with your business or organization. What's in it for them?
There's no one-size-fits-all answer for this one. Customers consume products and services for different reasons – making a good deal out of a promotion, affordable cost, value for money, convenience, access to premium solutions, positive feelings, time-saving, brand loyalty, quality, and the list goes on.
By understanding why customers choose your products or services among the competition and giving sufficient thought to getting answers to this question, you'll develop a winning marketing blueprint.
How Do You Want to Position Yourself on the Market?
What sets you apart from the industry competitors, and what's your value proposition for the customer? Is it your company story? The business model? Prices? A unique product? Premium offerings? Think about how you want to frame your business and brand on the market in order to be able to spread the word and make sure your customers perceive you the way they should be.
Your positioning will pave the way for other steps, like choosing content types (blog posts, videos, infographics, social networks' content, etc.), ideas, brand voice, tone, and messaging. To perfectly showcase your brand positioning, you need to be consistent across all channels to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Which Channels Will Be Used to Distribute Content?
With all the information you've gathered, it's now time to settle on how frequently you'll be sharing content and which distribution channels you'll use to do so.
Ideally, don't put all your eggs in one basket – most brands aim for a combination of marketing distribution channels. The most common ways are blog posts, email marketing, social media, podcasts, infographics, and case studies, depending on the product or service at hand.
Yet, you should place more focus on the channels with the highest ROI, and that actually work. For instance, search engine optimization (SEO) has been timelessly proven to generate the highest ROIs, providing you the optimal mix of being relatively low cost while generating tremendous results in the long-term, so that's an idea.
To make the best out of SEO, data-driven content creation is key, and that includes all the information we've been discussing up to this point. If you step into the content marketing world with the intention of simply boosting rankings, that's the wrong formula to work by.
Instead, you'll only be able to create actionable content that generates leads and traffic, and accordingly, ranks, when you understand why you're creating the content, who the audience is, and what goal you're seeking out of it. Not to mention, it must provide value for customers.
What Factors Influence Marketing Strategy?
Unfortunately, the problem is that creating a marketing plan isn't equal to success.
A few factors come into play to either make or break it, such as how well you understand your target market, whether you're a new entrant to the market, the fierceness of the competition, the effectiveness of your marketing communication, social media audience base, whether you're keeping a close eye on data analytics or not, and the budget you allocate for paid efforts and tools.
If you want to play it safe and ensure long-term success, SEO should occupy a big chunk of your marketing, especially since it's among the easiest ones to track, whether through keyword rankings, leads, page views, backlinks, or more tools and strategies.
Make sure your site and publishing platforms are optimized for SEO and that you're effectively using keyword targeting in your content while maintaining quality and relevance, providing a beneficial customer experience, and establishing relationships. Following these steps, you'll be well on your way with the entire marketing process!