As 2019 starts winding down and with a new year coming up, it’s a good time to review your content strategy to make sure it aligns with your goals for 2020. And if you don’t have one, believe us when we say that right now is when you should be developing one.
If you’re saying to yourself, “I already do content marketing,” great. But content marketing and content strategy are not the same things, or interchangeable. While most companies today understand that “content is king” as they create plenty of it for their website or social media channels, far too many companies don’t have a well thought out, documented content strategy. And they need one.
You can have plenty of engaging and creative content on your website, but you need a content strategy to deliver that content to your target audience, ensure it’s what they’re looking for, and provide a truly effective user experience for them. If you do, your business is far more likely to be successful. Think of your content strategy as the guidelines for how the company’s marketing plan will meet or even exceed its goals.
Because the truth is that today, content marketing is no longer a way to set yourself apart from your competitors because every successful brand today uses content marketing as a key aspect of their digital marketing campaign. And today, most brands know that relevant and valuable content is the way to connect with their audience.
But not every brand is taking the extra, crucial step of creating a strategy that goes beyond simply hoping your audience finds you on an overcrowded web.
How is Content Strategy Different from Content Marketing?
While your content strategy is going to overlap with your content marketing, your content strategy is really about your long-term vision for how your content is going to get created and managed, and why. Once you have a clearly defined strategy, your content marketing is about executing that vision — creating your content and editing it to advance your marketing goals. That could include:
- Blog posts
- Pages on your website
- Social media posts
Obviously, you’re creating content that your audience finds educational and informative, which goes beyond simply describing your products and services. You’re using that content to build trust with your audience and to help bring them through the sales funnel.
And that’s a key aspect of why you need a content strategy. Simply creating content isn’t enough, because everybody does that today. An effective content strategy, on the other hand, helps you determine whether your content is connecting with your audience and building the trust that you’re aiming for. It’s about planning your content, creating it, and delivering it — incorporating everything from blogs to images to videos through a holistic multimedia approach. An effective content strategy creates the pipeline that your content moves through. If you don’t have a strategy, you run the risk that the user experience never happens.
What Are The Basics of a Content Strategy?
If you’re reading this and wondering, “Hmm, where do I start?” think about your company’s long-term goals. Where do you want the company to be in 3-5 years? How can content help you get there?
Then define your audience, from their demographics to the social media channels they’re communicating on, to who they’re listening to and who their influencers are, and, most importantly, how you can help them solve their problems — the reason they come to your content in the first place. Understand who your audience is.
Next step: review the content you already have. Find out what your audience is responding to. Measure your success metrics on traffic volume, social shares, assisted conversions, time on the pages and number of pages visited, etc. Reviewing these trends will give you an idea of what’s working and what needs fine-tuning or improvements. Doing this may help you discover what kind of content you need that you don’t already have.
Now, it’s time to set your goals.
Where Can Your Content Strategy Take You?
A content strategy helps you target your audience more effectively, to find those ideal customers most likely to buy from you. A content strategy gives you the tools to better understand your audience and to create content that’s relevant to them. And by better understanding your audience, it enables you to deliver pertinent information and content to them through the right channels.
And if you’re delivering content that your target audience responds positively to, you’re improving your brand reputation and building trust. That’s why you need a content strategy: to guide the creation and distribution of your online content so you’re defining your brand. That helps you improve website conversions.
A content strategy also becomes a productive and essential tool for your team. With a guidepost, your writers will understand everything from the right tone of your content to how best to communicate with your audience, to provide them with something of value, to ensure their writing is high-quality, and that the content enables your company to reach its business goals.
Your hard work developing a content strategy is very likely to pay off. According to a study by the Content Marketing Institute, 61% of U.S. consumers decided to make a purchase after reading recommendations on a blog. In addition:
- ABG Essentials found that conversion rates were 6 times higher with content marketing than with other digital marketing methods.
- Hubspot reports that content marketing has helped inbound marketers double the average site conversion rate (from 6 to 12%).
Having a Vision for Your Content Marketing
The bottom line is your content plan can’t be something random, like a blog post once a month or photos on Instagram without a clear purpose. Content strategy helps you define why you’re doing something before you decide what the content is going to be, and it helps you define how to deliver it. Because every great piece of content starts with a purpose and a vision.
If you’re not sure how to create a content strategy that’s specific to your company, your products, and your brand, reach out to Market My Market, where quality content is at the core of every successful content strategy we’ve implemented for a variety of clients.
Our specialized content marketing team conceptualizes blog and page ideas based on proven research methods to ensure content drives traffic and in turn, contributes to the growth of your business. We have many ways of stretching your content — and your marketing budget — to help you reach new heights. Request a free marketing consultation here.