In today’s digital world, creating compelling content is the key to standing out. According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 63% of business don’t have a documented content strategy, and yet 86% of B2C marketers think content marketing is critical. Lack of direction could be to blame for this divide. It’s hard to know where to look for ideas, or how to determine what principles apply to your business goals and your brand’s reputation.
A content strategy does more than just attract visitors to a website or social media account. It helps to establish brand trust, create better customer experience, and develop a framework to understand how performance metrics impact business objectives. Thus, your business can’t afford to ignore the significance of a content strategy — especially not in such a competitive environment.
Is your business prepared to execute a successful content marketing strategy? This article offers 5 practical tips for organizations looking to make the leap from business to brand.
Let’s explore how content marketing helps bridge that gap.
1. Diversify your content formats
The first step in a successful content strategy is to determine the types of content you want to publish. Take a look at some examples of high-performing content types, below:
- Videos: whiteboard animation or explainer video
- Blogs: in-depth listicle of current trends or a thought leadership article
- Infographics: roundup of expert opinions or crowdsourced data
- Case Studies: client success stories
- Social Content: IGTV, memes, polls, and branded hashtags
Remember that you’re marketing to human beings; make sure content types are aligned with the interests of your target audience. Your target audience in mind, this step helps to create specific buyer personas. A buyer persona helps you better understand how your customer thinks and behaves, which in turn informs the way you position yourself online.
Think critically about content types and how to make them format-specific. Microblogging sites like Twitter and Facebook, for instance, have distinct formatting guidelines that will determine the length and style of your content.
There’s also tremendous opportunity in recycling and repurposing content in different formats across channels. For example, you can turn customer reviews into an engaging series of video testimonials, thereby extending content shelf life.
Video marketing, in particular, is a fast-growing tool leveraged by business owners and marketers alike to increase the efficacy and engagement of their content.In fact, video content generates 1200% the amount of shares of image and text content combined. No matter what type of content you decide to create, it’s important to keep strict messaging guidelines in order to avoid a potential brand reputation mishap.
2. Develop brand messaging guidelines.
The content you share online represents your business. Everything from brand colors and logos to Tweets replies, videos and conversations tells consumers what your brand is about. Sure, these components are important when developing a brand — but let’s think more broadly for a moment.
Your brand messaging sets the tone for all of your communications. It’s absolutely fine to be a little snarky if that’s what your customers expect (think Wendy’s). But if your messaging is generally more serious, a sassy response to a customer inquiry could result in a company roast on social media. If you’re lucky, it’ll blow over. However, many large brands have seen social media crises boil over into mainstream news, causing damage to a brand’s reputation.
Brand messaging allows you to construct guardrails for how you’ll interact with customers. You can exclude certain words from your brand’s vocabulary, define your tone, and establish a structure for handling upset customers.
3. Stay away from controversial topics.
One important thing to consider when ideating content is how that content helps or hinders your brand’s online reputation. Not to mention, poorly planned content has a habit of backfiring for even the largest of brands — consider Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi ad misstep, a video which made waves for all the wrong reasons.
The really unfortunate thing about a content gaffe? Once it’s out there, it’s hard to remove, especially if it garners negative press attention. This negative press can finds its way to Google search results for your brand, which has real-world implications for your bottom line.
Data tells us that having just four negative search results can cost you up to 70% of potential business. This footprint sends a signal to consumers that even the best branding can’t muffle. Mistakes are part of life, but in business, it’s best to be intentional with your content and consider things from all angles before pressing publish.
4. Create a schedule — and stick to it.
Once you’ve come up with what content you’ll be sharing and crafted branding guidelines, you have to decide when you want to post. An editorial calendar keeps you and your staff organized and accountable. Many businesses also deploy a content approvals process to ensure that everything produced is on-brand and appropriately formatted.
The frequency of published content can vary depending on the format and channel. You may only want to publish one blog per week on your website, but plan to post more frequently on social media. That said, consistency is key here as well. If you publish social media posts several times a day and then drop to a few times a week, you may also see a drop in engagement.
What if your team has limited bandwidth to post? You may look to automate your content strategy with posting tools. This can save time for your team, which they can allocate to further content development, and customer engagement.
5. Measure your results.
Savvy marketers know that a great content strategy is iterative (meaning, it’s a constant work in progress, and is informed and improved upon with data). In order to properly measure how your content is performing, it’s important to identify what goals and objectives matter most to your business. Goals and objectives can change over time, but a general rule of thumb is to identify a few priority ones at the very beginning. These can vary from business to business, but let’s take a closer look at some examples:
- Goal: To increase customer conversions on my website
- Objective: Over the next X months, my business will increase traffic to its landing pages by X%.
- Goal: I want to gain more engaged followers on my business profiles.
- Objective: My business will create and execute an X-month social media content plan.
- Goal: I want to increase positive customer reviews and testimonials.
- Objective: I will reach out to X customers with a satisfaction survey, and create CTA buttons on my website.
It’s easy to misconstrue “goals” and “objectives,” but these terms aren’t interchangeable. Goals are broader and generally cover a large-scale vision for success. Objectives, on the other hand, refer to specific, measurable actions you and your team can take in order to achieve that larger goal.
Finally, the performance data you collect comprises metrics like engagement, click-through rate, and web or referral traffic. Metrics like these help definitively measure progress towards your objectives, as well as determining the ROI of your marketing efforts.
If you’re not creating content, you’re falling behind your competitors. A well-defined, measurable content strategy has the potential to elevate your brand, secure your online reputation, and help you achieve your business objectives.
Whether you’re doubling down on videos or posting memes to Twitter, ensure your content makes sense — for you and your customers.