The Complete Guide to Developing a Winning Content Strategy
Has your published content (that you've worked tirelessly to create) fallen flat?
Sometimes, your blog posts land a top five spot on your chosen search engines, but other times, your content disappears into the abyss of the internet.
What's going on?
Whether it'd be a video, an infographic, or a blog post, it's important to differentiate great content from average content.
That's where a content strategy comes in.
This under-appreciated, yet powerful plan is your roadmap to success, letting you create content that reaches your targeted audience.
In this guide, we'll go through on how to create a content strategy, along with measuring its metrics for further refinement.
- What is a content strategy?
- List your company’s goals or goal
- Understand your target market using online analytical tools
- Start your keyword research
- Create outstanding content that gets noticed
- Create a content calendar to become more organised
- Start measuring your content’s metrics
- Get feedback from your viewers and sales team
What is a Content Strategy?
A content strategy is an organised plan of action that helps you create content (written, visual or audio) that effectively engages with your target audience. This should be at every stage of the customer journey or marketing funnel, keeping them engaged even after the buying stage.
A great content strategy framework should outline the following:
- Who your audience are and what pain points they routinely experience
- Content types and formats i.e. whitepapers, webinars or videos
- Content distribution channels i.e social media vs Google
- Measures of success i.e low bounce rates, high click through rates and conversions
- What voice, tone and design you'll use throughout the content
Besides simply attracting prospects to your brand, your content strategy can facilitate sales, build brand loyalty, increase outreach and more. It's a fantastic tool that can dramatically increase your brand's visibility, and revenue.
- Define Your Goal or Goals
Looking to create content to build brand awareness for your new line of scooters? Then a well-crafted blog post or video about the newest electric scooters trends could work.
If upselling a product is the goal, your content strategy could include case studies, how-to guides or even discount offers.
Brand goals can vary. As such, you should be crystal clear before you embark on any keyword research, content creation or distribution efforts.
While many content strategies attempt to tackle multiple goals, you may find yourself stretched thin if you try to do too much. Remember, a Jack of all trades is a master of none.
- Research Your Audience and Their Paint Points
Whether you're posting your content on Facebook, Instagram, or on your website, you should always write for your audience.
When you know who the content is for, you'll know what topics to champion or what paint points to address. If not, you'll be like a ship sailing without a compass, drifting aimlessly in the sea with no destination.
And just don't assume to already know your target audience. Use online tools like Google Analytics, and social media analytics to find their demographic information.
- Purchase behaviour
- Sites they like to frequently visit
From here, you can ask yourself questions like:
- What obstacles do they routinely encounter?
- How can your content help solve those problems?
For example, let's say you specialise in beauty products for women aged 18-35. With Google Analytics and social media analytical tools, you've discovered a large chunk of your target audience suffer from acne. Because of this, they're always looking for new and improved ways to get rid of it.
Now's your opportunity to tackle the problem or pain point head on.
Your blog posts could consist of skincare routines and natural remedies for acne, or a video on the various ways to mask blemishes and dark spots. These are far more to resonate with your audience, and pave the way for conversions.
- Do Your Keyword Research to Identify Topics
To really hone in your target audience, you need to know what keywords they search for. This is especially prevalent in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), where keyword research is a must for driving organic website traffic.
With keyword research tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs or Moz, you can quickly discover keyword groups associated with a particular topic, and their respective volume of searches. For example, your primary keyword could be:
'How to prevent acne'
But you can also target related keywords like:
- 'how to stop acne'
- 'how to reduce acne'
- 'pimples self-care' and so on.
And if you're unsure on which topics to cover, Ahrefs lets you perform content gap analysis to see what keywords your competitors are ranking for. You can now create similar content and target those keywords to outrank your competition.
- Start Developing Fantastic Content that Stands Out
Now we get to the content itself.
Online content, whether it'd be blog posts, email newsletters, or Youtube videos are a dime a dozen. Many are either plagiarised, full of useless information, written poorly or a combination of all three.
Like almost any other business aspect, you must make an effort to deliver outstanding value. And I won't lie, it's not easy - the internet is saturated with millions of articles and videos on the same topics.
That's why you must step up your content marketing efforts, and produce content that really answers your audience’s wants and needs. One way is to hire writers who experts in their respective field, whether it'd be health, beauty, technology or any other niche. You can also incorporate your own research or case studies in your content, to give it an unique edge and to provide something new.
Other tricks you can use include:
- Make attention-grabbing headlines that directly piques a user's interest.
- Incorporate videos, GIFs, graphics and other visuals to increase content appeal.
- Include credible outbound sources that are relevant to the topic - these help to validate your point and can also help boost SEO.
- Add a table of contents or 'key takeaways' section for long-form articles or blog posts.
- Add humour or a personal touch - personality goes a long way in engaging readers.
- Keep sentences short and concise - try not to ramble (I have to remind myself of this too!)
- Make a Content Calendar for Your Creative Team
A digital strategist's job is to know what type of content to create, as well as when and where to publish it.
For example, it's probably not ideal to post a blog post titled "How to make the perfect summer BBQ" in the middle of winter. You also wouldn't post a video targeting professional businesses owners in their 50s on TikTok, instead, LinkedIn would be a better bet.
That's where a content calendar or editorial calendar comes in handy.
Once you figure which platforms and dates to post your content, you can jot them down in a calendar, using Google Sheets, Trello, or an online content management system.
Your calender should state the following:
- Type of content to be published i.e videos, blog posts, infographics etc.
- Chosen distribution channels i.e Facebook, your website, etc.
- Who's in charge of creating and publishing each piece of content
- Start date and deadline and so on.
We recommend using a digital editorial calendar, as they’re more flexible and allow for on the fly adjustments. For instance, if deadlines need to be pushed, you can easily reschedule posts online.
- Measure and Monitor Your Content’s Metrics
No content strategy is perfect, no matter how hard you try. That's why you need to monitor, measure and track your results.
Relevant data will show which content pieces are getting most engagement. You can no identify what makes them stand out. Was it the headline? The visuals? A specific topic or keyword etc.
So what metrics should you look out for? Let's go through them:
1. Consumption Metrics
Consumption metrics are your first point of call. These are key indicators which can be found using the Content Drilldown feature on Google Analytics.
It can include:
- Number of Views (views per article, video or post)
- Bounce rate
- Average time on page
- How they’re discovering your page
Ideally, you want to excel in all departments. But you may encounter a high number of views initially (yay!), followed by a high bounce rate (boo!). This may suggest your headlines and intro texts/descriptions are click bait-y, but the content itself isn't of high quality or relevant.
When analysing these metrics ask yourself:
- Which genre did users spend the most time on?
- Did anyone share your content on social media?
- Did users comment on anything in particular or comment at all?
- Are top-performing pages better optimised than others? If they are, find out what you can do to replicate the same success.
2. Social Media Content Sharing
While implementing SEO strategies like keyword research, tagging and link building are crucial, it helps to have a social media content strategy in place.
Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn aren't just for gossiping or sharing funny gifs. They're also powerful marketing tools for content creators and digital marketers.
When you look at published content, take note of how engaged their audience is. What type of content is being shared, liked and commented on? Also, check which platform the content was shared from. This will help you decide which platforms to prioritise in the future.
When posting content on social media, look out for the following metrics:
- Impressions - the number of times posts have been seen.
- Reach - people who see your content, even if it's been more than once.
- Audience growth rate - how quickly you've gained followers.
- Engagement - how many likes, comments and shares your content has.
- Click through rate - the number of people who viewed and clicked on your content.
Most social media platforms have built-in analytics tools to make the job easier. These include Facebook's Audience Insights, Instagram Insights, the Twitter activity dashboard and so on. You can also try third-party social media tools to cross-track metrics on multiple platforms - just expect to pay a fee.
Another important metric is where your audience came from. For example, if an email newsletter drove a lot of traffic to a particular blog post, use this data to inform future strategies.
3. Lead Metrics
If you're selling a product or service, you’re probably making content for different parts of your sales funnel.
Let's go over a few examples of tailored content for each stage of the funnel:
- Awareness/top of Funnel: blog posts, podcasts, webinars, social media posts
A blog post titled '5 ways for Yoga Beginners to get Started' targets new yoga practitioners or anyone who’s interested in yoga. Your target audience, at this stage, is probably unaware of your brand, so this is a great non-intrusive way to introduce them.
- Consideration/Middle of Funnel: Lead magnets, case studies, cheat sheets, white papers
A case study on how your 'dog training course' transformed badly behaved dogs into cute and obedient pets could help convince interested viewers into paying for your service.
- Conversion/Bottom of Funnel: free trials, demos, discounts, testimonials
This content gears potential buyers towards the ultimate goal: making a purchase. A free trial, for example, gives them a teaser of what your product can do. Testimonials, meanwhile, help potential customers trust the brand, as others share their positive experiences.
If you're tracking your leads, you can set up a URL destination goal using Google Analytics:
- Log into Google Analytics.
- Select “Conversions” - “Goals” - “Goal URLs”.
- Click on 'Set up Goals' then '+NEW GOAL'
- Choose “Template” and type in your goal's description
- Click on "Destination', and then on "Continue"
- In "goal details", copy and paste your URL.
Now, it's time to determine what you need tracking.
Simply choose from:
Value: The monetary value assigned to each conversion. Include your product/service's price here.
Funnel: Track the steps a customer takes before they reach the conversion page.
You can now save your goal and start tracking it. This will help you identify which content is helping you convert leads or perform the desired action.
4. Sales Metrics
Most of the time, we create content to drive sales. But without knowing how much money it's bringing in, it’s hard to truly measure its success.
To measure content marketing revenue, do the following:
- Log into Google Analytics.
- Select Behavior - Site Content - All Pages.
You can now see which pages are driving the most revenue. Pages that are considered value pages are those that are visited by users before they land on a purchase page. For example, if a certain service page or blog post is causing users to go directly to the product page to make a purchase, then it's considered a value page.
5. Get Feedback From Your Viewers and Sales Team
You've posted a well-researched social media post, and now you wait for your audience to consume it. The results are:
35 likes, 15 comments, and 2 shares,
However, instead of resting on your laurels, leverage your engaged audience to get more out of your content. Ask in your post's comments section for feedback, i.e what did they like or didn't like?
This way, you can identify what content they are yearning for.
This is especially prevalent if you're an expert in your field. People seek your advice specifically, so accommodating their questions is a great way to garner trust and loyalty.
Your sales team is also an invaluable source of information. They regularly talk to your target customers, and can provide invaluable insights on what leads want. For example, if most of your leads are asking about a specific product, you can begin creating content for it.
Wrapping Things Up
Creating a successful content strategy goes beyond picking your favourite topics to write.
It involves knowing your target audience, identifying which parts of the funnel you want to create content for, and tracking metrics. In other words, it's a multi-faceted approach that requires holistic thinking.
The most successful content strategies are the ones that are continually revised to perform better. To do this, perform a content audit every six months, and start changing content that needs to be improved.
Remember: it's an on-going process, not a one-time effort.
By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can create your own content strategy and social media strategy. Goodluck!