Has your company switched on to content?
Content is at the core of what a company does, and an effective content strategy is aligned with business goals and works to power all marketing; is your company embracing the opportunities to promote?
Content and advertising are not the same - successful content strategies address the audience’s needs, support campaigns and produce content that is actually read.
“A lot of people think content strategy should be detached, but what we’re seeing is that content is becoming essential to any communication that your brand has with its customer base,” said Joe Lazauskas, Head of Content Strategy at Contently.
Whether a website, sales material or one-sheeters, every touchpoint should tell a story about what your company offers and how your company helps people: “You need to get your value proposition across, and you need good content and storytelling to explain why someone should choose you, trust you and have a relationship with you.”
Content flows from the business, as long as there is clarity around the business strategy and organization’s goals in the marketplace; whether that’s to retain new clients, deepen relationships, gain awareness in new markets, or launch new products or services, for example.
“Those are big strategic business questions, and content can be a supporting factor to help you do that – it may not drive it, but it can help to support that strategy,” said Chris Collette, Principal at Clarity Group Consulting.
Here are tips to help develop an effective content strategy:
Know your audience
How and where your audience consumes content dictates the best ways to reach them. “Some people might consume and look for videos and others might look for blogs,” said Chris. “It’s not a one size fits all for any of these questions.”
To narrow down audience preferences, marketers have access to an incredible amount of data to understand what people are asking, what they’re looking for and the channels that resonate. The actions you want people to take are key to a content’s channel and format.
Which [content] is right for your brand and campaign is determined by what your audience is interested in and what actions you want your audience to take.
If the goal is to increase engagement on social, a native autoplay video with an engaging voiceover might work best, or if it’s lead-generation, asking people to complete a form to access content will likely be more effective.
“Content marketing spans articles, videos, infographics, e-graphics, calculators – all the content under the sun – but which is right for your brand and campaign is determined by what your audience is interested in and what actions you want your audience to take,” said Joe.
Analyse your goals
Search and social tools show which type of content an audience prefers along with the company’s perception and goals in the industry. If the goal is to improve perception about being a thought leader, then creating more thought leadership content might be the right strategy.
Performance matters - if one-minute videos are doing really well, then consider doing more, and if no one is engaging with static case studies, perhaps tell the story differently.
Trust your intuition and try a crazy idea.
“You have to do the analysis and take a best ‘guestimate’ and then measure what you’re doing; see what people respond to and have clear KPIs laid out so you see how your content performs,” said Joe.
“Cut out what’s not working and double down on what’s working, and always be willing to try new things that you see as being successful. Trust your intuition and try a crazy idea – these are often where the most successful content pieces come from.”
Customize for each country for international business
Each country’s content should be specific to that country, or pieces from a central content team should be localized with the intricacies of that country’s language – unique spellings, terminology or slang – to resonate with that audience.
When publishing content in another language, maintain the content’s intent with translation and transcreation, or translating to the foreign language and then back to the original language so the content makes sense and doesn’t alienate people.
“It’s a multistep process but the overall ethos is creating content and then giving the local markets the power to localize that content so that markets don’t find the content weird,” said Joe.
Publish when necessary
“How often you push content out depends on your goals, and you should tier your content and look at your cycles,” said Chris.
Annual pieces discuss big predictions and trends for the year, weekly posts might be quick snippets on trends or news events, and topical monthly and quarterly pieces tend to have a longer shelf life.
“Think like a journalist or publisher as you develop your calendar and have flexibility in the calendar to adjust, but nothing should be a surprise,” explained Chris.
You have to focus on the passions that are related to the product you’re selling.
Know your SEO
People find content by searching on particular words, phrases or terms, and these searches illustrate the questions you need to answer.
SEO is the backend and metadata of content that drives the search. SEO changes constantly, as do the underlying algorithms, and keeping up with how these change and incorporating a good page structure and SEO best practices will boost content visibility.
Scale to compete
Creating unique content showcasing your company’s expertise can work to fill gaps and compete with other companies and media outlets. “Everyone has unique perspectives and they need to leverage that rather than writing generic copycat content,” said Joe. “You have to focus on the passions that are related to the product you’re selling. It’s about really understanding your audience and committing to great quality content.”
About the author
Andrea Murad is a New York–based writer. Having worked on both Wall Street and Main Street, she now pursues her passion for words. She covers business and finance, and her work can be found on BBC Capital, Consumers Digest, Entrepreneur.com, FOXBusiness.com, Global Finance and InstitutionalInvestor.com.