It is almost a year since we ventured to write a post about content as part of a marketing strategy. It’s probably not surprising that it has been this long as the topic is extremely well documented upon. You could almost call it a shock of content – to borrow a word. (borrowed from here)
Anyway, we were reminded recently of how precious time can be wasted in a business environment. We were discussing a potential client’s digital marketing activity. They were proud of their efforts in that they activated an online presence through a website, social media and a blog. So far so good – you say.
We asked to see their strategy document, be it an overall marketing or a digital one. They replied that they hadn’t written one down. “No problem, ” we said and asked them to tell us what topics they shared with their audiences. They replied “really interesting information about our brand / products etc.”
We had a quick look at the aforementioned prospect’s online activity and noticed that a) there was no real SEO being undertaken, the blog read like an advertisement and they were cross distributing posts across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Even their social media profiles were inconsistent and definitely not brand aligned.
Nor did they measure engagement rates but they did know their followers /page likes figures. And therein lies the problem with brands on ‘digital’ nowadays. Sometimes their activity does not form part of an overall cohesive marketing strategy. Most of their online activity is a waste of their time.
“Is this not marketing”, they asked, to which we replied “yes, but not with any empathy for the customer’s experience of the brand.” In fairness, their intentions were good and all they lacked really was a vision; a strategy as to what they want their brand to be known within a specific audience.
Like many businesses who are caught up in the allure of the ‘shiny online baubles,’ this organisation doesn’t concentrate on building a congruent and relevant brand experience across the web.
Our discussion motivated us to pen this article in relation to the much-abused words content and strategy. We will spend the rest of this post outlining why we think it is important to have a content strategy and how to implement it in a way that doesn’t waste anybody’s time or money.
Having a strategic approach to content is a no-brainer
Our point is that more time should be spent developing a strategy, up-front, and not jumping straight into producing videos or hopping on social media channels etc. This should be a no-brainer for your organisation, really.
Not having a content strategy manager role in your business is also a good start. Our opinion is that everybody who works in your organisation should become a content strategist – because everything is content. Different people can bring it alive through user experience, blogging, ad copy, your website architecture, CTA buttons, packaging and social media etc.
If it is understood that all content should be focusing back to a core objective then every piece of content will say something (add value to) about your brand.
Be it educational, entertaining or informative – all content produced should have some link to a core marketing strategy. Of course great content doesn’t just happen, which is why we must plan tactics for search, social and offline marketing.
One word that we haven’t mentioned to this point is measurement. We don’t mean measurement of outputs – we mean how the content can be tested for relevance. Measuring relevance means, if your actions / content aren’t having the desired effect then it can be changed accordingly – saving time and money. An editorial calendar is fine as long as it can be changed when and if, needs be.
If you are a start-up business, an organisation with a cause or an SME, try and communicate some personality and character in your content. Good content is in abundance so with a little more effort, excellent content shouldn’t be far behind.
Would you agree that if good content is in abundance – excellent content shouldn’t be far behind?Click to tweet
What does engaging (clickable) content look like?
We are all aware that we can pay for audience reach online through search engines and social media platforms. The real challenge, however, is after achieving a targeted reach – making your content clickable i.e. inspiring enough for people to click-through.
Here are 6 ways that an organisation can make their content more engaging:
- make your content relevant for the platform that you are on e.g. LinkedIn vs Instagram
- have an emotional element in your content to make it shareable
- ensure your style is conversational – it is social media after all
- make it unique, valuable or at least compelling
- spend more time developing a great headline
- make sure it is well written i.e. structured well and free from grammatical errors
Whether owned or paid for, creating clickable content is key to spreading the word about how you can solve customer problems and inculcating your brand story.
How about outsourcing your content strategy?
We know that Google is eradicating old (bad) SEO tactics. We also now know that they are encouraging the use of content to prove search result relevancy. This is only right, in our opinion. But, what if you don’t have the staff, time or the experience to manage this element for your organisation?
Unfortunately, what’s happened is that many content gurus have appeared on the scene – promising you the world and its mother. Let’s call this activity they offer – online marketing. Many of these gurus don’t appreciate that providing different types of content for use online only forms part of your overall marketing strategy.
The danger is that other, possibly simpler and more relevant, forms of marketing might be neglected. Communicating online should not be a stand-alone marketing activity.
Also, it is not as easy as they say it is. Imagine trying to be an SEO and social media expert, a journalist, a project manager, a community builder and an analyst. On top of this, you must have a sound knowledge of the business and a pleasant disposition (this last one is not an option).
Here are some considerations for you if want to outsource but avoid the said gurus:
– they should have the skills to research and write, informative and valuable content
– they should know what to write when to write it, how to distribute it and analyse the results
– they should be able to explain how they will conduct on / off page SEO and show results
– they should be able to outline how they will get good value for any paid-for activity
– they should have examples of successes achieved with other clients
Tips on how to make your content strategy stand out and how to avoid mistakes
Every bit of research is telling us that the availability of content is ever-expanding. It’s a huge element of online marketing and has become a favoured lead generation tactic for many organisations. There are mistakes that can be avoided and to help your content stand out in a crowded marketplace, here are some Dos and Don’ts, we recommend:
– Write what you want to write about – get potential reader insights
– Pump out truckloads of content as a box-ticking exercise
– Forget that relevant content distribution is 50% of any success
– Write the piece, neglect to edit and publish under time constraints
– Miss the opportunity to engage further or convert a CTA
– Be inconsistent by not sticking to a schedule (whatever frequency that is)
– Be afraid to voice your opinion on heartfelt topics – originality is good
– Ignore design, layout and optimisation for search
– Forget analytics so as to be informed as to what’s working and what’s not
– Align your content strategy with your business plan
– Make your content relevant to a specific audience for a specific pain point
– Reinforce your brand’s positioning by incorporating your branding elements
– Use appropriate channels / formats for how your audience want to absorb your content
– Curate content as well as creating content and re-use offline where appropriate
– Make it user-friendly and findable
– Commit the resources, both human and financial, internally or externally
– Use owned, paid and earned media to achieve your business objectives
– Measure CTAs and conversions
The importance of a content strategy is becoming more evident which, in turn, is being driven by Google’s search algorithms. However, producing content is still de rigueur. This is fine if it is attracting the right target audience and getting them to take appropriate action as a result of them engaging with your content.
It is imperative though that your content strategy is integrated with your business objectives to ensure that it yields results. The one caveat we would have is that a successful content strategy is not something that is achievable in the short term, it can take a long time.
If you do decide to implement a content strategy, though, just remember to be yourself (define your brand), speak in a language people understand and make it shareable. Then you won’t be wasting your time in the content strategy world.
“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.
Would you like us to notify you, by email, when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers. Jim – O’C&K