As we said last time, if you don’t have a fully documented and published content strategy you’re not alone. Incredibly, only a third of businesses do. The rest either don’t have a strategy at all, or at best have only roughly outlined plans that aren’t known to the wider organisation.
Aside from it being a wasted opportunity, the consequences of not having a strategy mean you could be missing out on some real opportunities to get momentum behind your brand, or mean that you’re scrabbling to support marketing goals.
In this second blog of a two-part blog – check out the first one <here> – we’ll look at steps 4, 5 and 6.
Six steps to nailing it!
- Content audit
- Marketing goals and strategy alignment
- Topic choice, format ideas
- Channel and measurement decisions
- Resourcing, budgeting & scheduling
- Review and adjustment
4. Channel and measurement decisions
You have some great ideas for content but how are you going to best distribute it? Which channel best communicates the message and drives action? Think customer first and remember that people engage differently on different channels and they evaluate content differently depending on how they receive it. If you have something really important that you need to let your customer know about you wouldn’t post it on twitter. You’d likely use a channel where you have control over the message and call to action and when and who receives it, so email would be an effective channel here.
Paid, Earned and Owned
Consider your Paid, Earned and Owned media channels and how each contributes to content exposure. Driving customers and prospects to your owned media is your objective as once here you can measure what they do, entice them back for more and remarket to them in the future. Quality content can earn you low cost visits and conversions, but targeted paid media can give you incremental conversions, while earned media drives new business to your site organically. You need to test and blend them all. And again, be guided by your goals, what are you trying to achieve? What channel strategy do you need to acquire new customers or engage existing ones?
Consider the cost and value of each of these different media groups. Although there are limitless opportunities for reaching audiences, budget and time are not limitless, which makes earned media very attractive. How can you increase earned? Engaging more with your audience could provoke earned activity, and a business or customer you have a great working relationship with will more likely share your post if you mention them.
To help you decide on your channel you’ll need to look back over past performance, although you might also want to test out an entirely new channel or new way of reaching customers. If you don’t have much past performance to go on then think like your customer, look at or carry out research to see where they spend their time, talk to them or carry out a survey. LinkedIn advertising, for instance, is a paid media that’s great at reaching B2B as you can target over many parameters including job type, position, groups they are part of, location and education level. What groups are your customers commonly part of on LinkedIn? Could you target that group with LinkedIn paid advertising and connect with new customers?
If you don’t feel you have enough to inform your decision making over channels then you could use a scoring model like ICE (Impact, Confidence and Ease) to help set priorities. Score the channel from 1-10, multiply the results and the highest score gets priority:
- Impact – how much the project will move the needle on a key metric you’re targeting
- Confidence – your certainty it will have the predicted impact
- Ease – the level of effort to complete it.
What does success look like?
Hand in hand with channel decisions is deciding what success looks like and how you’re going to measure it. 3-5 metrics can give you a good indication of success and you can use these insights to make improvements. It’s also worth remembering that you can’t measure everything and you shouldn’t avoid content if you can’t fully measure it. That old adage ‘I know half my advertising works I just don’t know which half’ might not be completely relevant to online content (as we can measure so much!) but the weighty top of the funnel content that’s hard to measure is nonetheless important, I’d say critical in building your brand presence. You could tie success here to contact details obtained to sign up to your blog.
Here’s some useful metrics.
|Metric grouping||What it measures||Individual metrics|
|Consumption||Who views and consumes, how much time they’re taking.||Pageviews, Unique visitors, average time on page, behaviour flow|
|Website engagement||The higher the engagement the more interested.||Inbound links, session duration, page depth, CTR|
|Retention metrics||Your ability to keep visitors coming back for more.||Return rate, pages per visit, bounce rate|
|Social metrics||How your sm posts and pages are performing.||Follower count, social media shares and likes, comments|
|Email metrics||How your emails are performing.||Open rate, CTR, conversion rate, asset downloads, subscriber churn|
5. Resourcing, budgeting & scheduling
Next you need to assign resources, which is often when realism hits home. There’s so much you want to communicate but there’s only so much budget!
Begin by listing alongside your content how much your team can do inhouse, which internal experts with perhaps the help of an editor could write material, how much you can use a trusted supplier to create and so on. Refer back to your content audit and identify content you could repurpose by presenting it differently, or by updating it or by using a different channel. Set your priorities by deciding which content will fulfil your most pressing objectives. Or are there other ways of reaching the audience with the message that are less expensive to produce?
Now you have your overall objectives, your targets, a list of topics, format and channels and you have an idea of how much resource you can assign you’re ready to schedule a calendar of activity. Remember, this won’t be set in stone, as we know priorities change and flex with market conditions but having a plan of activity to share with your team and others gives visibility, control and a sense of purpose.
6. Review and Adjustment
You’re a month into your content marketing strategy, how is it going? You’ve already been reviewing your metrics but now is the time to compare them and track the performance of all your content assets. What feedback, if any, have you had on the content you’ve presented? What have your customers or prospects said about it? Which piece of content is performing best against the metrics you set? Which isn’t performing well, do you know why? What can you do to change that? Should you rethink or remove the content and bring some content forward that was scheduled for later? Now is the time to review and adjust, discuss the results with your team and brainstorm how you’re going to use this insight to improve what you have. And next month you can see if the changes you made had an impact or not.
So here you have it, a quick dip into content strategy, just by setting aside some time you can reap the rewards of dovetailing with your marketing strategy and make your content work hard for you. And when you’ve done this once it’ll be much easier next time and with each pass your content strategy is going to get better and better.
I hope you enjoyed this blog! Next time we’re going right back to the beginning and look at defining the narrative – what is the need behind your customer’s need and how do you make that clear in your messaging?
Meanwhile, if you need some help with your content strategy please reach out.