When creating content, it's easy to get distracted by the next thing - a new data sheet for sales, a video series for a pending product launch, or signage for an upcoming event. While meeting these needs is important, this approach can lead to fragmented content that isn’t part of a bigger strategy and often only addresses a single need.
Instead of reactively creating content, imagine developing a strategy that tells you what content you should create, what it should be about, where to publish it, and how well it performs. That’s what content strategy is all about; here’s how to get started.
Content becomes easier to create and more effective when you know who you’re talking to. That’s why building and using personas is well worth the time and effort.
Personas are short descriptions of target buyers that tell things about them like their business challenges and goals, what they want to learn from content, what their content preferences are (white paper or ebook?), and where they go to find information (social media or news outlets?). Gathering this information can be as easy as doing a few hours of Internet research or as complex as interviewing your sales team and current customers to develop in-depth profiles. But it’s crucial -- recent research shows that the vast majority of buyers will eliminate providers from consideration if they feel their needs are not understood or their questions go unanswered.
Even if you just do a few hours of research and gather some cursory persona information, it will help target your content and demonstrate that you understand your customers. And content that is targeted to your customers’ interests has a better chance of getting their attention.
Build a content map
A content map lays out the customer journey, from the early Discover stage to the Use stage, listing the type of content to be developed for each stage. It can be as simple as a PowerPoint slide or as complex as a series of hyperlinked documents -- the important thing is that you use one to track what content you’re planning as well as what you already have created and can reuse for a given go-to-market activity.
The basic elements of a content map are sections for each of the stages in your organization’s customer journey that list the asset(s) for that section and their CTAs (calls to action). By laying all this information out, you achieve two things: you can easily determine if there are any content gaps in any of the stages (for example, no content has been planned for the Try stage) and you can ensure that each piece of content has a CTA to a later-stage piece, therefore creating a logical customer journey.
Content maps are indispensable in helping organize content to make sure you have no gaps, no duplication, and a logical progression. And they keep you focused on the bigger picture -- creating content that brings people along the customer journey to conversion.
Measure your content’s performance
So you’ve worked hard on developing content for a launch. Was it effective? Should you try this approach next time? Should any pieces be tweaked so they perform better?
Content metrics can help answer these questions. Whether it’s as simple as using Google Analytics to get page view metrics or as complex as using marketing automation software to track campaign tactics, understanding how well each piece of content performed helps you determine which pieces of content were most influential in a campaign, and informs decisions about what to produce next time.
Even basic metrics can help you understand what’s working, and that information allows you to make strategic decisions about what content is helping you reach your goals.
Interested in learning more about building a content strategy? Check out our services page.