how to build a content strategy

More than two million pieces of new content are published every single day. Competition is fierce. A short, poorly-written, half-hearted piece of content will barely make a ripple in the ocean.

Yes, regular content is a must, but more importantly, the content itself is what drives people to find out more about your business.

Building a solid, concise content strategy, and high-quality content, has never been more important for businesses wanting to grow their organic traffic and see their business prosper. This guide explains all the components that you need to put in place.

What is a Content Strategy?

A content strategy refers to any media you publish, from blog posts and articles to video content, infographics, quizzes and more. The strategy gives the creation of this content meaning, formulating a strategic plan of action for your content to meet your business’s aims.

You might formalise this with a calendar, a Kanban board, or a to-do list for your team.

Why Have a Content Strategy?

Publishing content without a strategy behind it simply won’t cut it for your business. There is too much competing content already. Millions of articles are being published every single day; too many for you to make a real impact in a short amount of time with your posts.

A content strategy:

  • Defines the direction you want your business to go in
  • Ties your content in with your wider marketing plan
  • Ensures a consistent brand voice
  • Reduces wasted time and allows you to focus on creating content that will really make an impact

Creating an effective content strategy is not as hard or complex as it may sound.

How to Build a Content Strategy

Follow the tips we’ve listed below and you’ll be well on your way to developing a far clearer plan for your business content.

Define Your Goals

Without clear goals, a clear strategy is impossible. You need to know what the purpose behind your content creation is. Are you trying to raise your brand awareness? Increase subscribers to your site? Outline a particular message?

Once you know what your key goals are, finding a content strategy that works for you will be far easier.

Know Your Audience

For your content to be successfully received, you need to be tailoring it to your audience. Any established business should know their market, whether you’re targeting millennials or families.

audience

A great way of keeping your audience in mind is to create customer personas. Think of your average customer and create a character for them. Define their likes, dislikes, their budget and their habits. When you come to creating content, you can refer to these ‘characters’ and think how much your content will relate to that person. If you don’t think they’ll be interested at all, you may need to re-think your angle.

Use Your Niche

Many businesses shy away from narrowing down on one niche for fear of alienating other customers, and while this can be true to some effect, more often than not using your niche will have the opposite effect of increasing your customer loyalty and making your relationship with your audience stronger than ever.

Now that you know your audience (and of course, you know your brand!), use your niche to research and create unique, interesting content. Think about what’s missing, what hasn’t been done before, and what will really captivate your specific audience.

Using your niche to create genuine excitement amongst your customers will be a far more successful content strategy than publishing more generic content with the hopes of pleasing the masses – more likely, this kind of content will be swallowed by the black hole that is the internet!

Keywords, Keywords, Keywords

Once you’ve got your audience and your niche defined, it’s time to find keywords that fit your content ideas. Writing content without keywords isn’t a great idea, because it may be the best piece of content you’ve ever written, but if no one’s searching for it, nobody will know.

Use a good keyword finder (the Moz Keyword Explorer is good). Find keywords with high searches and low competition. Checking trending Google searches is also a great idea if you can find a hot topic that fits within your niche for some instant traffic and raised brand awareness to your website.

Once you have your keywords, you need to use them in your content. Having the keyword in your topic title alone simply won’t do. The key is to write around your keywords without the overall article sounding unnatural. You should also try to write for searcher intent, rather than repeating words for the sake of it.

It sounds tricky, but a good copywriter with a background in SEO copywriting will be more than capable of achieving a good result.

Sharing Your Content

sharing

A successful content strategy also considers when and where you share that content. You not only need to consider your niche and audience when creating content; you also need to know which platform this content will perform best for.

Bare in mind, visuals and videos do extremely well on Facebook and Instagram, while sharing news and long-form content may be best-served on LinkedIn and with a concise, witty tweet.

Don’t simply share a post across every platform with the same message. You should tailor each social media post to that platform and the audience you interact with online.

What’s more, consider setting up a content and sharing schedule. Many businesses will benefit hugely from getting a month or more ahead on content, meaning that even in emergencies, you have content scheduled to go out to your audience every single week. Using a content scheduler is the most efficient way of organising your posts when you have the time to really focus on the task.

Analyse Your Results

analyse

Sometimes, when you hit publish, you don’t receive the results you’d hope to.

Analysing your results is absolutely essential for an effective content strategy. You can measure the results of your content in the following ways:

  • Traffic. Did you see a huge spike in traffic and engagement shortly after publishing a piece of content? Take a look at this piece of content and analyse why it jumped out to your audience. Creating successful content doesn’t mean re-inventing the wheel. Look at your successful posts and find ways to recreate the same success. Expand on the ideas and generate even more successful content for future posts.
  • Social Media Growth. Content can be considered successful if it’s been shared multiple times, liked and engaged with by many people, and has subsequently helped your social media channels grow substantially. When analysing social media growth, you’ll probably find that visuals and video do better than links and posts with only copy. Consider creating visuals to accompany other pieces of content to increase your success on social platforms.
  • Listen to your customers. They may be commenting on your blog posts or social media posts with particular questions. You may get the same email day after day asking the same thing. Listen to these requests and create content around them. When you’re creating content that your audience is actually asking for, you’re almost guaranteed success.

Be Unique

Keep this piece of advice in mind throughout the creation of your content strategy: be unique.

You may look at your competitors and want to recreate a piece of content that is performing particularly well for them. While this is not a bad idea in itself, simply re-writing the same information and hitting publish just feeds into the fact that the internet is crowded with lots of versions of the same thing.

Instead, be true to yourself. See what performs well and do better:

  • If an infographic has been shared thousands of times, consider how a video could explain that topic even better.
  • If your audience is asking a particular question all the time, create an evergreen, long-form piece of content that not only answers that question, but also answers more they could have further down the line.

Be unique, be original, and your business will be rewarded in SEO-performance, brand awareness and audience engagement for doing so.

Succeeding With Content

Building a content strategy isn’t the most complex part of marketing, but it also isn’t something you’re likely to get right first time. Creating content and analysing your results frequently is the best way to ensure you find a method that works for your business and appeals to your target audience.

For businesses unsure of how to formulate a content strategy (or the content itself), working with a content writer experienced in this is the best way forward. Your content writer should be able to help you establish the direction you want to go in, and find the best topics for your niche to move forward with in order to successfully achieve your goals as a business.

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Yasmin Purnell is a freelance blogger, digital nomad, and personal finance enthusiast. Yasmin is also a seasoned social media marketer.
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