Your Business Needs A Content Strategy
Five years ago, it was easy to tell the internet what it wanted to hear. Having an “SEO strategy” meant including 5% keyword density and paying for backlinks. Must-have keyphrases came before quality content. Website visitors could easily be bought and sold.
The way we digest information has changed. Users no longer look to organisations to tell them how to make decisions; instead, they find their own information from multiple sources.
Fewer people than ever find information by typing a URL into their address bar. Search engines are built into browsers, links are shared via myriad social media networks. We’re fed content from apps and notifications and @mentions. Information is disseminated across hundreds of platforms. We are bombarded with content — not all of it good — and it’s harder and harder to cut through the noise.
Harder, but not impossible. A good content strategy helps by answering these questions:
- what have I got to offer my customer?
- how can I present it to them in a way that’s useful and interesting?
- what do I want them to do with it?
It’s a document that helps you understand:
- what to create and offer
- when and where to promote it
- who to target
- why your customer needs it
- how you’re going to execute it
- your tone, language use, purpose
“Content” itself differs from business to business; for some, it’s white papers; for others, it might be videos, articles, interactive elements, even memes. And it’s not just human users who seek good content — search engines now look at content and interest groups instead of keywords. Rather than establishing the value of one piece at a time, bots are looking at the overall offering. Is it authentic? Is it relevant? Is it worthwhile?
Break it down: I want to demonstrate my value. I want to promote a clear and consistent brand message. I want customers to engage with me.
This is how you do it:
1. Know your audience (and do your research)
Different user groups digest content in different ways: website users skew older, Snapchat is predominantly under 25s, Facebook’s fastest growing audience is over 65s. Think about where you’re going to position yourself, and what impact that should have on your offering.
Do you know where to find your audience? Do you know how to pitch it to a youth audience, a retired audience, a working audience? Every single group expects a different approach. Find out who’s doing it well, and figure out why that is. Ask. Engage. Be an invested part of your target group.
2. Be authentic
Today’s internet user is discerning and informed. They don’t want to feel like they’re being sold to. Your job is to offer that information with sincerity. Think about why you believe in your business. Think about what would delight you as a customer. Approach your content strategy with eagerness: to converse, to inform, to engage.
The final decision will be made on the basis of which businesses empowered them, not told them.
3. Put content first
This is the most important step! Seriously.
In the old days, we used to identify keywords first and write content around them. Now we do the opposite. Once you’ve understood your audience and identified your authentic voice, produce the content that’s relevant to them. Think about the value to your customer. Review, revise and improve your content as you go.
Every piece of content is an opportunity to reinforce your brand value and position. Whether that’s an internet security whitepaper or a picture of a cat in a bath is totally up to you. Does your customer want it? Do it. Success will follow — remember, humans and robots alike are looking for something meaningful, not keywords smashed together.
4. Have an holistic offer
Be a whole business, not a series of keyword-heavy articles on a website. Your customer doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Know how you plan to communicate with them before you start. Be where your customer is. Be a valuable ally, not a sleazy salesperson.
Understand why you’re using each platform. Why is Facebook the right place to share your content? What will keep people on your website? Why are these the right pieces of content for your email newsletter? Are all your platforms offering good value to your customer groups?
What are you doing to encourage your customers to love and advocate for you?
Plan your execution, but be nimble. Look at how your audience responds and adapt if you need to. Be fluid, not rigid. Be agile, not constrained.
5. Know what you want to achieve
“More revenue” is a good outcome, but it’s not a content objective. Think about the way users will interact with your content, and where. You should have a clear set of objectives outlined in a digital strategy.
What do you want them to do with the information you’ve provided? Do you want them to buy a product? Sign up for a newsletter? Compare your product with others? Tell their friends about you? Give you good website traffic? Create your content with these objectives in mind, and measure your results against them as you go.
If your objective changes, that’s fine – review your content and carry on down your new road. The internet moves fast. Knowing where you’re headed will help you keep up.