Content marketing is proven to be one of the most cost effective and efficient ways of creating brand awareness, maintaining relationships with the target audience and in some cases, even acquiring new customers.
When planned and executed in a strategic manner, content marketing can actually boost the traffic to a business website, increase the social following and even displace market competition to take the position of an industry authority.
Despite its necessity having increased over time, more than half the marketers out there are actually not happy with the results their strategies are yielding.
The reason? Missing out on the core elements that should actually form their content strategy in the first place.
6 elements of a successful content marketing strategy
1. Defined target market and customer personas
The most important element that should form the base of a content strategy, is to know who it is for. This is where defining your target market and customer personas comes in.
Before defining any aspect of the content strategy, it is important to determine who your business is targeting in the market. Ideally, the target market is defined as the general demographics that would be interested or could be convinced into purchasing your products/services.
Then using those demographics, you further streamline the data to define who your ideal customers would be – where is the person located, what services is he looking for, what is he engaging with actively on the internet, what does he do, whether he has the resources to afford what you offer and their sales/purchase triggers.
Since content marketing is aimed at catering to the audience’s interests, values and common challenges, defining customer personas can really give you a head start. But an important thing to keep in mind is that these customer personas should be regularly updated with the changing market trends.
2. A documented content strategy
The very next step that a marketer should take is to define the content strategy and document in completely. Most marketers assume that starting a blog and becoming active on various social channels is all that is required to be done.
The truth is, a well defined content marketing strategy includes market research, analysis of the kind of content consumed by the target audience, the type of content you can curate or create for them, the sources of information and syndication, the times and days of publishing the content pieces, and ensuring that each piece adds value to the end goal of the business.
Another thing that most marketers make a mistake in, is assuming their content strategy needs to be independent of all other efforts – email marketing, social media marketing, advertising and offline marketing. On the contrary, it is important that each aspect of the marketing strategy works towards the same goal and adds value to it.
3. Consistent quality content production
The next core element of a successful content strategy, is to consistently produce quality content as per the laid down plan. It is necessary that a marketer defines a timeline for which the content strategy is created and how it would be executed to completion in that period.
But in the zeal to keep up with the content strategy, a marketer must not forget to ensure that each piece needs to add value to the target market in some way. The generation today is equipped with access to internet and if they don’t consider you a reliable source of information, they’re most likely to leave.
Every content piece needs to be equally informative, interesting, entertaining, relevant and contextual to the digital campaigns. It is important to offer a seamless informative experience to internet users today.
4. Aggressive syndication and easy sharing
Two elements that work together to directly impact the success of a content strategy, are aggressive syndication and easy sharing of the content pieces produced. It is important that you syndicate the content on various digital channels to give it exposure – social media, content management platforms, communities, groups, newsletters, push notifications, etc. But while doing so, it is also important to ensure that all the syndication done is on platforms that have at least some segment of your target audience.
Similarly, each of the content pieces created should be easily shareable. From including social sharing buttons at the beginning, end or along side each content pieces, to giving the ability to email it to a friend or save it for reading later, a marketer needs to ensure easy sharing for the reader.
For example, we display all the social sharing buttons at the bottom and along side the content piece with a floating bar to make them easily accessible to the reader.
But it is also important that in your zeal to get the content piece shared, you don’t bombard the reader with call-to-actions and ruin the reading experience. Apart from the sharing buttons, you could implement an exit intent campaign with Exit Bee. It would encourage the leaving reader to quickly share the post in his circles before leaving.
For example, here’s a campaign that asks them to share the blog post they just read on social if they liked it. Since it is just a simple action, readers are more likely to complete it.
5. Analytics and reporting
Another aspect that plays a vital role in determining the success of a content strategy, is measuring the results each effort brings. It is important to understand what content works the best on which channel to be able to make the most of it.
Using tools like Google Analytics can help you understand how your target market is responding to your content strategy – the number of visits on blog posts, the source of traffic, the read ratio, bounce rate, devices used to access content, inbound links generated, repeat and new traffic, on-site behavior, and a lot more. But it is also important to not get overwhelmed by all the data.
Understand which of the metrics are important to your business before collating data points for a marketing decision. A few questions that would help you identify the key metrics include:
- Who is your audience?
- What kind of traffic are you expecting?
- How do you want the reader to interact with the content?
- What is the objective or the end goal the action is adding value to?
Here’s a nifty infographic on content marketing metrics by Curata:
6. Optimization and improvisation
If a content strategy works, good. But if it doesn’t, most marketers choose to sack it altogether and work on a new one from scratch instead of improvising on the existing one. The one thing that this leads to is resource mismanagement.
Like every other marketing effort – advertisements, for example – content strategies too need to be measured (refer point 5) and optimized accordingly to incorporate the changes. Using existing data and current market data can help create more effective campaigns than trying to collate points right from the start.
Over to you
A good content strategy defines timelines for achieving specific objectives and the steps that a marketer needs to take to achieve them. But both the businesses and the marketers need to understand that a content strategy is prone to changing more frequently to be able to match the interests of the target audience.
What do you think is an important element of a content strategy?