Your marketing team is creating content, but you’re not seeing significant results. Your company has a blog, a strong Twitter following, and even created a podcast. So how can your brand get a better return on its content investment?
Your team is likely creating content without a clearly defined strategy. It’s true that content marketing can generate over three times as many leads as outbound marketing, improve customer loyalty, and drive conversions. But achieving lasting business value from it is next to impossible without an effective strategy in place. As content marketers, we strive to produce high-quality content that tells a story. A content strategy enables us to determine what story is the right story to tell and how to share it with the world.
Here are eight tips for building a content strategy that wows customers and differentiates your brand from its competitors.
Related: Is Your Content Strategy Written in the Stars?
Use Design Thinking to Empathize with your Audience
Design thinking enables your company to take an empathetic approach to content strategy. It forces your brand to see content from a customers’ or potential customers’ point of view, enabling your team to better understand their needs and provide content that they’ll find valuable.
Two design thinking tools are particularly important for content strategy: customer personas and customer journey mapping. Firstly, customer personas are profile cards that describe a customer’s or potential customer’s goals, challenges, and preferred channels. They help your brand narrow down the type of content its audience is interested in and decipher the right channels to engage in. Secondly, a customer journey map is a visual representation of the steps a customer might take before your brand wins their business as well after they are in your fold. A journey map helps content strategists determine where content fits in the overall customer experience.
Find Ways to Foster Customer Engagement
Content can indeed be helpful for influencing consumers to purchase your company’s product or service. However, your brand shouldn’t view content as a sales pitch. Content that engages customers has benefits in the long run because it fosters customer loyalty by helping your brand build relationships with customers that are more human.
To create content that truly fosters customer engagement, your brand will need to get creative with its content strategy and find innovative ways to get its audience involved. This might mean posting user-generated content to your company’s blog, highlighting customer success stories in a webinar, or planning a social campaign that inspires followers to reshare your content and comment on your posts.
Adhere to Brand Guidelines
When brainstorming what content to produce and where to promote it, your marketing team must ensure that they are staying on-brand. For instance, Old Navy sends mystery discount emails where customers can spin a wheel to reveal a mystery deal. This type of content matches Old Navy’s whimsical and millennial-focused brand voice. However, a gamified discount email may be off-brand for a B2B tech company that is seeking to maintain a professional tone. In this case, an email that educates users on an industry trend might be a more promising option.
Your organization should ensure that everyone who helps produce content for your company, whether they are in in-house, a freelancer, or from an agency, completes a proper brand training. Customers often enjoy content that surprises and delights them, but they should never feel caught off guard by something that doesn’t sound like your brand.
Related: A Restless Cycle: Content Informs Data, Data Informs Content
Take an Omnichannel Approach that Eliminates Silos
Companies with omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain a whopping 89% of their customers, compared to a skim 33% for those who don’t. However, an omnichannel content strategy does not necessarily mean that your team should publish content on every channel possible. Instead, your brand should target the channels its customers engage in the most. For instance, it makes sense for brands with customers primarily from Generation Z to publish content on SnapChat since the platform reaches 90% of all 13-24 year-olds. But enterprises that are targeting Baby Boomers may want to focus on promoting content on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn instead, since a larger percentage of their audience uses these social channels.
Omnichannel content strategies are strongest when all content channels are working together, eliminating silos. For instance, promoting a webinar on LinkedIn increases registration numbers and improves engagement rate at the same time. Similarly, including a case study in an email workflow improves click-through rate while also driving more traffic to that piece of content.
Make Metrics your Best Friend
One of the central reasons for an ineffective content strategy is failing to define KPIs. High-quality content essential, of course, but your brand needs an objective method to track what makes a piece of content top-notch. Metrics enable brands to optimize content for success. For example, your brand might find that posting reports directly on social media results in a low number of impressions and engagements. This does not necessarily mean that your brand’s social media audience isn’t interested in reports. It might just mean that your team needs to try promoting blogs or infographics based on the report instead to make it more digestible.
While all content channels should work together simultaneously, the goals for each channel will not be the same. For instance, the point of a blog might be to improve SEO numbers while the goal of an email might be to nurture leads with resourceful information. For this reason, your team should clearly define specific KPIs for each channel as part of its content strategy.
Continuously Test and Refresh
Determining what content works for your brand’s audience takes time. A/B testing is a great way to speed up the process and compare different types of content to see what resonates the most. For email, most platforms have A/B testing options built-in. For landing pages and blogs, tools such as VWO and Google Optimize can be used to compare different types of web content in terms of clicks and conversions. For channels that don’t have advanced testing options available, try one variation of a piece of content the first time and use a different version the next. Of course, a difference in timing can skew the results, but this is an easy workaround.
Additionally, trends and consumer needs change over time. This means that what performs one quarter may not work as well the next. Your organization should continue to repeat what’s working as well as stay on top of the latest trends and continuously try new ideas.
Related: How to Craft the Perfect Product Launch Story
Segment Content to Foster Personal Interactions
Forty-four percent of consumers say that they will become loyal customers after personalized customer experience. Content is a great way to create the customized experience today’s customers are searching for. Thanks to the massive amounts of data available through technology, personalized content is less complicated than it seems. Your organization can use data to segment content accordingly so users receive resources that are specific to their interests and needs. For instance, rather than spamming an entire customer base with an email promoting the same blog or webinar, tailor the content based on industry, job title, or any relevant information is available.
Build Contextually Appropriate, Consistent Experiences
Brands should also plan content in a contextually appropriate way. The opposite of having a dedicated content strategy is publishing content randomly. To avoid content feeling random to your audience, your brand must first consider timing. For instance, responding to events in the news in the form of a blog might be a part of your content strategy. It’s crucial to promote these blogs across channels the same week, if not the same day of the event, to optimize for engagement when it’s still relevant. Your brand might also want to plan content around big company events and industry-related holidays, such as National Cyber Security Awareness Month if your organization is in the tech industry.
The cadence of your brand’s content should typically remain consistent, too. For big events, your brand might post more content than usual, but it’s generally a good idea to stick to a consistent content routine. That means your company shouldn’t send customers an email every day for a week and then never email them again for another three months or all of a sudden go dark on a social channel. In fact, according to Forbes, 71% of consumers want a consistent experience across all channels. For this reason, your team will want to determine what cadence works best for each channel.
Besides timing and cadence, it’s important to understand what content is contextually appropriate for each channel. After all, one size does not fit all, and this is especially true when it comes to content. The same content will not be right for every channel because audience groups vary. For example, a technical blog may be contextually appropriate in an email to customers that know your product or service well, while something that in-depth may not perform over social where your reach also includes those who are less familiar with your brand.
So, how can your brand turn its content vision into reality? It starts with getting more strategic. Reach out to us today and find out more about our content marketing services.