Content strategy for online marketing is a wide ocean with many possibilities. A lot of content marketing managers can feel burdened under these overwhelming duties without a proper workflow. This article will examine the process of pre-planning and strategising content for your small business (or for another business if you work as a freelancer or at a marketing firm).
Over the course of this brief resource, we hope to discuss a step-by-step process that will help you formulate well-rounded content strategies, measure their effectiveness, and plan ahead for the future. While this article will talk about certain tools and applications, our article about tools and tips has many more. Be sure to read through that if you’re looking for operational tools because this article is geared towards management and planning.
Content strategy is a broad topic, so this article will set its sights on clarifying the planning phase. It will not discuss how to formulate content, but rather how to set your goals before the content creation. Any content manager should be aware of these tidbits below.
What is Content Strategy Planning?
These days, content strategy is a slightly nebulous, all-encompassing term. The word can mean too many things to the point of banality. A brief yet useful definition we’ll be working with here is “the setting of goals and finding the right content to achieve them”.
Content categories can include everything from blogs to videos to social media posts. Content is a wide field and in many cases, you need all sorts of media and channels to build a coherent marketing strategy. This is why managers often need to know what they’re trying to achieve before deciding on the type of media platform and the content.
Most companies will run headfirst into the problem of not knowing how to match media to their goals. This is why a content strategy with defined metrics is necessary.
Setting Website & Marketing Content Goals
The best way to set goals and measure them is to base them around metrics from the beginning. Using a particular measure of performance is a handy means of keeping track of progress, determining what content you need, and what medium/channel it will fit best with.
- Decide what your main objective is
- Choose a metric that will help you measure it
- Set some goals to achieve
Here are some metrics that you could use along with some useful content marketing tips for what they improve.
The effectiveness of online media outreach is usually measured in content engagement. This is the simplest way to do it if your end goal is getting more eyeballs on your brand. With methods like A/B Testing or software like Facebook and Google pixel, you can monitor viewership in very specific targeted ways.
Similarly, there are many SEO plug-ins (like Yoast) that operate with content management systems such as WordPress. These can optimise your content for higher engagement as you’re writing, offering tips and improving readability as well.
These metrics can include visitors, unique visitors, returning visitors, organic search, and inorganic search. The bulk number of visitors is useful if you’re only aiming for exposure. However, if you want to measure growth in new markets or whether your ad spend is growing your audience, you’ll want to look at new visitors compared with impressions, conversions, and CTR for an ad.
You can improve engagement by checking bounce rates, i.e. identifying where people leave the site, and adjusting it for maximum effect. Content audit tools like SEMrush can be very useful here. If you want the most meaningful form of engagement metrics, minimise bounce rates and maximise how long people stay on your page.
Organic search deserves a category of its own because it’s a type of engagement that can be helpful in different ways. Such searches make it far easier for people to find your business when they are looking for particular keywords. It requires more planning than money (unlike inorganic methods such as advertising). A good SEO content strategy should include articles, web pages, images, and videos.
Boosting organic search is all about setting keywords, having the correct schemas, and registering on outside platforms. Platforms like social media sites are a must in general, but having pages on business sites like Tripadvisor or Sortlist can be great too. These create extra traffic for your name which can amount to a lot in the long run.
Another reason organic can be favourable is that it is really useful for improving in-person visits to your business through local SEO. This is due to how Google searches favour physical proximity. If a person is looking for a service near them, that will be one of the top results. We’ve also discussed how this helps restaurants, venues, and event organisers in further detail in previous articles.
Your Google my business profile can be a major asset, as we’ve also indicated in previous posts. Be sure to provide all the necessary info on Maps as well, along with updating your posts regularly. Also, put links to your business location on your website and on 3rd party sites like Yelp.
Sales or Lead Generation
This is not as much about which content you’re using as it is about where you post that content. Sites like LinkedIn, HubSpot, or Sortlist can be great for B2B marketing.
Similarly, B2C operations can vary a lot. Oftentimes you may wish to tie your published content to your Amazon or Etsy page. This is all in the service of getting the reader back to the storefront.
You may have to measure sales and leads with your own internal metrics. Checking how effective your campaign is at generating inquiries and actual sales requires an understanding of ROI and “visits versus conversions”. You can help along the process by becoming a partner on certain websites or through services like LinkedIn premium.
SERP and formal backlinks are quite important here. If your firm isn’t primarily interested in attracting large amounts of visitors or leads with their content, but would rather be the authority on their subject, your goals will be a bit different. The best way to improve this is to get backlinks (to and from) reputable sources. These can be official sources, journals, acclaimed news sites, and government websites among others.
For this measure, you might want to see how well your organic performance is faring. How high is your search engine response performance? Are your articles being shared and referenced? You can try to submit your articles to official 3rd parties to speed this process along. You can also ask them to backlink to it if you’re adding new information to some of their old content.
Another way to improve these metrics and make your posts easier to search is to improve the volume and tag your posts. Google often treats sites with lots of content on a subject as a better source, which drives traffic to it, and makes it more likely to be authoritative. We advise organising content with tags, putting your articles in content topic clusters, and using the appropriate keywords.
Social Media Content Strategy For Publishing Posts
When it comes to social media, don’t just think about how to engage the audience. You need to also consider whether the content you’re making matches the medium. What people look for on Instagram, is very different from what they look for on Facebook and Twitter. Posting all the same things on each platform will net you an ineffective marketing operation.
In this section, we’re discussing posts (including tweets and stories). If you want to determine what makes social media content successful, it would be advisable to keep track of whether you’re matching the platform standards, user expectations, content quality, and posting times. There are many other factors but these are the main ones you can account for and control.
Social Media Post Design
Any Facebook content posting strategy would be different from Instagram. On Facebook, you can post a far wider variety of media. Facebook and Twitter users are prone to reading more text and clicking on links to other pages. This contrasts with how Instagram operates and how users expect to use it.
Instagram is far more visual, so less text and more easy-to-digest visual content. It would also be better to adjust Instagram posts for mobile app content standards, as far more people use it via mobile devices. Similar rules apply to TikTok but keeping in mind TikTok is far more video-centric.
You can stand out a lot more with interactive social media posts. This can include things like polls, interactive infographics, quizzes etc. Content creation trends show that interactive posts for social media drive far more engagement and stand out from standard marketing content.
All social media sites also offer paid content promotion services as part of the platform. These are useful, but as with everything else you do, make sure usage match your goals. In terms of social media engagement, posts can perform better when boosted, but you might want to invest in promoting your pages more and acquiring more dedicated followers than pushing articles or single items.
Speaking of followers…
Increasing Followers or Subscribers
Social media content creation has evolved in the recent decade and one of the most widely adopted practices has been the extensive use of calls to action (CTAs). CTAs now pop up at the end of every YouTube video (“like subscribe, and comment”). They also appear outside of social media (like with banners or web pages that have “follow us on social media” sections). These are good reminders otherwise, even if a user enjoyed your content, they can forget to like or share it.
Aside from CTAs, you can link other accounts or join prominent conversations. Constant content is the best means of growing any page, but content also needs to find ways to creep into people’s interests or viral trends. A CMS calendar can help keep you consistent but having a rigid publishing schedule can mean that you’re missing out on recent trends in favour of sticking to the order of posts.
Plan around events and prepare content to capitalise on them. If something is likely to get online traffic show up for these occasions and push your social media. You can’t always create trends but some patterns are cyclical. Christmas, Halloween etc. can be a great time to obtain followers with deals and offers in posts or just simple relatable branding content.
Content Channel Distribution Strategy
A good content distribution strategy can help push your articles or posts in a timely manner. This involves finding the right hashtags and keywords, lining up your posts, and publishing them at the most efficient hour. If this seems daunting, don’t worry: there are also apps and websites that aid in optimising post times and finding the best hashtags of the day.
Additionally, set up your social media posts on content distribution platforms like Buffer. These help you plan out your content in advance and also help gather important feedback on performance metrics. Any marketing content writer should be visiting metrics and making decisions and adjustments informed by it rather than blindly posting into the ether.
Alternatively, if your business can afford it, you could lease out these duties to content marketing service providers. They can take over the content publishing duties and (depending on the company) help out with all your content creation needs.