Building an Engaging Content Strategy
Whenever you hear the term Content Strategy, you usually think about reaching the right people at the right time. What’s almost become an industry cliché for marketers and advertisers couldn’t be any more true in today’s marketplace. Unfortunately, many companies try releasing content into the market haphazardly and fail to see a strong impact on their customers. Content strategies are no longer reserved for Fortune 500 companies. Today businesses of almost any size and industry are sitting down and thinking about what is the best way to reach their customers.
If you think it’s time to rework your content strategy or start from scratch, we put together a few ideas you should keep in mind.
Know your audience
Knowing your target market may sound elementary, but it should be the first step you take when building your content strategy. Knowing who your content reaches and what the most popular channels of communication are will allow you to make the most of your efforts. It will allow you to create engaging content that will better fit the wants and needs of your customers. Asking yourself questions like:
Where does my target market get info about new products or services?
Where do they spend the majority of their time online?
(Blogs, Company Website, Social Media, etc)
What’s the most popular way my competitors are reaching out?
(Facebook vs. Twitter, Blogs vs. Website updates)
Questions like these will help you better understand how to reach your target market and engage in valuable communication in the future. Nobody wants to spend their time writing blogs or posting updates to social media pages and having nothing come from it. Taking a step back and learning more about your audience will help you make a stronger impact on your customers in the future.
Evaluate the Consumer Decision Making Process
The Consumer Decision Making Process (CDM) is the basic path your customers take to purchasing your product or service. To build an engaging content strategy you need to understand how your content will influence this process and what communications channels you can use along the way. The CDM is broken up into 5 stages:
Problem Recognition (Consumer learns they have a need for a product or service)
Information Search (Researching different options to satisfy their need)
Evaluation of Alternatives (Forming a list of brands the meet their needs)
Selection (Choosing a specific product or service)
Evaluation of Decision (Determining whether this product or service was best for them)
Each stage in the CDM gives you a unique opportunity to engage with your target market. Depending on your product or service, you may be able to tailor your content strategy around one or all of the steps.
For example, in the problem recognition stage: You could have blog posts and social media updates to build awareness about your brand. This could be followed by detailed product/service descriptions on your company website to help during Information Search. Good PR from your local newspaper or blogger could definitely give you an advantage during the Alternative Evaluation stage.
Building your content strategy gives you the freedom and flexibility to adjust your messages and channels based on your unique needs. Taking into consideration the process your customers take to purchasing your product or service will help you stretch your marketing/promotions budget and get the most for your money.
Cover all touch points
The best content strategies don’t solely focus on one form of content such as social media and blogs. To successfully reach your target audience you need to develop a strategy that covers all touch points. Everything from content posted on your website, to social media posts, to email campaigns and PR needs to be updated and current with your content strategy.
Customers now have endless opportunities to engage with your brand digitally and through traditional media. If you have a neglected Twitter account or product descriptions that haven’t been updated in a few years, it may be hurting your brand’s reputation and your ability to generate new business.
To prevent this you need to include all of your social media accounts, company newsletters, blogs, and website content in your strategy. Everything your customers see, hear and come in contact with about your brand needs to be addressed and updated when you develop your content strategy.
If done correctly, this will create a clear and consistent brand image with your content. This will help you build credibility in your industry and have customers returning in the future.
Build a Calendar
Managing content across multiple channels like Facebook, email campaigns, and your company website can seem like a daunting task. Even for a skilled content strategist, this would be almost impossible without some form of detailed plan.
Building a content calendar helps manage your content and plan when or where it will be distributed. Many agencies and businesses already do this with online tools like HootSuite and Feedly for all their social media accounts. Sitting down a few months in advance and putting together a rough schedule of what you want to post and when is a great way to start.
This allows you to plan your content for possible seasonal promotions, company events like appreciation days, or important product launches you want your customers to know about. When it comes to developing your content strategy, setting up a calendar is the best way to get a high-level overview of what your publishing and when.
I’m sure like most consumers, you’re inundated with content across the internet and even in your mailbox. Websites, search engines, and Facebook feeds are filled with brands competing for your attention and hard-earned dollars.
To stand out from the crowd and create engaging content for your audience you need to effectively communicate and deliver value. Like you, not many people are interested in reading a blog post or newsletter that isn’t relevant to their needs and doesn’t add value to their day.
When putting together your content strategy you need to take into consideration how your content meets the needs of your customers. If the content you’re publishing is merely informational or just casual clutter, it’s not going to successfully engage your customers. You need to see your content through the eyes of a customer. Ask yourself “Why is this important to me?” “Does this help solve any of my problems?” “Is this something I already know?”
If you can answer all of these questions and create content that is both engaging and valuable, you will be heads and shoulders ahead of your competitors when it comes to standing out in the crowd.
At VIG we work with businesses just like yours to develop engaging content strategies every day. If you think it’s time for a change or isn’t sure where to start, we’d love to help. Our team of strategists and creatives enjoy taking on new challenges. Think VIG