Content consists of all the written, visual and voiced materials – website pages, videos, blog articles, brochures, podcasts, social interactions and emails – associated with a business, non-profit organization or service provider. What the organization does with those materials is its content strategy. The most effective strategy is in place before the content is even created because it helps you determine what kind of materials you need.
Creating a Custom Content Strategy
Developing a specific strategy that applies to all of your publications requires some advance planning. You must pinpoint the information that will add value to your customers’ experience and decide which formats will capture their interest. You also should have a plan for delivering that content, so you need to know where and when your target audience is most receptive, and how to keep in touch. While hard data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other research organizations provide some useful statistics, to truly customize your content, you must delve deeper. Some of the most useful techniques for learning about your target market and customer base include:
- Creating online surveys
- Posting website visitor questionnaires
- Tracking visitors’ online shopping habits
- Evaluating the demographics and interests of your current customers
- Looking at the traits of customers who buy from the competition
The information you learn through these techniques will inform your content strategy, from the topics you discuss to where – and to whom — you present them.
Role of the Content Strategist
A dedicated content strategist has the skills to customize strategic policies, outreach and metrics for the most effective use of information-rich content. He or she ensures that your content is relevant and search engine optimized so people can find it.
Key Elements of Meaningful Content
Once your materials reach your current and potential customers, they have to stand on their own merit. Strong, effective content should:
- Present information that your customers consider valuable
- Speak clearly in language your demographic relates to
- Be accurate and up to date
- Show consistency in style and tone
- Reflect your corporate voice and brand
- Refer back to your company, either directly or indirectly
How to Tell If Your Content Strategy is Working
Increased sales are one indication that something in your marketing plan is working, but they do not directly attest to the success of your content strategy. Tracking the number of visitors to your content pages is a more definitive way to measure content outreach, but unless you are actually winning new prospects and encouraging customer loyalty, your strategy is not performing as it should. Inviting and tracking customer interaction builds relationships and reveals performance metrics. Social media sites make it easy with “share” and “like” buttons. You can gauge the open and click-through rates on email content with the appropriate software. Similarly, by matching up those prospects who clicked on a content link with those who subsequently converted to customers, you can evaluate the performance of various content components. Armed with this information, you can fine-tune your content strategy for even better results.