Is Your Content Strategy Optimized?
-Updated 2016 Version: Content Strategy 101 – Content Strategy… 2 powerful little words that have taken the digital marketing world by storm. Everyone knows the importance of content for businesses both big and small… but not all marketers are optimizing their content marketing strategy to its fullest potential. And in today’s digital world, without compelling content and a robust marketing strategy for execution… you don’t stand a chance. Here are 8 content strategy questions that every marketer must ask.
1. Is My Content Relevant, Interesting and Customer Focused?
Does your content matter to your audience? Is it in line with your overall brand strategy? Sharing a story on eating healthy may be timely to the New Year, but may not be relevant for the audience of a car manufacturer. Knowing who your audience is and what they like is the first logical step to creating relevant content. Knowing what problems, issues or challenges your audience faces is even more powerful in creating relevant a content strategy that provides them with solutions they are seeking. Stick to what you know best and be creative in how you deliver your message. Create content themes and vary your content based on a prioritized schedule. Be interesting and intriguing and be generous with the content you share. Above all, don’t oversell. It’s all about balance and ensuring you are delivering consistent, relevant and valuable content to the people who matter most to you… your audience (customers, prospects, partners, etc.).
2. Am I Providing Thought Leadership Via My Content?
Are you creating content that sets you apart in your industry? Do your customers, prospects, peers and competitors seek you out because you know what you are talking about? They should. Your content marketing strategy should highlight your area of expertise. Your content should be informational, educational and/or entertaining, but should also showcase your level of knowledge within your domain. Don’t be afraid to share your best stuff either… it’s what gets you recognized as a thought leader. And when you establish yourself as a thought leader, guess what? You get more traffic and prospects and conversions because you have proven yourself based on your content. That’s powerful. Your content strategy is a reflection of your business, so shine the light on what you know and share it with the world.
3. Do I Sound Like a Robot?
It’s been said before, people want to do business with people… not businesses. Same theme can hold true for your content strategy. Article after article of mundane industry jargon won’t get you very far. In today’s social world, you have to humanize your content. Your blog should be easy to read and understand and your videos should be engaging and interactive. Converse with your audience instead of talking to them. Content should have a personal spin to it… allowing your audience to relate to it (and you) on a more meaningful level. Great content is like great storytelling. It should flow more like a conversation than an encyclopedia and your content should mirror the personality of your business as well as make you more relatable on a social level. Utilize content to enhance the Know-Like-Trust factor with your audience.
4. Is There A Method to My Content Marketing Madness?
Content marketing without a strategy is not going to get you very far. Do you know when your audience is most likely to consume your content? Do you know where and how they consume your content? What about your competitors? Understanding when you have the highest reach on social media or what time of day you get the highest open rates with your emails are critical things to be mindful of when deploying your content strategy. Creating an editorial publishing calendar isn’t just for the “uber-organized” anymore. Smart businesses know that a comprehensive editorial publishing calendar is the hub of their content strategy. It keeps your content consistent and holds marketers accountable and responsible for ensuring their strategy is optimized.
5. Am I Maximizing My Content AND Reach?
Beyond knowing when and where to publish your content, are you making the most of the content you create and maximizing your reach by ensuring a multi-channel approach? You have to spread your content marketing love across multiple platforms and formats to ensure you are reaching your highest potential each time. Great, you wrote a white paper on email marketing tips and posted it to Facebook. It shouldn’t end there. Create a video snippet of the highlights and post it to YouTube and Vine. Turn your white paper into a beautiful presentation and get it out on SlideShare. Break up your content and spread it out across multiple tweets. Share your content and spark discussions in LinkedIn groups. Be creative in your approach, cast a wider net and increase your odds of catching a lot more fish.
6. Is My Content Visually Appealing or Appalling?
Content without visuals is like an Oreo without the cream filling. The two go hand-in-hand and you can enjoy bits of one more than the other, but they really just do work better together. Images, memes, Infographics, and videos have become the standard in social media. Content marketers must take the time to ensure they have strong visual elements to compliment their content strategy. Visuals are not only eye catching, but may net you more reach as well. Images capture our attention and draw us in. Marketers should also take the time to optimize images wherever possible. Social media platforms aren’t a one-size fits all approach. Tailoring your visual elements for each platform will yield the greatest results. There are so many great free tools like Canva, WordSwag, Adobe Spark and more that even a design novice can make beautiful images quickly and easily.
7. Is Video a Major Part of My Content Strategy?
Hint: the answer should be YES. Video will be, without a doubt, a powerful force for content marketers going forward. Smart marketers will incorporate video marketing into their overall content marketing strategy. As noted above, we live in a visual world. Video is the immersive visual that allows us to express ourselves to others in a way no other medium (besides face-to-face) can. It takes content marketing to a whole new level. Include video across all your platforms for optimal exposure. Repurpose your written content into short how-to videos, record a Google+ hangout or go live on Periscope and save your video for future distribution, develop webinars on the hottest topics, create share-worthy videos for YouTube (note the lack of the word “viral”…) or do a Facebook Live video session to showcase new and exciting happenings. The opportunities to share content through video are endless. The key is keeping it relevant, interesting and informative for your audience.
8. Can My Content Be Found and Will It Be Shared?
If you follow the tips above, you are on your way to creating “shareable” content. But don’t stop there. Smart content marketing has strong roots in SEO. You took the time to ensure that your content is relevant, interesting, visually appealing and well thought out… so take the time to do relevant keyword and keyphrase research. The single best way to gain more traction for search is through link popularity. The more credible and relevant sites that link back to your content, the better for your search ranking. Of course, having on page SEO is essential as well in demonstrating your relevance and trustworthiness to search engines. Also of importance is reaching out to your key influencers and advocates for help in spreading the word about your content. If your content is amazing, your fans and followers will want to share it. And that is the whole point of creating content in the first place, right? You want as many people to consume your content as possible. Take the time to make your content both “findable” and “shareable”.
Rule number one of Content Strategy 101: Creating a compelling content strategy isn’t rocket science… but it can have a significant impact on your digital marketing success or failure. Content marketing should be at the heart and soul of your strategic marketing plan… and your overall business plan for that matter. Be creative, be relevant, be interesting and be smart in your endeavors.
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