Nowadays, it is not possible to think business without thinking content strategy anymore. Why? Because in our digital era, content strategy has become a prerequisite to leverage marketing goals and boost sales. Although businesses know it is useful to have a content strategy, there are still 40% of them that don’t have a documented content strategy according to a recent survey from the CMI. True, this is a lot of work, but it can be managed. Break it down into doable steps and you will reap the rewards of your hard work! But first, let’s see what content strategy is about.
Content strategy is a roadmap that allows you to produce relevant content in line with both your business objectives and customers’ needs. In other words, it is the framework that you set up to ensure that each piece of content you will create in the long term serves a specific business goal while bringing value to your customers.
Thanks to a focused content strategy, you will be able to create consistency that speaks to your customers. This should lead to an increased number of interested customers who will be more likely to engage with your brand and should ultimately generate more sales. And as a business, that is your goal.;-)
However, before you even start thinking about developing your content strategy, you will have to define your business goals first. You need to know what you want to achieve for your business and build on this foundation to define your content strategy in a second step.
Ask yourself: what do I want to achieve for my business?
Raise my brand awareness?
Be recognised as a thought leader?
Once you have defined your goals, quantify them.
Make sure to use the SMART objectives when you set up your goals. Make your goals Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based.
For example: get 100 more people to sign-up to our newsletter for the next month. How many people do you plan to reach, within what timeframe, what is the outcome that you aim to achieve? Make sure your goals are realistic and measurable!
Whatever your goal is, you will have to tie it them to your target audience. Make sure there is a convergence between your business goals and your audience’s needs. Otherwise, your content efforts will be wasted. You would only be producing content that would miss your target audience.
It means that you have to start looking into your customers. Who they are? What are their pain points? Remember to always keep your target audience in mind and focus on them throughout the different phases of your content strategy, from the creation to the execution and distribution of your content. Why? Because your customers are at the core of your content strategy. You have to investigate and understand what makes them tick to be able to identify and create the right content that will make them take the desired action (subscribe to a newsletter, download an E-book…) and increase their engagement.
Equally important, think about how you are going to relate to your audience to achieve your goals. How do you position yourself in the landscape and why are you there, what added value do you provide as a business. What kind of the relationship do you want to nurture with your audience?
And last but not least, define your DNA. What is your voice? How distinctive are you? How are you going to talk to your customers and how are you going to connect with them?
Now that you know your audience and what added value you offer, you can think about how to connect your audience to your business goals.
Let us say you are a B2B business that wants to be recognised as a thought leader. Your ambition is to position your company as an authority in your industry and build credibility.
You need to figure out what kind of relationship you want to build with your audience derived from their needs. What are they expecting from your product/services? How can you fill in the gaps for them? Put yourself in their shoes.
In this case, given that your audience is into a niche market, they will look for expert content on specific topics; they are very likely to feel they need more knowledge on a specific subject that would be helpful for their daily business. Therefore, it would make sense to create high value content that delivers the knowledge they are looking for to make them feel more secure. Why? Because that is what they expect. Make sure to deliver content from which they can learn (high-quality blog posts, case studies, videos, downloadable resources like e-books, whitepapers) and make your audience feel empowered.
This way, you will foster trust, raise their interest and make them come back for more what should hopefully translate into an increased number of people reaching out to you to benefit from your advice or consulting services. And that is where you make an impact by growing your target audience and moving it along your sales funnel. And that is what a consistent content strategy is about.
To come up with a successful content strategy, you should consider your customer needs for each stage of the customer journey. Consider creating content to accompany your audience all along the sales funnel. It is important to keep in mind that their needs might evolve according to their degree of maturity. Hubspot has outlined the different stages of the customer’s journey in a very clear way:
Some of your customers might not even be aware that you exist and that you might have the solution to their needs. Others might be interested and ready to learn more about you. Others might be convinced by your product and ready to purchase from you. Let us review the 3 main stages of the sales funnel and what kind of content to create for each of them:
1-Top of the funnel: Awareness – you’re trying to generate awareness of your brand among potential customers. Certain content types can help you achieve this goal:
2-Middle stage of funnel: Consideration stage
The customers are getting familiar with your brand and solutions – this is a good time to provide them with content that will help them gauge your products and services. For this stage, think about:
3-Bottom of funnel: Purchase
That is where you want to see your customers. At this stage, people are highly interested. It is worth creating content that is clearly showing the unique benefits brought by your products/services and how they stand out from the rest. Consider:
The idea there is to map out the suitable content types throughout the buying cycle that will help you drive your audience towards the bottom of the funnel and ideally close a sale. This also implies that you use the relevant channels at the right time when distributing your content. And that is how content strategy can support your business goals.
See what works, what works less and adjust your strategy and or review your business goals accordingly. And more importantly, remember that this is a long-term effort that requires patience and fine-tuning but can be extremely powerful to help you reach your business targets and boost your sales. One last thing before I let you go: there is no straight road. Be prepared to have an exciting journey ahead!