February 17, 2016
A new year is always a great time to change things up and start fresh. It is a time to take stock of the past year—the triumphs, the failures, and everything else in between—and figure out a way to make the coming year better than the one before.
For most individuals, this means deciding to eat healthier. Exercise more. Procrastinate less. For businesses, this means improving their marketing efforts and coming up with an effective strategy to increase brand awareness, widen their customer base and, ultimately, generate more revenue.
Since traditional advertising has been around for decades, the focus is now on content marketing. Though it is by no means a new concept, many still struggle with making content marketing work for them. And if this was the case last year, then it’s time to rethink the way you plan and execute your content marketing efforts for 2016.
Here are some tips from the experts on how to build a stellar content marketing strategy for 2016:
Focus on Your Target Market
A fresh start means going back to the basics. In this case, this means redirecting the focus back to your target audience.
1. Get to know your audience
For starters, it is important to get to know your audience. “Not having a good grasp of your audience while trying to serve them streams of content is like someone setting up on a busy street corner and yelling nonsense into the wind,” senior creative content strategist Steve Olenski writes in a Marketing Land article. “Perhaps one or two people may stop to inquire, but for the most part, crowds of people will pass by without a second thought.”
Olenski advises marketers to look into different avenues to accomplish this. He suggests using surveys or Google Analytics to help you understand your audiences better. Another approach is to find out what grabs their attention and what type of content they enjoy by forming a general pattern from your most successful posts and your competition’s most successful posts. After all, since you share the same target market with your competitors, whatever worked for them can work for you as well.
2. Improve user experience
Creating amazing content is great and all, but if it is produced and presented to your audience in such a way that lacks attention to user experience, it defeats the entire purpose. For your audience to be able to fully appreciate the content that you are pushing out, you need to provide the best user experience possible. Sujan Patel, VP of marketing at WhenIWork.com, offers the following UX tips in a Forbes article:
• Ensure that your content is primed for user engagement, whether on desktop or mobile.
• Make sure that calls to action are quickly and easily filled out and submitted with one click.
• Primary content must be above the fold.
• Observe page loading time and click response time (and take steps to speed them up).
• Use Crazy Egg’s heat map to see where your customers are clicking and discover the pages they like to frequent on your website.
3. Get to know your audience offline.
An effective content marketing strategy should go beyond the World Wide Web. Patel also suggests incorporating your online and offline content marketing efforts to provide a “cohesive experience” for your target audience.
“It’s easy to forget that content marketing should also work as seamlessly offline as online,” writes Patel. “Overlooking what your customers are doing outside the realms of social media is a missed opportunity for further engagement and brand awareness. And failing to identify what type of content works offline, how it intersects with your online content marketing, and creating a cross-promotional opportunity, is an exercise in lost revenue.”
One thing you can do to reach customers offline and further your content marketing campaign is to use traditional advertising to your advantage. You can switch to more creative packaging or give away attractive promotional items that your customers will want to take photos of (or selfies with) and post to their social media accounts.
Other businesses also use in-store contests and special offers to encourage customers to post about them on social media. Restaurants, for example, may offer free appetizers or desserts to customers who take photos of their food and share them on Facebook or Instagram.
Have a Clearly Defined Idea of Your Goals and How to Achieve Them
After you’ve developed a game plan for your target audience, take a moment to think about what you want to achieve this year with your new content marketing strategy. And be very specific — this will help you sharpen your focus with a specific strategy. Different goals will need different content marketing strategies. Then think of what it will take to achieve those goals.
1. Come up with an editorial mission statement
Having an editorial mission statement is crucial. It will help you and your team stay focused on the key factors of your content marketing strategy: target audience, types of content, and main objective.
“A simple mission statement communicates your objective in its simplest terms,” Olenski explains. For example: “Brand X seeks to provide fun, healthy and nutritional advice and recipes for busy parents on the go to help improve their family’s eating habits in a healthy, sustainable way.”
2. Brainstorm lots of content ideas
Now that you have your editorial mission statement, you can come up with some ideas for content. Gather your team and have a brainstorming session to come up with a list of evergreen content ideas that you project will rank well over the New Year. It’s still content marketing, after all, and while there are many factors that come into play when it comes to your strategy’s success, content is the real star of the show.
Remember, however, that your content strategies shouldn’t focus heavily on self-promotion. If most of your posts seem like shameless product plugs, you’ll lose visitors before you even get to your call to action. Instead, prioritize creating brand-neutral content that is informative, helpful, and timeless.
3. Match your best content ideas to the appropriate channels
Everyone knows that choosing the best location for your business is essential to achieving success. Your restaurant may serve the most delicious, most unforgettable food in the world, but you would end up facing bankruptcy if you picked the wrong spot.
Obviously, the same idea applies to content. The most informative, engaging, and all-around amazing article will still end up performing poorly if shared on the wrong platform. It’s not enough to create great content for your target audience—it’s also important to choose the correct place to publish or share that content to get the most traction and social shares.
To help you choose the right channel for your content, Sujan Patel suggests: “Study what’s trending on various channels and pay attention to the most clicked-on headlines and buzzwords. What type of content earns the most engagement? Emulate those successes by incorporating similar content and finding relevant influencers on those channels to share it.”
4. Find out what the most effective content marketers are doing
The 2016 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends survey by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs shows a detailed report based on the responses of 1,521 B2B marketers in North America. Using those responses, the survey offers a comprehensive profile of the “best-in-class” or most effective B2B content marketer:
• 79 percent – Organization is clear on what an effective or successful content marketing program looks like.
• 70 percent – Describes organization as sophisticated/mature
• 61 percent – Meets daily or weekly to discuss content marketing program
• 72 percent – Finds meetings extremely or very valuable
• 53 percent – Has a documented content marketing strategy
• 48 percent – Has a documented editorial mission statement
• 15 – Average number of tactics used
• Seven – Average number of social media platforms used
• Four – Average number of paid advertising methods used
• 42 percent – Percentage of total marketing budget allocated to content marketing
• 48 percent – Plans to increase content marketing budget in next 12 months (*lowest percentage out of all respondents)
5. Have consistent daily or weekly meetings with your content team
According to the 2016 B2B Content Marketing report, 61 percent of the most effective marketers make it a point to meet with their content team as frequently as every day or every week. The report also states that, according to the data, the effectiveness levels of effective B2B marketers’ content marketing efforts increased by 41 percent with daily or weekly content marketing meetings.
6. Document your entire strategy
Most experts agree that one of the most effective content marketing trends that successful marketers implement is documenting their strategy.
“There’s no end to how far you can take your documentation, but focus on a core outline and actionable steps,” Patel recommends. “Start by building your case for using content marketing with an outline of channels to approach, content you want to produce, and end goals. Back up your efforts by meeting regularly with your marketing team to reassess your strategy and make adjustments as needed.”
Know What Success Looks Like
The one thing most experts agree on when it comes to creating a highly effective content marketing strategy for 2016? Know what content marketing success looks like.
Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi and MarketingProfs Chief Content Officer Ann Handley had this to say in the B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report:
“To be more effective at content marketing, you have to know what success looks like, but that’s only the starting point. [The most effective] marketers are more likely than their less effective peers to have a documented content marketing strategy and editorial mission statement. They meet with their teams frequently, experiment with a broader range of tactics, and more.”
Michael Bryant has been in the Digital Marketing since 2010. Working for companies like Digitalroom.com. Michael is in to local SEO and overall digital marketing. In his free time, he is an avid photographer.