The days of mindlessly churning out content are gone. Marketing teams that produce content just to check a box are no longer seeing the returns they used to. That’s because consumers are so saturated with content — be it blog posts, articles, video or even ephemeral and interactive content — they no longer will accept anything other than quality content that speaks to them personally.
To ensure their budget and time is spent effectively, marketing teams need to create a content strategy that takes into account their organizational needs, consumer interests and a top-down content audit. According to the Content Marketing Institute, a survey of marketers found that the development or adjustment of a content strategy resulted in the highest increase of success during 2017.
Some companies fall into the trap of generating content simply because their competitors do. However, this is not a sound strategy. The first step to creating a content strategy is to find out your organizational needs. What is the company mission? How can content marketing benefit the company most within a specific timeline? What does the company require of its content? What are key business goals?
Identifying these answers will help you not only develop a content strategy, but also develop a business plan for content marketing.
Knowing your audience is one of the most important pillars of content marketing. At the very least, a marketing team should identify the basics of their target audience:
Some marketing teams dig deeper, finding out which influencers have the biggest impact on their audience, as well as what content their audience currently consumes. More marketers are adopting the process of creating consumer personas. The key to building useful, actionable personas is accurate customer data, regular updates and pairing the personas with the content strategy.
For many marketers looking to create or adjust a content strategy, there may already be a large surplus of existing content for them to use. Finding, cataloging and re-using existing content can save a lot of time and money, as well as possibly help marketers refine their content focus.
There are several ways to run a content audit, and it heavily depends on how organized the material already is. Content that has been archived, tagged and categorized needs little in the way of auditing. In a very well-organized system, it is likely that evergreen content has already been marked as such and is ready for repurposing. The only step left is to compare your existing content to your new content strategy and see where the gaps are.
For poorly organized content, it will require a little bit of manual labor. Marketers should take inventory of their existing content and categorize it according to content type, topic and reusability. Additional metrics may include SEO quality, lifetime traffic, uniqueness, etc. All this goes into evaluating what action is needed for a specific piece of content. Evergreen content can be immediately reused, while seasonal content can only be used during a specific time period. Certain materials will need to be rewritten or adjusted before they can be used again, and lastly, some content should be archived or deleted entirely.
These three factors can be applied to all types of content — from video and podcasts to blogs and web content. The sooner a content strategy is in place, the sooner you can start seeing an increase in consumer engagement and conversions.