Delivering the right content at the right time to the right audience is critical for online marketing success. Since content takes time and resources to produce, it’s important to have a strategy that will efficiently develop the right content for your audience.
1. What are your key topics?
The first step in content creation is identifying your key topics. Looking at search results and trends is a good way to tell what interests your audience. Use Google Adwords to get monthly search volumes for your keywords, and you’ll be able to see what topics are being searched. Now use those keywords in content titles, tags and text to maximize visibility!
Many social media research tools let you type in a search term that describes your main topic or industry and will give you a list of words people are using in relation to this term. These tools may also show you what the most popular content is around your main keywords.
2. What is the purpose of your content?
So why are you creating content? Is it because someone told you it’s the hot new thing? Is it to increase awareness of your company? Is it to try to change perceptions? Figure out what you want to see in return for what you’re producing, and make that the goal of your content marketing strategy.
Once you’ve done that, determine what kind of content will best meet your goals. Most content falls into three main categories: informative, newsworthy, or entertaining, with most content strategists opting for a mix of the three.
Finally, consider whether you’re going to give your content away for free or if you’re going to require something (e.g., money, an email address, a tweet, etc.) in return for access to specific content.
3. What are your resources?
You can have a brilliant strategy but without resources, the implementation will fail. Your marketing team should already include a copywriter and editor; these are the obvious resources for you to call on. But content isn’t just copy, so make sure you have additional resources to create graphics and video as well. You may have to outsource certain aspects of your content creation; the good news is that there are plenty of agencies and freelancers available to help you.
One of your resources is content that has already been produced. Take a look at it: can any of it be repurposed? Articles you’ve written can be collected into an ebook; webinars can become videos on YouTube.
4. Where should your content go?
Now that you understand what content your audience wants, you need to see where your audience hangs out, so to speak, so you can target those channels with your content. What are people in your target audience tweeting or retweeting? Plug your keywords into YouTube to see how many videos are out there and how many new ones are coming online every day. You can also search your topic on Google Blogsearch and Twitter search to see what is going on.
Once you’ve done your research, make a list of your key channels and how you’ll be using them. Consider the unique aspects of each channel. For example, Twitter is probably better for short bursts of information, while photo sharing may make more sense on Facebook or Flickr.
6. What’s your promotional plan?
Unfortunately the expression, “if you build it, they will come” doesn’t apply to the web. You must tell people that your content is out there, guide them to it, and encourage them to share it. Again, knowing which tools and sites your audience uses is critical. The options are myriad (newsletters, social media sites, blogs, links on Q&A sites, etc.) and you won’t be able to reach all of them. So your overall strategy needs to include a promotional plan that is feasible, trackable, and makes sense for your business.
In all of this, don’t forget to track your results. You may have different goals for different channels. Check your website data for links from other sites, your search ranking, and unique site visitors. Check social media metrics for your following on the various sites, the content that’s being shared or retweeted, and links back to your website.
Getting on the content marketing bandwagon is a smart step for any business or brand. The trick is in asking yourself the right questions so that you can use your resources as effectively as you can and generate the best ROI possible.
Jeannette de Beauvoir is a copywriter, author, and content strategist and producer. More at www.jeannettedebeauvoir.com