content, marketing , digital

Content, when you’re consuming it via social media, seems so easy to create.

An Instagram story only last a few seconds, how much time could it take to make and edit? Yet, every single piece of branded content you have found useful, whether a blog, case study or even a tweet, was designed as part of a content marketing strategy to turn you from a visitor to a lead.

We’ve distilled over twenty years of content marketing experience into four simple steps to help you understand how powerful content marketing can be when done right.

Read on and find out how this process can benefit your business.

• Step 1. Audit
• Step 2. Goals
• Step 3. Provide solutions
• Step 4. Production

Why does your business need content marketing?

Your business needs content marketing to generate traffic and leads. Content marketing aids the customer’s buying decision. It provides signposts at relevant points on the journey from prospect to purchase. It offers useful information to build trust with potential customers. From that trust, a relationship is established and nourished with more helpful content.

Content marketing isn’t designed to sell, which is where it differs from traditional advertising. Content marketing provides answers to user questions; answers they can’t find anywhere else. By providing your expertise and insight in answering these questions, your business becomes a trusted source of reliable information. In doing so, your business can use content marketing to increase interest in its products or services and build long-term relationships. Nice!

Why you need a strategy

Designing a strategy ensures you spend time and resources on creating the right content to bring the right audience and the right traffic to your business. By carefully managing the topics and content you create, you can pre-qualify traffic coming to your site. You’ll start to attract traffic that has a high intent of purchasing your products or interacting with your business.

So, let’s get cracking!

Designing your content strategy

Step 1. Audit

Before you design your content strategy, you should run a content audit. It should include your website and all the social media channels your business uses. You’re looking to find out what content works, what doesn’t, and which channels are currently used by your target audience.

You’ll be analysing your content for:
• Popularity
• Posting schedule and timing
• Engagement
• Audience
• Topics
• Traffic generated

While you’re auditing your content, take a moment to examine your competitors. What are they doing differently? What topics are popular in their content?

For a selection of B2B best practice content marketing examples across different industries that can serve as a source of inspiration for your own strategy, see the list put together by Hub Spot.

Part of your audit includes finding your audience across the social media landscape. This information helps you to tailor content more appropriately. For example, if your target audience is on LinkedIn and Instagram, focus on them rather than creating Tweets or Facebook posts.

You can use Global Web Index to help search for your audience, or you can use social media planning software Sprout Social’s article on social media channel demographics to help identify your audience’s channel preferences. Once you know where they are, you can target these social platforms specifically in your content marketing strategy.

Step 2. Goals

The audit will identify what content and channels perform well, where to improve and which channels your target audience uses.

In this next step, you need to consider what you want your content to achieve for your business. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 79% of content marketers are focused on building brand awareness (getting potential customers into their marketing funnel).

To track awareness, you need to monitor the following stats:
Brand awareness: impressions, mentions, shares, likes and links
• Audience Growth Rate: measure net new followers every three months (Divide net new followers by total audience on each platform and multiply by 100 to get the %.)
• Post Reach: to measure reach of any given post, divide reach by your total number of followers and multiply by 100 to get %.

When you start your content marketing strategy, it’s best to set simple goals for the metrics described above, such as a 10% or 15% increase on:
• Follower growth across your chosen channels
• Post reach – this is particularly useful to watch as it allows you to improve your content iteratively
• Sign-up’s to email lists

If you use social media scheduling software like Hootsuite or Sprout Social, in addition to Google Analytics, you can easily track your metrics to evaluate ROI.

Step 3. Provide solutions

In this step it’s crucial to get into your customer’s mindset. What do they care about? What matters most to them? For example, is it convenience? How can they make their life easier with the aid of your products?

Great content (the kind which generates traffic month after month) solves your audience’s problems. This thought should always be at the forefront of your mind when you’re designing content.

So, let’s design some content!

Put yourself in the shoes of your best customer. What are they thinking about? What challenges do they face? Write down at least five things they might have on their mind. For each of these five topics, think about how your business can provide solutions. Then write down at least five ways forward for every challenge. Five challenges multiplied by five solutions equals twenty-five content ideas for you to create. Fantastic!

Step 4. Production

So, now you’ve got a list of twenty-five topics. Before you make anything, you need to create a content production process to ensure your strategy has every chance of success.

• What formats are you choosing? Blogs? Case studies? There are plenty of formats to choose from, but consider how video can dovetail into your strategy as it is the most engaging format across all platforms. YouTube is the primary social media channel for users aged 18 to 64!

• Who is creating your content? You might hope your team can handle it in-house. But it takes resources, time, commitment and experience to create, deliver and evaluate content in an organised, strategic way. If you do have the skills and resources, consider how long it will take from creation to production to sign-off and go-live. (Of course, you can always outsource your content strategy. Come and speak to us, we can help you design and deliver an award-winning content marketing campaign.)

• What is the sign-off process? Do you have brand guidelines for content? What are your social guidelines? Do you have protocols for responding to comments, positive or negative? Who will be fact-checking?

• What are you publishing and when? Consistency is key. An editorial calendar can help simplify this process.

• What time will you publish? It’s essential that you post at the right time, so your carefully created content gets the most views.

• And don’t forget your SEO!

Best times to post 2019

– Twitter: Best time is Wednesday at 9 am, and 2 pm, Friday at 9 am.
– Instagram: Best time is Wednesday at 11 am and Friday at 10-11am.
– LinkedIn: Best time is Wednesday at 9-10 am and noon.
– Facebook: Best time is Wednesday at 11 am and 1 pm.
– Blog: Friday at noon.
Source Sprout Social 2019

Given how quickly the social media landscape changes, it is worth reviewing these times regularly.

Once you’ve got all these steps complete, you’re all set to create your own content marketing strategy!

Now, we’d like to hear from you. With over twenty years’ experience creating award winning content strategies for household names like British Gas and Scottish Water, we have the answers to your burning content questions.

Simple query, or complex question? Either way, let us know in the comments!