Content strategy basics

Triana Jarman
The vast majority of advertisers who engage with Sift Media communities do so via some form on content marketing. The format of this content may vary from an occasional sponsored piece of editorial to a full in-depth programme of activity including blogs, white papers, research reports, expert interviews, editorial contributions, webinars and more. Whether you have the resources to produce a detailed map of content for the months and years ahead or whether your means a little more limited, the results of your investment will largely be drawn from the strategy behind your content. Here, we look at a handful of strategy basics… 
‘Be’ your customer
Avoid blindly producing content simply because that’s what you’re interested in or because it’s an area within your comfort zone. That’s not to say that what you publish won’t get reads, but unless you put the customer first you’re less likely to get the volume of engagement you want from the people you want to reach. 
Now’s the time to question exactly who it is that you want to engage with. There may be value in taking a step back, profiling your target audience and even creating personas of those you want to reach. There are plenty of agencies that can help you do this, but it’s also feasible to do a basic analysis in-house and get a feel for the type of content that individual will want to read.
Think also about how they might find you. Limited time and resources may mean you’re unable to communicate via every format and every channel so consider where the most likely opportunities for engagement exist.
Divide and conquer
If you’re looking at producing a series of content which will be delivered by a variety of channels it can quickly become an overwhelming task to manage. A simple schedule breaking down your content outputs into their individual component parts will make multiple projects more manageable.
When considering your schedule divide into sections and highlight the resources and time frames to be allocated to each section wherever possible. We’ll assume here that it’s your role to manage the overall process of developing content for your organisation, but try to ensure your schedule indicates the following:
  • Who will plan it
  • Who will write it
  • Who will tailor for SEO 
  • Who will edit it
  • Who will design and produce it (for collateral such as white papers, etc)
  • Who will put it to market (see the following point…)
  • Who will measure and report on success*
*This last step can’t be underestimated. It is after all the only way you will know whether what you’re doing is working and therefore indicate the future shape of your content marketing strategy.
Depending on the size of your organisation it may be that the same individual does more than one of the above activities – or indeed all of them, in which case your schedule will largely focus on time frames only.
Promotion should be scheduled too
Too often marketers put effort into creating a programme of brilliant content then keep their fingers crossed that a post about it on LinkedIn will deliver all the downloads they need – or at least enough to keep their sales team happy. It almost definitely won’t.
The answer is to develop a proper schedule of promotion including email campaigns to prospects and clients, a series of social posts across all channels, seeding content into relevant trade press and to generally repurpose as effectively as possible. 
As we mentioned in a blog post not so long ago (Why creating content might just be the easy part of marketing), the key to getting the greatest return on investment from content is all in the planning. Repurposing content and effective promotion by maximising multi-channel marketing will ensure your campaign provides the best bang for its buck.
Some practical copywriting tips…
While this post has focused on the creation of a strategy behind content production, it hasn’t touched on some of the more practical aspects of physically writing the copy itself. For instance, you must consider the desired outcome of your content early in the process if you are to direct the reader to the desired outcome. One tried and tested method of producing content that resonates with readers and influences their decision process is by using storytelling[link to latest blog post]. Ensure that your copy is relevant and tap into the emotion of your audience by using case studies or examples of how the benefits of your product or service can directly help them. Consider your call to action also, and in particular how this can be optimised (another of our archived blogs may help here).