You probably already know that content marketing is important for your business. Content marketing fosters conversion rates six times higher than other methods, and helps build trust and authority with your customers and clients. Even when you know you should be developing content, it can be a struggle. It takes time and energy, and more than half of marketers remain unsure of how effective their content marketing actually is. While there’s no “sure thing,” we’ve found that successful content marketing strategies all have a few similar elements. Here they are:
- Sweet spot
- Buyer personas
- Buyer’s journey map
- Voice and tone guide
- Content audit
- Key phrase and trend research
- Editorial mission statement
- Editorial calendar
Let’s break down each of these elements.
1. Your Sweet Spot
Your sweet spot is what sets your business apart from the competition. What do you offer or excel in that no one else does? What do your customers love about your brand? That’s your sweet spot! It summarizes exactly what you rock at and what your business should be known for. It’s simple, concise, and easy for everyone on the team to reference if you feel you’re getting off track. Identifying your sweet spot will guide your entire content strategy and help narrow your messaging.
“Your sweet spot mixed with your customers’ pain points is where the truly valuable stories are.”
-Joe Pulizzi, “Epic Content Marketing.”
2. Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are the cornerstone of any successful marketing strategy.If you’re not familiar with them yet, they’re “semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers.” They include information on your customer’s demographics, lifestyles, buying patterns, and more — all based on research and data of course! Personas help you narrow in on who you’re talking to and allow your marketing and sales teams to align efforts, create a cohesive brand, and guide content development. Get started with our free Persona Development Guide!
3. Your Buyer’s Journey Map
“We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.”
– Craig Davis, former chief creative officer at J Walter Thompson
The term “buyer’s journey” is thrown out a lot in the marketing world, usually in conjunction with the terms “Awareness,” “Consideration,” and “Decision.” At E-Power, we like to focus on long-term relationships, so we like to add in the “Retention” stage too! While creating a buyer’s journey map may seem intimidating, it’s basically breaking down the steps a customer takes before making a purchase or doing business with your brand. This map will allow you to hone in on what your ideal customers are looking for before, during, and after they connect with your business. Understanding where your customers are in their journey and what they need (even before they do) puts you in a powerful position to sell your product or service. You can use your buyer’s journey map to proactively address your customer’s needs every step of the way through targeted content.
4. Voice and Tone Guide
Whether you partner with an online marketing agency or have your own internal marketing team, chances are multiple people will be writing content, posting on social, and engaging with customers on behalf of your brand. A guide outlining the tone and voice you want to project will help make sure everyone is on the same page and make your brand more cohesive across channels and platforms. When drafting your guide, consider:
- Your brand’s core values and mission statement
- A list of adjectives to describe your brand (both what it is and what it isn’t)
- Phrases and words your brand likes and ones to avoid
- Recommendations on how to handle complaints, requests, common questions, etc.
Failure to have a consistent voice across channels may result in confusion for your customers and an overall negative opinion of your brand.
5. Content Audit
The best way to know where you’re going is to know where you’ve been. If you’ve already been creating blogs, emails, videos, or other content without a solid strategy behind it, you’ll want to take a hard look at those existing pieces. You can use your tone and voice guide, buyer personas, and Google Analytics to guide the process. What pieces could use some updates? What pieces are really resonating with readers and how can you re-purpose or expand on them? What content pieces should be retired (and redirected)? What content would your personas be interested in that you have yet to create?
A big part of a content audit is also taking a look at your competitors. What topics are they covering that you aren’t? What key phrases are they ranking for that you don’t or rank below? What types of content are ranking for them (videos, blogs, infographics, etc.)? There are a variety of tools, like Moz Pro, that can help you with this.
6. Key Phrase and Trend Research
This goes hand in hand with the content audit noted above. When planning out your content, you’ll want to do your research. What key phrases are your content pieces currently ranking for? Has your search visibility fluctuated recently? If so, why? What changed? You’ll also want to look at new key phrases that may be rising in popularity that you don’t have content related to yet.
During this process, also take a look at what’s trending, or what trended last year around the same time. Use trends to figure out what content you should create or redistribute to capitalize on trending searches. Holidays, pop culture, and technology can all play a big role in what content people are interested in, so keep that in mind and document it so you can plan accordingly.
7. Editorial Mission
Your editorial mission is similar to your sweet spot, but goes a little deeper. Your editorial mission should outline how to differentiate your content in the crowded online landscape through your messaging and format. It should go beyond how to use your products and focus on how you help your audiences live better lives. Why are you creating content and why should people care? Without a clear understanding of exactly why you’re creating content and how it benefits your customers and your brand, your unfocused content will get lost in the millions of content pieces published every day.
8. Editorial Calendar
With everything else in place, you can start developing your editorial calendar. An editorial calendar is your way of keeping track of your content from development to distribution. Everyone seems to design these a little different, but at the most basic level it should include the topic or working title, who’s creating it, the format of the piece, and a publish date. We also recommend creating a synopsis and purpose statement for each piece that ties back to your editorial mission, so what the piece is and why you’re developing it is clear from the get go.
An editorial calendar will help you plan, distribute, and analyze your content more effectively. It’s also an easy way to keep everyone involved with writing content (marketing agencies, bloggers, influencers, web developers, etc.) on track. Without a content game plan you may end up missing out on engagement opportunities and wasting precious time and resources.
Now it all comes together!
When all these these elements are in place, you’re well on your way to creating more valuable content. Remember, it’s an ongoing process that has to be tweaked, revised, and updated as your customer needs and business goals shift.
If you are stretched for time, unsure how these elements come together into one big marketing plan, or simply want a fresh set of eyes on your content strategy, we’re here to help! If you’re ready to take the next step, we’ll work with you to create a Brand Consistency Plan that includes buyer’s journey mapping, developing your sweet spot, and more! Interested?