Before bringing your “A” game, you have to know your end game.
With digital publishers facing an ever-increasing need for a constant stream of new and clickable content, it’s not surprising that content creation strategies tend to prioritize quantity above all else. But there’s a smarter way to create content – one that focuses on both quantity and quality while simultaneously developing measurable KPIs.
This process of creating content with intent means identifying what purpose your content serves early in the content development process. The key to doing that is matching your content format and distribution channels with your business needs and developing scalable processes for creating that content as cost effectively as possible.
While every company’s needs are different, the process for deploying this content strategy works no matter what your content goals are. Here are five steps to making it happen.
Get Outside the Content Bubble
Before you start developing a content strategy you need to fully understand what purpose content serves for your business. Delivering content to as many people as possible is not necessarily the most important thing for every publisher. For some, the main purpose of their content is driving revenue or leads. For others, content is mainly focused on brand building or customer retention. However, for most companies, it’s all of the above.
Identifying your goals requires involving all stakeholders in the early stages of the content-planning process. From sales and marketing to social and SEO, make sure everyone’s voice is heard early and often. It will result in a more solid content strategy that aligns with your broader business plan.
Once you’ve mapped your content strategy with your business plan, you should determine early on what success will look like. If your goal is to drive traffic, figure out what your ideal traffic growth numbers are. If it’s revenue, do the same. Even if you don’t make your goals, setting them early on will give you something to aim for and help you measure your success later.
Keep in mind that your goals may change. You might discover that your intended audience is misaligned with the content you’ve created for one purpose, but in the process discover a new value for your content you hadn’t considered. Be open to adapting and evolving your goals as you learn what works.
Change the Channel
In the age of content everywhere, many publishers are struggling to find a strategy that targets their core audience and instead find themselves trying to be everything to everyone. With limited editorial resources that strategy rarely works. The result is too much content that doesn’t perform well in any particular channel and a watered-down brand that doesn’t resonate with any one, loyal group.
Before you start developing your content, assess where your desired audience likely lives and how they are most likely to find your content. Identifying a few key distribution channels will help you sculpt your content to maximize performance within a given channel.
Target Your Content
Now that you know what your content will be about and where your audience will find it, it’s time to make sure the content itself is packaged in a manner that aligns with those goals. That means identifying what formats and templates work best for your intended audience. While social media loves eye-catching images and clickable headlines, content designed to drive organic search traffic should be SEO-focused and formatted for search-friendly performance.
Aligning your content format to your end goals means again leveraging teams outside of content to gather data and advice on what works and what doesn’t. This will change over time, so a big part of targeting content requires a willingness to innovate and evolve over time.
The most important step in creating a strategic and purposeful content strategy is the follow up. Find ways to measure the actual success of your content initiatives that are focused on your company goals – not simply based on standard one-size-fits-all approaches. Measuring overall traffic or page views, for example, may not be the best way of determining if what you’re doing is serving your needs.
Make sure your approach to analyzing the success of your efforts is effective by bridging the communication gap between your decision makers and your data analysts. Too often, our data experts don’t understand our broader business goals and end up assessing the data in ways that are logical but not necessarily aligned with predicting the businesses’ desired outcomes.
While each of these steps may appear to be common sense, too often they get lost in the content planning process. Teams are siloed and often don’t discuss strategy until after the content is already created. Discussing each team’s needs and concerns early will result in better performing content and more efficient processes. It may also result in better understanding across teams and shared learning that results in better performance by each.
About the author
Jeanette Mulvey loves telling small business stories. From hardware stores in Saskatchewan to fashion designers in Milan, she’s traveled the world learning what makes entrepreneurs tick and hearing their struggles. As VP of B2B Content at Purch, she is responsible for content and social media and for Business.com and BusinessNewsDaily, where she strives to ensure both sites are the go-to destination for small business advice and inspiration. Follow her on Twitter @JeanetteB2B