Everywhere you go online, content strategy ‘experts’ are making a lot of noise from their various corners of the web. They’re all singing a variation on a song that goes something like this.
SEO’s evolving, getting more complex
Google shifting algorithms, changing all the bets
Analytics point at bottom lines, but measurement’s a mess
Your content’s tied to all of it, so you’d better have the best
In content related professions (think writing, photography or graphic design), the devil in the craft has long been named Subjectivity. As algorithms and analytics add their filters, the devil has gained a new name. Results.
What a relief.
Here’s the thing. Nobody is ever going to write or design something beloved by all who engage with it. Subjectivity is why the best writers and designers grow a thick skin and take edits without an emotional response*.
But results are clear, they have path and purpose. They are measurable. You can work toward them with steps like this –
- Understand your audience(s)
- Identifying your competitive branding opportunities
- Articulate your differentiation
- Create a clear roadmap for your stories and the channels through which you’ll tell them
- Develop a rhythm
- Test, measure, apply
Nobody said it was easy. Just worth it. Results-driven content requires strategy. When it goes well, it is the progeny of letters and numbers. It grows, blossoms, becomes something special that people love and seek out. And more than ever, companies are taking notice.
The leading KPIs for content strategy include increasing brand awareness, driving traffic, generating qualified sales leads and converting more of those leads into customers. In every case, these are measurable and results-oriented. They are in no way subjective.
So it’s not that surprising that companies are making the shift from a focus on producing as much content as possible and stuffing that content full of keywords they (think) are searchable. A few little ditties that might be of interest as you consider your own content strategy. By the way, you might want to do that. More than half (55%) of B2B companies say they’ll increase their content marketing budget in the next 12 months.
- 70% of B2B companies have consistently increased content marketing output since 2014
- Infographics had the greatest increase in usage between 2014 and 2015 (51% to 62%)
- In 2016, content (especially visual), will rule digital marketing
- 60% of those companies with a documented content strategy rate themselves highly in terms of content marketing effectiveness, compared with 32% of those who have a verbal strategy
So, it comes down to this. If you want your brand content to thrive, marry it to numbers. You’ll have to work across the aisle (Marketing, meet Sales. Sales, this is our lovely friend Marketing. You’re both so valuable! Oh, and this is Team C-suite. Let’s all play together.) Get yourself a written and visual content team that thinks as much with their business brain as their creative one.
And write it down. It’s okay to iterate some, but discipline is important here. It’ll keep the train on the rails, headed in the right direction. Make a smart plan that considers KPIs, audience needs, differentiators, your own SMEs, company events and the contexts in which your content will live.
For a worksheet that might be useful in this endeavor, shoot me a note!
*For the record, if your writer or designer responds emotionally to feedback, it may be a sign they’re working more for themselves than you. Might be time for a change.