There are hundreds of ways a business owner can tackle a subject as diverse as a content strategy. With so many options available to choose from, it really centers down to the size of the enterprise and the niche in question.
For a large market retailer like David Jones, Nike or Apple, their plan of attack will differentiate greatly from a small to medium enterprise (SME). The budgetary requirements pale in comparison and there are investors, third parties and shareholders to think about.
Whether they be large scale operations or companies that have a local footing, it is paramount to develop content that is geared towards the target audience.
This is a fundamental focus that applies across all fields and is a common issue businesses run into. Owners fall into a sense of complacency where there is an assumption about the way their product is discovered or shopped around for.
New technology will evolve into changing behaviours within society and it is those who stay up to date that dominate the competition. The virtual landscape is continually shifting so you must ensure that your content strategy is flexible enough to meet those future demands.
If the content manages to hit these marks, then it is doing everything in its power to succeed:
- Optimised content
- Published regularly and on schedule
- Clear voice and personality
- Socially engaged
- Customer engaged
Upholding those professional principles has to be the basis. Then comes the actual minutia of a content strategy.
Discover Your Target Audience
Before undertaking any step, it is vital to have a grounding on the target audience profile. This is known as an audience persona or buyer persona.
By becoming a social listener, your operation will have the target market in the palm of your hand. Accessing even a small sample can make the biggest difference to your bottom line.
Points to know:
- Best method to reach this audience (website, social media, forum)
- What time of day/night do they mostly appear online
- What type of content attracts the most views
Should Google Analytics not provide the manner of feedback you were enquiring about in this respect, there is another tactic that content strategists engage with. Put simply, you ask direct from the source.
Head to any number of online survey software options and ask the tough questions yourself:
- Survey Monke
- Key Survey
Business owners should not be expected to have an intimate knowledge first hand about customer practices, habits and preferences. Ensure that your survey is presented clearly and packaged with a bonus offering like a prize, discount or something else that will entice participation.
Be Clear on Your Goals
In what position does your enterprise want to be in 12 months down the road? What about 24 months, 5 years, 10 years and beyond?
Is revenue rising at a rate healthy enough to keep up with real estate inflation? Is the traffic rates matching your investment in pay-per-click advertisements and commercial space on the web?
Having sifted through your data, set out your own targets:
- Monthly revenue in dollars
- Monthly blog shares per post
- Monthly social media followers
- Monthly website views
- Monthly purchases
If you are growing at a healthy enough rate, change this plan to daily. By increasing your scope, you can analyse the data close to real time and make more educated decisions sooner.
These are clear and concise objectives that revolve around purpose – why are you undertaking this venture and is it meeting your expectations?
Xtensio provides a platform for business owners to outline their personalised content strategy. Like other departments, it can be easy to lose track of procedures if they are not stated in black and white.
Use Keyword Research To Gather Audience Habits
In order to understand your audience correctly, you must have a sense for their search habits. It might be in the sequence of a phrase or just terms that are applicable to your niche. The more grounding you have as a business to this domain, the simpler it will be to develop a content strategy.
Use any of these software application tools as a starting point:
- SEM Rush
- Google Keyword Planner Tool
- Keyword Tool
They will outline how successful your keywords are. Going beyond that metric, they will examine what alternatives can be utilised against a pricing structure.
Settle on a Content Management System (CMS)
There is no point having 12 different accounts splintered across your webpages. Much like paperwork where files get stacked on the desk, a litany of content concepts, programs and campaigns can be created and lost without due diligence.
What you require is a dashboard that can oversee the entire production. By utilising a content management system (CMS) that offers a comprehensive analytical framework, you can maintain standards by tracking performance. The two have to go hand-in-hand.
HubSpot’s software is one the market leaders, while a program like Hootsuite funnels all social media accounts into one system. This ensures that content can remain aligned to a plan and focused on the task at hand.
Build a Diverse Audience
As with anything that falls under the content strategy domain, the audience has to come first. However, there is every chance that you are not maximising the potential of your own reach.
Whether your niche is carpentry, accountancy, sporting apparel, children’s clothing or landscaping, there is a community out there shopping for something new.
Any organisation should analyse what distribution channels suit their own clientele. These are the basics that all businesses should occupy space on:
Then there are alternatives. Should your niche revolve in the online world like a software program or website news hub, then try the following:
Local operations are best served at gearing their content strategy away from an online only approach. Developing and building relationships with local newspaper outlets and community newsletters are a fantastic method of elevating your brand awareness.
Get Creative and Stay Versatile
This is where a content strategy can get stretched. Yet if you are to gear your site to cater to your target audience, you must be willing to be creative and versatile. This means placing your site and brand across a string of different platforms while promoting a range of alternative content.
Take Sydney’s publication The Daily Telegraph as a case study to examine. Their site is rife with a collage of images, news grabs, videos, advertisements and more – a genuine attack on the senses.
Perhaps your operation does not need to go to these lengths within your strategy, but it is worth noting how various avenues of media can attract a strong audience.
This can arrive in any of the following:
- Image gallery
Find a style that fits your brand and size of audience. You will soon discover if there is too much content, but it is worth pushing the boundaries.
Follow Key Optimisation Techniques
A content strategy must be humble enough to shift gears when the terrain is changing. In order to have this degree of flexibility, a site should be optimised to ensure that it is compatible with mobile and tablet devices and cater towards search engine requirements.
A program such as Web Page Test is a free service that outlines how your site is operating from an optimisation viewpoint.
This will help you to take action on the detail that might have been initially overlooked by the content creator:
- Copy structure
- Image positioning and size
- Platform usability
Should this be too daunting to consider manually, there are content management systems that will outline your optimisation in clear detail. They so happen to have a vested interest given that they are hosting your page, wanting to build their own audience in the process.
Yet the most widely used CMS that is highest rated and well respected remains WordPress. This will give the user the correct diagnostics to understand if it is performing well on SEO requirements and maximising its potential.
After the goal and objective setting process has been undertaken, you will need to assess how you have actually progressed. This is where the analysis comes into play, looking into the who, what, why, when and where factors into the equation. In other words – an audit.
Gauge your general key performance indicators (KPIs):
- Number of online shares
- Number of online views
- Total impressions
- Revenue garnered from website visits
- Subscribers and newsletter sign-ups
Google Analytics will give a rundown of web performance while Facebook provides an analysis of post shares and impressions made.
For website owners and business operators, a content strategy is simply applying common sense. Any piece of promotional material has to return value to the enterprise and be examined against the investment made to produce it. Having said all that, every other theory can be thrown out the window should the target audience be neglected.
To keep that focus front of mind, ensure you stick to this guideline when formulating your content strategy:
- Discover your target audience
- Be clear on your goals
- Use keyword research to gather audience habits
- Settle on a content management system (CMS)
- Build a diverse audience
- Get creative and stay versatile
- Follow key optimisation techniques
- Analyse results
Once you have tested the waters and have a grounding of knowledge on your target market, set a schedule. Put the wheels in motion and keep abreast of the results as often as possible. A content strategy then becomes an inherent part of the operational framework as it is performed subconsciously.
Lucas is the Managing Director and the Head of SEO Strategy at SEO Shark. He has over 15 years of experience in achieving SEO results for small and medium businesses as well as multinational and ASX-listed brands. He is also an author of multiple publications about digital marketing.