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How To Develop Your Very First Content Strategy

Are you perhaps struggling to get a move on with your marketing strategy? Stalling can be a business killer — you have to learn how to overcome procrastination and work around it. When it comes to content marketing, procrastination is no good. In order to drive SEO results and meet business deliverables, you need to get out there and create content with purpose. You have to be driven. You have to be hungry. You have to want it.

Here are some actionable steps you can take to devise your own content strategy from scratch. With these tips, you will become a content pro in no time at all.

Create some brand guidelines

In order to create consistently high-quality content, you need to start by defining a few things about your brand.

From visual design elements to tone of voice, having some guidelines will help you create content faster and scale your efforts. After all, you can’t effectively work with freelance designers and copywriters unless they have a thorough understanding of your brand.

And, it’s not something that needs to be overly complex. In fact, the best brand guidelines are simple and streamlined — think of them as an easy-to-follow recipe.

This example from Yelp is a good example of what design guidelines might look like:

yelp brand style guide content example

These days, content rarely means just the written word, so you need to be prepared to create some design rules.

 

Alongside colour, you will want to cover logo usage, typography etc. Agreeing on the ground rules will make it easier when you go out there and start to ‘play’.

MailChimp content style guide example

MailChimp’s Content Style Guide is a great example of an enterprise content style guide. It’s obviously too much for a small business to create, but it gives you a good idea of what needs to be covered.

As you can see, the language of the Style Guide is clear and direct. The idea isn’t to create something that’s filled with jargon — but something that’s a genuinely useful guide for copywriters and social media managers.

Questions to help you:

  • What feelings and emotions should your brand evoke?
  • Are there any no-go topics or areas?
  • Any areas you want to cover?
  • What type of impression do you want to make?
  • Who are you primarily talking to?

Set some concrete goals

Before you launch into a social media posting or blogging frenzy, have a serious think about why you are actually creating content. The whole point of having a strategy is that you have underpinning goals and targets.

As an example, here are some tips on setting goals for social media for the first time:

Rather than obvious vanity metrics like gaining more followers on Twitter, you want to focus on more concrete goals like the number of sales that have come through social, the percentage of referral traffic that’s social etc.

At the same time, you can’t always directly compare posting content on social media with sales figures. The sales journey and user funnel is probably a lot more complicated than: tweet + click = sale.

You need to have a sense of proportion and work backwards from your goals in order to achieve your strategy.

Kissmetrics dashboard screenshot example content

Tools like Google Analytics or Kissmetrics (screenshot above) allow you to tag social media actions and then match them up with relevant micro (newsletter sign up) and macro (sale) conversions. This is an essential tactic for any content marketer looking to increase ROI, and you will quickly get into the habit of checking your analytics on a regular basis.

A similar workflow will also apply to tagging up blogs, emails, PDFs, and any other forms of content. The key is to ensure that nothing goes untagged or unaccounted for.

Focus on a few channels

Don’t start firing on all cylinders at once. You’ll burn yourself out.

The best way to get started with content marketing is to focus on a few core channels that make sense for you.

Look at audience data, internal resources, your goals, and the kinds of stories you can tell. Does a YouTube channel make more sense than a Snapchat profile? Should you prioritise Pinterest over Instagram?
For a company like the Young Entrepreneur’s Forum informative and engaging video content uploaded to YouTube is the ideal fit for their target demographic:

Remember that video content can be reused on your website and social media channels.

There are no easy answers, as the best channel for you will depend on your business. However, you may want to lean on big players like Facebook and Google in order to launch your content to the world, get some initial data and feedback, and then go and find the more niche strategies that will work for you.

Similarly, you may find that your business is better at blogging than videos, or is better suited to visual content like galleries and lookbooks than dense whitepapers.

And though everyone should be trying to keep up with the latest content formats (which tend to be short-form and visual), it doesn’t mean that you need to abandon your business blog entirely. It’s all about knowing what formats your audience are likely to need, and how you can bring down the costs of content production.

Don’t underestimate the importance of having the right technology on your side. From an ecommerce perspective, you want a robust online store that’s got good blogging features or one that can be easily tweaked and customised with killer content plugins. The harder it is to upload and update content, the more expensive your strategy will be.

Having better content on your domain means that you will be in a stronger position when it comes to going out there and scoring digital PR features and mentions — just to give you another reason (as if you needed it) to invest in great content.

Keep measuring

The key to a great content strategy is making continuous improvements. Use Google Analytics to start you off, but it’s also worth peeping at more detailed SEO and content reports.

There are LITERALLY thousands of content measurement tools out there, so I recommend taking advantage of some free trials to figure out which one you like.

Be autonomous, but lean on expert advice when you feel out of your debt.

And most importantly — have fun with it!

Your first content strategy may take multiple different forms. It could a mixture of spreadsheets, documents, and presentations.  At this stage, try not to overcomplicate things too much. The key is setting up a framework that you can actually follow through with.

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