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7 Steps to an Effective Content Strategy 1

7 Steps to an Effective Content Strategy

7 Steps to an Effective Content Strategy 3

‘Content Strategy’ is a term that is frequently banded about in businesses, but a true understanding of what one is, and why it’s so important is less common. Some would assume that a content strategy is simply a plan to help a digital marketer to organise their time – but a real content strategy is so much more… 

Here are our top 7 tips for writing an effective content strategy – keep reading to learn more. 

1 – Define your goals

2 – Do your research

3 – Audit your current content

4 – Brainstorm content ideas

5 – Create a realistic content calendar

6 – Monitor and report

7 – Repeat! 

‘So how do I start…?’ – I hear you! Even as an experienced content marketer, those first steps are always the hardest, but once you’re in the swing of it you’ll find that it becomes easier and easier – and you’ll wonder why you’ve been putting this off for so long!

Already too much? Get in touch and let us do the hard work for you…

1 – Define your goals

Before you even start thinking about campaigns and social media ads, it’s important to properly define your business objectives. Are you looking to build brand awareness? Increase sales? Improve your customer service? Build an online presence? (And if your answer is ‘all of the above’ then it’s time to start prioritising!). Be realistic about what is most important to you and align your content strategy with your wider business plan.

2 – Do your research

It’s time to really get to know your audience… In order to come up with an effective content marketing strategy, you need to fully understand the wants and needs of your customer. You can then approach them with a message that will really speak to them and will be far more likely to get them to convert.

A great way to relate to your audience is by getting to know their bugbears and providing them with a solution. For example, our clients have told us stories about agencies that they have worked with, who they only spoke to once a month. One of our USPs is that we work collaboratively with our clients, acting more like remote team members than an external, third party agency.

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A great way to find out more about your audience is through surveying. You can use platforms such as SurveyMonkey to create short questionnaires to share with your database. Alternatively, you could use Google Surveys– which puts your questions in front of people that match your targeting criteria. It is more costly, but allows you to reach a much wider, completely unbiased audience.

3 – Audit your current content

Look at your existing content portfolio; blogs, video content, social media posts, e-shots, web content, even things like brochures or leaflets. Look at how successful your content has been. You can use Google Analytics to see stats on your blog posts and web content, Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics… the list goes on! By looking at what is performing well, you can identify what types of content your audience are responsive to and use that information to shape your future content plans.

This exercise will also help you to identify your brand’s ‘Tone of Voice’. Tone of Voice is the way you convey your brand personality in all of your communications (written and spoken). It’s all about the way you say things and the impression that it makes on your audience. It’s important that your brand’s Tone of Voice is understood and conveyed by everyone in the business; whether it’s a graphic designer creating an advert, customer service resolving a customer issue or an MD speaking at an event.  (This blog from HubSpot explores Tone of Voice in more detail…).

As well as looking at your own content, it’s worthwhile checking out your competition too. What are they doing well (and not so well!), what are their customers engaging most with etc. We’re not advocating ‘copying’ – but you can use their successes to inspire your content plans. For example, if a competitor was answering FAQs as a weekly feature on Facebook, and was seeing lots of interaction, this might inspire you to build in a live Q&A session on one of your social channels, or create an FAQ page/blog on your website, which you could promote via social media.

4 – Brainstorm content ideas 

Once you know what works well, it’s time to get all of your ideas down on paper. It’s a good idea to look at your wider marketing plan and incorporate content ideas around new product launches, planned campaigns and key events. Now is the time to let your imagination run wild – it’s much easier to create a content plan with too many ideas, rather than too few. It’s also much easier to reign in your more outrageous ideas to create original content ideas than it is to come up with appropriately creative content from scratch!

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It’s a great time to get input from the wider business too – speak to your sales and customer services teams to find out what they think your customers would engage with. In a previous job, the MD invited staff to stay on for a couple of hours after work and put on pizza and drinks to encourage people to contribute ideas and think creatively.

Try and think about all the different types of content formats you’d like to cover – blog, social media, social ads, web content etc. It’s also worthwhile bearing the different social channels in mind, as they will help you to come up with ideas for live video, Instagram stories and ad campaigns.

5 – Create a realistic content calendar

Pulling together an all-singing, all-dancing content calendar is easy, but you need to be realistic about what resource you have available to execute it. If you’re single-handedly managing a marketing department, chances are you’re not going to have the time to be posting on multiple channels, multiple times a day. Assess what time you can dedicate on a daily basis and use that to help you build your calendar. 

Give yourself goals to work with – for example, posting three times a week on Facebook, or creating and sharing one blog post every week, and incorporate these into your content calendar too.

It’s always worthwhile working at least 6 weeks in advance with your content calendar. There will always be ad-hoc things you’ll need to work in, and there’ll no doubt be bits that get taken out or pushed on. But by planning your content in advance, you’ll find it easier to manage your time and you’ll be confident that you have made the most out of every marketing opportunity.

For inspiration and ideas on the different types of content you should be creating, check out our Brand Storytelling blog post.

6 – Monitor and report

It’s all good and well getting heaps of content out in front of your audience, but if it’s the wrong kind of content, you run the risk of putting them off. You should be monitoring your results at least on a weekly basis – just to check that there are no glaring issues, and reporting on a monthly basis. The analytics/insights platforms can be a bit of a minefield, offering masses of data, so it’s worthwhile going back to your original objective thinking about what you want to measure.

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It’s important to report back with appropriate results and metrics, in order to show the importance of a content strategy and how it helps to keep activities focused in order to achieve business goals. Plus, it’s always rewarding to see increases month on month, justifying the time you dedicated to building and growing your strategy.

7 – Repeat!

Your content strategy should be a working document. Your audience is constantly evolving, so you should be too. Look at your content strategy every quarter. Assess what went well, what you’d like to carry on with, features you’re happy to wrap up, which blogs were particularly successful etc. You can use this information to help you plan your content calendar for the next three months.

Whether you’re looking for help with your entire content strategy, or whether you’ve got the ideas, but not the time, we can help. Get in touch todayfor an exploratory phone call, and let’s see how we could become a part of your team and help drive your business success.

Head of Online Content and Social Media and mum of baby Ella, Lois has masses of experience to help your organic and paid social deliver the goods.