It is a long time since brands only used mass media to distribute their content to consumers through major advertising campaigns, and it was the post-2e World war marked by strong economic growth and improved living conditions, the customer was a passive consumer who was only responding to the stimuli provided by advertising.
Today and for more than a decade now, the game has totally changed: marketing is "shared" or "360 degrees", customers are no longer passive and can freely share their opinions on social platforms such as social networks (Facebook or Twitter) or even on websites; it is the birth of the era of "opinion 2.0"; from now on, advertising is no longer enough to convince a consumer to buy a product, especially since the latter is overexposed and bombarded with consumer injunctions
These issues have gradually led brands to develop new marketing strategies by inventing the concept of "inbound marketing", from now on, brands no longer simply broadcast an advertising message, but transform themselves into media to create, produce, publish and distribute quality content. the challenge is no longer so much to sell a product or service, but to create value!
Content marketing is an important branch of inbound marketing, not only because it is based on a precise production cycle, but also because it requires the mobilization and collaboration of dedicated teams within a specific pole.
In this article, we analyze the life cycle of a content before delivering the 6 golden rules to follow to implement an effective and efficient content strategy.
The main steps in creating content
For digital content marketing professionals, the challenges are many: it is necessary to create new, remarkable and striking content by offering an original and "unforgettable" experience to the Internet user, while respecting many constraints: limited budget, available resources, deadlines, etc. The goal is to convince the prospect to take the action desired by the marketer such as downloading a white paper, buying a product, requesting information, etc.
As it rises the study carried out by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), only 9% marketing professionals have "developed streamlined approaches to content production, management and distribution". 69% say that even if some systems are implemented, it is mainly manual work that occupies a large part of their practices. another significant figure from this study: only half of marketers have a "formalized workflow process" to plan and publish their content.
As the authors of the previous study rightly state, "the more invisible and successful this process of collaboration and governance will be", content marketing includes a very specific production cycle with 4 main phases:
- Planning and IdeationThis step includes the design of an editorial calendar, research and the choice of content topics.
- Creation and optimizationThis includes all the steps of writing, correcting, editorializing and optimizing content for SEO.
- Content distributionThis phase corresponds to all actions carried out in order to disseminate content on all types of media (e-mailing, social networks, white papers, etc.)
- Performance monitoring and auditThe aim here is to implement a global strategy for measuring the performance of content.
1. Définissez the target of your content
The topics you choose, the tone you use, the publication dates and the editorial formats will depend largely on your audience. marketing personas "will allow you to better understand the expectations of your prospects and customers and create attractive content that will build audience loyalty.
To design your profiles, you can support your customer portfolio or your prospecting files, or you can set up qualitative studies such as interview guides.
These standard profiles are real identity cards in which are specified:
- Profile identity We will use a real customer case: that of a software company This company is aimed at two types of clients: training organisations and independent trainers, such as Nicolas B., an independent fire safety trainer, who works both on his own account and as a subcontractor for other training organisations, residing in Saint-Fons 15 minutes south of Lyon and providing 2 to 4-day training in the Lyon region and throughout France.
- How will your product or service meet its challenges? For Nicolas B, his main problem concerns time management: he has to find new customers, design training programs while performing administrative tasks, choose training management software that automates many "time-consuming" tasks and professionalize his activity, and easily control the compliance of his documents with the legislation in force (which is strict and variable in this sector).
- Why wouldn't Nicolas buy your products? For our independent trainer, investing in new software represents an additional cost, especially since he has just started his business and his business accounts are not yet in balance, and Nicolas is used to using his own tools to manage his business. Nicolas will not only have to learn to use a new tool, but he will also have to spend time on it.
- What are the arguments you will use to sell this product to Nicolas? The software is offered at a competitive price included in a no-commitment package, and will allow him to perform many more operations than the tools currently in use (mainly Word and Excel), while Nicolas can easily and in a few clicks contact customer service in case of problems, and through educational and quality content (blog articles, video tutorials, webinars), we will support our prospect's tool change, show him that this software goes beyond simple administrative management and offer other features necessary for his business.
2. set goals for yourself
Have you ever seen a ship captain board his ship without knowing his precise destination and course beforehand? you are the captain of your content strategy. before producing any content, ask yourself the right questions and set yourself objectives. The SMART method is still as effective as ever in defining your objectives, which must meet these 4 criteria:
- S as specific: Is your content marketing aimed at attracting qualified traffic, building your expertise in your field of activity or gaining notoriety with your target audience? is it also entertaining, educational, inspiring or convincing content? what reaction would you like to get from your audience?
- M as measurable: Do you want to increase your traffic by 20%, increase your transformation rate by 10%? By quantifying this, you will be able to adjust your content marketing results even more.
- A for ambitious: Your objectives must be challenges and challenges for your editorial team, your employees must accept the objectives you have set, and their involvement is essential to the success of your content strategy.
- R is realistic: It is a question of balance, your objectives must be both motivating and achievable, there is no question of your team giving up along the way, you must take into account the resources available and build on the results already achieved, for example, there is no point in planning to write and publish one article per day if you only have one part-time editor.
- T as in time: It is extremely important that you set a deadline to meet, for example, increasing the number of unique visitors to your blog by 15% between January and December 2016.
3. find content ideas
According to the published figures by the CMI, for 26% content marketing professionals, "deciding what to write" is the second most time-consuming task of their activity.
Don't fall out of this trap and make sure you draw up a list of content to be written beforehand by organising brainstorming sessions with your editorial team, which can be done using different levers:
- Identify the needs and expectations of your target audienceFor example, our independent trainer Nicolas B, for example, is looking for information on how to create a training agreement, and not only will we create content that addresses the issue, but we will also provide him with a free template to download.
- Monitor your sector of activityWhat are the most covered and published topics in your field? who are the influential media in this market? this requires using a content aggregator upstream and integrating it into your content creation workflow.
- What content do your competitors publish? The challenge is to identify the topics covered by your competitors and analyze those that are most widely read and shared on social networks, as well as the types of formats published by your competitors: videos, computer graphics, short articles, etc. This competitive analysis will also allow you to know the topics that have not yet been covered by your competitors or partially covered and thus be able to innovate by finding new editorial angles or by publishing new content.
- Use keyword planning tools To return to our previous example on professional training, our various research studies have allowed us to identify key topics related to the creation of a training organization, which is why we have included this topic in our content.
- Draw up a calendar of upcoming events within your company or industryParticipation in a trade show, the launch of a new product are all opportunities to create new content to write.
- Organize a brainstorming sessionDo not hesitate to invite your employees from the marketing content department, but also those from other departments or services, because they do not deal with the same issues on a daily basis as you, they are likely to have a global vision that you do not have, and can provide you with valuable advice.
- Outsource the management of your contentIf content marketing is not your business and you have neither the time nor the human resources to do so, you may consider outsourcing these tasks to a freelance writer for writing content at a competitive price or to a web marketing agency specializing in developing content strategies, where the task of finding new topics will be their sole responsibility and you can focus on other types of tasks with higher added value.
- Vary the formats of your contentThe content is hardly limited to textual articles only and you can easily select other editorial formats such as computer graphics, newsletters, newsletters, etc. videosRegardless of the format used, ensure that it meets a specific and measurable objective.
4. establish a clear editorial timetable
Once your story ideas have been identified, the next step is to formalize them in an editorial calendar, a document that is absolutely essential for all members of your team, but also for those in the marketing department and your external service providers, if you choose to outsource this mission.
The editorial calendar will allow you to quickly identify all the articles to be written, the people involved in writing and proofreading, the deadlines to be respected, etc. The editorial calendar is for the web content team what the flight plan is for a pilot: it allows you to know where you are going, when you will arrive at your destination and how long it will take you.
Feel free to include in your editorial calendar all the key events in your company and your sector of activity.
5. list the resources available to you
Whether you want to internalize content production and design or outsource this mission to a service provider, it will be necessary to draw up a list of all the resources at your disposal, especially since you will have to budget all expenses related to content creation and define an annual budget.
- Human ResourcesBefore producing any content, make sure that you have available human resources and that they have sufficient skills to ensure a continuous flow in content production.
- Material resourcesThis includes all the equipment you need (for example, if you plan to produce videos, it may include a camera, a camera, etc.) to design your content, but also the means you will use to conduct your various qualitative and quantitative studies.
- Financial resourcesHave you measured the cost of employing a full-time person, using an external service provider or making video tutorials? even if your content marketing is integrated into another department, you must be able to plan an annual budget.
5. optimize your content for natural referencing
In addition to producing relevant content that meets the needs and expectations of your target audience, you will also need to increase your visibility on search engines and ensure that your content is optimized for SEO, so a comprehensive SEO strategy is essential. SEO strategy :
- Identify the lists of keywords on which you want to position yourselfTo help you, you can use keyword planning tools such as Google Kewords planner, which is integrated with Google Ads, or you can analyze the keywords on which your competitors are positioned.
- Analyze user requests entered on search enginesTo do this, you can use performance analysis tools such as Google Search Console, keyword positioning tools such as Ranks or Monitorank and analyze Google's suggestions.
- Comply with the rules of content architectureAll your articles must contain a level title that must be followed by a level 2 and so on... More generally, analyze in depth the architecture of your website to ensure that all your web pages are well optimized for SEO.
- Create an internal mesh strategyIt is essential to create links between the different contents, the objective is not to integrate as many links as possible, but to identify the path of your visitors and to control their navigation on your website.
- Make sure that your pages are loaded in timeThere are many tools available to analyze this data: Google Analytics or Page Speed Insight, and make sure you reduce the weight of your images because visuals can significantly slow down the speed of your website.
6. integrate a "Roiste" approach
It is now difficult and complex to evaluate the effectiveness, usefulness and performance of content that meets the objectives set, as only 19% of marketers surveyed rate the adaptation of their metrics to their objectives as "excellent" or "very good", while more than 80% of the editors interviewed use their own indicators to evaluate the performance of their content, according to figures published by the IJC.
While access to reliable and consolidated data is essential to measure and monitor content production activity, adjust the strategy implemented and reveal certain uncertainties, all members of an editorial team must still be able to use a single measurement system. performance indicators or "KPIs (Key performance indicators) that will allow you to perform your content:
- The visibility of your content This includes the following elements: number of unique visitors, sources of your visits, 404 errors on your website, bounce rate, duration of visits to your site.
- The positioning of content on search engines What is the position of your article on the SERP according to the keywords searched?
- The resonance of publications on social networks Social networks will also allow you to evaluate the popularity of your content through the number of Likes, Tweets, Retweets or pin.
- The contacts and relationships created with your audience (number of leads) This allows you to measure the number of forms completed, quotes requested, phone calls made, etc. This is to analyze your ability to transform a visitor into a prospect and then into customers.
The creation of tailor-made, quality and high-performance content will allow you to increase your visibility, develop your notoriety, but also to more easily convince a prospect to choose your brand or company (and this all the more so when you know that a prospect consumes on average 11, 4 contents before buying a product.
Today, content marketers face two major challenges: the first concerns the creation of a measurement system to monitor content performance and the second aims more to create a workflow or process between the different members of an editorial team to optimize the role and work of each.