The 6 commandments of an efficient and effective content strategy

It is a long time ago when brands used only mass media to disseminate their content to consumers through the deployment of major advertising campaigns. It was the post-2e world war marked by strong economic growth and improved living conditions. As a simple consumer, the client was passive and only responded to the stimuli exerted by advertising.

Today, and for more than ten years now, the situation has totally changed! Marketing is "shared" or "360 degree". Customers are no longer passive and can freely share their opinions on social platforms such as social networks (Facebook or Twitter) or websites. This is the birth of the "Opinion 2.0" era. Advertising is no longer enough to convince a consumer to buy a product, especially since the consumer is overexposed and bombarded with consumerist injunctions all the time. However, the problems facing companies remain more or less the same: attracting and retaining new customers, turning prospects into customers, increasing turnover, etc.

These issues have gradually led brands to design new marketing strategies by inventing the concept of "inbound marketing". Now, brands are no longer content to simply broadcast an advertising message, but are transforming themselves into a medium for creating, producing, editing and distributing 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 is content marketing based on a precise production cycle, but it also requires the mobilization and collaboration of dedicated teams within a specific division.

In this article, we analyze the content lifecycle before delivering the 6 golden rules to follow in order to implement an efficient and effective content strategy.

The main stages of content creation

For digital marketing content professionals, the challenges are numerous: they must create new, remarkable and striking content by offering an original and "unforgettable" experience to the Internet user, while respecting numerous constraints: limited budget, available resources, deadlines, etc. The goal is to convince the prospect to carry out the action desired by the marketer, such as downloading a white paper, buying a product, requesting information, etc.

As the ride goes up the study carried out by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), only 9% of marketing professionals have "developed streamlined approaches to the production, management and distribution of content. Of these 69%s, 69%s state that although some systems are in place, it is essentially manual work that occupies a large part of their practices. Another edifying figure from this study is that only half of the marketers have a "formalized workflow process" for planning and publishing their content.

The virtuous circle of content creation

As the designers of the previous study rightly stated, "the more invisible this process of collaboration and governance is, the more successful it will be. Content marketing has a very specific realization cycle with 4 main phases:

  • Planning and ideationThis stage includes the design of an editorial calendar, research and selection of content topics.
  • Creation and optimizationThis includes all the stages of writing, correction, editorialization and optimization of content for natural referencing.
  • Content distributionThis phase corresponds to all the actions carried out in order to disseminate content on all types of media (e-mailing, social networks, white papers, etc.).
  • Performance monitoring and auditingThe 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, publication dates and editorial formats will depend largely on your audience. Typical profiles or persona marketing "This will enable you to better understand the expectations of your prospects and customers and to create attractive content that will build audience loyalty.

To design your profiles, you can rely on your client portfolio or on your prospecting files. You can also set up qualitative studies such as interview guides.

These standard profiles are real identity cards in which are specified :

  • Profile Identity : surname, first name, family situation and position in the company. We are going to use a real client case: that of a software company for training management. This company has two types of clients: training organizations and independent trainers. Let's take the example of Nicolas B., an independent fire safety trainer. Nicolas B. works either on his own account or as a subcontractor for other training organisations. He lives in Saint-Fons, 15 minutes south of Lyon, and is involved in 2 to 4-day training courses in the Lyon region and throughout France.
  • How will your product or service meet these challenges? For Nicolas B, his main problem concerns time management. Indeed, he has to find new clients, design training programs while carrying out administrative tasks. By choosing for a training management software, Nicolas is able to automate many "time-consuming" tasks and to professionalize his activity. In addition, this software allows him to easily control the compliance of his documents with current legislation (which is strict and variable in this sector).
  • Why would Nicolas not buy your products? For our independent trainer, investing in new software represents an additional cost, especially since he has just created his company and his business accounts are not yet balanced. Moreover, Nicolas is used to using his own tools to manage his business. Not only will Nicolas have to learn how to use a new tool, but he will also have to devote time to 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-obligation package. In addition, it will allow it to perform many more operations than the tools currently in use (mainly Word and Excel). Added to this, Nicolas can easily and in just a few clicks contact customer service in case of problems. Through educational and quality content (blog articles, video tutorials, webinars), we will accompany our prospect's tool change. Finally, we are also going to show him that this software goes beyond simple administrative management and offer him other functionalities necessary for his training activity: implementing a quality approach by creating evaluation questionnaires before, during and after his training, monitoring the performance of his activity by having a precise dashboard and performance indicators, etc.

2. Set goals for yourself

Have you ever seen a ship's captain board his ship without knowing his precise destination and a course to follow beforehand? You are the captain of your content strategy. Before producing any content, ask yourself the right questions and set yourself goals. The SMART method is still as effective in defining your objectives which must meet these 4 criteria:

  • S as in specific: Is your content marketing aimed at attracting qualified traffic, establishing your expertise in your field of activity or gaining notoriety among your target audience? Furthermore, is it entertaining, educational, inspiring or convincing content? What reaction do you want to elicit from your audience?
  • M is for measurable: don't hesitate to use numbers! Would you like to increase your traffic by 20%, increase your transformation rate by 10%? By quantifying this, you will be able to adjust the results of your content marketing even more.
  • A for ambitious: your objectives should be challenges and challenges for your editorial team. Your staff must accept the goals you have set. Their involvement is essential to the success of your content strategy.
  • A is for realistic: It's all about balance, your goals must be both motivating and attainable. 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 a day if you only have a part-time editor.
  • T is for temporal: it is extremely important that you set a deadline for yourself to meet. For example, this may mean 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% of content marketing professionals, "deciding what to write" is the second most time-consuming task in their business.

Don't fall into this trap and make sure you make a list of content to be written up front by holding brainstorming sessions with your editorial team. To do this, you can use different levers:

  • Identify your target's needs and expectations. For example, you can create evaluation questionnaires or use tools that analyze the queries entered by your prospects on search engines. For example, our independent trainer Nicolas B, is looking for information on creating a training agreement. Not only are we going to create content that meets his needs, but we will also provide him with a free template to download.
  • Carry out a monitoring of your sector of activity. What are the most covered and published topics in your field? Who are the influential media in this market? This requires upstream to use a content aggregator and to integrate it into your content creation workflow.
  • What content is published by your competitors? The challenge is to identify the topics covered by your competitors and analyze those that are most read and shared on social networks. You can also analyze the types of formats published by your competitors: videos, infographics, short articles, etc. This competitive analysis will also allow you to know which subjects have not yet been covered by your competitors or have only been partially covered and thus be able to innovate by finding new editorial angles or even by publishing new content.
  • Use keyword planner tools such as Google Keyword planer or performance analysis tools in order to select future topics for your articles from the most frequently entered queries by your visitors. Going back to our previous example on professional training, our various searches allowed us to identify key topics related to the creation of a training organization. This is why we have integrated this topic into our content.
  • Create a calendar of upcoming events in your company or industry. Participation in a trade show, the launch of a new product are all opportunities to create new content to be written.
  • Organize a brainstorming session. Don't hesitate to invite your employees from the content marketing department, but also those from other services or departments. Because they don't deal with the same issues as you do on a daily basis, they are likely to have an overview that you don't have, and will be able to provide you with valuable advice.
  • Outsource the management of your content. If content marketing is not your job and you have neither the time nor the human resources, you may consider entrusting these missions to a freelance copywriter to write content at a competitive price or to a webmarketing agency specialized in developing content strategies. The mission of finding new topics will then be their sole responsibility and you will be able to concentrate on other types of tasks with higher added value.
  • Vary the formats of your content. The contents are hardly limited to textual articles only and you can also select other editorial formats such as computer graphics, the videoss, webinars and white papers. Whichever format you use, make sure it meets a specific and measurable objective.

4. Establish a clear editorial schedule

Once your story ideas have been identified, the next step is to formalize them within an editorial calendar. This document 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, and the deadlines to be met. The editorial calendar is to the web content team what the flight plan is to 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.

Don't hesitate to include in your editorial calendar all the important events of your company and your sector of activity. 

5. Make a list of the resources available to you.

Whether you wish to internalize the production and design of content or outsource this mission to a service provider, it will be necessary to draw up a list of all the resources you have at your disposal, especially since you will have to budget all the expenses related to the creation of content and define an annual budget.

  • Human ResourcesHave you planned to recruit someone to write content, do you already have a team dedicated to this mission or do you plan to outsource this part? Before producing any content, make sure that you have the human resources available and that they have sufficient skills to ensure a continuous flow of content production.
  • Material resourcesThis includes all the material you need (for example, if you plan to produce videos, this may include a camera, still camera, etc.) to design your content, but also the means you will use to conduct your various qualitative and quantitative studies.
  • Financial ResourcesWithin your marketing department, what is the budget allocated to content marketing? Have you measured the cost of employing a full-time person, using an external service provider or producing video tutorials? Even if your content marketing is integrated within another department, you should 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 natural referencing. A global SEO strategy is therefore essential. In this article, we have summarized the key elements to be integrated into your SEO strategy :

  • Identify the lists of keywords on which you want to position yourself. To help you, you can use keyword planner tools such as Google Kewords planner which is integrated with Google Ads. You can also analyze the keywords on which your competitors are positioned.
  • Analyze user queries entered on search engines. To 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 architectures. All your articles must contain a level title which must be followed by a level 2 and so on. More globally, analyze in depth the architecture of your website to make sure that all your web pages are well optimized for SEO.
  • Create an internal networking strategy. It is essential to create links between the different contents. The objective is not to integrate a maximum of links, but to identify the path of your visitors and to control their navigation on your website.
  • Pay attention to the loading time of your pages. Many tools will allow you to analyze this data: Google Analytics or Page Speed Insight. Also be sure to reduce the weight of your images because visuals can considerably slow down the speed of your website.

6. Integrate a "Roiste" approach

Today it is difficult and complex to assess the effectiveness, usefulness and performance of content that meets the objectives set. According to figures published by the IJC, only 19% of the content marketers surveyed rated the adaptation of their metrics to their objectives as "excellent" or "very good". As for the editors interviewed, more than 80% use their own metrics to evaluate the performance of their content.

While access to reliable and consolidated data is indispensable for measuring and monitoring content production activity, adjusting the strategy implemented and lifting the veil on certain uncertainties, all members of an editorial team must still be able to use a single measurement system. We have drawn up the main performance indicators or "KPIs". (Key performance indicators) that will allow you to perform your content :

  • Visibility of your content It is more globally a question of analyzing the traffic generated by each published content. This includes the following elements: number of unique visitors, the sources of your visits, the 404 errors on your website, the bounce rate, the 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 you are looking for.
  • The resonance of publications on social networks  : the number of comments, the number of times the article has been shared. Social networks will also allow you to evaluate the popularity of your content through the number of Likes, Tweets, Retweets or pins.
  • The contacts and relationships created with your audience (number of leads)  You can measure the number of forms filled out, quotes requested, phone calls made. It's all about analysing your ability to turn a visitor into a prospect and then into a customer.

Conclusion:

The creation of tailor-made, high quality, high-performance content will enable you to increase your visibility, develop your notoriety, but also make it easier to convince a prospect to choose your brand or company (all the more so when you know that a prospect consumes on average 11, 4 contents before buying a product.

Today, content marketers are facing two major challenges: the first is to create a measurement system to track content performance and the second is to create a workflow or process between the different members of an editorial team to optimize the role and work of each one.

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