Did you know that 47% of buyers consume between 3-5 pieces of content before taking that first step towards purchasing? Creating an effective content strategy for your business is not a simple process and should not be taken for granted. Ultimately, a well-developed content strategy will drive traffic to your website, engage and educate your audiences, help you rank higher in search engines, generate more leads, and improve overall brand awareness.
When creating content, you must have a plan that balances relevance, optimization, and achievability. That is, your content should speak directly to your audience and answer their questions according to how they are searched in the search engine.
Often, these questions can be quite competitive, so finding the right balance is essential. This can be done in various ways, but typically you will want to create a content marketing mix, including different types of content that will be distributed across platforms.
What types of content should you include in your content strategy?
According to SEMRush, the most popular types of content marketing include:
- Blogs (86%)
- Emails (67%)
- Infographics (45%)
- Case Studies (42%)
- Success Stories (36%)
- E-Book/White papers (35%)
- Videos (28%)
And, the most popular channels to distribute content were social media (94%) and email marketing (76%).
The types of content you choose will depend on your business model and the best ways for you to communicate with your audience. To start, you may want to focus on 2-3 different types and see what drives the best results.
Now that you understand what content marketing is and why you need it, let’s discuss the four steps you will need to follow to get started with your strategy.
4 Steps To Start A Powerful, Results-Driven Content Strategy
The following steps are foundational in creating a relationship and understanding of your audience(s) and identifying the necessary metrics to measure results.
- Buyer Persona
- Empathy Map
- Buyer’s Journey
- Digital Marketing Measurement Model
Your content strategy should always start with your buyer in mind, speak to their pain points, and address their problems. Once you have empathetically addressed your buyer’s issues, then you can help them by providing your solutions through your content.
Ultimately, you will want to create a content strategy that is rooted in these foundational basics that inform your content on all platforms, distribution channels, and throughout your buyer’s journey. This requires significant research and development, but in the end, it will be worth it!
1 – Buyer Persona
The buyer persona is a fictitious character that mirrors your ideal buyer. It is a tool that you can use to quickly build a relationship and create content that speaks directly to your best buyers.
The first step in creating a buyer persona is to dig in and research. You can start with your best customers.
With the buyer persona, you are not simply understanding your target audience in context, but analyzing the bigger picture and gathering a holistic understanding of who they are so that you can tailor your content directly to them.
When creating a persona, some of the basic elements to consider are demographics, psychographics such as hobbies, motivations and personality traits, and the buyer’s goals and frustrations.
You may even want to dig a little deeper and consider their relationship with technology. Are they comfortable using technology? What types of devices do they use most frequently? How many hours do they spend on their device?
In a recent blog, Sharpspring has shared their “2020 Tips for Developing Buyer Personas” and emphasizes the importance of using the five ‘Ws’ (Who, What, When, Where, Why) of basic investigation to clarify and gather the most critical insights.
Once you have a solid understanding of your buyer persona, you can tailor your content to speak directly to them in an empathetic way that also captures their attention.
2 – Empathy Map
Another important exercise that will allow you to understand your buyer persona fully is to develop an empathy map.
An empathy map is a visual tool that allows you to process different components of your persona’s decision making and is divided into four quadrants; feeling, thinking, seeing, and doing.
In each quadrant of your empathy map, consider how your buyer persona is feeling, thinking, seeing, and doing as they are moving through the various stages of their journey.
What are your buyer’s most significant pain points? What emotions are they feeling? What are they thinking about in those painful moments? What do they see? And, what actions are they taking?
This exercise can be done collaboratively as a team, or individually. Ultimately, you will want to include those closest to your buyers who have a sense of their pains, gains, and how they interact with your product or services.
Creating an empathy map for the first time can be challenging. Although, with some practice, it will become more natural, and you will have a much deeper connection with your buyers. This deeper connection will allow you to become attuned to your buyer so your content will speak directly to their experiences and how your product and services will help them.
These conversations and questions your persona is asking can be used to inform your content strategy and help with creating new content in the future. It will also serve as the foundation for building relationships that speak to your persona’s struggles and problems, and present the path towards that solution at various stages of their buyer journey.
3 – Buyer’s (Customer) Journey Map
Now that you have successfully created your buyer persona and empathy map, you can begin understanding their experience and what it is like for them on their journey. The buyer’s journey map includes the research and processes your buyers are taking at various stages of their journey to achieve your business objectives.
There are several frameworks that help you map out your buyer’s journey. Some of the more popular frameworks include pirate metrics (AARRR), the RACE model, funnel stages, and inbound methodology.
Most of these commonly used frameworks encompass the buyer’s journey from awareness, conversion, through retention. Ideally, you will choose the framework that makes the most sense for your business model and align with your business objectives.
With Inbound Marketing, the primary phases of the buyer’s journey include the basic funnel stages of awareness, engagement, consideration, and decision. You may also hear these referred to as the top of the funnel (TOFU), middle of the funnel (MOFU) and bottom of the funnel (BOFU).
During the awareness stage or TOFU, your buyer is not aware of the problem, or they are at the beginning stages of understanding it, researching and gathering information, and generally looking for answers.
During the engagement and consideration stages (MOFU), your buyers are actively seeking answers, have a grasp of their problem, and evaluating different products and services that will solve their problem.
Next is the decision-making stage (BOFU), where the buyer has identified your solution and is navigating through the sales process or what it would take to complete a purchase.
Hubspot has a great article that details the various stages of the buyer’s journey and how content can be created to help nurture the process and ultimately make the buyer’s experience “delightful.”
4 – Digital Marketing Measurement Model
We all know there is a great deal of power in using data and analytics to inform decision-making. Measuring your digital marketing efforts is vital. Understanding how to leverage your data to create actionable insights that inform your overall business objectives is the primary purpose of creating a measurement model.
A digital marketing measurement model is a structured process that uses steps to identify the most critical business objectives, aligned goals, key performance indicators (KPI’s), KPI targets, and the segments you want to analyze.
These five steps are then applied to the various funnel phases or buyer journey stages. This will clearly establish what metrics or data you will use to analyze and measure success.
There are several metrics you can use to measure success at the various stages of your buyer journey. Ultimately, you want to measure outcomes that you can impact and are channel-specific.
For example, on social media channels such as Facebook, during the awareness stage, you may want to measure new followers. Whereas, during the engagement stage, you may focus more on comments or sharing of posts. These are more engaging and require buyers to take action and invest more behaviorally.
During the consideration phase, your buyers may be moving from the social channel and visiting your website. Therefore, you may want to see how many website visits are being referred from Facebook.
Similarly, during the conversion phase, you may accurately identify how many conversion rates of Facebook referrals.
Now that you have laid the foundation for understanding your buyers, their pain points, and their journey, you can now get started on creating an informed content strategy.
Need Help Creating A Content Strategy?
Great content marketing takes time and practice. You must invest in understanding your buyers, the problems you will solve for them, their journey, and the business objectives you want your content strategy to achieve.
If you want help navigating these steps and getting started with creating a content strategy, connect with us! We would love the opportunity to help.