5 Steps to Develop an Effective Content Strategy

To get started with a serious strategy or strengthen the one you have in place, take the following five steps:

Identify your ‘why’

The only way to produce authentic content that is valuable for your audience is to fully understand the reasons you do what you do. Then, and only then, can you identify what makes your knowledge, position, or message unique.

Ask yourself: Why is it important that you put your knowledge and expertise out there? What gap can you fill?

Determine your audience(s)

After you’ve looked inside to find your ‘why’, the next step is to make sure it aligns with the ‘who.’ Content marketing without an audience is simply creation for the purpose of creation.

And unfortunately, it happens. In fact, most of the barriers to success in content marketing identified by the Content Marketing Institute showed that it all came down to audience — and how you’re serving them (or not).

Only with a defined audience in mind — one that considers a buyer persona’s pain points, needs, and personalities — can you create a content strategy that focuses on producing content they need and will interact with. In other words, content that gets results.

Create SMART goals and define your KPIs

Center your strategy around core goals. If your goal is to create content because you’re “supposed to,” sound the alarms! Content marketing only serves a purpose with SMART goals in mind; goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results- Oriented, and Time-Bound.

Overall objectives will differ based on where you’re at in your business’ life cycle. What makes them SMART is defining them in a way that gives you key performance indicators you can act upon and measure. Let’s take one of the most common objectives of content marketing and break it down for you.

Align goals with company objectives

The goals specified in step three should, of course, support the overall objectives of the organization. To continue with our example of lead generation, this would support what is often a common objective of all companies: increasing revenue.

Not only does tying goals into overall company objectives encourage more buy-in organization wide, but it also encourages marketers to look outside the marketing silo to evaluate the relationship of content marketing to efforts by other departments within the organization.

Document, document, document

About that verbal strategy: it’s great to get the wheels in motion, but without a written plan, it’s tough to mobilize people and action around it. Put your plan in writing with a B2B copywriter. Maybe it’s in a shared Google Doc or Evernote. Or posted on your intranet. Post it. Share it. Then, document tasks, progress, and lessons. The only way to see what’s working is to track it, which requires documentation.

Only when you’ve taken care of the bruise left by not owning your strategy can you move on to heal the rest of the wounds from your content marketing.

How to Avoid the Dreaded Content Silos

B2B organizations are pouring resources into producing a lot of different content assets. These B2B content assets are living on a variety of different channels.

A well-optimized content experience allows organizations to strategically organize their content so the end-user can easily discover the information they need to continue along the buyer journey. What’s stopping them from doing so? The silo-fication of content.

Content silos are dangerous because they lead to “dead-ends” in your engagement path. A few common examples of content silos include:

Organizing by content format or type instead of topic

Let’s say your organization pours a lot of resources into creating white papers with a B2B copywriter. Think about how you organize those white papers on your resource center in relation to how your end-user is seeking content — no one wakes up in the morning thinking “Gee, today is a great day to read a white paper!”. Your end-user is far more likely to discover the right white paper by searching via topic as opposed to sifting through a pile of unrelated and irrelevant information in your “white papers” tab.

Letting your content pile up by date

Similarly, a content silo could occur if you’re letting your evergreen content pile up by date. Your end-user isn’t necessarily searching for your most recent piece of content. As great as your latest blog post might be, “new” or “latest” isn’t code for “relevant to everyone”. By letting your content pile-up by date, you risk leading your end-user astray from your engagement path because you’re enforcing recentness over relevance.

Sending your inbound traffic outbound

Another example of content silo-fication occurs when you send your inbound traffic outbound. For instance, your organization might be producing videos and posting them on YouTube. While tapping into your YouTube audience is a good idea, if you’re referring your inbound traffic from your blog or resource center out to YouTube, you risk losing them into a clickhole of obscurity (probably in the form of cute cat videos).

Create a content hub to avoid content silos

A well-optimized content experience involves the amalgamation and centralization of content for both the content manager and the end-user. By centralizing all content assets (in a content hub, for instance), the content manager can think of their content more holistically and strategically organize it to provide tailored content streams for the end-user, thus providing a more relevant content experience.