Recent research from the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs has one key theme for the coming year – if you don’t document your content strategy then your content won’t be effective. The study asked B2B marketers for the first time if they had a documented strategy and just 44% of them said yes.
48% said they have a strategy, but it just wasn’t documented. So is it important and how do you go about creating a strategy doc? Firstly, planning and business go hand-in-hand. An effective plan in any business scenario is always going to help to really hone strategy and ensure that content marketing efforts are being made the most of.
According to the research, whilst having a verbal strategy in place is a good first step, it’s not as effective as a documented one. It was found that 60% of those who did have a documented strategy felt that their content marketing efforts were successful, compared to just 32% of those with a verbal strategy.
Content is King
The use of content for marketing purposes is not going away anytime soon and is in fact rising every year. In the study, it was found that 70% of those asked are now creating more content than they were a year ago. It was also found that having a prepared content strategy document not only made efforts more effective, but also helped marketers to track ROI more successfully.
Since the research found that measurement is a key area in which many B2B marketers are struggling, with just 21% saying that they are successful with it, it seems that any tactic that could give you an edge is worthwhile.
With that in mind, let’s have a look at what you should be including in your content strategy document.
It’s useful before you begin to carry out a content audit for the company website and for any offline content that’s produced to see what existing content you have. This avoids duplication and also flags content that can potentially be repurposed.
Once you’ve done this, it can be included in the content strategy document when it’s being pulled together. The document itself can be as short or long as you like within reason and to some extent, this will be dictated by the size of the business and the amount of content that you produce.
The structure will look something like this:
Introduction: Here you can list research resources, an overview of the company goals and what you want to achieve with your content. Here, you can also include brand and buyer personas, house style and brand tone of voice.
Core strategy: This is where you’ll set out how you’re going to go about creating and distributing content. For example, will you be outsourcing to a content agency or freelancers, or will the content be produced in-house? You’ll also want to set out what channels you’ll be using such as social media, email newsletters and so on and what kind of content you’ll be producing – will it just be written, or will you need multimedia content?
Onsite content: This is where you’ll set out where your content is going to be published online, in what form and through what channels, as dictated by your core strategy. You can also include here some verified research resources and supplier details that can be used by creators.
Offsite content: You’ll need to think about how offsite content is affected by your strategy. So if you produce a lot of leaflets, mailshots and brochures, then you’ll need to look at what needs adjusting in order to come in line with business goals.
Blogging: Every business site needs a blog. Not only does it increase the traffic and the domain authority of your site, it gives your social and email audience the opportunity to engage more fully with your brand. Think about what your audience wants, study analytics to see what kind of content they are engaging with and add to your strategy. Remember, blogging isn’t all about your own site so think about if it’s going to be something that’s useful to do on other sites too. 94% of B2B marketers now publish on LinkedIn, for example, to raise brand awareness and promote thought leadership.
Governance: This is where you set out the ground rules and point people to the resources that they need to create the content you want.
Workflow: Here you set out who is responsible for what as well as editing and posting procedures.
Measuring success: In this section you should set out what analytics and other tools will be used to measure the success of the strategy.
Whilst you can include all of your buyer personas etc. in the document, sometimes it’s more practical to produce these as separate documents so that the content strategy document isn’t overwhelming. For example, a good tone of voice and house style document that’s created specifically for writers can really help them to pin down what you need when it comes to how you want to communicate with your audience.
If you’re a children’s clothing store, you’ll obviously use language that’s much different than if you were a solicitor, for example. It’s important that content creators understand how you want people to perceive your brand and what language and tone they should use when ‘talking’ to the audience. It may be a friendly, approachable style that you’re looking for that retains a sense of authority, or it could be that you need a tone that smacks of professionalism and inspires a sense of trust. Creating a document to address this will make for a smoother workflow and less editing.
A common cliché that you come across in business is ‘if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail’. Whilst it might be somewhat old hat, the phrase, it does hold true for any business and as such, planning out your content strategy with a document can only help to boost your content both online and off.
Next Step: 10 Ways to Improve your Content Marketing
Historically, marketers did not need to understand the technical back-end of their website or sales database, but today understanding how your content management system works and being involved in its development will give you a competitive edge.
Download our free content marketing guide. You will discover how to increase your website and intranet ROI by enhancing your content marketing and distribution strategies.