At New Media Sources, we create dedicated content strategy initiatives for all our main OPM clients. Proper content that matches thematically with your website and overall business goal is key to improving your web presence and achieving the thing we all want at the end of the day:
Increased conversion rate
That being said, what’s the best way to create a content strategy from the ground up? Let’s start with the basics:
"Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell." -Seth Godin (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/)
In all instances of companies building their online web presence, there are many things to consider. Out of everything that online marketers do, this is the foundation of it all.
One can refer to this concept as a keystone to any marketing campaign period. It is the foundation of all successful viral marketing initiatives in history, and is built upon the very fabric that brings all humans together in collaboration in the first place. It’s called…
And it’s all in how you tell it. This is the backbone of any successful content strategy. Following a marketing path that tells a story isn’t just about writing blog posts and hoping they get read. It’s about using your story as a foundation for building a comprehensive campaign. From your “About Us” page, to the UI layout of your site and the way your marketers engage with the online community. You want to appeal to people using integrity, honesty and a genuine want to help them achieve their goals (Or provide them reasons to set goals, like buying your product or service).
No matter how long you’ve been in business, there is a story you need to tell – and the best way to do this is to think of the 5 “W’s” (Who, What, When, Where, Why) and make content that’s applicable to answering these questions. Who am I? Why did I start my business and what do I hope to achieve for my customers? Where you’re from or where you got your idea can also be a crucial talking point.
Creating a unique personality for your business is not only important, it’s absolutely necessary to stand out in highly saturated and competitive markets. Do this by laying out a strategy for building the copywriting and branding on your website first. Then, we can move on to creating a content campaign to suit your needs.
Core Values & Mission Statement
If you haven’t worked on creating your core values yet, now is the time to do so. If you’ve never thought about what the core values of your business could be, then you’re missing out on an excellent opportunity to give potential customers another reason to buy your product or use your service. A solid set of core values not only solidifies the trust of your customers, but keeps them coming back if you follow them.
Example: Zappos.com takes their Core Values very seriously and implements them in their company’s day-to-day for all departments from customer service to accounting. Their determination to stick to their values made them one of the biggest ecommerce sites in the US, and they’re still going strong.
One of the best things about having a core values set is that it provides a goal for your online content: When we spread our message, what do we want the impact to be aside from our bottom line? How will this content be of benefit to our customers, prospects as well as our company?
Our own site, like every other website on the Internet, is still a work-in-progress – we’re adding our own dedicated New Media Sources core values page soon.
Once you have a firm foundation that can direct where your content comes from, it’s time to make the magic happen. But before that:
There’s a Reason Why It’s Called Strategy and not Magic
The main rule here is this: Don’t just write a blog post and then magically expect it to generate hits. You could write the best blog post in the world, but without an engaged readership that comments, replies and shares your content, you might as well keep it saved as a draft. The thing is, a blog or content section is only as relevant as the people who consume it.
Feedback is a key point here. Get feedback from your colleagues about your content and it will become easier to improve. Before you publish, look to the online communities and other bloggers in your field. See how you can leverage a relationship with them by combining audiences and ultimately increase conversion through your content. This is the foundation of link building, a key point in all content strategy for the web.
Once you’ve written several posts, start sharing it. Find forums in your industry, see if Reddit has some subreddits that are about your topics. This leads us to the next step.
Engage with Others – Deliver Content to More People
One of the most integral pieces of content strategy are other content creators and respective distributors. Depending on your industry, there could be hundreds or a handful of online communities that should be reading what you produce.
Make a Plan!
Create a list of dates for the content you plan on writing. A timeline will help you and your team. Everyone will know who’s publishing what and when. When you run analytics on your content, you can check back and adjust your content schedule to improve its traction.
Once you set up a schedule, it’s time figure out what you’ll actually write.
Use Online Resources to Generate Ideas
If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas for blog posts and content? The best way is to discover what’s trending in your industry and focus on writing about that topic. We like to use BuzzSumo for this:
With BuzzSumo, you can search a topic and see blog posts and content related to that topic, along with how well it’s trending (amount of shares, views, etc.). Two really important things you can find out with this platform: Trending content for a specific industry, and who the big players are generating that content. This gives you ideas of what to write about, and who to start building strategic links with.
Another help for generating blog ideas is HubSpot. They have a great tool which lets you enter three nouns, and right away it gives you topic ideas based on those words. It’s a great tool when you’re stuck and need topics fast! For the screen shot below I asked HubSpot for topic ideas based on the words Blogging, Story Telling and Content Strategy.
These tools are merely a supplement to the foundation of why you’re writing this content. Think about your audience, what they need, and focus on building your topics around that. Now we move on to making sure your content is easily digested.
Important Things to note for written content:
If You Write It, Make Sure Google Will Like It
You wrote a beautiful, 30,000 word ebook on a topic integral to your business. After slaving away for about a week on a beautiful PDF, and getting approved by all the necessary people, you’re ready for the next step: content publication.
The worst mistake anyone can ever make at this point: Uploading their PDF, putting an intro page with the link, and leaving it there.
Here’s the kicker: Google doesn’t crawl your PDFs. Also, they don’t crawl images except for the title and ALT text. If you have a fantastic brochure that looks amazing in print, don’t expect your site to be ranking any better with that new content if it’s not in proper semantic HTML format (I.e: in <p> tags in the body of the page). For more info ask someone who works with SEO about how important it is for content to be indexed.
If you don’t arrange your content properly, Google’s crawlers will never read it and it might as well be invisible. It’s like publishing a book and sending it to a bookstore that just leaves it in the back room collecting dust.
Proper Formatting is Key
Blogs generally follow a uniform lay out: It usually starts with a featured image, some content, followed by more images and paragraphs of text dispersed as you see fit.
If you have no front-end development experience, you may want to enlist the help of someone who does. At our office, all our writers submit their work to me and I the publish whatever needs to go onsite. This way I can give it another read through to check for mistakes, and also make sure it matches how the rest of the content on the site looks.
We use WordPress for most of the website we write for. There are many, many plugins you can install to make your blogging life easier. We use Visual Composer to create proper layouts for all our blog posts, and it doesn’t require any coding knowledge whatsoever. Here is an example screenshot from VC’s website:
Keep it Coming
The final piece of advice that I can provide is this: Just keep going.
For a brand new website, it may take a while for content to get ranked and subsequently seen. Combine the actual content you make with the proper OPM strategy, such as sharing on the right sites and building a name in the community.
It may take several weeks or months before you start seeing increased traffic as a result from the content you make. Understand that the success of a content strategy depends on three things: Timing, delivery and usefulness.
Timing: When are you sharing that article? Is it corresponding with what people are talking about today? Don’t post an article about a month-old story that no one shares anymore. Make a schedule detailing who is going to publish what, and where.
Delivery: Where is your work being seen? What blogs are you partnering up with? Have you submitted to directories? Find out how to get people to share the content you build.
Usefulness: Make sure that work is relevant, interesting and above all, useful to your potential clients! If it’s trust your building, give them a reason to trust you by being honest, straight forward and keeping open lines of communication. Don’t be afraid of feedback.
I hope that this article was helpful in building or updating content strategy for your business. Keep up on our blog for more posts about improving your SEO and web presence.