“I know Inbound Marketing is about drawing people to your website with valuable content…but what kind of content do I need – and where will it come from?”
This is one of the most common questions we get about Inbound Marketing. The answer is, “You need a content strategy.”
A content strategy is a road map that makes creating and publishing content simple. It’s one of the first steps in Inbound Marketing. But it's more than a document that outlines the when and where of publishing. It also represents a commitment to not let the plan collect dust - to not only create the content, but monitor it for effectiveness and be prepared to make changes to more effectively target your prospects.
We've talked about the elements of a content strategy on several occasions, but let's review the basics. A good content strategy will address the following:
- Your targets. Determine what you’re writing about, and to whom you’re talking. What is your core message…your competitive advantage? Are you writing to the C-suite, purchasing managers, moms, dental hygienists? These are critical steps that give your communications purpose and something.
- Your resources. Pinpoint where the content is coming from. You don’t have to create something new every time you write. You’re probably sitting on customer surveys, side-by-side comparison videos, industry white papers, interviews with your executives, and other material that just needs to be reworked for your blog. For more content ideas, read this post.
- Your creators. Identifying who is writing. Internal, external, guests. Contributors can be internal, external (using your inbound agency), or guest columnists. We had a guest columnist recently who shared his inbound experiences in Europe.
- Your outreach. Selecting which social media you’ll use to promote your content.
- Your schedule. Setting up a calendar and sticking to it. Whether you write every day or once a week (which should be your minimum for creating fresh content and tickling the search engine crawlers), define it and stick to it.
A good content strategy will address all of these points and more. It will take time and effort in the beginning but will save you money and aggravation in the long run. It also eliminates the repeated panic of not knowing what to write about, who’s going to do it, and what you’ll do with an interested prospect once you’ve hooked them.
But the plan is just the first step.
As mentioned earlier, having the plan is not enough. You can't let it sit on the shelf and collect dust and say you have a content strategy. You have to have the discipline to execute the plan, measure your results and make changes as dictated.
As you publish, you may learn that what you identified as a customer pain point is perhaps not as important as you first thought. As you gather leads, you may discover you are not reaching the targets you desire.
That's when you need to step in an reevaluate your content strategy. We have been going through this process here at Weidert Group. It's not always easy, but it's something we know we have to do. Since we adopted our first content strategy, we have learned a few things:
- Our content can attract tremendous traffic, but now always the traffic we want
- We can fly by the seat of our pants pretty well
- We can't keep expending the energy we are expending on prospects that are not really our targets
The first content strategy was good. But we've learned a lot about ourselves and our targets since then. We need to adjust our content now to better speak to our ideal marketing personas so that our efforts not only generate more than volume. We want to attract the prospects that are most likely to become customers.
That has meant some tweaking - and some wholesale - rewriting of our content strategy. That's a good thing. It shows we are learning from what we do and applying that knowledge to get better at what we do.
To be successful at Inbound Marketing, the first step of creating a content strategy can be an eye-opening experience. It is important to remember it is just the beginning of what will be an on-going process of refinement.
Make the commitment, and you will always have that relevant content that brings the right kind of prospects to your site. That's what we are all after, isn't it?
Learn more about the disciplines of Inbound Marketing by downloading our free Step-by-Step Guide to Inbound Marketing.