We live in a world of content. Some estimates say that the average American will see 6,000 to 10,000 ads a day, each packed with marketing content.
Some content may only capture peoples’ attention for a second: a billboard, a bus stop bench or a banner on a website. Others will capture and keep that attention for longer periods — think a blog post advising how to save money on ahome purchase, a video showing how to change a car headlight, a Tweet with information about an upcoming concert.
Content creation results from generating ideas of interest to your target audience. Those ideas are then turned into written, audio or visual content, which provides valuable and essential information to your existing and potentialcustomers.
Creating Content Increases Profitability
Creating valuable content generates a significant return on investment (ROI) for your business. Companies that use content to market their services or products obtain 126% more leads than companies that don't, according to HubSpot. Plus, 56% of people report being influenced to make a purchase after reading a blog post.
Consistent creation of new content makes a difference, too. Businesses that produce content several times a week get 3.5 times the website traffic of companies that only post once or twice a week. (Marketing Insider Group)
Types of Content
When designing a content strategy, you need to think about the different types of content formats you can use. The kind of content you create for one medium won't be the same as another.
This traditional content format is still among the most popular. They’re also one of the top types of content to show up on search engines when people type in related keywords.
Blogs can be short or long, but they should be well-written, carefully edited and not presented as a solid block of text. They should also focus on one main topic and provide your audience with useful or entertaining information.
When designing a blog post, use headlines, photos, charts and other graphics to break up the content so that it's scannable and easy to read.
Audio has always been a popular medium for content. Many people listen to their radios while driving or at home. However, podcasts are a little different. They usually focus on one subject, tend to be of a specific length and areavailable through several websites or streaming services.
Podcasts are more challenging to create because they often require more planning and a greater amount of information. But they can quickly gain a devoted following with the right hosts and entertaining guests.
Only a few years ago, a company that wanted to produce videos needed expensive equipment. Nowadays, with the widespread availability of smartphones, anyone can carry a video camera in their pocket.
Videos can be short-form or long-form, only a couple of minutes long or an hour or more. They can also cover a wide range of topics — educational, informative, entertaining, etc.
Social Media Posts
Social media posts, a newer format of content available to brands, offer a lot of flexibility. A post can include written text, emojis, links to web pages, videos, gifs and more. The type of posts you create will depend on the platformyou use. For instance, if you use Instagram, you’ll stick to primarily posting photos.
Creating captivating social media posts is very different than coming up with blog ideas. As such, a lot of companies hire social media editors to take charge.
Related Article: 5 Ways to Repurpose Outdated Content to Your Advantage
Designing a Content Strategy
The content you create is about more than coming up with a good idea for a blog or Tweet. Each piece should focus on your brand’s overall marketing goals, as well as the most effective medium and channels for your target audience.
Determine Your Target Audience
The most critical step in any strategy concerns who you want to reach with your content. A great blog post about fishing equipment won't mean anything to people looking for designer purses. You need to decide who you're speaking to, howyou want to talk to them and the best way to reach them.
Think About the Buyer's Journey
You can break down the buyer’s journey into three Rs: recognition, reflection and resolution.
In the recognition stage, your ideal buyer will be looking for information that helps them understand their problem. For instance, you might come up with a blog post that talks about eating healthy on a hectic schedule.
In the reflection stage, you'll want to offer them possible solutions that they can consider. Going back to the food example, a solution might be a book on meal prepping. Or it might be outlining the pros of your service, a fresh mealdelivery service.
The resolution stage is when your buyer is ready to make a decision. It’s time to convince them that your brand is the answer. Maybe you create a social post offering a free one-week trial of your service.
Here’s a good breakdown of the types of content that work best at each stage of the buyer’s journey:
- Recognition: Quizzes, blog posts, infographics and games.
- Reflection: Webinars, podcasts and videos.
- Resolution: Free trials, case studies, competitor comparisons and discount offers.
Perform a Content Audit
If you already have content out in the world, but want to revamp your strategy, now is the time to conduct a content audit.
Create an inventory of all the content you've already created. Organize these pieces of content according to ideal buyer, content type, the medium used, topic and SEO strength and past performance. Determine which of these pieces canstand as is and which will need refreshed.
If done properly, a content audit allows you to see what you've already done, what kind of content you need to create in the future and how you can budget accordingly.
Select Appropriate Channels
You know who your target audience is and what type of content they’ll need based on where they’re at in their journey. Now it’s time to decide where to place that content for maximum effect.
Does your audience prefer social media? Then you might want to consider more graphic-focused content, such as videos and infographics. Does your audience love to read and learn? Then push out blog content or case studies on yourwebsite.
Pick Your Content Creators
Once you’ve decided on the content you want to create — and where you plan to promote it — it’s time to determine who will make it. As mentioned above, a fantastic blog post writer will not be the best person to design an infographic.As such, you’ll likely need more than one person for this job.
You can use in-house talent to perform these tasks or outsource them. Numerous third-party companies will create content based on your needs. Using these creators may make sense when you’re first beginning a serious content creationstrategy. Once you’ve gotten off the ground, you can shift to an in-house production team.
Related Article: How Customer Personas Fuel Good Content
The Workflow Of Content Creation
Tossing a blog post on your website because you think you could appeal to your ideal buyer won't provide the results you want. If you're going to create compelling content, you need to approach it the same way you would anything else inyour business. Create a workflow that you and all members of your staff can use.
Use an Editorial Calendar
An editorial calendar will ensure that you have a regular stream of content in appropriate formats. You don't want to write a lot of content at once, publish it on any number of channels and then do nothing for a couple of weeks.
Decide on a Topic
Brainstorm content ideas on topics that suit your ideal buyer's journey. Never dismiss any idea. Some will be useful, and some won't. But allowing free flow and exchange of ideas will produce the best results.
Do Your Homework
If you want to create a good piece of content, you'll need to do your research. Very few people can write a fantastic piece of content off the top of their heads. Read white papers and blog posts. Watch videos or listen to podcasts.Talk to people within your own company about what they think the buyer wants to know at that moment in their journey.
Create the content
Now that you've got your research, write the blog post or the white paper. Invite appropriate guests and record your podcast. Use social media to connect with existing and potential customers.
Review the Content
An essential step for any written or recorded piece of content. Very few people are Mozarts of the computer keyboard. Even good writers make typos or grammar mistakes. Listen to your audio podcast and edit anything that doesn't alignwith the chosen topic.
Check Against Your Strategy
Before you publish, review the content to ensure it fits into your content creation strategy, accomplishes the appropriate goals and offers helpful information.
Upload to a Content Management System (CMS)
Once the piece of content is ready, upload it to your content management system. Audio or video content may also be uploaded to various streaming video sites, such as Spotify or YouTube. Before you hit the publish button, check you haveappropriately formatted the content for the channel.
Publish and Promote
After you've revised, uploaded and checked the look or sound of the content, publish it. However, don't stop there. Sadly, the well-known “Field of Dreams” phrase "If you build it, they will come" does not work for online content. Youneed to let people know about the availability of your creations.
It’s time to see how your content is performing. Pay attention to statistics like:
- Time spent on page
- Click-through rate
- Organic traffic
- Bounce rate
- Conversion rate
These statistics will let you know if your content is working and what tweaks or changes you need to make.
Related Article: Building a Case for Centralized Content Management
How to Promote Your Content
As mentioned above, once you create content and publish it, you want to let people know it's available. You can accomplish this using several tools.
Social media is an excellent tool for building relationships and letting people know about what's new on your website or a streaming media service.
Many people who have visited your website, downloaded a podcast or watched a video have given you their email addresses. Work with your marketing department to create an email campaign that lets these existing and potential customersknow about important new content.
When you first begin to create content, pay-per-click (PPC) ads — where you pay a fee each time someone clicks — are a great way to grow an audience. Place these ads where you believe your ideal buyer will visit.
When you've built an audience for your content, you'll be able to grow it more organically. In the beginning, however, these ads allow you to reach an audience that might not typically discover your content.
A great way to encourage repeat visits from your existing or potential customers is to create an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed. Once a person subscribes to an RSS feed, they receive a summary of daily or weekly updates of contentavailable on your website. The summaries usually include links, and it's a great way to ensure repeat visits.
5 Tips for Creating Dynamic Content
You’ll want to continually look for ways to make your content more appealing to your audience. Here are a few tips to get you started in the right direction.
1. Make Content Accessible
You're wasting your time if you publish content in tiny fonts or make videos or podcasts of poor audio quality. Check sites like the Readability Guidelines Project for a good overview of rules to follow. This guide will help youdetermine if your language is too complex, what words you should avoid, how to include meaningful links and more.
2. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread
It is the bane of every content creator to hit the publish button and notice a typo or grammar mistake. Never post any piece of content without at least three reviews. Use tools like Grammarly or the Hemingway Editor to help catcherrors.
3. Focus on Clarity
Writing dense, complicated sentences confuses your audience. Write in plain English as much as possible. Only use jargon if you think it's appropriate for your ideal buyer. (Like in the old Steve Martin routine, only tell plumber jokesto an audience of plumbers.)
Imagine you're writing to a family member with information about an important topic. You wouldn't try to confuse them. Don't try to confuse your audience.
4. Read Your Content Aloud
For any type of written content, such as blog posts, white papers, email messages and even podcast scripts, read your content aloud.
It can be easy to skim over typos and grammar mistakes when you’ve been staring at the same piece of content for hours. Reading the content aloud will help you catch this issues. Plus, it will alert you to any sentences that soundawkward or clunky. If it doesn't sound good to your ear, it won't appeal to your audience.
5. Use Your Company's Style Guide
Content-focused companies will create a content style guide for their creators. This guide ensures all pieces of content reflect a standard approach to using expressions or phrases, formatting headlines and the proper spelling ofdifficult names or words.
Even if you don't have a team of writers, having a content guide for outsourced freelance writers is an excellent way to encourage cohesion and uniformity.
Related Article: How Web3 Changes the Content Model
Create Content and Start Seeing Results
Creating thoughtful, entertaining and valuable content is one of the best ways to engage with prospective and existing customers and bolster your marketing efforts. It can also help you increase brand awareness and grow your business.
Designing a content creation strategy empowers your company to achieve your marketing goals and, thus, your company's goals.