Creating content to tell stories about your brand in blogs, emails, videos, or social media is referred to as content marketing. You can develop meaningful and engaging content for your customers by developing a content strategy.
A content strategy is the part of your marketing plan that defines how you use content to demonstrate your expertise and build a relationship with your audience. The following factors are included in an effective content strategy:
- choosing marketing channels that are popular with your audience
- developing relevant content and effective content formats
- setting goals to measure the success of your content
After you've created your content, you can plan the publication of your content using a planning calendar.
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Choosing content marketing channels
By developing content for a few marketing channels, you're providing your audience with different ways of engaging with your brand and finding your store. Consider developing content for one or more of the following channels:
- online store pages
- a blog
- social media
- email campaigns
You should design marketing content based on the characteristics of each channel. Tailor content for each channel by optimizing the text, images, or videos. Make use of specific channel features like hashtags or mentions to help your audience find your content. Because a customer might encounter your content on more than one channel, don't add the same content everywhere. Instead, create content that can be coordinated on different channels to tell different parts of a story. For example, an Instagram image post featuring your staff could lead to an "About us" page in your online store.
You don't need to be on every channel. Create a strategy that you can sustain and develop content for the channels where your customers are most likely to be.
A challenge of content strategy is determining what types of content appeal to your customers. To create engaging content consistently across your channels, define a content mix of a few recurring formats and post types. You can create written content or media content, such as videos or images.
To help customers find your store, the content that you develop should cover subjects or information related to your products. Consider the keywords that a customer might use to find your store in a search engine, and create content that is tied to those keywords. Because many content channels offer search, using SEO strategies can help your audience discover your content.
Try to define a content mix that makes sense for your brand and audience while also differentiating you from competitors. Consider one or more of the following formats for your content mix:
- News - information about your industry or current trends
- Inspiration - motivation to pursue a particular lifestyle, such as quotes or photos from around the world
- Education - facts, tutorials, or how to blog posts
- Product promotion - high-quality images of your products being used, demo videos, or testimonials
- Contests - free downloads, discounts, or other incentives that your customers can win
- Customer or influencer features - images or videos that feature your customers or the people they follow
- Community events - information about meetups, fundraisers, or learning opportunities, especially if you’re a local business
- Q&A - questions, polls, or answers to common inquiries
- Behind-the-scenes - videos or articles about your products, staff, business operations, brand story, or industry
To make it easier to create new content within a format, you can build templates and designs. For example, you can save Instagram hashtags so you always have them handy when you post, or you can apply the same filter to your photos to achieve a consistent look.
Before you develop any content, define the business goals that you want to achieve through your marketing efforts. Aim to create content with the goal of delighting your audience, as well.
You can use content marketing to help you with the following goals:
- brand awareness
- product demand
- email subscribers or social media followers
- sales volume
- event attendance
- customer loyalty
- recommendations or reviews
- customer service
- influence with your target audience
Use the goals that you define to measure the success of a content marketing effort. For example, you can measure an increase in brand awareness by the number of impressions on a Facebook post, or you can see if an Instagram post increased the demand for a product based on referred sales.
Add referral links to your store when you create a profile for a social media account, an email campaign, or any content for a secondary website. You can use these links to help you determine the value of creating content for those channels based on their conversion rate. Learn more about tracking conversion details for orders.
Planning content in a calendar
By using a calendar to plan content updates, you can make sure that you develop a variety of content and publish it at the frequency that your audience expects. Add each social media update, blog post, video, or other content marketing effort to the calendar so that you can check that your channels are updated regularly. You can also use a calendar to plan coordinated content for a variety of channels or schedule content for upcoming holidays or events that are relevant to your customers.
Publishing time can make a difference in engagement. To determine the best times to publish content, you can read industry research relevant to your audience or channels, or just start slow and measure customer engagement with the content. You can even use your own habits as a guideline.
To save time, you can use scheduling tools to prepare content in advance. Within your content mix, include ideas you can plan for in advance, reproduce, and publish regularly. Balance your mix with formats that you can quickly create and others that take more time to produce. Prepare several pieces of content at once so that you can spend your time focusing on other aspects of your business.
A predictable publishing schedule helps customers learn what to expect. When you plan content in a calendar, make sure you can sustain the content development and won't get overwhelmed.
Using content strategy across your online presence
When you plan your content strategy, look for opportunities to apply it anywhere that your audience interacts with your store. Use a similar style, message, or image across the following locations:
- store content such as product descriptions or your checkout
- order and shipping notifications
- social media profiles
Don't forget to keep the conversation going, especially on social media channels or within blog comments. When you respond to comments, share posts from others, and answer questions, consider how the interactions relate to the rest of your content mix to tell your brand story.