Creating your strategy
As with any business strategy, start with your objectives. Think about whether you’re focused more on increasing brand awareness, generating new leads or boosting the loyalty and retention of your existing customers. Not only will this focus your strategy, it will enable you to measure its success.
Define your audience, or multiple audience groups. Develop customer profiles to model your audiences, and research their needs. Find out what they need to know, what they’re looking for, what interests them and what channels and sources they use and trust. Remember, your existing customer base is likely to offer the most relevant source of useful data to help you to target future customers.
Think about what kind of content you want to deliver. How will you make it stand out from the crowd and be useful, motivational, inspirational or captivating to your target audience? Develop an execution plan based on what content you’ll deliver daily, weekly and monthly, and don’t forget to always include a call to action.
Creating content is obviously not enough. When developing your strategy, you need to think about all the ways you can amplify content so that people take notice. Social media can be indispensable for this task, particularly if you can create entertaining, engaging social content that your audience will want to share. In a way, you’re marketing your marketing content at this stage, as you’re trying to increase awareness and consumption of your content.
Finally, your content strategy should define how you’re going to measure success. This can cover content consumption metrics, sharing rate, lead generation and sales. Once you’ve produced
Relate this back to your original aims, and use this to calculate your return on investment.
So now you've got a lovely shiny new content strategy. If you don't implement it it's nothing more than waste paper. First, as with all strategies, you need to define your objectives. Content will vary depending on whether it’s intended to drive awareness or boost customer retention, for example. Next, map out your content channels. Blog posts, white papers, newsletters and social media all have different content requirements.
With these parameters established, your strategy should include a production schedule and a process of review and approval of content. Your content strategy also needs to include a measurement component, to ensure that you know what’s worked and what hasn’t. Both immediate and long-term effects should be considered, and these should relate back to your objectives.
Finally, the strategy should include a method of feedback, so that customer reaction and views can lead to better, more relevant content.
The tools for the job
Content management systems focus on delivering your content via a website or internal intranet. The undisputed market leader, in terms of running the most sites, is WordPress. WordPress generally does everything that you would expect a blog to do and there are a huge number of developers and designers working on the system, which helps keep prices for consultancy competitive. However, WordPress often has security issues, and performance can be a problem for larger sites without professional help. WordPress can be stretched to fit almost any requirement, but it sometimes fails to excel past its normal remit of running a blog.
If you need something more than a blog, consider Drupal for complex developments and eCommerce, or Joomla for community based sites.