Creating a Content Strategy: The Giraffe Guide
Content marketing is a great asset to any business that wants to utilise all the benefits digital marketing can have for your brand.
But where should you start? And what makes a great content strategy? Here’s our Giraffe guide on creating a content marketing strategy that will help you achieve your business’s goals and objectives:
What is content marketing?
Content marketing, like email and social media marketing, is a branch that stems from the digital marketing tree, which has grown out of technology combining with traditional forms of marketing.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, the form of marketing is ‘a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.’
Alternatively, we sum the definition up quite nicely in our blog article on Content Marketing Matrixes –
‘Content marketing is vital to digital marketing. The content you write offers value to your audience as it must be interesting and informative. It should be helpful to customers or businesses in your industry, so they can share the information to their audience on social media. It’s also a great tool to help create lasting relationships between consumer and business and educate your audience on topics that matter.’
The History of Content Marketing
Impressively, the earliest form of content marketing started in 1895! Content marketing started as helpful magazines, which opened a new channel of communication between brands and consumers.
Eventually more and more brands took on this form of content marketing, with companies supplying their customers with guides and magazines. For example, The Michelin Guide started up in the 20th century as ‘a free travel guide to grow the demand for cars’ (and it still has people competing for Michelin Stars to this day).
As technology evolved, so did content marketing – enter the second era. This epoch saw blogs, eBooks, articles and reports come to life in digital form. Soon, podcasts, videos, blogs and webinars expand the content marketing branch and the area just keeps growing!
Nowadays, content marketing is more than just a helpful mag, but it does still take some elements from its earliest forms, like educational value and an interesting format. In 2016, it was reported that 88% of all brands used content marketing.
The different types of content marketing
There are lots of different types of content marketing that can help you grow your business. Did you know ‘84% of people expect brands to create content that provides solutions, experiences, entertainment, and events?’ Marketing Solved identifies webinars, podcasts, blogging, email marketing, social media posts, infographics, quizzes and surveys, live streaming, reviews, e-books, guides and so on, all as aspects of content marketing. It’s a big part of digital marketing that takes a lot to fulfil.
There are different types of blog articles too. One is evergreen, which is the most popular choice of article. It is designed and created to stand the tests of time – so in six months, the article won’t become outdated (or minor parts can be edited to make it make sense in modern times). Evergreen content is more shareable and can help you get links inbound to your website. They help establish your brand as a thought leader, while helping you rank in search engines. Evergreen content articles not only help your business but provide great information for your audience and readers. The aim of this type of content is to entertain, intrigue, educate, interest and inform. Evergreen articles should be high up in your strategy for content marketing.
Alternatively, you can opt for a news type of article, which is more time sensitive than the evergreen. This kind of article can be useful to express news about your company and your team. For example, you could write 400 words on what you’ve been working on this week or if a new employee has joined the force you can interview them! News type articles make your company seem more human and legitimate. Your audience can see what you’re doing and learn more about your brand. This helps gain their trust, which may well result in a follow or a sale. However, news articles do not last forever, so shouldn’t be built to last.
The Benefits of Content Marketing
Content marketing is one of the best branches of digital marketing because of the benefits it can provide to your brand, such as creating legitimacy and trustworthiness. Other advantages include increased conversion potential, more referral and social traffic, improved brand reputation and when done right, can make you appear higher in search engines.
Content marketing can help give potential customers or clients the information they need to make a purchase or establish yourself as a trustworthy source to buy from. It’s also different from social media marketing and email marketing and gives you can extra edge over your competitors. ‘Websites with a blog have tend to have 434% more indexed pages,’ which helps with your SEO and ‘companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website.’
The Content Marketing Institute identify three benefits of content marketing. These are: ‘increased sales, cost savings and better customers who have more loyalty’. Digital marketing is essentially free. All you need is an internet connection as it’s free to create a blog and a social media profile. However, digital marketing only starts to cost money when you start to advertise, which can be pretty useful if you want more people to see your content and interact with it on social media platforms.
Building a Content Strategy
When creating a content strategy, there is a lot to consider. However, firstly you must define your goals – what do you want to achieve from your content marketing? Is it sales, awareness, engagement, or something else? Pick an objective and stick with it.
Research your audience
Before you start creating your content strategy, you need to know your audience. This means researching – and doing a lot of it! Decide who you want to attract, figure out how to potentially attract them, then build your strategy around your audience. For example, if you’re a vegan café, you’re going to want to market to a specific group of individuals – for instance, 24 to 40-year olds of either gender, with a vegan diet. This will then reflect in your content marketing and blog articles as you will write with this audience in mind. You will use language that generation can relate to and use references that they will understand. Even your images that accompany the article need to be relatable to the audience that’s seeing them. If you don’t have an audience in mind, then you’re likely to sound too general and blasé.
Remember to look at your competitors’ audiences and other companies in your industry’s followers too. This can help you with a basis of who you’re looking to attract.
Find your niche
Neil Patel states that you should find your niche and focus on it. If you search for the topic you’re writing on, you’ll bound to find loads of articles already written. Patel continues, ‘To avoid having your content lost in that pack, create content that stands out, is unique, has a distinct voice, and, most important, offers genuine value to readers.’ If your content is not on the first few pages of a search engine result, then it’ll get lost amongst the other content writers trying to intrigue and sell.
Work out what you want to post
With so many aspects of content marketing, you may be struggling with what you actually want to post – blogs, case studies, eBooks, guides? There’s a lot of different types of content you may be wanting to work on. It all depends on the amount of time and money you’re willing to spend. For example, for things like videos, infographics and eBooks you may have to hire an external source to create these types of content. Guides will take up a lot more time than a blog article too. You’ll have to identify what will be the most beneficial to your brand and go from there. You could start with writing blog articles then expand into more advanced types of content – you can include this in your content strategy.
Remember to measure and analyse
Content marketing, like the other branches of digital marketing, is a series of trial and error. You need to test and experiment to find out what works best for you and your audience. This is why you need to remember to be measuring and analysing all the work you’re carrying out. For example, check how many social shares your article gets. Also, when an article is shared to social media on your platforms see how much engagement and reach it gets. You can then use all this information to work out what you should be doing in the future.
Include great and relevant images
Blogs without pictures are just big chunks of text, which many readers will find dull and off-putting. Interestingly, ‘blog articles with images get 94% more views’, which isn’t surprising in a world where we value visual content.
Listen to your readers and your audience
If your audience are speaking, listen. If they aren’t interacting with your content – that’s a bad sign, which may signal a change of subject matter is needed. However, you can use your audience to find out what kind of articles they want next to keep them engaged and make them feel like they matter.
Get ready for social media
You need to get your content ready for the next big step – social media distribution. Before you start sharing, think about these three factors:
- Get serious about your headlines.
- Think about graphics.
- Get your employees to share the articles
You’ll also need to decide what platforms you’re going to share your articles to – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or all four? Each post will have to be optimised for each social media channel. For example, Twitter allows less characters than the rest of the platforms, so the post will have to be cut down with hashtags added in where appropriate. Whereas, on Facebook hashtags aren’t really the norm, but the content copy can be longer. On Instagram, URLs do not work in the captions, so you’ll have to chop and change the link in your bio depending on what blog article you wish to share.
You may also be writing for different audiences, so make sure the right content gets posted to the platform with the right audience. For example, B2B articles will be far more beneficial to you if shared on LinkedIn.
Then you’ll have to decide what time to post. You can do this by simply checking your social media analytics and seeing when your audience is online and most active.
Mind map your ideas
Devise as many ideas as you can before you start blogging or writing content types, so you have at least six months under your belt. This means you’ll be consistently sharing good, quality content and not rushing to get something out at the end of the month because you haven’t posted anything yet. Add campaigns to your strategy whenever you can and plan ahead around key dates, national holidays and big industry events. Also consider things like Christmas, New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day.
The Content Marketing Matrix
According to Digital Marketing Magazine, a Content Marketing Matrix is ‘a framework from which a content marketer can consider and plan how best to be there for their target audience with the right content at the right time and in the right place.’ It’s a content mapping tool, that lets you think about what to create for a future content marketing strategy. This makes it your best friend while you’re creating a content strategy.
You can find templates online for content marketing matrixes, but you must figure out what KPIs you use or want to track, so you can see the results of the effort you’re putting into your content marketing. You can then use the grid to plot the different content formats too and figure out what works best and why. Thus, you can edit the grid when you try out new things and see what changes. You can read more about content marketing matrixes in our article here.
The Purposes of Content Marketing
Like every branch of digital marketing, content marketing has its purposes; it gives you something to aim for as a brand. Content marketing should do at least one of these four things:
Entertain: Entertaining content is engaging and creates interest and awareness.
Inspire: Inspiring content tugs on the emotional heart strings and works better when used later on in the buying process. This type of content has to be relatable and make the potential customer feel something.
Educate: Educational content helps your customers learn something new either about a relatable topic or your own products and services. This type of content helps establish your business as a thought leader and centres you as a trusting source. They require a lot of research and detail to provide educational value.
Convince: Convincing content works in the last stage of the buyer’s journey. It’s important to know what your audience wants at this point and create content that’s accessible and influential.
You can then incorporate these purposes into your content marketing matrix.
B2C and B2B – What’s the difference when it comes to content?
Business to customer content and business to business content varies like it would with social media marketing. You’re targeting a different sort of audience, but both require you to be knowledgeable in your field.
Content marketing has specific benefits for both types of content. For example, ‘B2B companies with a blog receive more leads than those that don’t’ and ‘a B2B blog has tremendous SEO benefits and organic search attracts high-quality leads’. Data acknowledges that B2B requires rational, expert and lengthy content due to the nature of industry procurement. This should offer value and be of benefit to the reader. Unsurprisingly, it lends itself to the professional network LinkedIn, with an average post receiving 25.7 shares compared to a mere 9.8 for its B2C counterpart.
On the other hand, B2C content can help encourage customers to trust and engage with your brand. Therefore, ‘B2C content should be inspirational, emotional and primarily entertaining. Facebook is the winner for distribution of this style, with the average post gaining 85.58 shares. B2C content should be crafted with Facebook distribution in mind, as a considerable proportion of your referrals will come direct from there if done correctly.’
Whether B2C or B2B, your content marketing strategy will seriously benefit from a careful and considered approach to distribution down social networks. Invest in it, and you will see the results.
Historical optimisation and repurposing old pieces of content
Historical optimisation is repurposing your old content for the present. It’s finding an old article you think has value and putting a fresh spin on the subject matter. It has to be up-to-date and emit anything that is now irrelevant. You can historically optimise articles from a month ago, or even a few years ago, as long as they’ve been published on your website’s blog before. Historical optimisation can help the article generate ‘even more traffic and conversions than it already does.’
The idea behind historical optimisation is that you should stop creating new blog articles and start focusing on the content that already works by optimising it for relevancy. Content marketers get so caught up in producing articles as often as possible, that they often get caught in the mindset that more content equates to better results. Whereas, often it doesn’t. Underperforming content is useless, especially if it’s not generating any leads or clicks.
HubSpot found that as a result of their continuous historical optimisation, they’ve been able to add value from past published content. They ‘more than doubled the number of monthly leads generated by the old posts’ and ‘increased the number of monthly organic search views of old posts they’ve optimised by an average of 106%’.
Also, you can repurpose your content too, so think about setting up a task each month to go through your old articles and work them into a more meaningful way to the current time. You can:
- Repurpose snippets and quotes as social media posts
- Create feature graphics
- Create an infographic
- Do a live webinar/Q&A on the subject
- Create video tutorials or an ongoing podcast on your weekly content
- Amalgamate content into whitepapers and how-to guides
Every piece of content you produce has the capacity to have an impact on multiple social networks; it’s all about repurposing content. This is one of the simplest ways to increase your campaigns’ capacities for engagement and success. And it’s one we just don’t take enough advantage of.
How Giraffe use content marketing
At Giraffe Social Media, we use content marketing to educate and interest our audience. We write weekly blog articles on a range of different subjects that we’ve planned in advance. A simple mind-mapping activity between you and your team can help you come up with lots of different ideas for your blogs. Our articles are primarily evergreen, with a monthly news article to keep everyone up to date with what’s happening in our industry.
The future of content marketing
The future of content marketing is a bright one and it’ll be interesting to see how it will evolve and change over the next few years. It’s likely that technology will have a huge impact on the branch of digital marketing – especially with things like virtual and augmented reality and artificial intelligence growing in popularity.
Content marketing will become more reliant on social media, and vice versa. The two will need to complement each other for your business to have a successful marketing strategy.
As social media specialists, we help businesses all around the world reach their digital marketing objectives, including their content marketing goals. If your business needs help with content marketing, please get in touch today.