Having recently written about the content creation processes that agencies need to produce quality blog content for their clients, I realised that many business owners would benefit by understanding some of those processes too. It’s likely there’s much more to it than you thought, so here are some of our relevant processes. Most will be relevant to you whether you’re creating your content in-house or outsourcing the task to professional content writers.
- Defining your audience
It’s the first hurdle, and many fall here. It’s often because the business concerned has more than one target market and so they either create content that attempts to address both, or they only think to address one audience, which may or may not be the one that brings in the most revenue. The audience split might be something like residential/commercial,direct client/agency, or business/individual, or it could be split across industries, sectors, or even age groups or other personal factors.
The split usually means that your audience groups have slightly different interests, and different factors that will motivate their purchase decisions. It stands to reason that you need to understand the interests and motivating factors for each important audience group, and tailor content that speaks well to that audience. When you create one-size-fits-all content, you risk not capturing anyone’s interest.
Creating buyer personas can be a very helpful exercise.
- Understanding the steps of their buyers’ journey
The ‘buyers journey’ might sound like marketing speak, but not taking it into consideration can also result in creating content that doesn’t appeal. But if you’ve been in business for a while, it’s likely you’ll be able to map your typical buyers’ journey quite easily. At its most basic it looks something like this:
Step 1 – Research. They have a problem that needs to be identified, or better addressed, and they begin searching for more information and potential solutions.
Step 2 – Comparison. They make comparisons between solutions and/or suppliers.
Step 3 – They narrow down the options and make a purchasing decision.
The key is to connect with your audience/prospective customers at the earliest stage possible, by creating content that maps to each stage of the journey.
To put that into context, if you were an accountant or bookkeeper targeting SME clients, you’d want to identify some common issues. Let’s say that you identify cash flow woes as a common issue. You could create a piece of content that explains all the typical reasons for poor cash flow. That would connect with the person who knows they have a problem but doesn’t really understand why. It would (you hope) move them on to the next stage, where they hone in on the precise problem, and start considering suitable solutions.
Your content needs to move with them. Sticking with our bookkeeping example, there can be a number of reasons a business experiences cash flow issues. Let’s say that for most of your new clients, it tends to be that poor record keeping makes it impossible for them to understand their true financial position at any time and act accordingly. Might you create another piece of content that delves into that problem, and demonstrates that having the right up-to-date information is a necessary step in rectifying the problem? And might you create a link from that first more general post to this one, so your client can step through?
Both points above – defining the audience and understanding the buyers’ journey – should be part of defining your content strategy. While it’s ideal to define (and preferably document) your strategic approach first, it’s a fact that many businesses won’t. But if you hope to get results, at the very least do take the steps of creating buyer personas, deciding who you want to reach, and mapping out the type of content they’re likely to find appealing at each stage of the buyer journey.
- Content planning for consistent publishing
By far the biggest challenge for SMEs is getting into a routine of consistent publishing.
It’s often simply because planning and publishing the content is done by someone who has many other things to do – a marketing manager, personal assistant, office manager or even a business partner. When content isn’t anyone’s main priority, the activity also tends to drop off the priority list when things get busy.
And when things quieten down, someone notices the website traffic is dropping and there’s a rush to create new content and get the publishing schedule back on track!
How do you get around that? There are really only two ways.
The first is to be so well organised (with everything you do, not just the content!) that you get everything done without missing a beat, even when it does get busy. I can’t help you with the other aspects of your job, but when it comes to organising your content routines, creating a content calendar will be a good start.
The second solution is to outsource the work to a content agency that can help you to define the audience, create the editorial calendar and the content for you. If you have a handle on most things, you might only need to take advantage of their content writing services.
- Analysing your results
The following factors can tell you a lot about the appeal of your content:
- How many people click through to read it
- How long they are spending on the page
- Whether they are venturing past the page/post to read more
- Whether they are subscribing to your newsletter or downloading related content
- Likes, comments and shares on social media updates relating to the content
- An increase in audience – more followers
Then there may be other less obvious signs your content is having an impact. For example, if your business is a B2B and you’re active on LinkedIn, consistently publishing and sharing quality content can result in more profile views and connection requests.
- Keep up to date!
Reading about content marketing and SEO might be a bit mind-numbing if marketing isn’t your primary role, but if it falls to you to keep up there are a couple of handy information resources available. The Content Marketing Institute and MOZ blog publish prolifically on these topics and if there’s something happening in the world of content that you should know about, the chances are they’ll be writing about it!
Publishing good content consistently is hard work. The good news is that (as with most things that require effort) only a small percentage of people are prepared to go the distance. The rewards are there for the few who do.