If your content doesn’t resonate with the right audience, or if your ideal clients aren’t enticed by your offering, it’s time to develop a content marketing strategy or review your existing content strategy. There’s truth in the saying that without strategy, execution is useless.
Even though 91% of Australian marketers employ content as a marketing tool, only 46% of them say their organisation has a documented content strategy in place to manage it as a business asset. To get the most out of your content investment, a solid content strategy could be exactly what you need to turn things around.
What is a content strategy?
A content or ‘content marketing’ strategy focuses on four key steps: strategising, planning, implementing and reviewing. This type of strategy encapsulates the entire content cycle – the who, what, when, how and why – in order to identify the right audiences, perfect your brand messaging and ultimately create high-quality content that will generate quantifiable results. A strategy can be developed in-house if you have the expertise, but it’s a task often outsourced to a content marketing agency, where an experienced content strategist can manage the project.
If your current approach isn’t based on a sound strategy, here are 3 ways it could be costing you a fortune.
1. You’re throwing money at PPC
PPC (pay-per-click) marketing is essentially a way to ‘buy’ visits to your site rather than generating visits organically. It’s one form of search engine advertising, where you bid for ad placements in a search engine like Google’s sponsored links. Thanks to its simplicity, it’s highly popular.
However, this simplicity can be a double-edged sword. You don’t necessarily need to understand SEO or keyword research (or even marketing) to do it – you can just pour money into PPC and hope it works. For business owners without a proper strategy, this can get very expensive, very fast – especially when you consider businesses in super-competitive markets end up paying Google an average of $50 per click and double that for long-tail keywords.
When starting out, PPC can be your ‘quick fix’ to start sourcing and, hopefully, harvesting leads. There may be keywords you want to target, but don’t yet rank for in organic search. But unless you have the relevant content to keep those ‘bought’ visits on your website, you’re essentially throwing away a large chunk of your marketing budget. And if you aren’t developing content to improve your organic positions, you’ll need to keep paying to attract traffic to your website.
Solution: Conduct a thorough review of your industry, competitors, target audience, your website’s content, and your strategy. Can you improve your search ranking for some keywords to reduce PPC costs? Can you improve your content to get a better ROI from your PPC spend? If you don’t have someone on your team with the knowledge to do this type of review, it’s time to get in touch with a content professional.
2. You don’t understand your target market
Customers are your bread and butter. Without them, you don’t have a business. But unlike face-to-face industries – such as fast food – it’s sometimes difficult for businesses that operate online to get a complete picture of who (and where) their target market is. You could hire the greatest copywriter in the country, but without knowing your audience, potential clients may never see your awesome messages – and that could be costing you business opportunities.
Solution: Break the process down into five steps:
- Identify the target audience as a singular ‘client’ (you can do this step multiple times if you have more than one target audience)
- Create a comprehensive description of that client.
- Identify the client’s motivations – what do they really want from you?
- Collate your potential opportunities.
- Create a complete strategy around exploiting those opportunities.
3. You aren’t creating the right content
Once you understand your target audience, you’ll be able to derive insights into what they want to see. Some demographics will be more receptive to short, punchy videos on social media. Others will show higher conversion rates through direct email campaigns, or long form content that offers information they’re seeking.
Consider a punchy, in-your-face merchandise startup as an example. Their target audience is a mix of Gen Z and millennials who are active on social and love the simplicity and speed of purchasing online. What if that same company invested in long-form feature articles and deep interviews with industry figures? While the copy itself might be exceptional, it’s most likely the wrong content for a demographic that will scroll past a video if it’s longer than 30 seconds, or unfollow a brand if its social platforms aren’t active enough.
The right content draws your target audience to you. It can improve brand awareness, generate leads and drive sales. If you aren’t taking a strategic approach to content creation, it’s almost certainly costing you customers. And if you’re paying to create content that’s not working, it’s also depleting your marketing budget without significantly contributing to your revenue.
Solution: Know your audience. If you look around at your competition and their content is a hit, do your duty and review it. Find out what’s working for them and why, then pinpoint your point of difference that will make you stand out from everyone else.
Once you know your target market, figure out what type of content they will most respond to. You have a wealth of options – it’s not all about blogging these days. Does your audience want to know what you’ve done for previous clients or customers? Publish case studies. Are they click-happy scrollers on Instagram and Twitter? Invest in a social content strategy. The point is this: stop throwing money at content for content’s sake – find out what your customers want and give it to them.
Can a content marketing strategy really achieve much?
It’s no understatement to say that the right content marketing strategy – when researched and compiled properly, and deployed intelligently – can be a lifeline for a floundering business. And for companies that are ‘just getting by’, it can be exactly what is needed to overtake the competition.
There are plenty of case studies out there that will walk you through how other companies went about reviewing – or creating – their content strategy. But the bottom line is clear: if you want to speak the language of your ideal client type, if you want your content to appear in organic searches, and if you want to create a variety of lead-capture mechanisms that convert potential customers, you need a solid content strategy.
It’s worth recognising that content is not a passing fad. There are hard stats that show it’s a worthy investment. Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing but generates around three times as many leads – no wonder “90% of all organisations use content in their marketing efforts”.
Is it worth the money?
It’s impossible to say how much your business is losing by not having a sound content marketing strategy. For some industries it may be negligible, but if you rely on customers finding your business online then strategy can be the difference between growing and stagnating.