8 Steps to an Effective Content Strategy

With so much content being published daily, you need to take a strategic approach when it comes to creating content for your business. If you have not created an effective content strategy, you may just be wasting your time.

A strategy will allow you to produce better content that provides what your customers need. When your content has value, it:

  • Demonstrates your expertise
  • Creates authority
  • Builds trust

And valuable content is a must in order to rank in the search engine results and attract your ideal client. Because without content, the search engines have nothing to index on your behalf.

What is a content strategy?

A content strategy is the planning, creation and delivery of content targeted at what your customers want or need. A content strategy helps you determine:

  • What content you will provide
  • Why you want to provide it
  • Where the content will be distributed
  • And to what target market

Content can be created in any media including written, images, video or audio. The strategy also defines what channels you will use to distribute your content so that it becomes visible to your target audience.

Having a defined content strategy helps you create better content faster because you will know what you need to create, when and why.

Benefits of writing quality content

Content is the foundation of your inbound marketing strategy. It is the primary vehicle to attract visitors. If your content attracts the right visitors, you can turn them into leads by offering them something of value. From there, you can nurture those leads and convert them into customers.

But there are additional benefits of providing quality content.

Increases your reputation as an expert

Content that helps your audience solve a problem makes you memorable. When you demonstrate your expertise and authority, you will attract your ideal customers. The content you provide will show them you are an expert.

When you provide authoritative content that helps your target audience, you will then develop the third piece that will help you get found – trust. And when the challenge is bigger than they can handle on their own, they will turn to you for help.

Helps with search engine optimization

There are many tools that you can use to find what terms people are using to search for content. Browser extensions like Keywords Everywhere and Ubersuggest provide the phrases people use. These can help you decide what content is important for you to provide.

Writing unique content using the phrases people use to search will help your content gain visibility within the search engines.

Having great content encourages inbound links from blogs that find something you say interesting. I link to quality content and love to find a great post from someone I never heard of before. Providing that inbound link helps them and helps my readers.

Enables you to show your personality

Writing in your own voice helps people get to know you. Show your personality so that you connect with your audience. Write as if you have having a conversation with someone. This makes it easier for your reader to get the message quickly and easily.

Helps you to stay up-to-date within your field

Researching and writing a blog post helps you to stay current on what’s new. It helps you not only gain additional knowledge, but you then translate that knowledge into content that helps your reader. This becomes valuable to your clients because you are the person they see the leader in your field.

Makes you the central source for quality content

If you always provide content that helps educate your audience and solves a problem, people will come back when they need more help. Sharing your content plus some from other sources on social media keeps you visible to your connections. This can make you a resource for quality information, both from you and others in your industry. Plus people are more likely to follow you on social media (and connect with you) if you provide good information.

Keeps your website fresh

Stale website content is the kiss of death. People who want to do business with you are looking for the most up-to-date information. A website built on WordPress with an active blog and powerful cornerstone pages is just the recipe for a powerful online presence. The simplicity of updating content in WordPress will encourage you to add new, fresh content on a more consistent basis.

Create an effective content strategy in 8 steps

So how do you get into a rhythm of creating content? This simple process can help you create an effective content strategy for your business.

1. Define your goals

Know what you are trying to achieve before you start writing. This will help you focus your efforts and not waste time on content that doesn’t help your business.

For most small businesses, having a blog expands your digital footprint. The more pages to index, the more opportunity you have to appear in the search engine results. This helps create visibility, generate traffic to your website and establish an expert reputation.

Great content helps your business stand out from the competition. When people find your content and hear what you have to say, you are seen as an expert.

2. Understand your client’s challenges

One of the reasons I encourage small business owners to develop a simple marketing plan is to understand the wants and needs of your target market. The more you know about the types of challenges your customers face, the more you can focus producing content that can serve them.

3. List your content categories

Brainstorm topic areas you will focus on for your content development efforts. Then you can create a list of titles that can fall into those categories.

For example, if you are a financial planner, you may have topics such as retirement planning, financial planning, investment advice and insurance. If you are a landscape construction company, you could organize your topics around retaining walls, excavation, drainage, demolition and grading.

WordPress and other blogging platforms enable you to categorize your posts, so knowing before you start writing what your categories are will make it easier to develop ideas that fit within these topics. Plus you can provide a broader range of content in different areas of expertise.

4. Define your frequency

Writing requires creative thinking. Some people can create a blog post in minutes. For others (like myself), writing takes more time. Some write short posts more frequently. Others writer longer posts less often. Know which type you are and which would benefit your business the most. Then schedule your writing time accordingly. Do not commit to more than you can realistically achieve. To stay on track, try some of the following tips:

  • Schedule time in your calendar to write
  • Note ideas and topics that you want to write about
  • Use your categories to organize topics to write
  • Subscribe to blogs that may help generate ideas

5. Define your content type

Content is not just words. It can be video, audio, images and text. Use what is comfortable for you and develop a good mix that makes your content interesting and easy to consume.

There are several types of content that get attention such as cornerstone content, evergreen content or blogging regularly. The type that is most suitable for your business will depend on your resources, your industry or your target audience.

6. Determine your distribution strategy

Besides your blog, where else will your content be distributed? Consider posting a link to your content on Twitter, your Facebook Business Page and LinkedIn, depending on where it makes the most sense. Consider having your content feed syndicated to other reputable sites. In order to drive people to your Website, you need to cast a wider presence by getting your content out to where your target audience is spending time.

7. Audit existing content and create a content calendar

If you have content already written, you should do a audit to see what to keep, update or eliminate. Then put it all in a content calendar so you can track your progress.

Having a content (or editorial) calendar is one of the most important parts of a successful content strategy. It helps you organize your content for publication. (You can get an editorial calendar when you sign up for my email list).

8. Measure your results

Don’t make this a complicated exercise. Spend an hour or two putting the strategy in place, making an agreement with yourself to implement the strategy as a key marketing activity that will benefit your business.

And if you have a challenge creating the content yourself, don’t hesitate to consider outsourcing the writing to someone who can get it done faster. You have enough to do as a business owner to feel like you must write the content yourself. You could dictate your thoughts, turn it over to a writer and then edit the content.

Knowing how your target audience searches for solutions to problems can help you create content that helps them solve their challenges. By doing so, you become a valuable resource that they will turn to when they need help.

If you don’t have a content strategy today, create one for your small business. Then put together your content marketing strategy (how you will promote your content) to increase the probability that your business will be found.