Enhancing your digital presence in 2017 comes with its own set of challenges independent from traditional online marketing objectives. Creating content is not the only solution but it ticks many boxes that are critical for marshalling the growth of a business online and helping set it apart from the competition. There are no shortcuts to churning out the type of results that catapult you to greatness, so let’s start with the fundamentals of content marketing and break them down for closer inspection on how to build out a strategy. Here are five tactics to steer you in the right direction:

  • Identify your goals
  • Manage your expectations
  • Audit your website content regularly
  • Adapt to new content formats
  • Expand your distribution strategy

1. Identifying your goals

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy in this day and age. Your brand may be competing against websites that share the same product or service offering, however your core goals will not always run parallel. Outperforming last month or last year’s results should always remain a higher priority than outshining the competition in organic search results. Steady improvement is key for any strategy. As content is proven to be such as multifaceted weapon be wise about how to put it to best use, so mark out your objectives early on. As a marketer you may be focusing on one or more of the following:

  • Generating brand awareness
  • Increasing traffic to your website
  • Creating sales or leads
  • Converting visitors into customers
  • Upselling to current customers

Not all of the above may fit into your short-term plans. Focus on aspects your website will most feel the benefit from and dedicate your time and resources to getting it right. As with many scenarios within content marketing, one strong win can have a knock-on effect for another secondary goal, i.e brand awareness can generate a lead, or traffic can trigger conversions.

2. Managing Your Expectations

Content marketing doesn’t always offer up the consecutive winning streak that industry experts will have you believe, however that shouldn’t deter you from being realistic about what you can achieve with the content collateral you build out and publish. Being shrewd with the forecasting of your metrics is safer than applying wishful thinking. You can always rinse and repeat, and scale up your expectations next time around. Australia is still relatively new to content marketing in that brands are just warming up to it – according to case studies, as many as 27% of businesses admit to facing growing pains and hardcore challenges when it comes to executing a strategy. So don’t feel alarmed if the results aren’t working out for you right now, focus on what’s going right and perfect that part of the process until it hums.

3. Auditing Your Website

You may know your product offering inside out but the customers you are directly targeting – through email campaigns, video tutorials, feature articles or other common content marketing protocol – will be seeing this for the first time. And a solid first impression can mean the difference between a KPI tick and just a spike on your bounce rate. Keeping order on your website to ascertain which components are working and those that need tinkering with can be executed with a content audit or inventory. You may wish to analyse the following attributes:

  • Correct use of meta tags
  • Consistency of content architecture
  • Appropriate use of multimedia content material
  • Technical errors sitewide
  • Quality score of pages using Analytics
  • Performance score of inbound marketing material

It’s a daunting thought setting up a content audit or inventory alone and from scratch, thankfully there are step-by-step guides and free templates to help you along the way. Remember one minor improvement may dramatically upscale a core component of your website around entirely.

4. Adapting To New Content Formats

The onus is now on businesses to be mindful of the user experience for each and every content item they produce, now more than ever before. So no time like the present to invest in diversifying your content strategy to include a wider range of executions that can offer the user a higher quality experience and build a stronger connection with your brand. New trends to observe in 2017 that will earn brownie points include:

  • Data visualisation – announcing your brand as a thought leader whilst attracting attention from press and local influencers, when assembled correctly as shown here by this example of a health and wellbeing study. The item, which was authored by a medical professional, received over 70 pieces of coverage.
  • Video storytelling – thanks to the rollout of Snapchat, the future of content may lie in the hands of live video storytelling. Big players in social media such as Facebook and Instagram rolled out the application to users to sustain engagement levels and experts suggest this real-time content trend will be making a big impact.

The beauty of expanding your style of content is that it will get in front of new audiences and spread faster. Sticking to the same style and tone will keep a small portion of the customers happy but it may stunt the growth of your brand over the long-term, while competitors edge right past you.

5. Expanding Your Distribution Strategy

Firstly, it’s critical to know your audience inside and out. Understand which news websites and blogs they read on a daily basis, observe which social channels they engage with, make note of the influencers they follow online. Once you begin to connect these dots your begin to craft a framework of platforms and publications through which you can aim to target with content. Knowing where to push content out to – whether it’s in written, visual, audio, interactive format – will save you time and hassle in finding a suitable home for the work you are producing.

Secondly, look into the sub topics that your product offering is associated with and aim to research one or more major influencers or publications that write about these topics on a regular basis. For example, if your business sells discount theatre tickets in London then gather a sample set of target sites that cover money saving tips, culture, and things to do in London. Already you have expanded your potential list by four times the amount.

Lastly, spark up a good rapport with the people who you want to help promote your digital content items and keep them on record. The more influencers you speak to the more impressive your network will become and the decisions for which branded content material to push out will flow easier because you understand what works and what doesn’t.