The days of rapid, short-term content strategies are long behind us. If you want to build your company’s presence online to win more engagement, you need to think long-term with your content strategy.
That’s not to say a short blog post or a two-minute video can’t be a beneficial addition to your website or blog. What’s important, however, is to realize that these short posts can’t be everything. Long-form posts, infographics, deep-dive videos, and other forms are all on the table. Are you ready to offer content on multiple-channels, with a focus on providing value?
Creating a long-term content marketing strategy can seem daunting at first, just like any journey or marathon. Luckily, it’s a process that builds upon itself. Once you’ve taken the first few steps, the next round of content seems that much easier.
So let’s get started on building your most effective content marketing strategy for 2020, and beyond.
- Focus On The Why (NOT The What)
There’s an inclination among executives and managers to always promote the company, no matter the content. While advertising can work wonders for creating sales, the majority of your owned and earned media should provide value rather than directly advertise your product or service. That is, it’s better to focus on the why rather than the what.
What your company does is obvious. Likely, it’s a service you provide or a product you sell. The ‘why’ of your company can’t be as easily conveyed on a landing page. This is what drives your content strategy in everything you publish.
What sort of themes are related to your company? Selling business software isn’t just about making company’s work better. It’s about building teams, creating innovation, and staying ahead in the tech sector. The same goes with products. A company that sells umbrellas isn’t just selling a useful tool, but also providing peace of mind to its customers, and potentially offering a fashion accessory.
By shifting your thinking from ‘what’ to ‘why,’ you begin to generate content ideas and create a wider view of your company’s role for your customers. It’s the key first step in ensuring you’re crafting content people actually want to read.
- Create An Actionable Content Calendar
The content calendar is exactly what it sounds like: an organized schedule of what you’ll be posting, and when. You can add as many parameters to the calendar as you’d like, such as the type of content, title & expected date, any writer assigned to the content, and what stage the intended reader is at in the marketing funnel.
Before creating your content calendar, conduct an audit of the content you already have. Save hours on content planning by assessing what you’ve already done rather than repeating work you already have. These can be videos, ebooks, blog posts, whitepapers, again, or any content that provides value to your reader fits within your strategy.
From there, decide on your goals. How many daily visitors do you want to your site in a certain time span? What kind of content will you need to create to increase sales X%? These are tough questions to answer, yet just by having a clear, realistic goal, you’ll put your ideas on the path to success. Your strategy will change and evolve over time. Initially, focus on routing the content you have to the results you need.
- Long-Term, Long-Form
The top result of a given Google search has, on average, 2,400 words. Content length shortens as you move through the results, dropping to just over 2,000 words for the 10th result.
What does this mean for your content marketing strategy? Essentially, longer content performs better, but there’s a caveat to this business owners must be aware of.
Stretching out your content to hit an arbitrary word count won’t do you any favors. If your article promises ‘3 quick tips,’ users are going to question your judgment if each tip is 2,000 words. Content rich pages perform better on both social media and search rankings, but if no one views what you publish (or most of it, at least), you won’t gain any traction.
The shift to longer content has created a boom in the number of ebooks, white papers, guides, and infographics available across the web. To stand out, take stock of what your company is already doing, then document those actions into a format that suits your information.
- Go Omnichannel
Blogging is among the more visible forms of content marketing. Most websites making a serious effort at SEO will have a blog section. This is an easy place to start, since the content is low-risk, easy to edit and manage, and totally owned by you.
If your available time and budget only allow for 2-3 blog posts per month, you’re still doing better with your content marketing strategy than a competitor not generating content. To really gain traction, a multi-channel approach to your content marketing will pay better dividends.
Video content marketing has grown in popularity over recent years, with 88% of marketers reporting a positive ROI. Apart from blogs, ebooks, white papers, how-to guides, and other longer evergreen content can help drive engagement, and create new customers as a loss leader. Don’t overlook the value of earned media as well. Guest blogging on industry websites creates good backlinks and helps get your message out to a wider audience.
Increasingly, businesses and brands are looking to audio as a means of content marketing. In 2019, 51% of Americans surveyed reported listening to a podcast at some point. This is a crucial majority tipping point that will only increase in the coming years. For your company, this could mean starting your own industry podcast, or partnering with an established producer to create a branded podcast.
Finally, don’t overlook the power of social media. You likely already have a company facebook, twitter, linkedin, and instagram, yet do you know which one gives you the best ROI? Focusing your efforts on one social media site can be beneficial. Spread your content across each site and see which one gets the most engagement over a matter of months. More importantly, don’t be afraid to drop a channel that isn’t working for you. You’ll still have plenty of more effective places to post your content and engage with users.
Don’t be afraid to try out the trending social media sites as well, to see how they work with your brand. Tiktok may seem oblique to those of us outside of Gen Z, but its 800 million users are an appealing market for an increasing number of brands.
- Personalized Messaging is King
96% of marketers agree that personalization advances their relationship with customers, but what does it actually mean to offer a personalized experience? It’s simply not enough anymore to send emails with the person’s name in the subject line. Although such emails still have a higher open rate than their generic counterparts. A truly personalized experience in 2020 involves engaging consumers in a way that feels engaging to them from the outset.
Start with your marketing personas. What does your average viewer look like? Demographics are key here, and should be based on your internal data. Age, nationality, and gender all play a key role, but so do income, buying preferences, and a host of other factors you’ll have to dig for. This is where customer surveys and user profiles come in handy. Customers are happy to provide this data if it means receiving a better experience.
68% of consumers report leaving a brand that they feel doesn’t care about them. If your readers have questions about your content, are they able to easily get in touch with you? Chatbots are an easy way to create engagement, especially if you can’t invest more heavily in live customer service agents. Simply being active on social media management, responding to queries and complaints, can prove you’re dedicated to helping customers beyond the norm of expectations.
Bring It All Together
The number one key to succeeding with your long-term content marketing is to build the strategy company wide. This means everyone, from executives to the interns, along with the freelancers you may hire, are involved in the process of creating, planning, and publishing content.
This kind of planning doesn’t require the CEO’s sign-off for every blog post you publish. What it means, rather, is that content is synchronized with your larger business strategy. If someone attends an event, be sure to write about it. If you move to a bigger office space, publish a video highlighting how your clients will benefit. A new hire can be a wellspring of expertise perfect for a podcast interview, or an entire series based around their knowledge.
Whatever happens, make sure you’re prepared to turn it into the content. Customers want to spend money at companies that are open, transparent and dedicated towards engagement. Your marketing strategy doesn’t have to work as hard to get views when your audience is eager to see the new content you’ve prepared for them.
It takes time to get there. The first step might be as easy as writing up your thoughts on this article and turning it into one of your own. The growth you’ll achieve from that first pageview is virtually limitless. It’s all a matter of getting started on the right foot.