Evergreen Content Development Tips That You Can Use To Improve Your Marketing Game
Developing content for your company’s online presence can be time-consuming and difficult. So many things change in the world of content marketing every day. Google changes the game, Facebook provides a blow after another, for the marketers? And you, in your little corner of the market, you feel more lost with every day that goes. A web page with too little content comes across a bit like finding a stick figure on a piece of notebook paper taped to the wall at the museum. A cluttered site, or one that lacks focus, may be difficult to navigate or distracting for potential customers.
There is a way to keep all these changes under control and that is have an overarching strategy and a few goals to follow consistently with your content creation. Ensure your marketing content serves your business by following these content development tips.
Establish Clear-Cut Goals
Starting your content strategy by setting goals might seem like a waste of time. Your goal is for your business website and other promotional materials to bring in more business. What else could it be? But far from being an extra step, setting specific, detailed goals is the first step to an effective content marketing strategy.
In Eight steps to develop and maintain your content marketing strategy, author Elysse Flynn Meyer stresses the importance of linking your content strategy goals to your business goals. Suppose you are running an information and support website and store for people who work at home. Your revenue comes from advertisements along the border of your page, from merchandise sold in your store, and from membership fees that open up additional content and other perks for your customers. Your business goal might be to increase the number of paid memberships. Your first content marketing goal might then be to create promotional material explaining the unique benefits membership to your site would bring. Or perhaps paid memberships are reaching your target, but you need to increase advertising sales. Your business goal might be to attract more advertising from local businesses. In that case, your content marketing goal would be to produce materials that describe the benefits of your site for the local community. If your goal is to increase sales of a particular product in the store, you might want to make creating additional advertising copy your content development goal.
Profile Your Best Customers’ Needs
We all need a day off sometimes, and when you take one, you probably notice a marathon of the popular crime drama “Criminal Minds” available on at least one local channel and/or one streaming service. If you’re a fan of the show, you no doubt chuckle over the quirky computer expert Penelope Garcia’s ability to click a few buttons, read a few screens, and know exactly what the suspect in the latest crime investigation has done in the past. This allows Dr. Spencer Reid to explain precisely what the person is going to do. Or maybe you identify more with the serious, straightforward Agent Rossi. Whichever character is your favorite, developing a content strategy gives you the chance to pretend to be your favorite crime show character.
Okay, so you won’t get access to everything about your customers with a few clicks like Garcia, and most of us don’t get to travel on that cool private plane like Rossi, but you will develop a similar picture of who your customers are and what they are likely to do next, just as your favorite Criminal Minds character does.
In the article How to develop a content strategy: A start to finish guide, Justin McGill advises knowing who your customers and potential customers are and what problem you will solve for that person. This goes beyond the standard, “Most of my customers are mothers and grandmothers between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-five,” or “Our company tends to draw college graduates looking for their first car.”
Imagine you are running that support and information clearinghouse and store for at home workers mentioned above. Your customer profile might read:
Our typical customer is between the ages of twenty-five and sixty-five. He or she values quiet, privacy, and comfort most of all during work hours. Once work hours end, our customer is likely to enjoy offline social activities such as going out to coffeehouses, going out to bars, or eating meals in restaurants. Getting out of the house appears to be a strong motivator for remaining employed in a work-at-home environment and for shopping in our store.
Our customers’ focus on seeking comfort indicates that working from home is uncomfortable for many workers. We can solve this problem for our customers in two ways. The first way would be to increase our sales volume on the chair cushions, personal space heaters, and hot and cold beverage dispensers in our merchandise catalog. We might also wish to partner with restaurant chains to offer reduced price gift cards for drinks and meals.
Head Back To School For Some Prewriting Techniques
Back in elementary or junior high school, your English teacher probably taught you to use pre-writing techniques before you sat down to actually write an essay. You probably thought your English teacher simply enjoyed knowing that you were spending your evening doing homework instead of watching your favorite television program or hanging out with your friends. But that teacher was really teaching you a valuable skill you can not only use in writing, but in developing your content strategy.
Engage in some free writing. Sit down and write out anything that comes to mind when you think of the goals you set in step one, the customer profile you crafted in step two, and the words “content.” Don’t worry if you go off on a weird tangent at this point. Just keep writing. If you feel that might throw you off track, try brainstorming. Brainstorming is similar to freewriting, except that instead of simply writing out anything that comes to mind, you will write out specific ideas for developing content that meets your goals and serves your customers.
A free writing session from the work-at-home support business might look like this:
My customer wants comfort. Needs more comfort. Can’t work without comfort. My chair is not comfortable. I need a cushion. Cushions are fun. I like purple cushions because purple is my favorite color.
Brainstorming might produce:
Content meeting customer need for increased comfort:
-Articles about creating a comfortable environment for site visitors with more promised for paid members
-Promotions offering gift cards to restaurants.
You have decided what you need your content to do for your business. You have determined who your business serves, and what service you provide for that customer. You have come up with a variety of ways to build upon those steps to determine your content. Now it is time to narrow that cluster or list down to those that will truly serve your company.
Obviously, much of the free writing material will be thrown out. What do you get to keep? The lines “Need more comfort” and “My chair is not comfortable” could be edited down to “Blog article about ways to make a work at home environment more comfortable” or “Advertising copy for our business that partners with local furniture stores and gift shops.” The ideas from the brainstorming exercise could become your business page’s first content.
Monitor and Manage Content
The final step in developing a content strategy never ends. Once you have created your initial content, it is time to begin regularly monitoring and managing that content.
Monitor your content for customer reactions. The staff of the information clearinghouse and support network for people who work at home might have initially crafted a series of blog posts on creating a comfortable work environment at home, only to have her web statistics reveal that almost nobody is reading them and that the few who do read these posts rarely purchase any of the related merchandise. Or they might learn that a blog post about taking time for yourself and indulging in hobbies is often read right before a customer logs into the store section and purchases a large number of candles and portable media devices.
This insight will then determine how your content is managed. The owner of the work from home information and support website we’ve been following throughout this article may cancel writing projects that do not lead to sales, and increase the number of blog posts on topics that do lead to sales of course, but even successful content will need to be periodically refreshed to keep up with the changes in culture and therefore, in customers, that will occur over time. Imagine that you are a potential customer of the work from home workers clearinghouse. Would you be inclined to purchase a membership, or anything else, from a business whose blog advised you to stop off at Blockbuster for a favorite movie on the way home from errands, or offered a list of cassette tapes to play in your Walkman?
Chief Content Officer
Annie has over 20 years of experience as an editor and content creator and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.
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