A strong content strategy goes deep into understanding users, their brand maturity level, and devices, transforming content from a production task to a marketing differentiator.
Most organizations struggle with content. From keeping it fresh and accurate to ensuring it supports multiple audiences, content can be one of the biggest daily challenges a marketer faces. Then add in translation and device-specific content and you could have a real mess on your hands. For many, the natural response is to treat content as simply a production activity; this is a huge miss. In fact, the value of content is continuing to grow. With search holding steady as one of the largest traffic drivers, developing search engine-optimized content that will drive audience and social engagement is critical for success. But beyond keyword targeting and on-page optimization, a strong content strategy goes deep into understanding users, their brand maturity level, and devices, transforming content from a production task to a marketing differentiator.
Ensuring a successful content strategy starts with the following fundamentals:
Be Stage Specific
Understand the lifecycle of your consumers - and ensure that content is written to support them. As consumers become more mature about your brand and product, the level and type of detail they seek continues to intensify. Ensure that for complex decisions, robust product comparisons and documentation is readily available. For visitors earlier in the funnel, make available not just branded content, but supporting social and industry content, validating the brand and market position. Finally, don't forget about existing customers. Retaining existing customers is often less expensive than acquiring new ones. Anticipate the needs of existing customers, ensuring they have direct access to the service and product detail to drive them back for repeat sales. Don't cloud their experience by pushing products and services they already have.
Global Presence With Local Relevance
If your business varies by region or language, ensure that your content framework considers not just translation, but localized keyword targeting and regional variation. Identify content segments critical for localization - and start on those first. Also, ensure each market identifies the maturity of the audience. Where an immature market may need additional messaging on need state and brand values, a more mature market may be looking to dive deeper into products, specs, and pricing. Having a programmatic approach for localization will ensure not only better search engine rankings, but will highlight the opportunities to deliver content that is relevant for the market.
Whether investing in responsive web design or developing mobile-specific websites, many marketers make the mistake of erring on the side of consistency, having all action steps, banners, and buttons look and feel the same across device and site. While this may help usability, tracking performance, and enable easy A/B testing, it can actually hurt relevancy and value. Instead, consider the end state and the ease of use by device. For most smartphone users, it is much easier to click to call than to fill out a lead form on a tiny screen. Ensure all action steps, and most importantly that final conversion step, are device specific, taking advantage of users who are already using a phone and ready to complete the goal with a click to call.
Enabling Effective Measurement and Testing
When building a content testing program, measurement and testing must be at the forefront of the marketer's mind. Establishing the KPIs you will use to measure success and isolating variables for A/B and multivariate analysis allows you to optimize your content program for maximum return. With the growth and availability of testing software, it is easy to rush past the content plan in favor of getting tests live quickly. But don't skip on the front end - if you are running tests and cannot clearly isolate the distinct content variables, the test is worthless. Make sure you can always identify the content element and control for it. If you are testing both content and creative, ensure you have a control set to assess performance of each. If you are going to test, be completely sure you know what content element is driving better performance, and why.
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Andrea Fishman, VP of strategy and a partner at BGT Partners, leads BGT's Chicago office and has extensive experience in marketing and management consulting. She and her team drive value to BGT's clients through the development of behavioral marketing programs, web analytics, measurement programs, industry benchmarking, competitive assessments, and the design of integrated marketing programs.
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