How to Build a Killer Content Strategy | Balmer Agency

How to Build a Killer Content Strategy

If you want to market a product or service online you need to tell a good story. In order to do that you need great content that engages your target audience. But if you don’t know how to build a content strategy effectively you could risk creating content that is not relevant or simply not engaging. Here are three tried and tested steps we follow when building a content strategy for our clients. 

1. Know your audience

Before  you begin  writing and  exploring different content types and formats,  it’s important to understand  who you’re writing content for. To  handle the demands of content creation,  marketers are often told to  “think like a publisher.” Like publishers, inbound marketers must have a detailed picture of their target  audience in order to create optimal content for them. Ask yourself:

  • Who are your  ideal customers and prospects?
  • What are their biggest  concerns, needs, and  interests?
  • Where can you  reach them  – on search engines,  social media, or blogs  – and what kinds of content do they prefer?

These  questions will help you  develop buyer personas. Personas are  fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data about demographics &  online behaviour, along with educated  speculation about their histories, motivations & concerns.

how to build a content strategy building personas

You can start developing personas by researching customer base to identify the most common buyers for your products and services. You may have several different types of buyers, so give each one a detailed description including:

  • Name
  • Job title or role
  • Industry or company information
  • Demographic information

For example, a community bank’s biggest customers may include small business owners and mothers managing the bank accounts for a family of four. In this case the bank’s marketers might name these personas “business owner Bob” and “Mary the busy mum”, and extrapolate details about their responsibilities, the typical size of their business or household income, what geographic region their in, and so on.

Based on these profiles you can outline the pain points, needs and challenges of each persona and answer critical questions such as:

  • What  are the problems customers are  trying to solve?
  • What does he or she need most?
  • What information  are they searching for?

Analysing  the path that  prospects take on  the journey to becoming  a customer is a great way  to get insights about the needs  and challenges of your target audience.  Using a marketing platform, or analytics, can highlight which search terms brought prospects to  your site, how long they stayed on your site, which pieces  of content they viewed, and which forms they’ve filled out. Such  lead intelligence will help you make better decisions when identifying  the characteristics of your ideal customers and ways to nurture your new  prospects.

For  example,  in the case  of our hypothetical  bank, “Business-owner Bob”  may typically be searching for  merchant services such as accepting  electronic payments and securing lines  of credit. Once on the site, he reads  articles about how electronic payments can  improve cash flow and researches how lines  of credit can fund ongoing operations. Based on  that activity, his persona pains points/needs/challenges  would include managing cash flow, achieving cost savings,  and offsetting the effects of a slow economy.

2. Map content to the buying cycle

Content  plays a critical  role in every stage  of the inbound marketing  process, from generating awareness  about your company to helping convert  leads into customers. But the types of  content you should use to achieve each of  those goals are often very different from each  other, which means you need to ensure that you’re  creating content for every stage of the buying cycle:

  1. AWARENESS

The  prospect  identifies the problem and researches potential solutions, including your product  or service.

  1. RESEARCH/EDUCATION

The  prospect examines the options and begins narrowing the list of  vendors.

  1. COMPARISON/VALIDATION

The  prospect decides who to buy from.

  1. PURCHASE

The  prospect gets acquainted with your brand or  realises they have a need  for your product/service.

 

At Balmer Agency, we identify  the types of content and channels  that work best for each stage of the  buying cycle. Of course, your prospects  may engage with certain channels throughout  the entire buying process, such as reading blog  posts or following your brand on social media. However,  marketing studies have shown that certain types of content  play particularly important roles at specific stages of the decision-making  process.  

Here’s an example of the way we map content to the different stages of the buying cycle:how to build a content strategy - map content to buying cycle

3. Build an editorial calendar

Once  you’ve  built your  buyer persona  and mapped your  content around that persona’s  buying cycle, it’s time to figure  out when and where to share the content  you will be ultimately creating.

An  effective  way to do  this is to create  an editorial calendar.  An editorial calendar is  like a roadmap for content  creation,  showing  you what  kind of content  to create, what topics  to cover, which personas  to target, and how often to  publish to best support your inbound marketing strategy.  

You can create a Google calendar or use and Excel Spreadsheet to create the template. Make sure you work backwards from your marketing goals to guide you editorial calendar. You should fill your calendar with specific publishing tasks,  such as updating blogs or social  networks daily, posting new videos or podcasts each week, publishing an ebook or hosting a webinar each month,  and so on.

For each date you’ll want to list the topic,  the title of the piece, the target persona, appropriate links, images etc.  The goal is to create a good mix of content types, topics, and personas  to make sure you’re covering your various audiences.

When building our content calendars we note target keywords, the stage of the buying cycle, calls to action or other inbound marketing goals that each piece of content must address. It’s a good idea to take note of  important dates or events/holidays  during the year that are good hooks for  specific topics or types of content.

Want to learn more about how to build a content strategy?

Identifying your audience and creating buyer personas, mapping your content to each stage of the buying cycle and creating an editorial calendar filled with content that will inspire your prospects to consume your content, share it, and take action are the keys to a killer content strategy.

If you’d like to learn more about how to build a content strategy that empower your business to tell your story, talk to our content strategists today on +61 3 9041 1179 or shoot us an email at hello@balmeragency.com.au.

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