Content marketing touches on so many other areas of digital marketing, so there’s a lot to think about. These guidelines will help structure a well-rounded content strategy in 2016.
1. Plan ahead with a content calendar
Planning ahead with content allows you to make sure each individual piece fits into a larger puzzle.
A content calendar is the best way to structure this. Plotting out key dates over the next year lets you work backwards strategically. This way you’ll know when to start drip-feeding articles about your next new product to your visitors — so they’re already warm when you launch four months later.
Tip: Include important dates for your company, like product launches and industry events, slot in important dates like Christmas and Mother’s Day, and you’ll have a complete picture of your year.
2. Use a style guide to promote consistency
It’s unlikely your company’s content will be written by a single person. Having a single style guide, or “company voice” will keep everyone on-message.
Start your guide with an introduction to your company culture, describing the impression you want to leave in your customers’ minds. This will help your key messages flow through everything you do.
This reusable document can be easily passed to any external agencies or freelancers you bring in to create content for you.
Tip: Include the official way to spell your company’s name, e.g. CandidSky not Candidsky or Candid Sky — seems obvious, but it took us a long time to drill this into people!
3. Addict readers to your email newsletter
A monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly email newsletter lets you shape the ongoing narrative of your business and industry.
Expect your email newsletter to be your readers’ main source of updates about your industry. Try to make it count!
Tip: Giving your newsletter its own brand and telling people when to expect it, e.g. “The Super Blast: Fresh news in your inbox every Friday morning”, will help people remember your newsletter and look forward to it being delivered.
4. Organise your expertise in a knowledge base
Knowledge bases are a way to organise and present factual information and guides for key topics in your industry. With any knowledge base, your intention should be to become the go to source of information for your sector.
Think of how many times Wikipedia articles appear at the top of Google results? Do a quick Google for a key topic in your industry. If no Wikipedia-style articles come up, there’s a strong opportunity for you to take over that top spot.
Tip: Categorisation is vital. Having a well-organised hierarchy for your knowledge base will help users and Google find their way around around — but more importantly, this is how visitors will store information about your industry in their heads!
5. Inject personality with a blog
Your company’s blog is an opportunity to express a personality that may not be possible on the more corporate pages of your website.
It’s important to balance ‘stodgy’ articles about new products and staff hires with more fun articles about what’s going on in your expert areas, and more informative articles sharing tips about your services.
Tip: It’s vital for SEO to cross-link blog articles to other pages of your site (service landing pages, product pages, category pages and knowledge base articles), as that will help pass the value of that article to the pages you want to rank well in Google. 2-3 contextual in-line links in the body copy of any blog is a good benchmark.
6. Write for social readers
Not technically a ‘content’ responsibility, but making shareable, digestible content that will land well on social networks has never been more important.
Knowing the make-up of your social audience well will help you tailor a content strategy specifically for them. Using questions you’ve been asked on social media to feed new articles is a great way to know you’re really helping their direct needs. Making space for articles that address this, e.g. “Top five reader questions answered” in your content calendar ensures you don’t forget.
It’s likely people who follow you are regarded as ‘experts’ in your industry by their contacts, friends and family. Writing content for them to share will help your visitors maintain their image.
Tip: Being aware of how social media readers scan-read content. If people don’t have much time, they may just scan the key headlines and bullet points. Give your article a structure that provides value — even if people don’t read the actual copy!