Content marketing has been a cornerstone of any good digital marketing campaign for some time. Naturally, the content marketing arena is more competitive than ever before.
With blog posts becoming more authoritative and detailed, infographics becoming more comprehensive, and videos becoming more polished, you can’t simply publish a few pieces of solid content, then sit back and watch the engagement roll in.
As the providers of an agile, content-oriented CMS, we know all about the fierce competition within content marketing, and how this has made a solid content strategy framework more important than ever.
When approaching content, modern marketers need to ensure that their efforts have clear goals. Additionally, benchmarks and purposeful optimization will help create a long-term roadmap to success.
In this post, we’ll show you how to create that roadmap: your very own content strategy framework.
So, Just What is a Content Strategy Framework?
In a nutshell, a content strategy framework is a structured plan of how you’ll create and deploy content, who you’ll be creating it for, why you’ll be creating it, and how you’ll leverage it to influence your customer journeys in a positive way.
Some of the core elements of any effective content strategy framework include:
- Specific, measurable goals
- A keen understanding of your target audience, including audience segmentation
- A clear picture of the stages of your customer journey; touchpoints, pain points, and the catalysts that move people from one phase to another
- Creative content ideas
With such a competitive marketing landscape out there, marketers can’t afford to coast along with generic, improvisational, and rudderless content that’s propped up their campaigns in the past.
With a solid content strategy framework in place, you’ll soon be on your way to a library of quality, competitive content. This content will be seen by plenty of people. In addition, it drives the kind of quality engagement you’re aiming for.
So, without further adieu, here are the practical steps you need to take to build your content strategy framework…
Define your Goals
The first thing to do when creating a content strategy framework is to define your goals. A strategy can’t be effective unless it’s guided by a clear idea of the milestones you need to achieve to make it successful.
When we say “define”, we mean it! As you read this, you probably have a few low-resolution, top-level ideas as to what you want your content marketing efforts to achieve. These might be things like “stimulate conversations on social media platforms”, “attract more organic traffic”, or “build more brand credibility”.
While these head in the right direction, they’re not the kind of specific, clearly-defined goals that will get results.
Instead of running with a poorly-defined goal like “Improve traffic and leads through our website”, try something more solid, like “Gain 10,000 visitors, 250 new leads, and 20 new customers before 31.03.2023 with customer journeys starting on content pages X, Y Z.”
In the interest of measurable goals, this seems like a good place to reiterate the SMART goal setting criteria:
Specific: Drill down to a specific aim with as narrow a scope as possible.
Measurable: Have KPIs in place which will allow you to measure results objectively.
Attainable: Make sure that the goals can be attained within the timeframe you’ve set.
Realistic: Take potential obstacles and setbacks into account, ensuring that whatever issues you run into, there’ll be a feasible way to reach your target.
Time-Bound: Have a deadline in place. This informs you of the schedule at any given stage of the marketing drive, and whether you need to free up more resources.
Define your Target Audience
Next up, get a clear understanding of your target audience. Just like your goals, you should aim to define your target market as specifically as possible. This is done by constructing detailed buyer personas. Research your audience’s demographics, habits, likes and interests, desires, and the challenges they face in day-to-day life.
If you don’t already have a clearly-defined view of your audience, your first port of call should be the analytics tools you use for your website and social platforms. Understanding the people who are already buying your product or service. You’ll gain an effective profile you can use to target new prospects with your content marketing.
You’ll quickly notice that the people buying from your business aren’t a monolith. With this in mind, you’ll need to segment your audience into solid buyer personas that will require subtly different messaging in your content marketing. Significant differences in age, geography, purchasing power, and behavior are all things to look out for when categorizing your audience in this way.
Create your filters and look at the metrics you can attribute to different segments of your audience You’re likely to notice that certain segments are responsible for a larger portion of your engagement and revenue than others.
With a broad target audience, this can be hugely beneficial in deciding which kinds of content to prioritize. This will keep you from wasting resources by pandering to groups whose engagement won’t have a significant effect on your bottom line.
Decide on your Content Types and Tone of Voice
At this stage, you’ll plan out exactly what kind of content you’re planning to create. If you’ve set out clear goals and you’re now feeling familiar with your audience, you should also have a good idea of the kind of content that’s going to appeal to the audience segments at the top of your priority list. Additionally, you understand the kind of content that’s going to get you closer to those specific, measurable goals.
For each individual idea for a post, video, or infographic that crops up while brainstorming, ask yourself what kind of engagement you can expect if you were to place it in front of your primary audience segment. This determines how much value this part of your audience will gain from it.
Leverage your audience profiles to inform the kind of content you’re going to fill your calendar with. This is a hugely important step during this phase and one you can’t afford to overlook.
Another key thing to consider when deciding on the kind of content you’re going to publish is your brand’s tone of voice, and how you’ll be able to make this consistent across all platforms and formats.
Whether you’re calm and confident like Apple or sprightly and playful like Innocent Drinks, the tone of voice you use to communicate in your content. This is one of the unique signatures that will determine how your customers will remember you. essential pillar of the relationship they build with your company. Having clear tone of voice guidelines, one per content type if necessary, is essential to ensure your content marketing fulfills its potential.
Line Up your Distribution Channels
Next up, you need to decide on the distribution channels you’re going to use. What proportion of your content marketing each of these channels will take up?
Like a good stock portfolio, the scope of your distribution channels should be well-diversified. Don’t place too many of your eggs in one basket, even if you’ve been seeing disproportionately positive results from one particular channel.
Content channels, and the broader audience within your industry, are constantly evolving. If you suddenly find yourself with a strategy and marketing team that’s too invested in one channel that isn’t giving good returns, it can spell disaster for your brand.
When it comes to organic engagement, content distribution channels can be neatly divided into two general categories:
Owned content distribution channels are the platforms that you own and operate; your website, blog, social profiles, and mailing lists. On these channels, you can choose what, when, and how you publish content. This happens while having a good idea of how many people it will reach and what the engagement will look like.
Earned content distribution, on the other hand, is any platform where a third party acts as some kind of gatekeeper. They control over how your content is promoted and engaged with online.
These parties might include members of the public who share your social media content. They could be journalists and bloggers who cite your content or link to it in some other way. Additionally, anyone else who opts to give you free exposure on the strength of your content, hence the term “earned”. The channels themselves can include shares and retweets, product reviews, guest articles, roundups, etc.
Hive19 explains that with earned media coverage, “There are no shortcuts, it’s a meticulous and continuous process of researching, pitching, and producing quality content that both journalists and website editors want to feature, and real audiences want to engage with.”
These distribution channels exist in a kind of grey area. Posts on forums also fall under the earned category, where you have control over how you frame your content. Ultimately, they are at the mercy of a third party, the site owners.
Organize your Task Management and Workflows
Whatever the other particulars of your content strategy, you’ll need to have clearly-defined workflows and a system for task management in place. You may already have a fine-tuned system in place for this. If you don’t, the importance of it can’t be understated.
For fresh startups with a relatively small number of employees, simply communicating a goal and a timeframe in an email can be enough to keep things trucking along. However, it only takes one period of rapid expansion for the business to outgrow this way of managing things. This could lead to severe bottlenecks and missed opportunities.
There are a number of tools and structures you can use to set up your task management system and workflows for your content marketing, but here are some tips to make sure it’s as effective as possible:
Task Management Best Practices
Document Every Little Detail: Whenever you’re executing a piece of content marketing work, things like who’s taking ownership of the task, what any hard deadlines are, and the assets that need to be received for the task to be complete, should all be recorded in a central, easy-to-access place for all team members involved. This will give everyone the information they need to do their jobs. It ensures there’s no confusion or shoulder-shrugging as the project gets underway.
Know your Dependencies: Sometimes, a workflow will be made up of tasks that can be completed in any order without any real impact on the end result. However, in many cases, and especially within content marketing, certain things will need to be ticked off before an essential task can even be started. Clearly define these dependencies and don’t fall by the wayside to avoid backlogs and delays.
Stay Flexible and Adjust Regularly: Like your content, your workflows are only going to be effective if they’re able to adapt within a dynamic environment. Priorities, teams, and the nuances of your projects may change over time. You’ll need to have wiggle room to audit your workflows and amend them for maximum possible efficiency.
Define your Tracking and Performance Methods
Finally, no content marketing strategy is complete without a way to track its performance. Leveraging tools like Google Analytics to track content engagement on your website, or the analytics tools provided by the platforms for your social posts, will ensure you’re never in the dark about how your content is faring.
For every defined action in your content strategy, you should have a corresponding process for monitoring the results. When comparing with your KPI’s, it determines whether your goals are being met or not.
Any good analytics suite will be able to track your defined metrics automatically. We recommend scheduling regular review meetings that will give you a starting point to determine whether anything’s going wrong. This will help you flesh out insights that could help you supercharge your content marketing in the future.
We hope you find this guide useful as you build your content strategy framework and put your content into action.
With clear goals, a keen understanding of the people who make up your audience, and a strong suite of admin and organizational tools, you’ll be sure to enjoy excellent levels of efficiency, and powerful, data-driven results!