You’ve made a plan to clean your room. Great! But it’s an hour in, and you’re organizing books by author’s last name instead of dusting the shelves or trying on long-forgotten clothes instead of vacuuming. You’re not being unproductive (you’ll probably do all those things eventually), but you’re not being productive either. Priorities have fallen out of place.
We fall into the same habits with content marketing. You might be stuffing keywords into your blog posts or creating downloadable guides left and right, but are those strategies serving your overall goals? And are you executing them in an order that makes sense?
Strategic content marketing is a marriage of what your audience wants to consume and what you want to communicate, prioritized by what will provide the greatest ROI.
Asking these five questions can help you figure out what content to tackle first, second, so on and so forth.
1. Business Goals: What’s needed the most to support current goals?
Hopefully, your content — and the strategy behind it — is all built to support your business goals. And if that’s not the case, cutting away content created for content’s sake should be your first step. That’ll give you a lean and results-driven database to draw from as you begin prioritizing.
Then, you’ll want to pinpoint the most important work you can do to support your organization’s larger aims. Even if the business goals are as cut-and-dry as increasing profit or qualified leads, there are measurable steps your content strategy can take to support those aims. Some examples include:
- Building a subscriber base,
- Increasing web traffic,
- Maintaining web traffic,
- Generating leads, and
- Redirecting more users from blog posts to product/service pages.
And with a set of attainable goals in mind, get even more granular: where is your content strategy underperforming? Are you good at generating traffic but struggling to maintain it? Or do you have trouble locating more members of your audience?
Only you know the underperforming areas of your content strategy. And only you know which lapses could, if improved, bring benefits to your whole organization. Start there, and let those most important, to-be-improved areas drive the rest of your prioritization strategy.
2. Audience: What do they want?
Content has to provide value to your audience—and you have to know who your audience is first. Know more than their age range and occupation. Learn how they prefer to be communicated with, where the most common pain points are and what’s going to motivate them to seek the content you’ll be providing.
This information and more can all be captured with a persona, or a full profile on a single fictional person that best represents the needs and wants of your collective audience. You can have more than one persona if you have a primary and secondary audience. Be sure to explore as much as you can through your persona creation process: figure out their intentions, anticipate their questions and know what interests or preferences they have.
All of these insights will allow you to better understand what the most effective content is, and they’ll naturally highlight what content should be prioritized. For example, if your audience is highly concerned with company reputation due to the large investment they might be making in your product or service, great testimonials and case studies can help you stand out. It’s the type of content that audience will be searching for, and it’s the content you’ll want to prioritize.
3. Research: What’s successful?
You know what you want to communicate, and you’ve figured out what your audience wants to consume. Before putting it all together, you’ll want to address the ROI side of the content strategy prioritization equation through research.
It’s likely you’ve already uncovered some clear content successes by answering the previous two questions on goals and audience. Still, doing research on currently successful website content both in and outside of your organization is going to more clearly define your priorities, because it’ll narrow down your already great content to top-performing great content.
Successful needs to mean something to your goals—you’re looking for content that brings in more leads, keep people on pages longer, or gets them to engage and convert. You might come across content that does a great job of communicating a company’s brand, but if that’s not within the scope of the goals you set at the start, stick a pin in it for later. The goal is to find what content, within the scope of your goals and audience, is going to provide the highest return. And you find the highest-returning content through research.
4. Capabilities and capacity: What can be tackled right now?
This is the time to dream big…at first. Let yourself get carried away with the idea of interactive tools or testimonials on every webpage — the best version of content that has been strategically decided upon to support your business, serve your audience and bring in a high ROI.
Then, decide what you can realistically do in the next year, 6 months, and month with your resources. See if there is already-existing content you can leverage to save time, like a white paper that could do well as a blog post (or vice versa).
Take dependent tasks into account, too. If you want to eventually create a monthly newsletter send featuring blog posts on your website, you need to have enough blog posts first. Factoring the entire project timeline into your prioritization ensures you’ll encounter as few hiccups as possible when actually going forward with creating the content.
And don’t be afraid to have two different top content priorities simultaneously, because it all depends on what resources you have. If you have freelancers or an agency partner that can take care of one content priority while you work on another, go for it! It’s important to remember that your resource pool includes your time, and you can expand that pool with external expertise (maybe even our expertise).
Through defining your goals, audience, successful content and capabilities, the content to prioritize should stand out. And, hopefully, it’s that much easier to start tackling content in an order that makes sense.
Want to expand your resource pool? We can help with that. Contact us to learn more about what we can do to help you create meaningful, impactful content.