Over the past couple of years I’ve spent a lot of time working with B2B software-as-a-service companies, developing and executing content strategies aiming to increase website traffic, leads and contacts. I’ve worked with companies of different sizes and at different stages in their journey, but despite these differences there are several common elements I’ve identified that are key to a high-performing content strategy.
1) Content Audit
When you start creating content for an organisation, it’s extremely unlikely you’ll be going in to a completely blank slate. So the best place to start is running a content audit. Not only does this let you identify opportunities for improvement, but it also helps you familiarise yourself with the company, its products and its customers.
A content audit typically comprises two parts:
- Inventory – pulling together a complete list of all your company’s content – everything from blog posts and eguides, to website copy and social media accounts. This will enable you to get an overview of key topics and areas of focus, and to identify any obvious content gaps.
- Analysis – this is where you dive in and assess the performance of the current content. Are any channels performing particularly well? Do blog posts on a particular topic drive twice as much traffic as posts on something different?
2) Content Planning
Once you’ve got to grips with how the existing content is performing, and identified your biggest opportunities for improvement, you can begin planning new content ideas.
One of the most common approaches to content planning is to put together an editorial calendar. However, I’ve often found that a content calendar can be more trouble than it’s worth: you spend hours planning out which pieces of content you’ll publish when, only for priorities to change, or new urgent projects to come your way, rendering your content calendar useless, and requiring a significant time investment to re-align it with your new priorities.
Fortunately, there’s a better way to plan your content, that is more flexible and easier to adapt to your changing business needs.
One of the most effective methods I’ve seen for planning future content is borrowed from the agile methodology: creating a content backlog.
A content backlog is much simpler, in that you don’t spend time worrying about what you’re going to publish when. Instead, you focus on getting all your content ideas into a list, and work to prioritise that list, so you focus on the most important or most impactful ideas first.
As well as the content title or idea, you may also want to include the following in your content backlog:
- Content format (blog post, infographic, website content etc.)
- Targeted keywords and monthly search volume
- Target persona or customer segment.
This will ensure your content is search optimised, and keep you mindful of the customers or target persona you’re creating the content for – so that it’s focused on your customer’s needs, rather than your business.
3) Content Creation
Now for the easy bit – the writing!
4) Content Promotion
Many content creators fall into the trap of thinking ‘if they build it, they will come’. But even if your content is well-optimised for search, it will still take time for your content to begin driving regular organic traffic – sometimes up to 6 months. So to get maximum value from your content in the shorter term, content promotion is essential.
I’ve seen it recommended that you spend as much time promoting your content as you do writing it – that’s how valuable content promotion is. So whether you’re sharing on social media, re-publishing on sites like Medium, or running a paid campaign to promote your latest post, it’s worth investing time and energy into thorough content promotion.
5) Content Optimisation
To make a success of your content strategy in the long-term, it’s vital that you dedicate time to optimise old content. You can’t just take a one-and-done approach to content creation, assuming that it’s always going to be relevant, up-to-date and perform as well as it does now.
You should spend time every month optimising old content – assessing how it’s performing, and identifying opportunities to improve its performance. That could mean targeting new keywords, offering an alternative conversion opportunity, or even re-writing altogether to reflect your updated business priorities.
Anything I’ve missed? I’d love to hear what you think are the essentials for a successful content strategy, so feel free to comment below.