A2Z of Online Branding: How to EXECUTE a Content Strategy EFFECTIVELY (5/26)

While business owners and marketers seem to be largely in sync with their plans and usually know WHAT to do in regards to Online Branding. However, the place where most of them get stuck and need expert help is the HOW. So here is a run down on HOW to Execute a Content Strategy EFFECTIVELY.

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Before you jump into this post, I hope you have read and understood the previous posts in this series. If not, then NOW is the time to brush up the basics:

Now that you have read the above and understood them well, let’s look at how you can draw up a content strategy that will help you cut through the competition and make your brand stand out.

Remember, that Content alone won’t get you organic traffic, STRATEGICALLY deployed content will drive the traffic that you want and need for your business growth.

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Surely there are paid means of driving traffic to your business – its faster – but needs budgets. But the rules of content strategy remain the same there as well, rich content will get shared, poor content won’t.

The challenge is: HOW to create a content strategy that works? If the goal is to attract organic traffic online, what exact, strategic ways should you adopt to get the right traffic?

Read on to learn the process of creating a content strategy that will drive traffic.

  • It begins with understanding your audience
  • Deciding the best form of content that your audience would like to consume
  • Creating a posting plan
  • Customizing tonality as per your audience
  • Focusing on key words that your audience searches for online.

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If you dedicatedly follow the steps, you will be able to develop an effective strategy that yields steady traffic over a period of time. You must remember to review the strategy and change it whenever time demands.

Where is the traffic supposed to go?

Okay, let me clarify, when I mean “increasing traffic to your business” what I really mean is increase traffic to your website. If we successfully funnel all the traffic from the various sources to the website we have an engaged visitor who may be driven to make a purchase decision. We will be touching upon websites as a platform later that’s because I believe that content is prime, website/social media and everything else are platforms to showcase the content.

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Where does Online Traffic come from?

Before we begin, let’s understand the sources of traffic; simply put, how do users learn about your business? In other words, where does traffic come from?

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  1. Search engines:
    Tip: Submit your website/blog for FREE to Google Console, Bing Webmaster, Yahoo Site Explorer (Learn HOW)
  2. Blog Directories: 
    Tip: Here’s a list of 387 credible blog directories – submit your link to drive traffic. Some of them ask for referrals, some are paid & others ask for a reciprocal link. (LEARN HOW)
  3. Sites & Blogs:
    Tip: To many of us, he is the GOD of SEO! I swear by Neil Patel’s tips on increasing traffic. (LEARN HOW)
  4. Content sites can be used to drive traffic back to your site
    Tip: HOW? Upload PPTs on Slideshare, Use Picassa to browse view & upload images, Enter the 2nd largest search engine – YouTube by uploading quality videos, create a company page on Quora and start answering questions related to your company’s or your domain expertise.
  5. Reviews & recommendations
    Tip: Ensure you get credible reviews on Just Dial, Google Reviews, Amazon etc. How? Sometimes its easy to just request for a review or rating.
  6. Social Media
    Tip: Refer to the post on social media platforms & tailor your content as per your audience. (LEARN HOW)
  7. Location Based services
    Tip: Use Facebook Check-in, Google Reviews
    HOW? Log in, create a presence and people will start reviewing when they visit.
  8. Deals
    Tip: This will be most useful if you are selling a product – engage with popular platforms for featuring your deals. HOW? Just email them your deal, call them and meet them.
  9. BONUS TIP: 15 Untapped sources to drive quality traffic to your website

I have excluded Email marketing from this list because the popularity of this medium is rock bottom at present, with a success rate of 1% or even less in some cases.

Paid Marketing Avenues that drive traffic have also been excluded as we will deal with them at a later stage in this series.

Let’s begin with the content strategy:

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STEP ONE: Create buyer personas: 

Yes, we did touch upon the understanding audiences in the first, second and fourth posts in this series. However, in this post we will actually get into HOW to understand your audience:
– Ensure that you research your audience properly
– See things in the audience’s perspective
– Find out what your audience wants to read, listen, see or learn
– Don’t depend on online search or your close circle. Instead, use market intelligence, research reports, focused-group discussions or interviews as an effective method to peep into your audience’s mind.

What is a buyer persona?

Its a generalized character sketch of your ideal customer. This will help you to understand your customer better. It will be easier to understand their needs, behaviours, preferences, concerns, living and spend patterns.

Here is a sample you can download and use:

Buyer Persona Template
Download this template NOW! Source: Hubspot Blog

STEP TWO: Make a keyword list. Think about what your buyer persona would commonly search for. 

Tip: Use Google Keyword planner or alternatives to help you identify keywords based on popularity. 

Understanding your audience defines everything about content – the context, substance, format, tonality, style and most importantly the topic. If you want to get organic traffic on your website then you need to cover topics that your audience is searching for. The logic is simple:
– Your audience searches for something
– You create content for what they are searching
– They come across your website
– You get organic traffic

HOW to CREATE CONTENT based on KEYWORDS?

  • Identify your areas of expertise – ensure you have in-depth knowledge of the nuances in your field – it will help you understand your audience better.
  • Pick 5 long tail keywords that your audience searches and convert them into article titles. e.g. “security” is not a good keyword, you need to be more specific e.g. “security solutions for gated communities” or “best security solutions for homes” – either of these can be used for blog posts/ social media posts/ web content. 
  • Create content on the topics that your audience is interested in. Create content around that long tail keyword – it could be a blog post, social media post, creative image, infographic, video, slide-share PPT, podcast, webinar etc. 

STEP THREE: If your buyer persona is accurate, you will be able to identify which form of content they will like.

There is no right or wrong in this step. You will have to keep experimenting, take risks and check what form your audience prefers. Here are some common forms of content:

  • Blogs: This is an effective way to established thought-leadership by expressing your thoughts and beliefs on owned platforms. Ensure you optimize the blog for search.
  • Visuals: Infographics and content templates give a strong visual push to content. Images are preferred by most audiences. Even Google Search indexes images separately.
  • Email: Still used by many marketers. However, the success ratio is minimal in several cases. Despite this, Financial companies & educational institutions still find it as an effective way to reach their target audience. Advertisements, new product launches and newsletters are usually sent by email.
  • Webinars: Again, webinars don’t work for everybody, but niche businesses like training, education etc. can derive benefit from this type of content
  • Social Media: Many organisations find that their audiences are on social media only and thus they choose the platform wisely and put out content based on the platform and audience.
  • Videos: This is the most popular tool – studies say that this is the next big thing in online branding. More and more people are consuming video content. However, videos require investment, time and resources. If the idea is great, then it could go viral easily. e.g. explainer videos in the B2B segment, tutorial videos, short films with a message etc. work very well. Some of my clients have successfully driven revenues through videos on their YouTube Channel.
  • Audio: There was a time when this kind of content had faded, however with the increase in commute time, and the need to rest tired eyes during commute drives consumers to listen to content rather than viewing it. There is still a segment of the population who prefers audio content.

Sure, the above forms are available – HOW to find out which type to focus on?

ASK YOURSELF:

  • What is my buyer persona looking for in search engines?
  • Why are they looking for this topic? What is their intent?
  • What question are they trying to answer?
  • Which type of content makes them stop, click & consume (i.e. stop, browse, click, like, share, comment, buy)

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Note: It is about YOUR AUDIENCE and NOT ABOUT YOU OR YOUR BRAND. You need to switch sides and cater to what your audience needs and wants.

STEP FOUR: As time goes by, your brand will develop tonality and style that your audience likes. This is the most important but intangible facet of a brand

If you maintain consistency in your posting and create interesting content for your audience, you will find repeat visitors on your website/social media. That’s because your customer finds value in the return visit – an answer to their questions.

Not only is it important to know what kind of content your audience prefers but also the form in which they like to consume it.

Step 5: Settle into a content frequency pattern.

From step 1 to 4, you identified & understood your audience, determined what they want and how they want it. Now you need to determine HOW OFTEN you will be pushing out content to your audience.

  1. Frequency depends on the type of content you are using e.g. Twitter will need daily content, Facebook could be twice or thrice a week, website could be a weekly blog post update an so on.
  2. Decide how often your audience would like to consume content
    Are they the kind who log in daily e.g. youth on Instagram need daily content – sometimes 5 posts a day.
  3. Make a calendar and automate the process
    You will not have the time and bandwidth to remember the schedules for each platform you are using. You rather invest a week in content creation and then schedule it using an automated tool and post it e.g. use Hootsuite for social media or Tweet Deck for Twitter or Facebook Publishing tool.
    Without a proper posting plan, you cannot expect to generate organic traffic.

Next steps:

Once you have gone through the above and implemented it, remember that you won’t get thousands of organic visitors everyday. Getting organic traffic (unpaid) is a long, slow and systematic process. Keep your audience delighted and engaged – they will keep returning back.

With this, I end this post. Remember that we have taken this series a notch higher and the next posts may get more technical as we go along. Please leave your queries in the comment box so that I can answer them.

In the next post we will jump into the nuances of creating a website that search engines will love. A good website is the FULCRUM of your business communication. Stay tuned for the next post.

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Penned by:

Mayura Amarkant 

Disclaimer: This series is an original piece of writing. All copyrights remain with the author, any content re-purpose, copying or lifting is not allowed. The author is a National Award Winning Woman Business Leader in Digital Marketing and PR, she has written this series based out of her own personal experiences while handling large brands. Incase you need to discuss business, please email: mayura.amarkant@sarvashreshtha.com.

For the uninitiated, Sarvashreshtha Solutions is a communications company that specialises in Branded Content, Executive Communications, Digital Marketing & Training. We work with brands and top management and enhance their image online. Our top clients include: Mumbai Press Club, Lokmat Media Group, Xrbia Developers, Kohinoor Education Trust, DDB Mudra, PlastIndia Foundation among many others. If you have the vision, intent and budgets, we will be happy to associate with you. Do drop an email on the above ID or call: +91 9821117300/ 9769117300.

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