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Steps 2 and 3 to an Optimised Content Marketing Strategy

As with any optimal strategy the key to success lies in the research and planning. How can you write awesome, engaging content if you haven’t researched what your target readership are currently engaging with?

Once you have your business goals in place you’re ready to begin. In this post we’re going to explore some effective ways to research your target market and then how you to create a plan to set the ball rolling.

Step 2 – Research

April1311Keyword Research

There are a few different reasons you’ll be creating content but one of the main ones will probably be to build links back to your site. You want to create beautiful content that is shared all around the world and points some juicy links back to your humble site. At the centre of this are the search queries/keywords that you want to be found for, so it’s important to investigate the terms that people use to find the kind of content you plan to create.

Remember:

  • Don’t just look at Google! Speak with salespeople and look at your competitors’ sites.
  • Use a keyword tool (such as AdWords) and ensure the data is accurate by selecting exact match.
  • Have a good mix of short and longtail search terms (broad and more specific, respectively).
  • Think outside the box! Just because you wouldn’t search using that phrase (or spelling!), doesn’t mean that someone else wouldn’t.
  • Type your term into Google. Check the competition for that term.

Search Engine Landscape

A search engine landscape takes the analysis a little further by looking at the content that ranks for the search queries you are targeting.

Google indexes a lot more than just websites and blogs – in the search results you will find images, PDFs, videos, directories, social networks and much more, depending on the query. Find out the stuff that Google likes and start producing that kind of content!

Tip: Make sure you’re not signed into Google – this may skew the results. Delete your History and Cache too, this will make sure your results are as general as possible.

Social Media Landscape

Like a search engine landscape but for, you guessed it, social media. This landscape is a little bit more complex than that of the search engine so we’re going to break it down into two parts:

Social Media Landscape – Competitors

Here we look at our main competitors to see what they’re doing well at, so we can steal some of their ideas, and what they’re not doing so well at so we find some areas which we can exploit.

At Intergage we use a spreadsheet to look at each individual platform (as a column) and the different areas of that platform (as a row). Here’s an example:

April133This snapshot only shows Twitter and Facebook for two competitors. We would progress from this to look at multiple competitors and multiple platforms.

Social Media Landscape – Topics

Now that you understand what your competitors are up to you need to find out what your customers (or potential customers) are “talking about”. In this landscape we look at the topics that are being discussed across the social media platforms that you plan to utilise.

You can do this manually by visiting topic-relevant pages or, um, cheat. There are a number of handy tools that will populate your page with awesome ideas for content.

Social media research tools:

  • Socialmention.com
  • Stumbleupon.com/tag
  • Technorati.com/tag
  • Ads.youtube.com/keyword_tool
  • Hashtags.org
  • Search.twitter.com
  • Twilert.com

Segmentation & Personas

As well as understanding the stuff that your target audience are talking about it’s important to consider whothey are to try and discover which keywords and content fit which group. As Bing Crosby once said “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone”.

Let’s have a look at an example:

April134

April1312Step 3 – Plan

Hopefully by now you have a clear understanding of who your target audience is and a decent idea of what kind of shiny new content you want to create for them. Before we get cracking with creation though it is important to formulate a plan.

This plan will tie together your keyword research with your business goals and assist in the next steps of your content marketing strategy.

The plan should cover:

  • How your content ties in with your business goals.
  • The different formats your users are motivated by and what type of content you will produce to target them.
  • The different platform users engage with (social/blogging/website/etc).
  • Whether the content is part of the buying cycle or not.
  • A plan for the content that you will create, where the content will be published and how you will promote it.
  • An outlines of content types, topics and keywords.
  • Whether content will republished or repurposed.
  • The timeline within which the content will be published.

One way to formulate all of these details is to create a content calendar. We use content calendars as a go-to guide for all the content we create for our lovely clients. This is often an annual overview covering important dates and the who, what, where and when of that particular piece of content.

Once you are armed with all of your research and planning you are ready to begin the fun stuff – Content Creation. See you back here tomorrow when my colleague Lorna will guide you through.

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