Why should I click on your site?
It’s a simple question. It doesn’t even ask for much of a response—one sentence will do.
But if you can’t answer it, it’s likely because you don’t have a content strategy.
“Content” is a catch-all term that refers to anything you might have on your small business website that’s worth viewing. For Chris Hogan, that’s a retirement calculator. For Tim Ferriss, it’s a series of thought-provoking podcasts.
But content also refers to the simplest feature of your website—the words. According to the Content Marketing Institute, some 76% of business-to-business marketers blog. You might even have a blog of your own. But without a content strategy, you’re left wondering how to get more customers, more clients, more leads. Let’s not wonder anymore.
Step One: Goal-Setting
This is content strategy, after all. Not content generation.
Anyone can generate content. You sit down at a computer and write. A goal is what makes your content efforts a strategy. A goal is something you can measure your content against.
The simplest way to generate a goal is to ask yourself, what do you want to do with your content? Do you want to…
- …generate more leads through your online sales funnel?
- …build a reputation as a thought expert in your field?
- …join a community of people providing similar content?
- …hype specific products?
There’s no right or wrong answer here. But it is critical and ask yourself what you want your content to achieve. Those goals will help determine what you write—and what you write about.
Step Two: The Editorial Calendar
The concept behind an editorial calendar is simple: it’s a list of ideas and when you plan to have them written and published.
The execution of an editorial calendar? Not so simple.
Let’s face it: generating ideas is hard. There’s reason it’s called “brainstorming,” not “brain-relaxing.” There are a few ways you can kick off the process, however:
- Perform a “competitive analysis.” As explained by QuickSprout’s comprehensive guide on the subject, a competitive analysis means researching your competitors and figuring out how they’re using blog posts to hammer home their core message. Don’t steal, but do learn.
- Remember your unique selling point. You have a business. You make sales with that business. What is it about your business that’s unique enough to make sales? What do you do well? You might want to stick with that theme as you generate ideas.
- If you’re absolutely stuck, you can resort to online tools like Portent’s oft-hilarious content idea generator. It’s not a great tool to rely on, but it’s a start.
- Use tools like Buffer to schedule out social media in advance.
Step Three: Picking a Style and Medium
What kind of content will you host? Will you generate videos? Long-form blog posts? Will you emphasize fun links on social media?
Generally speaking, the medium you choose doesn’t matter. The most important thing is to create valuable content worth the click. But your style will matter as it relates to your content strategy.
Want to get more leads? According to Curata, long-form blog posts generate 9 times as many leads as short-form blog posts.
Want to build relationships? Then social media is your sandbox.
You don’t have to limit yourself to any one of these strategies. In fact, it’s probably better that you construct a content funnel wherein you decide how you want to attract your potential readership and direct them towards your ultimate goal—for example, attracting people through social media, then to long-form blog posts, then to click on your lead-generation page.
The key is to choose the options that make the most sense for your stated goal. When your content strategy aligns with this goal, you’ll stand a much better chance of generating content that resonates with the target audience.
Step Four: Generate Content
You’re busy running a small business, which means you likely don’t have time to manage a blog. You have a few options here:
- Outsource it. There are freelance writers and content marketing strategists who are happy to take on your content goals and build the content you need.
- Give it to marketing. You may already have a marketing team in place at your small business—in that case, the content strategy would fall under their supervision. They, then, can set about hiring the writers and marketers necessary to build and maintain your content strategy. But it’s also important to demonstrate leadership when it comes to content strategy—or at least appoint someone who will.
- Do it yourself. Running a small business is hard, but it is possible to do some of the content strategy yourself, especially in the early goings. That said, if you don’t have the budget for basic content marketing, it might be time to think about finding some new investors.
At this stage, it comes to the writers and marketers to generate content that will entice people to click through to your website. So you’re done, right? After all, there can’t possibly be a step five.
Step Five: Analyze and Adjust
At McDonald’s, they rigorously test their sandwiches. They hire experienced chefs, conduct market research, and even bring in taste-testers to provide feedback.
But once that work is done, they don’t send out a sandwich out into the world and hope for the best. That’s not the end of the road—otherwise, we’d still have the McHotDog.
Instead, they change their menu based on real-world feedback. And you need to do the same for your small business. Measure your content strategy with tools like Google Analytics.
What gets measured gets managed. Your analytics will provide insight into the most powerful forms of content, telling you how to refine your strategy and deliver the content that people respond to. This feeds into every other step of the process, helping you come up with an editorial calendar that will engage your audience.
Content Strategy that Works
Your content strategy is about more than writing a blog and hoping for the best. It’s about taking the time to understand your market and its needs. In many cases, your content should be a reflection of those needs—an answer to the question, “Why should I click on your site?”