The purpose of this document is to provide a high-level overview of the digital strategies and outcome your brand can realize, in a best case scenario (content marketing strategy), upon execution of strategies and tactics conducted and/or directed by Content Masterminds.
A brand’s digital content strategy encompasses anything and everything your consumers may encounter related to your brand while using a PC or mobile device. Engagement may occur during any stage of their decision journey (Image 1.1), making coordinated content strategy of the highest importance.
Effective content strategy should aim to serve your customers and attract them as they move through their decision journey. Consumers move through the decision journey with intent and need. Understanding their intentions and satisfying their needs are core tenets of good content strategy. Serving your customer and/or audience ensures a positive brand experience and eventual progression through the consumer purchase funnel (Image 1.2).
Image 1.1 illustrates engagement channels within the decision journey which can be associated with one or more stages in the consumer purchase funnel, shown in Image 1.2. Content strategy should document and map buyer/audience personas, intent/need state, engagement channel, and funnel stage.
When executed properly, a content agency and its channel integration work synergistically to complement, promote and support one another.
The following items must be considered when developing an effective digital content strategy:
- Voice and Tone
- Style Guidelines and Branding
- Personas – Audience Demographics and Psychographics
- Organic Search
o Trust Signals
- Content Plan – Channel Integration
- Social and Community
- Brand Sentiment
- Customer Loyalty
The above items systematically align with four (4) core tenants of content strategy listed below and detailed in the following sections:
- Corporate Product Content & UX
- Brand Publishing
III. Social Media
- Content Amplification
Note: Organic search and reputation management is a critical consideration and element within each tenant.
- Corporate Product Content and UX
Corporate and product-related or service-related content represents owned media that will serve your customers as they approach the action or buy stage of their journey. Therefore, it’s important that this content is concise, informative, engaging and has purpose that directs users down a path to a desired action.
Additionally, this content represents the best opportunity to optimize your website and achieve organic search rankings for users existing within the interest, desire, and action stage of the purchase funnel (keyword examples: identity theft, identity theft protection, fraud protection, credit card fraud). Your brand’s website can be improved to increase current rankings and extend reach into keyword segments where Your brand.com is not ranking. These efforts relate to Blue Sky statements (i), (ii) and (iv).
The following actions must be taken when developing an effective corporate product content marketing strategy:
- Persona Development
- Keyword Portfolio Creation
- Technical Optimization
- Content Planning
- Content/Page Development & Optimization
- User Experience Optimization
- Conversion Rate Optimization
- Brand Publishing
Becoming a publisher isn’t about a brand and its products; it is about a brand’s audience and their lives. The content produced therein should serve to educate, entertain or both. Your brand’s Live Life Free initiative lends itself well to satisfying the aforementioned objective; however, simply creating educating and/or entertaining content will not yield maximum impact in digital.
When done correctly, this new owned media asset will impact multiple disciplines, most notably the following:
o Ranking Improvement
o Increase Ranking Visibility (quantity of keywords ranking)
o Earned Links and Brand Mentions
o Organic Search Traffic/Revenue
o Viral Content Sharing
o Increase Fans/Followers
o Social Traffic/Revenue
o Increase Subscribers
o Increase Brand Advocates
o Referral Traffic
o Brand Recognition
o Brand Reputation
o Category Leadership
o Category Expansion
The success of these elements is a cyclical dependence, where each feeds off the other. Moreover, the effect of who produces a brand’s content can significantly amplify the entire process.
The significance of the content producer is most evident in Google and Twitter. Google updated its Agent Rank algorithm in 2011, and launched Google+, which they’ve defined as their social network, and identity service. Google’s algorithm is now asking “who” is creating the content and how influential is that producer within his or her niche. In mid-2012 Google began displaying rich snippets including the author’s name and picture in search results (Image 1.3) for more than 20% of all keyword searches. This illustrates Google’s use of authorship as a strong trust signal and one that should, and will, become more prominent.
In order to follow the path that Google has paved, brands must publish content. However, the content published MUST be high quality, well-thought-out, and created by carefully selected content producers with trust in their respective vertical. When executed properly, brands can expect improved authority across all web properties, increased audience engagement, brand advocates, earned links, increased social engagement, better rankings and overall increased online market share as illustrated by Image 1.4.
When creating content that lives outside of the direct relationship between your customer and product (identity theft protection), Your brand can access a larger audience earlier in the purchase funnel, i.e. the Awareness stage. These efforts relate to Blue Sky statements (iii), (v) and (viii).
The following actions must be taken when developing an effective publishing strategy:
- Governance – Encompasses all items necessary in the planning stage to be effective in communicating to your audience and creating a positive user experience. Action items include:
o Creative Workflow
o Audience and Persona Research
o Style and Editorial Guidelines
o Author Recruitment
- Editorial Management – Encompasses all items necessary in the process and creative development stage to properly execute against the governance items. Action items include:
o Theme Management
o Editorial Calendar and Ideation
o Author Management
o Assignment Management
o Editing and Formatting
o Channel Optimization
III. Social Media
A brand’s social strategy should align directly with marketing objectives and content strategy. Market research shows that 45.6 percent of customers pay attention to the amount of “Likes” and “Re-tweets” posted on a company’s social network websites (Source: Winter 2013 Simmons Connect Study).
Genuine “Likes” and “Tweets” are the result of carefully planned and executed social strategies that engage your customers and audience at the right time, in the right place, and, most importantly, with the right message. Social engagement should align to the consumer decision journey (1.1) and purchase funnel (1.2).
Every social channel has its own purpose, and companies should be aware of how to leverage them most effectively. All of Your brand’s social channels should portray the company brand image and use the correct brand tone and voice, speaking directly to the target audience with coordinated messaging. The channels should also cross-promote each other and work together to create a unified brand identity for Your brand.
Social media serves many purposes for companies:
- Customer Service
- Brand Awareness
- Brand Sentiment
- Consumer Insights
Social media is a tool to not only participate in conversations, but also to be a conversation starter. Focusing on customer lifestyles will allow Your brand to form a personal and strong bond with their customers. Brands can create micro-content on social channels that is relevant, valuable and personal to their audience only when they truly understand their audience’s interests, desires, fears and pain.
These efforts relate to Blue Sky statements (vii) and (viii)
- Content Amplification
Content amplification makes all content, search, and social efforts more productive, leading to increased visibility, engagement, and revenue. Content amplification is conducted through earned media/digital PR, and paid media.
Earned Media/Digital PR
Earned media relates to all marketing and PR that benefits a brand’s visibility without the cost of advertising. Earned media occurs naturally, but can be amplified further through targeted content placement and influencer outreach.
Content Placement – Integrate brand citations and links within relevant stories published on targeted 3rd party publications.
Influencer Outreach – Promote corporate product content and publication content (Life Life Free) to reputable influencers within the industry or related verticals and design custom engagement plans for promotion.
Paid media represents all forms of digital advertising and is effective at reaching an audience that may be otherwise unreachable.
Paid Search – Access your search audience where you are lacking visibility in organic rankings. Information gathered from Paid Search can fuel current and future Your brand strategies. With keywords mapped properly to customer need and intent, ad copy can be hyper-targeted to satisfy customer needs, and landing page optimization can further improve conversions.
Paid Social – Expose brand messaging and publication content (Live Life Free) to an ultra-targeted audience. Paid social is excellent at driving awareness on a new product or brand asset.
Native Advertising – Drive publication content (Live Life Free) impressions through category relevant publishing outlets to increase readership, social fans, and brand advocates.
Display & Retargeting – Remind consumers of the Your brand brand through calculated display retargeting. This tactic becomes more impactful with brand publishing as users can be influenced from awareness to interest, desire, and action.
Similar to traditional public relations, the intent of amplification is to get your strategic and coordinated brand message in front of your audience and consumer at the right time and in the right place. When executed properly, amplification and continuous, yet appropriate, stimulation of your audience and customers will lead them through the purchase funnel (1.2).
These efforts relate to Blue Sky statements (vi) and (vii).
Coordinated efforts with careful planning based on the need states and intent of your audience, consumers, and advocates across all channels will yield unparalleled results and success in today’s digital world.
By leveraging sound strategy backed by consumer insights, search behavior, and tested data, Your brand can produce a brand experience that generates positive customer response at all stages in the consumer decision journey, as depicted in Blue Sky customer and non-customer statements.
The image below (image 1.5) illustrates how Content Masterminds recommends Your brand marketing channels interact with and serve the purchase funnel. Further mapping integrates engagement stages within the decision journey and governance over who manages the creation of that content as well as the strategic blueprint for what content should be created.