Developing a successful content strategy is far more complex than simply deciding on a few topics and writing a few blog posts. Conducting an audit of your existing content assets, performing keyword research, and mapping topics to buyer personas and specific objectives are just a few of the many components of a successful content strategy, along with ensuring that your content strategy is in line with your brand archetypes and your overall brand identity.
A robust digital asset management system like MerlinOne is a must for anyone involved in developing or executing a content strategy. Not only does a DAM make it easy to audit your existing content and identify brand assets, but it also provides useful tools for streamlining your content production workflows. Metadata tagging, for example, makes it easy for your team members to search for relevant assets (meaning less time wasted re-creating assets that already exist), while access control and alerts make stock photo rights management a breeze. With automated workflows, approvals, version control, and even built-in content distribution tools, MerlinOne’s DAM is an essential tool for content marketing teams. Download our white paper, 5 ways digital asset management helps your teams meet deadlines efficiently, to learn more about how DAM can help you keep your content marketing team on track.
To find out what today’s content marketing leaders consider the most essential ingredients in content strategy development, we reached out to a panel of marketing pros and content strategists and asked them to answer this question:
“What’s the single most important ingredient for developing a successful content strategy?”
Read on to learn more about the essential content strategy development ingredients you could be missing.
Ben Taylor, Founder of HomeWorkingClub
“The key ingredient for a successful content strategy is…”
Planning content that’s noticeably better than what’s already out there. There’s so much content being produced that there’s simply no point in merely ticking boxes or following the herd. The best content ranks on Google, the best content gets the links, and the best content gets the social shares. If you’re planning an article and it’s not likely to measure up to the article(s) already topping the rankings, you should question what exactly you’re trying to achieve. There may once have been days where cynical SEO trickery was a way to gain traction, but those days are gone. Quality is now what really matters.
Marko Saric, Founder of HowToMakeMyBlog
“The most important ingredient for developing a successful content strategy is to…”
Truly focus on your target audience. There’s no love at first sight in content marketing, and nobody will love you and your content if you just talk about yourself and focus it on your own needs. You need to put the audience you are trying to target at the very top. This means that before you create any content strategy, you need to truly understand who you are targeting. What are their wants and needs? What questions are they trying to find answers for? What issues are they trying to solve? Only by understanding your audience and their needs can you actually create a content strategy that can be successful and actually attract relevant people that you want to attract and fulfill their needs. It’s only through actually helping people that you may get some love back from them.
Will Craig, Managing Director and CEO of LeaseFetcher
“To me, the most important part of developing a successful content strategy is…”
Making sure that you’ve got as much detailed information about the audience that you’re targeting as possible.
By detailed information, I mean those factors that influence the way in which particular people communicate and respond to language and content.
The more you understand the methods people use to communicate, their motivations, hopes and fears, the more relevant, and ultimately, effective content you can create.
Conducting a detailed survey of your target, finding out their interests, hobbies, ways of communicating, favorite books, films, and styles of content can be incredibly useful when it comes to creating similar content to convert them. Find out these things and make your content as relevant to their interests as possible. Your conversion rate will thank you!
Tony DeGennaro, Founding Partners of Dragon Social
“The most important ingredient for a successful content strategy is…”
An understanding of the most common problems your customers face. Successful content production for businesses relies on providing useful and timely information for your customers. This traces back to sales and marketing alignment. Your sales team should be communicating with your content team to inform them on the most common questions, concerns, and obstacles that your potential customers are facing. This not only increases your search presence (as it’s likely there’s no content out there answering these questions), but helps educate and nurture your potential customers so when they make contact with your sales department, they don’t need to spend time answering these questions.
John Tucker, SEO Consultant
“The single most important part of developing a content marketing strategy is…”
Understanding how and from where your audience gets their content.
Do they consume a lot of videos on YouTube, or do they hang out on Instagram? Do they like short, punchy articles or spend time poring over in-depth case studies?
Understanding what kind of content resonates with your audience will help you to craft a strategy that offers the right type of content. It may take time and plenty of experimenting to see what really works, but this will help you to produce an effective content marketing strategy that delivers results.
Marc Andre, Founder of Vital Dollar
“The single most important ingredient is to…”
Have a clear purpose of what you want to accomplish through your content.
Are you trying to use content to increase sales of a product? Do you have a service that you want to promote? Is increasing exposure and brand recognition your priority? Is maximizing traffic the most important thing?
There are a lot of different reasons to focus on content marketing, and it’s critical that you know the specific reason for you or your business. Your purpose will influence everything that you do, including the types of content that you create, the audience that you target, the platforms and social media networks that you use for exposure, and so on. Without a clear purpose, it’s possible that you’ll invest a lot of time, effort, and money into a project that doesn’t get the results that you’re after.
Nate Masterson, CEO of Maple Holistics
“A proper funnel plan is the most important ingredient…”
Content has the potential to strengthen every aspect of your business. Content can be approached in many different ways; however, the most appropriate example of how it works is a funnel. A funnel can be best described as the process a customer goes through in stages, from recognizing your brand to becoming a customer. Imagine if you didn’t have any content and a nonfunctional social media presence – the only business you’d drum up is by word of mouth and direct marketing. Both direct marketing and referrals have very low rates of conversion when compared with other forms of content marketing. Compare that to the power of social media, blog content, SEO ranking, and ad copy, all of which is powered by content, and your conversion rates skyrocket.
Madiha Jamal, Content Writer at PennySaviour
“Crafting original content, using high-resolution images, staying updated on the Google algorithm, creating strong headlines…”
These are the essential ingredients that help in creating good content that readers love. But what is an important ingredient that works like salt in your recipe? The one that’s so essential that if you don’t add it, your entire effort is wasted?
It is your buyer persona.
Focusing on user search intent or trying to solve your users’ problem is the most important thing you need in your content. Craft your content according to your context (your target customers), what they need, or what they are interested in.
A buyer persona is the heart of a successful content strategy. It helps you step into the shoes of your audience. Gaining more profound insights into their problems enables you to understand your audience more. Showcase your content that helps them find solutions by viewing things from their perspective.
- Learn the problems your buyers are facing
- Identify the tactics you can use to provide them with assistance or solve their problems
Your content is a valuable marketing tool for your brand. You have to create valuable content for your audience to win their trust.
“When you know your audience, you have insights into their goals, ideas and behavior that helps you timely align and personalize your content to fit your audience’s needs,” said Jorie Munroe, an inbound marketing professor at HubSpot Academy team.
Craft the content according to your buyer persona, which helps prospects to learn more. That means creating content which remarkably understands, frames and gives a name to their problem.
Jason Lavis, Partner & Webmaster at Drillers.com
“Keyword research is by far the most important part of a successful content strategy…”
A novice will collect a list of keywords and write a blog post about each one. An expert will collect all of the industry keywords and key phrases that competitors rank for. These will be ordered by monthly search volume and competitiveness as listed by one of the top SEO metric tracking applications. Then, keywords can be put into groups, for each category, and closely related sub-groups for each article.
Finally, the lowest competition keywords will be written about first. This means that early traction is assured, and these first articles attract backlinks to help later content rank. These easy-to-rank-for pages will also show high levels of user interaction to Google. Factors such as time on page, social shares, and bounce rates can only happen if people visit in the first place.
Kenzi Wood, Writer & Marketer
“The most important part of any content strategy is knowing your goal…”
What’s the finish line for you? Where do you want your content to actually take you? Don’t crank out a content plan if it isn’t tied to your sales goals; that’s why it’s a content strategy. When you know your goal, you’ll be better able to measure your efforts in metrics that matter. Goals help you reach your objective more quickly and usually for less spend, too.
Kelly Andersen, Marketing Director at Wealth Continuum Group
“The single most important ingredient for developing a successful content strategy is to understand who you are developing that content for…”
There is so much content generated each day that just adds to the white noise. When you have a purpose for your content and are speaking directly to a specific audience, your content will have a greater impact and will actually help in the buyer’s journey. When you know who you are creating content for, you are able to see their pain points while showing how you can fix those pain points with your content. Research your target market, talk to your current customers, and send out survey to get a better understanding of your audience. The better you understand who you are creating content for, the better the content will be received, and that will snowball into a better experience for your potential client.
Having a strategic content marketing plan should not be overlooked. Having a strong plan in place with important holidays and events to your target audience will give you the opportunity to look for different ways of engagement that go beyond just content marketing. Planning out your content strategy will be a lifesaver for the person creating your content, because they will be able to see the different campaigns coming up while planning out a blog post that can be broken out into different micro posts for social media.
Matthew Ross, Co-owner and COO of The Slumber Yard
“One ingredient that often goes overlooked in content development is format…”
In actuality, we’ve found format to be extremely important. We like to create articles that require little maintenance, are easy to update, and appear long-form in Google’s eyes. Essentially, we like to split each article in half. We have a top portion, which is the actual meat or truly interesting part of the article, and then we add a bottom portion, which we call static content. In the static content section, we add about 1,500-2,000 words relating to the topic of the article.
For example, if the piece of content relates to why bamboo sheets are ideal for the summer months, we’ll write about 750 words in the top portion but then add about 2,000 words towards the bottom about different subjects relating to sheets in general. Not only do the extra keywords at the bottom help for SEO purposes, but this format also makes it super easy to update later. That way, the next year when we go to the update the post, all we have to do is slightly tweak the top portion. The bottom portion stays the same.
Mackenzie Deater, Content Strategist at HA Digital Marketing
“The single most important ingredient for developing a successful content strategy is…”
Having specific buyer personas in place.
Without a clear picture of your target audience, it’s very difficult to develop a content strategy that functions to draw in qualified leads. When your buyer personas are clear, your content strategy can easily follow by addressing the challenges and pain points those personas face every day. Content like this is what draws those qualified leads into your sales funnel, helping grow your business.
Audrey Strasenburgh, SEO Strategist for LogoMix
“To develop a successful content strategy, you need to know what kind of keywords to go after…”
Make sure that you are choosing to write content that is related to your industry in some way, shape, or form.
If you aren’t sure what keywords to target, log in to your Google Analytics account and check to see what search terms are driving on-site conversions. You can also look at Google Search Console to check what keywords your site is getting clicks and impressions for.
Other third-party sites such as Google Trends and Answer The Public are phenomenal resources for long-tail keywords and trending topics that are ideal for blog posts.
Without a solid list of 15-20 keywords to keep your content grounded, you may find you are writing content that isn’t aligned with your audience, and your website will suffer in search results as a consequence.
Zach Hendrix, Co-founder of GreenPal
“Write articles your readers need…”
It’s cliché, but that’s our secret for our content strategy. Nothing is worse than creating content that nobody’s interested in and nobody wants to read.
We solve this problem with Facebook groups. Many people are unaware of Facebook groups and how they work, and this is an untapped resource that bloggers can use to promote and develop content.
We are members of every group that relates to our industry, and we monitor the chatter in those groups, what people are saying, what questions people have, what topics people are interested in, and what’s upsetting or annoying people. Then we create content around those questions and will use those groups to promote the content, so it’s a win-win.
This has really helped us stop wasting time on creating articles, blog posts, and videos that nobody cares about.
Hannah Albert, Social Media Coordinator for Squeeze Marketing
“The single most important ingredient for developing a successful content strategy is to keep the clients’ brand in mind…”
Anyone can come up with filler posts, but you have to think about more than just product posts or “About Us” posts. You have to consider the audience they are trying to reach. If they are trying to reach a younger audience, you need to use more of a trendy look, whereas if you are trying to reach more of an older audience, the designs would be completely different.
You need to think of the main goal. Do they want to sell a product? Get people in the door to their business? Or just get more followers on a specific social account? Gear these posts to that goal, while making sure the posts stay relevant and on-brand.
Some influencers will talk about the “theme” of their page, and this is very important. They are staying consistent with their look and the type of content they post, which is attracting and keeping a specific audience. Businesses need to consider this as well. They need to make sure the content they are providing is relevant to their target audience, while also staying on brand with their business.
Jacek Wieczorek, Co-founder of Pulno
“I believe in content auditing…”
As the co-author of Pulno, I see how many websites struggle with low-quality content. My advice is to perform an audit of the content to identify the low-quality pages on a website. In most cases, it is enough to analyze the landing pages and compare them to those of your competitors. If your website does not fulfill user intent and the content is not comprehensive, then you might have a problem. Analyze your website performance, content, update it, add photos, videos, charts, and tables. Once you do that, you will surely see an increase in website traffic in a matter of a few weeks.
Ciara Hautau, Lead Digital Marketing Strategist at Fueled
“The single most important ingredient for developing a successful content strategy is to make data-driven decisions…”
As marketers, we think we know what our audience wants to read, but unless we’ve put in the research and found the data to support our decision making, we’ll never know! There have been many times where our team has come up with ideas we thought would go viral, only to publish the content and see it flop. Use Google Analytics and other SEO tools (like SEMRush, Ahrefs, etc.) to plan your content. See what terms and questions are highly searched and create content around what your audience is looking for. I guarantee this will boost engagement with your posts.
Jeff Previte, Content Manager at Bluleadz
“The most important ingredient for every successful content strategy is a customer journey map…”
Your map breaks down each buyer journey stage for every individual buyer persona you’re targeting with your content.
It also gives you a bird’s-eye view of your current content assets and shows gaps in content to fill for each of your buyer personas. For example, you might determine that you need a middle-of-the-funnel content offer for your C-suite buyer persona. This map helps you visualize conversion paths for each persona in your target audience.
Your customer journey map is also great for when you are adding new buyer personas if you’re shifting your business model, and it helps when you enhance existing personas, too. So, if you learn about new pain points from a persona, you can generate targeted content ideas based on those new pain points in each stage of their journey – awareness, consideration, and decision.
Christian Carere, SEO Consultant & Founder of Digital Ducats Inc.
“Creating shareable content is the most important objective for every post or article published…”
For visitors to want to share content, there must be perceived value. Providing that value boils down to being able to think like the client in order to be in touch with the demands and needs they have from your company. Content that gets shared has a variety of positive effects on your business. Shared content will bring more visitors to your page, improve rankings, and gain the confidence of those who are benefiting from your published work. The most important ingredient in a content strategy is producing shareable content.
Matt Erickson, Director of Marketing for National Positions
“Know your why…”
Why does this content matter? Why should anyone care? Why is it worth anyone’s time? If your answer to every why is not because it adds value, then your strategy needs help. Value doesn’t just mean dollars and cents – value comes in all shapes, sizes, and forms. Does it solve a problem? Does it answer a question? Does it provide a solution? No matter the content, if you don’t know the why and the purpose of it, you are in an uphill battle. Why ask why? Because it will make your content strategy better.
Marie Parks, Co-founder of North Star Messaging + Strategy
“The most important ingredient for a successful content strategy is having clear content pillars…”
Content pillars are the two or three topics that you want your organization to be known and sought out for. You might be tempted to pull away from your content pillars when you feel the topic is getting repetitive. However, remember that audiences only see a fraction of the content you’re putting out. I love to tell my clients to embrace the broken record. When you unify your content around a narrow set of ideas, you allow yourself to explore each one deeply. Plus, by staying focused, your content will deliver a consistent message that your audience will have time to connect with.
Hamna Amjad, Content Marketing Executive at Gigworker.com
“The single most important ingredient for developing a successful content strategy is definitely strong SEO…”
HubSpot’s research shows that 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results.
Hence, there is no use in putting in so much effort and time in developing content that no one is ever going to find. You should implement the best SEO practices to produce the content that your target audience is searching for. When you would base your content on your audience and cover topics that they are looking for, your traffic increases organically.
You can use various SEO tools to look for the trending keywords and employ those strategically throughout your content. Make sure that content is of high quality and relevant to your audience. This approach will help you to rank higher in SERPs and make you easily discoverable by your potential customers.
Roman Rabinovich, VP of Business Development at Eventige Media Group
“The single most important ingredient for developing a successful content strategy if you sell a product online is to…”
Target topics with a high purchase intent based on rigorous research results. The research results should be paired with analytics and an in-depth search-based audit. A company should answer the question: “What type of topics are people reading about in the journey to a purchase from start to finish?”
The caveat is that the content should never be written with persuasion or sell intent, but should indeed serve the educational needs of the consumer.
Jeffery Butler, Author and Millennial Expert
“Answering questions that customers actually have in a high-quality format…”
It’s the baseline of content marketing providing value! One of the biggest mistakes that people make in content marketing is getting caught up in trying to appeal to the SEO gods, known as Google. In an instant,
Google can change, removing your place in the search results ladder. However, you can always direct people to your blog by using pay-per-click advertising.
Learn more about how MerlinOne, the digital asset management solution trusted by the world’s most iconic brands, can help you scale your content marketing efforts by downloading our white paper, The Content Lifecycle, below.
If you’re ready to transform your content marketing strategy and streamline processes while keeping your teams on-schedule and your marketing on-brand, schedule a demo to learn more about MerlinOne’s powerful DAM solution today.