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Content Strategy

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What does a content strategy involve?

So, moving on to content strategy. This involves three key phases and it’s underpinned by one main consideration when it comes to content strategy which is that content marketing and digital content can really perform whichever role it is that you want. It can be for awareness, it can be for retention, or it can be for retargeting. Content by its very nature can fill any vacuum that’s there.

Define the role

The first thing we want to do is define the role that it’s going to play within your business. This is a discussion that is had very, very frequently. I see content strategy as that area that links together the offline and online worlds. Brand budgets were typically the domain of offline advertisers and out-of-home advertisers and TV but as that budget starts to move into digital, it’s really content marketing that will stand to be the beneficiary of that. It’s the best place to deliver on some of those promises of brand marketing.

So, you need to understand whether you want content just for acquisition. That will completely shape who writes the content, who amplifies it, which audience you want to speak to, and how you judge the success or failure of that content.

Know what it could achieve

If you know what you want to do, what else could occur? What could happen six months down the line? What are your competitors doing? These are discussions you should be having way in advance of implementing a content marketing plan.

Know what is required from all parties

The third thing you’ll have to do, and particularly with content because it’s not such a defined specialism. You need to know exactly what’s required from each party to make sure you deliver on your goals.

Value of a content strategy

So, we mentioned earlier that there are different categories of search query. And when you’re setting your strategy this is something you really need to get to the heart of. We can group those in three main ways. There are other ways to cut this, but this really covers the crux of the consumer journey.

Informational queries

This is where users are looking to research products or understand the functionality of a product. It may be a simple Q&A that they’re looking for. But it can also help to generate leads. So, it’s really something worth considering. One thing you might want to do if you’re trying to link content to paid media channels, is use these queries for data capture. So, people may be searching for, “What’s the difference between a charge card and a credit card?” They may enter the sites and then leave but you can gain is a lot of data on that user. And you can re-market to them with more acquisition-focused copy.

Navigational queries

Navigational queries are people who really know what they’re looking for. And if they’re looking for your site and they’re not finding it, you’re doing something wrong. A lot of what we do with search is the result of us doing something right. We’ve gone out, we’ve got a strategy, we’ve implemented it and it’s worked. So, we rank first. But navigational queries can have very practical implications for your strategy as well. Looking at the example of American Express, they may be ranked first for organic search with American Express credit cards, but the landscape and the real estate below that could be a little bit more complex and you can have aggregators and the likes are there, so they may want to put some of their media budget into paid search to ensure that they’re there, they’re taking up as much of that space as possible.

Where you can test with this sometimes and save some budget, is by moving that navigational search query budget from paid search and seeing if that traffic still goes to SEO. You won’t have to pay for the clicks then, of course, and that can drive cost efficiencies. But it is worth considering whether that is actually going to be effective for you and the benefit of navigational queries is the cost-per-click will be low because it relates so clearly to your brand.

Commercial queries

Commercial queries are where a lot of the budget will go, especially for paid search in particular. This is when someone, running with the credit card example, searches apply for a credit card. The intent is overt. We know what they’re looking for. They want a credit card and it’s really who gets there with the best offer and convinces them. What we can do here is split these terms between the different channels and as we’ve mentioned earlier, these are the most expensive terms. Cost-per-click can run easily into $20, $30, $40. If you could via SEO, that would surely be more cost effective and it is.

So, as part of a 12-month plan, you should look at your rankings for SEO and think at what point will I be ranked in the top three for these commercial queries? And at that stage, by how much could I reduce my paid search budget? You might find that there’s a spot there where you’re getting the same amount of traffic for a much lower cost and you can reinvest, because you can’t target every commercial query given the high CPA and CPC.

So, when we look at these, the best way to consider informational navigational and commercial is to look at SEO and PPC combined.

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Clark Boyd

Clark Boyd is CEO and founder of marketing simulations company Novela. He is also a digital strategy consultant, author, and trainer. Over the last 12 years, he has devised and implemented international marketing strategies for brands including American Express, Adidas, and General Motors.

Today, Clark works with business schools at the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, and Columbia University to design and deliver their executive-education courses on data analytics and digital marketing. 

Clark is a certified Google trainer and runs Google workshops across Europe and the Middle East. This year, he has delivered keynote speeches at leadership events in Latin America, Europe, and the US. You can find him on Twitter (X)LinkedIn, and Slideshare. He writes regularly on Medium and you can subscribe to his email newsletter, hi,tech.

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