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Why great content needs a great strategy

Stephen Hobbs
30th June 2021

It is possible to produce brilliant content without a strategy. But it will rarely be effective. And it can’t be repeated.

Your content strategy is the framework that enables you to identify your customer needs throughout their purchase journey and beyond. This structure shows how your brand can meet those needs and inspire trust with the right content.

Think of every piece of content as a stepping stone towards your brand’s marketing objectives – only with a documented, regularly updated content strategy can you map the entire path and drive the customer outcomes you require.

A brand’s strategy should define its marketing goals and show how it can achieve them by bringing the brand purpose to life. In short, everything begins with your brand’s unique value proposition and a clear articulation of your core customers.

I. Mapping your brand experience

It is proven that a great customer experience has a profound effect on behaviour. That’s why Mediablaze always challenges its clients to think like their customers. But before your team starts to try and empathise with people, it’s essential that everyone understands each potential customer’s touchpoint with your brand. Success relies on consistency. If the tone of a brand’s email is at odds with the look and feel of its mobile app, it undermines the whole strategy.

This doesn’t mean you should be tempted to change everything at once. Start by plotting out all those pre- and post-purchase touchpoints – from that first Google search to your loyalty programme. This will allow you to identify the barriers in the customer journey that can be instantly addressed, as well as those that can be fixed later.

This is the driver behind our Mediablaze Brand Experience Map. It is a tool that allows all customer touchpoints to be plotted on a single visual (you can download our Brand Experience Map template to create your own).

II. Understanding customer journeys

Once you have clearly mapped your range of touchpoints, you need to assemble a team of colleagues, stakeholders and interested outsiders who are willing to dial up the empathy and step into the shoes of your customers.

Rich insights from customer data will facilitate the process here, but lots can be learned even from simple persona portraits. Encourage your team of would-be customers to think about all the ways someone might encounter your brand for the first time — for example, a mobile search while talking to a friend or content shared on Pinterest. Follow their journey. What’s stopping them from achieving your marketing objectives? This process will quickly enable you to identify barriers, such as a social post with no call to action, or landing pages with rogue links.

Collating a list of these barriers allows you to consider how they could be overcome (an audit of competitor content can provide valuable inspiration). Some barriers will be easy to remove, others will require more work. But once you have a list, you can investigate the data to understand the scale of the problem. Prioritise the changes based on the effort required versus the value of the outcome.

III. Evolving your Content Marketing Playbook

Too many strategies end up in a drawer because the theory never perfectly matches reality. That’s why sophisticated content marketers treat their strategy as a living document: a Content Marketing Playbook.

Some elements of your Playbook are unlikely to change quickly. For example, brand personality and tone of voice must be consistent. But tactics should be updated on a regular basis. At Mediablaze, we recommend using easy-to-update digital formats for Playbooks – from simple wikis to fully branded, CMS-driven intranet sites. By integrating KPI dashboards and staff-facing content, you can encourage users to return regularly.

IV. Embedding a culture of experimentation

A truly adaptive content strategy should embrace failure in order to accelerate success.

A Playbook should be updated with examples of best practice and the results of your content experiments.

The most effective content strategies embed a culture of experimentation. This means empowering staff to solve problems by building hypotheses, and testing these scientifically. For example, “I think we can increase product views by adding category storytelling on landing pages.” You won’t always get it right, but more insights and ideas will be spawned from small-scale failure than from large-scale success.

A Content Marketing Playbook for your brand

This four-week programme will identify the ideal content themes, formats and platforms for your audience. It includes:

  • Interviews with key stakeholders

  • Review of your current documentation

  • Audit of existing personas and journeys

  • Review of customer touchpoint strategy

  • Review of existing production processes

  • Audit of current content formats and cadence - Development of long-list of experiments

The final output – your own Content Marketing Playbook – will allow you to share the knowledge, develop a series of experiments and put your strategy into action.

To find out more, get in touch with the team.

How to improve your content marketing in 2021

Do you have a clear content marketing strategy? Or, like many companies, is it something of an afterthought? At present, many brands are looking for a more sophisticated approach to their content marketing which is why we’ve created an in-depth whitepaper to help you go from ‘good to great’. Produced by our specialist team of content strategists, this piece provides an operational and measurement framework for content marketing and clearly outlines how to up your content marketing game.

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