Five key pillars to a winning content strategy | M&M Global

Five key pillars to a winning content strategy

A content strategy is massive undertaking, but the results are equally rewarding, writes Marcus Stoll, head of marketing EMEA at NewsCred.

Marcus Stoll

Now more than ever before, brands have an opportunity to build genuine and authentic relationships with their audiences through blog posts, guides, infographics, and even video.

Regardless of the format, the end result of content marketing must show a clear ROI for your business. When executed correctly, content becomes a brand asset — generating a steady stream of leads, sales, and revenue.

But none of this can happen without a clear strategy, and for a successful content strategy, you need to lay down the foundation of your brand strategy and target audience. You should begin by measuring your brand’s share of the conversation with that audience, then seek to grow that. Your audience plays a key role in your content creation and distribution process: the publications you license content from, the topics you write about, and the channels you use.

Laying your foundation

Before anything else, it’s important to ensure all stakeholders know the purpose of the content. Without this, each piece risks destruction. Understanding who needs to sign-off on content ahead of time, and leveraging technology to automate that process and workflow is a great way to make sure your content strategy doesn’t get mired in email or languish in approvals.

To define and manage end-to-end processes, an editorial calendar works wonders. At NewsCred, we use our editorial calendar to incorporate daily scheduled posts, create real-time content, social posts, and event-related pieces.

Your strategy must also focus on metrics, and regularly reviewing analytics to understand what resonates with your audience will provide great insight. Investment will be required in people and technology to leverage real-time data and deliver content in an engaging way across all the formats your audience uses.

Know your targets

Setting KPIs in the beginning is essential, and keeping a close eye on these will help you hit your goals. There are a million metrics to track, yet the three that matter most are reach, engagement, and conversions (or sales). You don’t need to track everything, but what you do track you need to track well.

Scale and distribute

As far as scaling your strategy, employing a mix of original and licensed content is a great way to grow. The Huffington Post uses a rule of thirds: one-third of content that’s curated, one-third original, and one-third experimental, comprised of multimedia, social feeds, and innovative platforms. Finding the right combination for you is crucial for executing a well-rounded content strategy.

But even the most compelling content can get lost in without a proper distribution strategy. To keep your audience coming back, you must be armed with a tactical approach for delivery and promotion.

To execute a successful content marketing strategy, a new set of skills is required, one more commonly associated with newsrooms than with traditional marketing agencies.

We advised Capgemini, for example, on creating a successful content strategy and it has delivered. We worked with them to launch Content Loop, a microsite that provides visitors with must-read content in their industry and invites them to connect with Capgemini experts.

Capgemini is able to provide a mix of their own content and supplemental stories licensed from Forbes, The Next Web and VentureBeat, boosted by LinkedIn sponsored updates to reach the desired audience. Six months after launch, Content Loop had over 350,000 unique visitors, and they’re averaging 4,000 new LinkedIn followers per month. With Content Loop, Capgemini is able to nurture a robust pipeline of new business leads while promoting brand awareness and thought leadership.

Build an efficient team and workflow

To execute a successful content marketing strategy, a new set of skills is required, one more commonly associated with newsrooms than with traditional marketing agencies. This editorial skillset needs to have overlap across team members.

Required team structures include an overall managing editor who is responsible for ensuring the brand content hub is publishing content your audience wants to consume and share. That person also ensures that your efforts are reaching your stated objectives and will be accountable for your distribution and measurement strategy.

You need team members who can work with minimal oversight and direction, and who are comfortable taking risks. As your team grows, it’s ok for team members to have varied responsibilities around content marketing, but it’s critical that they are clearly defined and communicated throughout the organisation.

Quantity vs quality

It might seem like a numbers game at times, but don’t be tempted to turn your team into a one-size-fits-all content factory. Unrealistic deadlines and volumes or targets beyond the resources you’ve given to content strategy can result in diminishing quality, and sub-par content will only damage your brand.

A comprehensive content strategy is admittedly a massive undertaking, but the results are equally rewarding, and done right, can be long-lasting. It’s a long road to go from brand to publisher, but once you’re there, you’ll find it’s an immensely productive place to be.

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