For construction marketers, content creation and management is quickly becoming a key part of their job. Magazines and newspapers have always been good at creating new content, re-purposing old content, planning editorial calendars and researching for new topics. But for marketers, this has not always been the case. Having a clear content strategy helps marketers manage the creation of useful, interesting, relevant and engaging content on a consistent basis. It’s a time consuming task because you have to keep coming up with new and fresh ideas on how to deliver content that your target audience needs and that inspires them to share it with their peers.
Without planning, companies may be prone to publishing content haphazardly (random acts of marketing). ‘How often should I blog or publish an article‘ is a commonly asked question but the answer is different for everyone. If you have something relevant and useful to write about then do it. If not, do some research first and find out what information would be valuable to architects and specifiers when making buying decisions. Simply publishing information without having clearly defined objectives can be a dangerous approach. One that could do more harm than good to your business. With the vast majority of freely available information on the web, you need to mark your spot. Find your niche and produce quality educational content that proves your expertise to prospects. Build trust and credibility by demonstrating that you’re thought leaders in your industry.
“A content strategy will help you deliver content that inspires trust, drives action and builds loyalty. On time. On budget.”
What many building product manufacturers lack is a content strategy. A strategy is a plan to achieve a goal and your content should be aimed at achieving a defined business goal such as increased lead generation or building brand awareness in your sector. It also helps your target audience achieve their goals on your site (finding information to help them make better, more informed purchasing decisions).
“A content strategy is a plan for how you will create useful, valuable and goal focused content, how you will publish that content, how often and how you’ll manage it after publication. Having a content strategy, turns your content into a valuable business asset that helps you achieve business goals.”
Nick Pauley – Managing Director
Developing your content strategy
Your content strategy is a plan for the creation, publication and management of useful, informative and relevant content. Determining the goals for your site, your blog, your business, and how content will help achieve those goals is crucial. No matter how good your content is, you have to understand how it fits into the overall business objectives. Like any other plan, there are certain things you should think about when developing it. Below is a list of some important questions to ask yourself:
- Why are we creating this content?
- What type of content should we create?
- Who is the best person to create it?
- Where will this content be best put to use?
- When and how often should this content be published?
- How will this content be created? Is it text, image, video etc?
Once you have answered these questions, you are well on your way to producing content that will build credibility within your industry and keep architects and specifiers coming back for more information. But don’t hide it deep within your site. If it takes too long to find, visitors won’t bother searching but instead go elsewhere. Strong calls to action on your homepage can direct traffic to landing pages that contain information specific to their needs.
Below is a table showing what types of content are suitable for the various decision makers in the buying cycle. Have you covered all these areas? Do your product brochures contain up-to-date information and could some of that content be re-purposed into a short product demonstration and installation video? Does your website have an online product selector to make it easier for specifiers to find the right product?
Benefits of a content strategy
A strategy helps focus your marketing efforts on what’s important to your audience so that you can produce better and more targeted content. This content strategy becomes a roadmap guiding your marketing activities and directing them towards the goals and objectives you have set out. Having a strategy ensures:
- Consistency in your message – choose a theme and stick to it.
- Efficient and intelligent re-use of content (eg. turn blog post into video/podcast).
- Better optimization for search engines and increased conversions.
- Identifies gaps in audience needs that you can fill.
“A regularly updated blog is a great way to keep adding fresh content that will be beneficial to both your target audience and to search engines. It’s more dynamic that your website which only updates or adds new information periodically.”
Ayaan Mohamud – Digital Marketing Manager
If you have built up a loyal following on Twitter or LinkedIn then share links to your articles, blogposts, brochures with those whom you think will find it useful and relevant. Without a clear strategy you run the risk of wasting valuable time, effort and money on producing content that doesn’t contribute towards achieving your business goals. You will later sit and wonder why you’ve spent all this time writing content that noone can find, wants to read or can be bothered to share.
The Content Lifecycle
- Strategic analysis: this stage is crucial and requires an audit to establish what content you have, whether you can repurpose some of it and then find out what you need. Ask questions and find out what would be valuable to your audience. Specifiers, estimators, or architects may all be looking for different types of information. How can you provide content suitable for each at different stages in the buying cycle?
- Content collection: this is the research phase where you gather all the information and establish your key themes. Have you covered everything? What key messages do you want to spread and who in your team is going to write what? Create an editorial calendar so you know what you are publishing and when.
- Publish: where will your content be found on the website? Have you got a blog, do you send out a newsletter? Have you got a CMS (content management system) that allows you to easily edit and amend website/blog content at any time? Don’t forget about SEO so be sure to include keywords in the headings, titles and meta description to make your content easily found on the web.
- Content management: after publishing content you have to monitor and manage it so that you know what is working and what isn’t. Make your content shareable on social media and this will give you an indication of how popular and relevant your content is. If it is widely shared by prospects and industry peers then you know this is the kind of information that they are looking for.
Developing and managing a content strategy is not a one-off activity. It’s a process; a system that requires commitment and dedication. The tasks highlighted in the lifecyle above have to be repeated on a regular basis because things change. Developments might take place that will impact your industry, your target audience needs might be changing or your business goals have altered. All these changes need to be taken into consideration so that the content you produce is still of a high quality and a relevant business asset.
Lead generation through content
You might wonder why content is so important and what proof there is that it actually works. Have you ever looked back at the last few clients you have received? How did they find out about your products or services? Did they find you online through a search engine, see your profile on Twitter or LinkedIn, receive a recommendation, did they read your blog or subscribe to your newsletter? What made them contact you?
It is your content that increases your online visibility and exposes your company to your target audience. When a prospect lands on your website how do you convert them into a lead? Most would say that their goals are for prospects to download something (ebook, technical guide, whitepaper), sign up to your mailing list (newsletter, blog) or contact you by phone or on social networking sites like Twitter. All of these goals are based around content. It has to be good enough to convince the prospect that you know what you’re talking about. It builds your credibility and makes it easier for prospects and leads to trust that you can deliver on what you promise.
“Without a dedicated content strategy, how will you manage to ensure that you can continue to produce valuable and educational content that proves your expertise in your chosen field? How will your nurture your leads so that they eventually become a loyal customer? The answer to all of these questions is CONTENT.”
Pritesh Patel – Digital Marketing Manager
How do you manage content creation and publication in your company? Who is responsible for developing your content strategy? Have you recently done a content audit to find out what you’re missing? Do you ever ask your existing clients or potential customers what problems they are having or what they would like you to write about?