When you create content that your audience responds to positively, you can exponentially increase the number of people talking about your brand, how much they link to you and how much they buy from you.
In many cases, there is a lot of guesswork in developing an effective content marketing campaign but the good news is that, with the right data analysis and market research, you can eliminate much of the postulation and presupposition.
The five stages of content planning
The steps most marketers (including me) will go through when thinking about content marketing are as follows:
1. Undergo an assessment of brand values: "Who are we?", "What makes us different?" "What do we want to be known for?" These are all vital questions to determine how to go about creating content. When you have these answers, you can create content that responds to that.
2. Determine channel objectives: What’s the end goal? Is it lots of links (an SEO objective) or is it an increase in page views, engagement, reach and traffic?
3. Develop content concepts and structure into a plan. That content is usually under three guises:
a. Always useful: Content that people always need. Guides, advisory pieces, step-by-step processes. Content that your website most likely can’t function without but keeps people interested in you.
b. Brilliant right now: Content that is relevant because it makes sense that it appears right now. For example, when the birth of a royal baby’s is imminent, consider creating a piece of content around that. Content that’s brilliant right now can be created literally right now. If you’re agile enough, creating reactive content can be a great way to get people talking about you. Case in point – Mini following the horsemeat scandal.
c. Big content: big campaigns that get lots of people talking instantly, such as the Maximuscle Protein Project.
4. Check that your ideas are good, on brand, relevant and feasible
5. Go ahead and make that content, and then measure its impact through page views, traffic, clicks and any other metric that you’ve set.
This process, whilst adhered to by many marketers, enables brands to create great content that is sometimes right for its audience, but often isn’t. Perhaps this is because a chunky bit of analysis is missed in this process; the bit where you find out what content people actually want?
The right information can transform your content marketing
By utilising a number of tools, including Global Web Index and Google Analytics, we can determine what types of content people actually want. We know this, because these people say that they want it and because their internet behaviour suggests it. Here’s a working example (click to enlarge):
In answering these questions, those surveyed had to "agree" to the question asked. We can determine the types of content that people want from a very specific type of brand. Let’s look at some insights from this dummy data if you were the brand in question:
* If targeting those ages 18-24, video content stands out as something they want.
* If targeting those aged 50+, apps aren’t a good option.
* If targeting those aged 30-40, brand-focused content is vital.
* Inspiration is important for almost all age groups.
Using this information and further information that can be discovered through surveying, such as whether people prefer funny content over informative content, gives you a guide on what to create for your audience. For the dummy supermarket brand, if they were focusing on getting the attention of 18-24’s, we’d be recommending the creation of inspirational videos, or new products showcased in video format.
Using a surveying tool like Global Web Index, you can find out exactly how your audience wants to interact with you, where it wants to interact with you and what types of content they want too. It’s invaluable for determining what to give your audience, rather than simply determining content based on what’s right for the brand, or what’s right to achieve SEO objectives.
Finding the opportunities
Surveying will never be enough to determine what people want, but hard facts and data around internet behaviour tells a valuable story too. Using an analytics package such as Google Analytics, you can analyse the total number of pages against total number of views. Whilst this doesn’t sound revolutionary, it does enable you to see where the opportunity areas are when it comes to content.
Take this working example:
In this example, we can draw a number of conclusions:
* There is an opportunity to create more content for the decorating category, because the percentage of total unique page views is much higher than the percentage of total pages on the website.
* There is probably too much news content being produced, with this content being the least viewed area of the site. This could also suggest that news content needs to be more visible.
* The amount of content about special offers and furniture is about right.
Armed with information about what type of content your audience wants and their onsite behaviours enables you to add further, qualified considerations when determining types of content to produce. For the example we shared, the target audience wanted more video content and they also demanded more content around the decorating category, due to visiting habits. It doesn’t take too much of a genius to put two and two together and consider, in this case, to create compelling video content about decorating.
The only challenging bit is ensuring that the content you create is truly interesting, sharable, exciting or hilarious. For that, there’s no silver bullet; just clever recruitment or a clever agency.
Heather Healy is creative communications director at digital marketing agency Stickyeyes.
This article was first published on The Wall Blog