Only 38% of marketers say they are effective at content marketing which is clearly a problem if the average organisation spends 30% of their marketing budget on content; a figure that is increasing year-on-year. There is a saying that if you fail to plan then you can plan to fail. Perhaps the lack of efficiency in content marketing has a root cause in the lack of good plans or content strategy, something that is validated by 65% of marketers saying they do not have a documented content marketing strategy. Further, of those that do have one, 85% say they do not follow it once the initial brainstorming has happened. Instead, they just go straight into content production mode.

On the flipside, 86% of highly effective organisations have someone in charge of content strategy. If we take a step back then, there are some points that any strategy must cover, regardless as to whether we are talking about content:

1.What are the goals we are aiming to achieve?

2.How will we achieve these goals?

  • What are the metrics and measurements for these goals?

Most current thinking on content strategies miss these points and go straight for a plan for the production of the content. Simply put, existing content strategies only help answer volume questions and do not deliver on commercial objectives.

The solutions, therefore, for an efficient content strategy that address the points above are as follows:

  1. Create a content strategy that is about engaging an audience in order to influence them towards a business goal through a structured audience journey.
  2. The Content Briefs create your production schedule/editorial calendar
  3. Create content where each item has a job to do in moving your audience towards a commercial goal

If you are able to identify key personas of your target audience, a common interest or, as we call it, the Point of Mutuality between you and your audience, and a defined goal you want the audience to achieve, then you have the foundations of a journey you can map. This audience journey then becomes the overarching strategy that you can map content to as each step of the journey will require different content to fulfil the individual needs and wants of the audience. The output of this is a series of briefs for content along the entire journey of the customer that will most likely fall across several different departments. Following this approach means that content is the tool you are using to deliver upon this audience strategy instead of the production of content being a strategy itself.

Now with an overarching plan of what content is required to move your audience you can plan your content production by looking at the priority journeys and seeing what is missing. Firstly, you are then only producing content that meets a brief that delivers on a commercial goal, and secondly you have a mechanism for prioritising what content is most import to deliver on those goals. The result is that you are no longer just satisfying a volume requirement. When you then wrap workflow around this production plan you can then create more efficiencies in the processes of creating and managing the content.

When using this method to create your content strategy, each item of content is then measured in terms of how well it moves your audience to the next step and ultimately how it converts customers to sales. By structuring your content in this manner, you are able to attribute some of the success of the sale to the content that got your customer to that point. This will allow you to determine what content is effective and what is not as you have a goal that you want to measure its effectiveness against. Just measuring how many times an item is clicked or shared is not a measure of its effectiveness.

By implementing a content strategy that does these three things you will make your content marketing more effective by:

-Producing less wasted content: Figures from eConsultancy show that 70% of content is never consumed. When content is part of a structured journey it is more likely to be consumed as it is part of an ongoing story that logically leads your audience to your goal. By carefully monitoring the entire journey you can then quickly identify the content that is not performing as required.

-Being more efficient with marketing time: By focusing your efforts on creating the right content strategy you will save time later on by not wasting time on content that does not deliver against your commercial goals. This process will enable you to create much sharper briefs for your content creators which in turn means that you will have a quicker turn around in getting the content that you need produced.