Here we are: in the middle of Autumn and just weeks away from the holidays. Leaves are falling off the trees, the skies are constantly grey (especially if you’re in the Seattle area), blankets are kept outside of the linen closet, and you maybe even have a constant craving for something pumpkin or cinnamon-related.
The end of the year means, for many business owners, favorable Q4 sales, a reflection on how the year has gone, and a deep dive into your plan for the following year.
Whether you’re looking to increase website traffic, improve your lead generation, or simply provide value to potential customers, a content strategy is the best way to make sure all your efforts work toward a specific goal.
So, as I’m working on putting together my content strategy for next year, I thought it would be the perfect time to take you through my process and show you what steps I take to get everything ready for 2019.
Start by Reviewing What Went Well
Before you dive into your content strategy for next year, it’s a good idea take a good look at the one we’re finishing up. You might be surprised at how some things are doing better than you originally thought and how others are a sign it’s time to make some changes.
For example, I started my entrepreneurship journey this year offering everything under the sun in terms of digital marketing.
I quickly realized not only was that not working for me; but it wasn’t working for my potential clients either. So, after some reflection, I decided to pivot and narrow my specialization on brand strategy, copywriting, and content marketing. That’s it.
Once I came to this realization, I was able to tailor my content to focus on those 3 segments; that’s it. This helped me clarify my goals which, in turn, made my content strategy that much stronger.
So, how do you do this? Log into your Google Analytics. If you’re not sure how to use it, I wrote a basic guide here.
Navigate to Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages and, after changing the date from Jan 1, 2018 to today’s date, take a look at which pieces of content have been the most and least successful.
As you do this, don’t just look at how many views it has. Look at other metrics such as:
- Time spent on page – If it’s less than 30 seconds on a blog post, people aren’t staying engaged; the longer the post, the longer your page views should be
- Number of conversions – If you have a call-to-action on your page, check how many people click it and have turned into leads because of it
- Bounce rate – Are people reading and immediately leaving your site? While this isn’t always a bad thing on blog posts, make sure your rate isn’t too high (below 50% is a good goal)
Expand Upon What Works
As you’re looking at which content is doing well, ask yourself: are there ways you can expand upon it?
For example, one of our popular blog posts is 10 Inspirational About Pages for Women-Owned Businesses. In this post, I could easily expand upon every element that worked well on these pages through individual blog posts which I could link to from that page.
Plus, I could create a downloadable PDF that could take that blog post and extend my engagement with readers.
In fact, that’s exactly what we did, and we created a pillar page for About pages from it.
Expanding upon your successful content gives your readers more content they will enjoy which adds value to their overall experience with your brand. Plus, it also keeps them on your site longer – which is a nice little side benefit.
Brainstorm New Ideas
Finding things to expand upon is a great place to start getting ideas for next year’s content, but it’s only the beginning. Once you run out of ideas, it’s time to search for new ones.
You should have an idea about what categories and topics you’d like to focus on and expand upon. Now it’s time to dive deeper and figure out what people are talking about so you can join, and potentially lead, the conversation.
To get new content ideas, search through places like:
- Quora – This is such a valuable resource. Type in your topic in the search bar and browse through both the questions and answers. The questions give you valuable insight into things people are genuinely curious about.
- Reddit– I haven’t personally used this one a whole lot, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about its potential for finding new content. Similar to Quora, search for a sub-Reddit you’re interested in and start reading through the content.
- Google – Type in a few keywords and start searching through the content. Look for popular pieces and ask yourself how you can improve them or maybe even talk about them in a new angle.
- Answerthepublic.com – This can be a gold mine of content ideas. Again, type in a keyword and it’ll bring up a list of common questions surrounding it. So many different ways to talk about one topic!
- Your competitors – Take a look at what others are doing and talking about. The likelihood (and hope) is they’ve done some research as well, and they’re attracting new customers with those topics. Don’t just copy what they do; find new angles and improve upon them in your own voice as well.
Organize Everything in One Place
Once you have new ideas based on successful content, you need a place to store them. Ideally, this will also be the same place you plan out your content, buyer personas, campaigns, keyword strategy, and so on.
There are a number of tools you can use to do this. I used to use an Excel spreadsheet. However, I’ve recently transferred to Airtable and, after going through their learning curve, am now a fan of their tools for content strategies (you can see a sample one I made here).
Whatever tool you use, you should have a tab for “Content Ideas” where you just jot down any idea that comes to mind. As you go about your day, write down your ideas on your phone or a notebook. Then, the next time you open your strategy, transfer them and expand upon them in that document.
Then, get ready to start putting everything together.
Pull It All Together
Once you have your document, it’s time to sit down and pull everything together.
In your document, make sure you’re including at least the following sections:
- Editorial – This is where you’ll plan when (date), where (blog/social/guest post/etc.), who (buyer persona), etc. your content is for. It’s your high-level view of where each piece of content is at. You can also include things like current status, social media blurbs, due dates, header images; basically anything that will help later down the road.
- Content Ideas – This is where you’ll keep track of all your ideas in one spot. Don’t worry about organizing it or making it look pretty (unless you want to); it’s mostly there to capture initial thoughts and any relevant links/info/ect.
- Personas – This is where you’ll keep track of the basics of each buyer persona. Who are they and what kind of content are they into? Plan out related campaigns and posts and, if you’re using Airtable, link them all together.
- SEO Keywords – Keep track of your keywords here; whether you’re checking their status on a regular basis or just planning ahead to make sure the keywords are viable, keep all information related to SEO in the same place.
- Campaigns – This is where you’ll organize your content into specific campaigns. Ideally, every campaign will have a related call-to-action (i.e. “Download free PDF”, “Schedule a consultation”, etc.) that brings your reader through the buyer’s journey.
- Bonus: Buyer’s Journey – To balance out your awareness, consideration, and decision stages of the buyer’s journey, create a separate place to define each of them and link to the content that fits in each category. If you’re not sure what this means, here’s a summary of the buyer’s journey.
You can include anything else you think is relevant to your business and the content you’re creating for it, but these are some great guidelines to plan for, at the very least.
Are you struggling with getting your content strategy ready?
We specialize in helping female founders like you plan out their content so they can stand out, connect with their customers, and ensure all content is tied to a specific goal.
If you’re interested in having us do this for your business, take a moment and schedule a consultation where we’ll go over your challenges and goals and we’ll give you some tips on how to move forward.