How to integrate goals, audiences, and data into a smarter content strategy
Digital, and social media in particular, has complicated the concept of a ‘content strategy’ – and the majority of industry professionals are struggling to keep up.
After all, ‘content’ was originally developed to serve the communicative needs of a brand or company. Now, the tables have turned, and the brand is at the service of content. If this is the position you’ve found your brand in – it’s time to rewrite your working methodology. Your focus should be on remaining relevant, developing the capacity to make data-driven decisions, and understanding what it is your audience really wants and needs.
Welcome to the Smart Content Framework
When redeveloping your content strategy, the first thing you need to ask yourself is whether that strategy is really working for you and helping you to solve your most pressing business problems. This will help you establish whether or not the money you are investing in content is actually having any impact.
If you’re still working on your content strategy from a social media perspective only, then it’s equally important that you start developing a cross-cutting communication strategy.
At Good Rebels, we work with a Smart Content Framework. If this is something you want to implement within your own company, there are a few steps you’ll need to follow, regardless of which channels you’re operating within or the level of your ambition.
Phase 1: Defining your strategic objectives
At this stage it’s crucial you understand the challenges your brand faces, and which of those challenges is most urgent. Remember, to maximise your efforts your understanding of the organisation must include the communicative interests of each key area of the brand.
That said, nowadays very few clients or customers are going to see your brand from a 360 perspective – that’s why it’s so important to make sure all your communication touchpoints are consistent with one another.
A diagnosis of the needs you’ve detected usually enables us to define the following two pillars:
- Business objectives: do we want to generate more impact? Activate something that exists already or maintain it?
- Communication objectives: this is linked to the way organisations position themselves; whether or not they seek to improve or reinforce the existing perception of their brand (whether that’s the perception of the employer or the organisation itself).
It’s important we don’t end up confusing strategic objectives with ‘classic objectives’ which typically focus more on the ‘media funnel’ (awareness, consideration, conversion). These objectives are only good for determining which phase of the funnel our campaign will have the most impact on.
We’d advise you to identify a number of different business and communication objectives which will positively impact the needs detected in each pillar. For example, let’s say that we identify the following 7 strategic objectives (four business and three communication):
- Business Objective 1: Increase product awareness
- Business Objective 2: Increasing linkage
- Business Objective 3: Drive website traffic
- Business Objective 4: Reach new audiences
- Communication Objective 1: Demonstrate expertise
- Communication Objective 2: Reinforce existing perception of brand
- Communication Objective 3: Improve employer image
Generally speaking, to achieve these business objectives we’d be working to trigger different consumer behaviours throughout the funnel, and to achieve our communication objectives we would expect to build on the brand image or existing communications strategy, with the intention of impacting relevant audiences or ‘changing perspectives’.
This step is enormously important as it helps us to define our entire content and communications strategy.
When deciding which brand assets to include in your strategy, determine how they will impact the business and which strategic goals they’re designed to help you achieve
Phase 2: Identifying your audience
Once we know our objectives, we have to first identify our audience or audiences in order to define our audience archetype (or target).
Keep in mind:
- We can’t define our audience archetype within the digital, traditional media or social media environment only – we have to consider all platforms. Our basis for choosing our target audience must come primarily from our knowledge and experience of the existing consumer base, as well as our priorities as an organisation, and the audiences identified through our research or our CRM.
- We shouldn’t need to define any more than 4 or 5 audience archetypes – each archetype must represent a different type of customer or stakeholder, and each one must be expected to behave and respond to our content strategy in different ways. Therefore, it’s important to create content that appeals to each archetype – we must consider everything from typeface to format to channel. The more audience archetypes we decide to focus on, the less effective our personalisation strategy will be.
For example, we might define the following three audience archetypes (following the 3C principle: Customer, Co-Worker, Citizen):
- Archetype 1: Regular customers
- Archetype 2: Customers that need to be reactivated
- Archetype 3: Media, online communities and experts
- Archetype 4: Co-workers and potential co-workers
From here it’s possible to further granularise each archetype – sorting regular customers, for example, by socio-demographic. The sector you’re in will determine how far you want to take this granulation process. For example, if you’re working in the automotive sector, you might categorise your customers by ‘driver archetypes’, or if you’re working in the interior design sector to might catergorise your customers by ‘lifestyle archetypes’.
Phase 3: Defining the brand ethos
Following phase 2 we can start making strategic connections, for example:
- Strategic objectives by audience archetype: for example, regular customers could be paired with the ‘product awareness’ or ‘increase linkage’ objective, because our main goal might be to keep them engaged on social media
- Storytelling method by strategic objective: What is the most effective way of telling our story? For example do we represent our product through stories about product consumption, or more personal testimonials about how the product makes our consumers feel?
- Tone and style by audience archetype: tone of voice may change depending on our audience, for example, if we were talking to ‘regular customers’ we might talk to them in a way that was more familiar and emotion driven. When addressing members of the media or experts, we might use a tone that was more distant and focused on our experience in the sector
At this stage, we should point out that our style of storytelling should be based on an analysis and deep understanding of our audience. We can gain greater insight by asking ourselves what is this segment of the audience really interested in? How can I contribute positively from a communicative standpoint? Should we be relying on prior research or conducting new research?
Phase 4: Choosing your platforms and formats, developing messages and creative content
Once we’ve made the connection between our audience types and our objectives, and defined a brand ethos, we can finally move on to the more tactical and optimisable stage of our smart content strategy:
- Platforms: figure out where your different audience archetypes are spending most of their time – you’ll need to refer to digital usage data and develop an in-depth knowledge of each socio-demographic groups.
- Formats: decide which formats can help you best deliver your key messages – how do the different formats affect tone of voice, audience reaction, and our ability to tell our story?
- Messages or assets: after determining our key messages, it’s important to keep reviewing them periodically to make sure they’re still relevant and driving our main objectives.
- Creative ideas: next, focus on developing innovative and creative approaches to communicating – specific to each audience.
Phase 5: Defining the measurement plan
We’re now ready to define the most relevant metrics (KPIs). This will help us determine whether or not our key messages are really impacting our strategic objectives.
Each piece of content should be assigned a unique metric according to the objective it has been matched with (business or communication). Even if the formats or platforms we’ve decided on can provide us with a number of different metrics, we must decide to focus on only the most relevant. Similarly, our method of storytelling must be 100% aligned with that objective so that we can optimise accordingly.
For example, imagine that our strategic business objective is to ‘drive traffic to our website’. We would want to be able to assess:
- Who our target audience is and what stage are they at (awareness, conversions, etc.)?
- What method of storytelling will most effectively drive traffic?
- Which key messages and creative formats will help us motivate our audience?
- Which metrics will help us understand how effectively we’ve met our objective?
- Which metrics can we ignore, even if they’re positive (e.g. interactions)
Phase 6: Developing your media and outreach plan
At this stage, a media plan is essential. Your plan needs to be consistent with the content plan you’ve been developing up until this point. Remember that metrics and formats need to be aligned with predicted promotional and paid broadcasting capabilities.
You’ll need an accurate understanding of the target audiences you’ve defined – this will allow us to develop an effective segmentation strategy.
A few other important things to consider:
- We want to move away from the more traditional method of promoting content/paid media
- When it comes to producing content it’s all about quality, not quantity – there’s no point investing in the production and publication of content which is low quality
- An ‘on-demand’ or ‘macro-content’ approach is ideal – this will allow you to a) produce content only when it’s relevant and necessary, and b) concentrate media investment on communications that required a higher level of product time or effort
- High or moderate creative output should be a part of your day to day strategy if your goal is to have a more regular, positive impact on your audience
Our Smart Content Framework: from strategic objectives to the media plan
Phase 7: Adapting your other workflows to the Smart Content Framework
If you’ve successfully implemented our Smart Content Framework within your organisation, you now have the opportunity to take that framework even further. How?
- Create dashboards that visualise performance, and help you to reach a specific strategic goal. Include all relevant channels in the same dashboard to develop a broader understanding of performance.
- Develop ‘decision-making’ workflows that will help guide you in the definition of objectives and audiences. Starting from a solid basis of data we can produce more effective content of a higher quality!
- Provide your content teams with periodic updates which include summaries of communicative priorities, thematic opportunities, new launches, assets to be redirected, internal channels, brand ambassadors to involve, etc.
- Avoid strategic paralysis – launch, test and optimise – that’s our philosophy. If you have a solid basis of data to start with, you already have an idea of what your audience (or different audience archetypes) really wants.
Introducing our Smart Content Framework Webinar
What problems do you face when developing a relevant, effective and results-oriented content strategy? Tomorrow, June 12th, we’ll be hosting a webinar on our Smart Content Framework. Register here: http://pi.goodrebels.com/smart-content-framework
We hope to see you there!