Content Marketing

9 Steps to Creating Your Own Omnichannel Content Strategy from Scratch

Neil Sheth

11 June 2019

Your online brand simply cannot thrive without an omnichannel approach to content marketing.

An omnichannel is a cross-channel communications system. They facilitate a business’s growth as we enter the age of audiences consuming content in increasingly diverse ways. It no longer makes sense for a company to rely on a single channel.

When you’re considering creating an omnichannel content strategy, you first need to consider the digital channels available to you:

  • Website and blog
  • Facebook page/group
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Videos for Youtube, Vimeo, Metacafe, etc.
  • Twitter

You don’t need to create content across every one of these digital channels. If you’re at the beginning of your content journey then consider starting with two. If you have more resources or a more experienced content team at your disposal then you might consider more.

But before even deciding which channels to utilise, you first need to establish your goals, your reason for creating an omnichannel in the first place!

How to create an omnichannel content strategy

Just to let you know I’ve put together a “Content Strategy Planner”, which you can use to fill in your answers for each of the following 9 steps. You can download the planner below.

 

Step #1: Define your audience persona

The best content strategy is the one that speaks directly to the reader. It’s imperative to know your target audience. But who exactly is your target audience?

A target audience is a group of people for whom your product or service is ideal, tailor-made. You may personify your target audience further by referring to them as a buyer persona, a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on your market research and data about your existing clientele.

So what do you need to know about your target audience? In short… everything!

…Okay, so that’s not very helpful. Let’s break ‘everything’ down further:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Education
  • Income
  • Interests
  • Dietary preferences
  • Problems
  • Aspirations
  • Commonly used phrases
  • Inside leg measurement (okay, so maybe not everything…)

Audience Profile

To get started, make full use of the data in Google Analytics already available to you. You can view this by heading over to Audience > Demographics > Overview. You will need to enable Demographics and Interests.

Step #2: Set your content strategy goals and KPIs

Next, you need to consider what the fundamental focus of your content marketing plan is. This can be broken down into several goals you can aim for.

 

Goal #1: Brand awareness

People love content that helps them achieve what they desire, solves a problem or inspires their future.

Let’s take the example of my Instagram page. One of its primary goals is to drive brand awareness using hashtags, stories and educational.

Sharing valuable information online is a subtle marketing strategy which allows buyers to get to know you, what your values are and what makes you different.

So what might some KPIs for brand awareness be? They can be divided into two broad categories.

Social channel:

  • Brand mentions. Use social listening to understand who is talking about you online — and how often. It is crucial to track your ‘share of voice’ to establish the proportion of industry conversations that are centred around your brand.
  • Reach. Measure the potential number of people who will see mentions of your brand.
  • Brand impressions. How many times does your brand show up on a user’s screen?
  • Engagement. Take averages of how many likes, shares and comments you are receiving per post. This will allow you to figure out what content is really hitting home, what content is resonating with readers — and what isn’t.

Website channel:

  • Direct website traffic. Track the number of people visiting your site directly. In other words, how many users are going straight to your website domain?
  • Branded query search. Measure the number of searches for your brand/name every month. This is a simple and reliable way of tracking your popularity.

 

Goal #2: Drive organic search (SEO) traffic to your website

What are some KPIs you might consider for organic (SEO) traffic?

Website channel:

  • Organic traffic. Track how many users visit your website from sources ‘organic’.
  • Keyword rankings. Track search positions of keywords and movement over time.
  • Organic sales. Track how many sales you are driving via ‘organic’ search.

One common way that companies drive more organic search traffic to their site is by blogging.

By proactively engaging in SEO optimisation and writing about specific questions and topics that users are proven to be searching for, you can begin to build trust with Google. This helps get your site in front of prospects, those who are actively searching for your products, services, and information but who don’t currently know that you exist.

 

Goal #3: Increase sales conversions

This one is my favourite because it’s so simple. If the content that you’re creating helps to convert customers, it’s worth doing.

Whether a piece of content gets shared or found in Google through SEO, you should think of it as a bonus — no expectations.

If you consider a number of my own blog posts, a good many of them were written to help convert agency prospects to customers. (I run an SEO and content marketing agency, in case you didn’t know).

For example, my post on the future of SEO for 2019. This is a subject that comes up in literally every SEO sales call I have! It only took me, what, 20 hours to write — you think I’m just going to let it sit there?

What are some KPIs for increasing sales conversions?

Social channel:

  • Sales from social channel. Measure sales from social channel sources.

Website channel:

  • Conversion rate. Measure how the overall conversion rate on your website fluctuates over time.
  • Sales. Measure online sales.

 

Goal #4: Drive customer engagement and loyalty

Strengthening the relationship you have with your customers is an extremely effective way of driving sales and increasing brand value.

For this reason, creating content that answers your audience’s questions and helps them along their journey is bound to bridge the gap between customer and brand.

For example, when I was researching my blog audience, a common question was around using Google analytics to track website actions. That’s why I made a handy video explaining exactly how to track email subscribers (a core goal) in an easy-to-understand, jargon-free language, accessible to beginners as well as experts.

Remember: good content focuses on the values of the customer — not the business.

What are some KPIs you might consider for increased engagement and loyalty?

Social channel:

  • Statistics. The average number of likes, shares, and comments per post; the average number of views per video.
  • Channel-to-website click-through. Measure the number of people clicking through to your website from social channels.

Website channel:

  • User time on page. Measure the average amount of time a user spends on the site.
  • Email subscribers. How many individuals have subscribed to your email — and what is the subscriber growth rate?

 

Goal #5: Position yourself as a leader, an expert in the field

When you have multiple competitors who offer a similar or identical product or service as you, you have two options:

  1. Undercut them on price
  2. Demonstrate your level of expertise

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I prefer option #2.

One of the most powerful ways of demonstrating your expertise is by producing high-quality WOW content. WOW content is content that stops your reader in their tracks, content that offers so much utility that they almost feel indebted to you for having provided it.

Now sure, at this point you might be thinking, ‘I want to hit all of these goals for my content strategy.’ Whilst this may be possible, you need to focus on just one or two for the time being. This will help you define the optimal right content strategy. As is so often the case, quality over quantity!

What are KPIs for positioning yourself as a leader and expert?

Social channel:

  • Brand mentions. The number of times your brand gets tagged on social channels.
  • Brand impressions. The number of times your brand appears on a user’s screen.

Website channel:

  • Branded query search. Measuring the number of searches for your brand/name every month.
  • Online citations. How often is your brand being referenced in magazines, publications, the press?
  • Referral leads. Are referral leads to your brand on the rise?

Step #3: Choose your digital channels

We’re opening a can of worms with this one!

Let’s start by looking at the most prominent digital channels, and which specific business scenarios lend themselves to these channels.

You can work out which digital channel will best serve your brand by analysing what is already happening.

Consider the tick boxes below. Which one best applies to your business?

3.1. Business scenarios and digital channels

Focusing on a website and blog might be best if:

  • People search for your product/services, or questions related thereto, in Google.
  • Prospects and partners ask your sales team a series of questions over the phone before making a purchase.
  • You’re in the B2B space, where prospects tend to read more content.
  • You’re an expert and authority within a particular niche that people love to read about.

And if you need some help getting started creating a blog, my easy step-by-step guide explains exactly how you can do it — in under an hour!

A Facebook group is a must-have if:

  • There is a community of people who are very enthusiastic around your niche, e.g. veganism, Scrabble, stamp-collecting.
  • Your customers love your product/service and regularly engage with you on-/offline.
  • You have a group of brand ambassadors with whom you’d like to communicate and engage regularly.
  • There’s an opportunity to cultivate an engaged audience in your niche.

I remain unconvinced of the benefits of a Facebook page that has no ad spend behind it — so much so that it’s not even worth elaborating on here!

Focusing on Instagram might be best if:

  • You operate in food, nutrition, fitness, beauty, travel or apparels.
  • Your service or product is likely to capture the interest of industry influencers, as these people are often actively using the platform and therefore represent a great chance of building relationships.
  • Giving prospects the chance to see you and your team would likely improve relationships and conversions.
  • You have a lot going on every day in the office which can be easily broken down into quick snippets of the working day, what your brand is and what it stands for.

Focusing on YouTube would be worth considering if:

  • You’re an expert and authority within a niche which translates particularly powerfully via the medium of video.
  • A visual view of your product or case study would help to warm prospects up to the idea of your brand, such as before and after videos for an interior design business.
  • You’re a coach (I definitely need to do a lot more video!).
  • There’s a high number of competitors in the market and you’re looking for a way of standing out — especially when competitors are not leveraging the medium of video.

3.2 What channels do your competition use?

You don’t always need to reinvent the wheel. Thinking outside the box is great, but it takes time. Sometimes, all you need to do is take a look at what your enemy — I mean competition — is doing.

That said, you can’t assume that, just because your competitors are active on a channel that they are doing it well. You need to be on the lookout for a number of signals, depending on the channel.

Website and blog
  • Do any blog posts have comments or get shared?
  • Are any blog posts ranking organically and receiving search (SEO) traffic?
  • Would you expect the blog posts to warm up prospect customers to buy from you?
Facebook pages and groups
  • Do any Facebook posts have comments and likes?
  • Do any Facebook posts get shared?
  • Are all posts being driven by the brand or is the group posting their own threads?
Instagram
  • Do they have a good follower base?
  • Do their posts get likes and comments?
  • How many views do their videos get?
  • How active are they with Instagram Stories?
YouTube
  • How many views are their videos getting on average?
  • Do their videos get comments and likes?
  • Would you be proud to show prospect customers the videos?

Go through these questions for a handful of your competitors. This will give you a good feel for which channels are already working within your particular niche — and where content opportunities exist.

3.3 What channels do your audience hang out on?

In order to check your research and thinking, find out which channel your audience is spending the most time on.

Not sure? Go ask them.

Step #4: Benchmark your existing position

Before you implement a new content strategy, it’s a good idea to benchmark your existing performance.

What you include in your digital marketing benchmark really depends on what your current content strategy looks like, but here are some ideas:

  • Website traffic by channel
  • Traffic by blog post
  • Bounce rate
  • User time on site
  • Top pages visited (including time on page)
  • Traffic sources
  • Average conversions by month
  • Email marketing
    • Number of email subscribers
    • Email open rate
    • Email click-through rate
  • Social media
    • Number of followers
    • Engagement rate
    • Profile views
    • Average clicks to website

Step #5: Define how often you should post on each channel

Wherever possible, try to use data to help drive your choices. You can learn more about this in my post on how to find the best possible time to post on Instagram.

But there are other channels, such as blogging, where you might prefer to estimate a realistic target, say, once or twice a month.

The key is to consistently publish quality content — not trying to do more than everyone else.

But before you get too excited about all your content plans, ask yourself this: what resources do I have available to create content?

Resources can mean both manpower and money to spend on content marketing.

So, after defining your posting frequency per channel, check against your resource budget that you can actually deliver on what you have planned.

Step #6: What content frameworks do you plan to publish?

In 2017, I used a Q&A content framework for Instagram stories and the concept of ‘Website Wednesdays’. The idea was to randomly pick a site to review and publish my feedback as short Instagram story clips.

Publishing valuable Q&A-based content consistently on Instagram stories worked really well. I made over £10,000 in sales from this one idea alone.

Start by creating a list of the different types of content you could publish, then whittle it down to those select few that you want to begin with.

Remember, you are looking at this across each channel. Some content frameworks in your industry may lend themselves to a specific channel that you chose back in step #3.

7 content frameworks to help organise your content strategy

Some of these content frameworks lend themselves to particular channels, for instance, writing a “how to guide” on your blog. However, I prefer to keep content frameworks flexible to all channels as you can find angles and ideas when you’re creativity is open.

1. User-generated content

This is content that your users create which you can then republish (with permission) on your own channels. There’s nothing better than users sharing their experience with your brand for all other new customers to see.

2. Customer success stories

Share your own customer successes through their eyes by interviewing them. You could even organise a shoot.

3. Q&A

There are likely a number of questions that your customers frequently ask you over calls, emails or in person. You could also look at forums, conduct keyword research or even run a customer survey to spur more questions.

4. How-to guides

Is there a specific area or topic that comes up very frequently? It might be a good idea to create a detailed step-by-step guide. I did this when I received the same question — How do I start my own blog? — week upon week.

5. List posts

You’ve definitely seen them before. Posts that begin with the title 5 Ways to…, 9 Top Tips for… You get the idea. These are referred to as list posts. They are direct, easy-to-follow — and they really, really work. Need proof? Google eyeshadow ideas. This is searched for 700 times a month. What do you see right at the top? (My wife has been talking about eyeshadows recently, in case you were wondering).

List Post Example - Eye Shadow

6. Before and after

Everyone loves a good before and after, especially if you’re in the beauty industry. More generally, though, before and after shots are perfect for highlighting progress in anything that is results-driven.

7. Personal stories

You will notice a lot of personal stories and anecdotes across my blog. They are highly relevant and also show that being able to figure out a complex situation takes years of experience. This builds a sense of trustworthiness and reliability. Personal stories also make for easy reading and make you, the brand, come across as relatable, human.

Step #7: Brainstorm content ideas

Now for the fun part — creating a list of content ideas across each channel!

Brainstorm Content Ideas

Depending on the size of your team, it’s a good idea to brainstorm this with others. Each department will have specific issues and questions that tend to come up which may be of interest to your team.

Let’s look at a few key categories that you can use to brainstorm solid content ideas:

  • Marketing questions and issues
  • Sales questions and issues
  • SEO keyword research
  • Competitor content research
  • Forum research
  • Online communities research
  • Quora questions

As someone who absolutely adores SEO (I’m not even joking!), I tend to start with SEO research.

With SEO, not only do I find good topic ideas based on what users are searching for but I can also quickly get an excellent view of the problems, obstacles and questions facing an industry.

Another essential that I recommend is to check in with marketing and sales and make a list of customer questions.

For instance, I noticed at the beginning of this year that I was explaining the benefits of international SEO to multiple prospects. That’s why I created a post specifically on the subject.

We are now actually in the middle of refining our international SEO service due to the demand. This highlights the importance of paying attention to what your customers want.

If you’re a sole business owner, you want to avoid doing this step in a lonely silo. How powerful would it be to actually get your best customers involved and find out what content ideas resonate with them the most?

By the time you’ve finished this step, you should have brainstormed at least 50 content ideas across all digital channels.

Step #8: Approve your content calendar and create an editorial calendar

Choose the ideas you like the best and add them to your content calendar.

Knowing when and what to post takes time, so be sure to choose ideas across multiple content frameworks to give yourself enough room for feedback.

But how long should you create content for?

This may come as a surprise, but I prefer to plan content for only 1 or 2 months in advance. The problem with creating a content plan for a long period of time, such as 6 or 12 months, is it doesn’t give you enough room to be flexible for new questions, seasons or changes in behaviour.

This is precisely what we found with our agency clients. They were constantly coming up with new ideas and questions from their customers, rendering the long-term content calendar all but defunct!

Don’t forget to include the same people with whom you spoke during step #7. They can help you build consensus and solidify the content calendar.

Step #9: Set up tracking to measure and track your progress

Remember the content strategy goals and KPIs you decided in step #2? Well, now it’s time to set up tracking for them!

Our ideal starting point is to have all of the goals and KPIs being tracked using a tool such as Google Analytics.

You can see how easy it is to create your own goals and track them in Google Analytics in the post I wrote about tracking email subscribers.

But there might be some goals that are not so easy to measure, such as how many shares a post gets. This is where a good old-fashioned spreadsheet can come in handy. I would even suggest to those who aren’t so confident with data-analysis tools to begin with spreadsheets and build your confidence from there.

Content Strategy FAQs

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is a customer-centric digital marketing strategy that builds value and trust with prospects through educative content.

What is a content marketing strategy?

A content marketing strategy defines the why, what, how and when of your content marketing efforts based on an ideal audience persona.

What is a content strategy for social media?

This involves planning content to be posted on social media, which will generate interest and engagement with the target audience.

What is a good content strategy?

A good content strategy delivers on the goals that were set at the start of the project.

How do you create a content strategy?

Hmm… I’d probably recommend reading the 3,000-word guide directly above!

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