A Content Strategy Template You Can Build On

Posted by Isla_McKetta

Picture it. A room full of executives from a company you never thought you could land as a client. They’re so engaged in what they are saying that they’re leaning forward in their chairs. The CEO looks poised to ask a question but you can tell she doesn’t want to interrupt your flow.

This is the moment content strategists dream of.

But if you’re like me, it’s easy to get caught up in how new the field is and wonder, “Am I even doing this right?” There are lots of posts to help you, such as 
How to Build a Content Marketing Strategy and Content Strategy: You’re Doing it Wrong. There are also comprehensive guides to creating content strategies. There’s even an epic list of content strategy resources. And there are books (my favorite is Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach’s Content Strategy for the Web).

Still, sometimes you just want to peek over someone else’s shoulder at a concrete example to see if there’s anything you can learn. This can be especially true if you’re working in-house and don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of.

So, I built a
template.

What a content strategy should look like

Content strategies take many forms, from a 50-page word document to an hour-long PowerPoint presentation. That means this template is not meant to be gospel. Instead, it introduces you to the many moving parts that make up a content strategy and gives you an example of how I, based on the years I spent consulting on content strategies for everything from stock photography to software as a service, would write it up.

Peek over my shoulder to get your next strategy started, or just to get a glimpse of how someone else approaches a strategy. Build on this template and make it your own. You’ll find that the template is written from an agency perspective (with lots of references to “the client”) but it works equally well if you are in-house and are writing for that one, all-important client—your boss.

What goes into a content strategy

The content strategy template walks you through researching and writing up the three key elements of a content strategy: what content looks like now, what it should look like, and the ecosystem in which content is created.

Content today

A strategy should provide an assessment of the client’s current content, as well as insight into their competitors’ content. That assessment may include any or all of the following:

  • Personas 
  • Stakeholder interviews 
  • Content inventory 
  • Content audit 
  • Gap analysis 
  • Competitive analysis

Content in the future

Then you want to show your client where the content should take them and how they can use various channels to get there. Some of
many places content resides are:

Onsite content 

  • Homepage
  • Landing pages 
  • Category pages 
  • Product descriptions 
  • Blog 
  • Error pages 
  • Etc.

Offsite content 

  • Emails 
  • Social media 
  • Brochures 
  • Packaging 
  • Invoices 
  • Voicemail messages 
  • Etc.

Governance (aka the content ecosystem)

Finally, you want to think about the environment in which the content gets created—the governance of content. This includes:

  • Brand, voice, and style guidelines 
  • Workflow analysis 
  • Best practices for writing on the web 
  • SEO tips 
  • Editorial calendar

See the template for more in-depth descriptions of all of these elements as well as some of my favorite tools to get them done.

Again, take these pieces and use them to create your own template. Each strategy you do will require its own tweaks, but this will give you the leg up to put your own stamp on this emerging field.

The storytelling of content strategy

My brand of content strategy, and you’ll see this reflected a little in the template, is that a content strategy is a story. For a deeper understanding of this, check out the Mozinar I gave a few weeks ago,
The Storytelling of Content Strategy.

Basically, I advocate for taking the elements of fiction and using them to get a fresh perspective on a brand’s journey toward a goal.

Here’s how the five elements of a story are also the basis of a content strategy:

1. Brands and customers are heroes

A content strategy can either be about a brand’s journey to land a customer (useful when a brand is new or has lost its way), or a content strategy can be about a customer’s journey and how the brand can help. See the webinar for an example of each.

2. Your current landscape is your ground situation

You can’t start a strategy until you know where your hero is coming from. Most of the initial research you do—from
stakeholder interviews to content inventories and audits—is to understand the starting point of your strategy. This is where the journey begins. You will be measuring all future success against the understanding you build of this landscape.

3. Goals articulate your central desire

You can’t plot a strategy if you don’t know what direction the brand wants to grow. Goals should come from the brand itself, but you might find that the brand needs a little coaching. It’s helpful if you distinguish overall business goals from content goals. They are related, but there are some goals (e.g. reducing employee turnover) that content plays a much smaller role in achieving. Setting specific goals for your content strategy also lets you get more granular about some goals in which content is the star player (e.g. increasing email open rate).

4. Competitors are antagonists

Even if you’re going to write the most TAGFEE content strategy ever, you still need to figure out where your competitors are and how you can learn from their example. And it’s important to remember that because of the way search engines work, your business competitors might be different than your SERP competitors. Ideally a content strategy will address both.

5. Plot is strategy

At this point in the story, you know who the players are, what’s working and what’s not, and have some ideas about how to move forward to achieve those goals.

When I write up a strategy, I think about them as though I were plotting a novel. Each tactic or channel is a way to move the brand closer to those goals. What obstacles might they encounter? Who are they competing with in the space? How can they master this tactic or channel? And how can content help them achieve their goals and ride happily off into the sunset?

Making a content strategy your own

Now it’s time to
download that template and see what story your content strategy is trying to tell. Once you’re confident in the strategy you’re presenting, you’ll have the complete attention of every executive in that conference room. And, with any luck, they’ll refer you to their friends. 

I want to learn from you, too. Is there anything you’d include in the template that I haven’t covered? Do you have any strategies for success in presenting content strategies or any lessons learned? Please share your ideas and stories in the comments.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Reblogged 4 years ago from feedproxy.google.com

How to Combine Screaming Frog Data with Google Analytics Data

Posted by Iamoldskool

I love Screaming Frog. It is without doubt the best SEO tool I use on a daily basis (no offense, Moz). The sheer amount of data you can get about your website, or someone else’s website, is incredible. You can find broken links, you can check for your Google Analytics (or any other) code on all pages through the custom search, and you can even go so far as to follow all the redirects and find out the redirect paths in a website.

In this quick guide, I’m going to show how Screaming Frog data can be used to help perform a content audit.

The data in Screaming Frog is incredible, but one thing it can’t do (yet…give it time) is tell you how popular your pages are. For that, you need an analytics package. We’re going to be working with Google Analytics on this one, as it’s probably the most well known (and well used) of the analytics services out there, and we’re going to combine the two data streams into one to give you a full overview of your content and just how popular it is. As this data is from a website I work with (rather than my own), I’m going to hide the URLs in the screenshots for obvious reasons.

Why would you want to do this?

Combining Google Analytics data with your Screaming Frog data has a myriad of advantages. You can get an overall picture of your site and identify any issues that are occurring on popular pages. You can see which pages within your site have no page views at all, or the ones that have very few page views. Maybe there are issues on these pages that become immediately apparent when you combine the two datasets.

Getting your data

Step 1: Screaming Frog

Spider the website you’re working with in Screaming Frog. Just type the URL in the box and click go, and off it goes getting all the data from your website.

Filter the list to just include HTML and hit export:

Step 2: Google Analytics

Head over to Google Analytics and go to the “All Pages” tab:

Set a decent data range of a couple of months so you get some decent data (especially if it’s a low traffic site), and set “show rows” at the bottom to 5,000 so you get as much data as possible.

“Hang on a minute, Jim,” you’re saying….I have a lot more than 5,000 in my list. How do I get the rest? Well, that’s a simple hack. Go to the URL at the top and look at the end of it for the 5000. It will look something like this:

Now just up that figure to cover all of your page views, and you’ll have a huge long list. I have 9,347 on my list, so I’m going to up it to 10,000.

Great. Now export that data to an Excel file:

Now you have the two sets of data in Microsoft Excel format. Next, we’re going to combine these two data sources into one

First step. Open them up and put them both into a single excel file on different worksheets, then label them so you know which is which:

Now, make a third empty worksheet for your compiled data. Here’s a view of the worksheets you should have at this point:

To make this work, we’ll need the URL (page name column) to be the same on both sheets. The Screaming Frog data contains the domain, where as the GA data doesn’t, so use find and replace on the Screaming Frog data to remove the domain up to the first trailing slash. The two data sources should now have URLs that match.

With me so far? Great. Now it’s time to link the data sets together and get that lovely combined data in your third worksheet.

Linking the data

OK. Go to your Screaming Frog worksheet and select all the data and on the formula tab, click define name – give it an easily identifiable name (I would name it the same as your worksheet).

Then do the same with the GA data: Select it > Formula Tab > Define name > Name it the same as the worksheet.

Got both of them defined? Groovy, time to put this data together.

Save your file.

Go to your third worksheet, named “compiled data.”

Then on the data tab, select “From Other Sources” then From Microsoft Query.

It will then ask you to choose your data source, choose excel file from the options and click OK. Then, find your saved Excel file and select it; you’ll be given the option to include your two named data sources.

Select both, and add them to columns in your query. Click next, you’ll then be presented with what looks like an error message (but isn’t really).

Click OK.

Then drag “Page” on the GA Data onto “Address” on the Screaming Frog Data like this

And, you’ll notice all the data from the two data sources below will reorganise itself.

Then, click file > “Return data to Microsoft Excel.”

On the next one, just click ok… and that’s it. You should now have a single worksheet with the combined data from Screaming Frog and Google Analytics to play with and do what you want.

Hope my little tutorial made sense and people find it of use. I’d love to hear what other people use this tutorial to accomplish in the comments 🙂

Thanks all!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Reblogged 4 years ago from feedproxy.google.com

How to Prove ROI Potential of Content Campaigns – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by iPullRank

We all know that creating and promoting content can be a ton of work (not to mention expensive). So how do we know whether it’ll be worth it? In today’s Whiteboard Friday, MozCon 2014 speaker Mike King shows you several ways you can be sure your content has the potential you need before you even start making it.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard!

Video transcription

Greetings and salutations, Moz fans. My name is Mike King. I’m from an agency called iPullRank, and today here on Whiteboard Friday we’re going to talk about how to prove ROI potential of content. Basically, before you launch content, get a sense of will this perform before you go ahead and spend tens of thousands of dollars on promoting that content.

Content components

Surveying your target audience

So let’s just hop right into it. One of the things you want to do for your content component aspect of it is survey your target audience. There are a lot of channels that you can do this effectively in. In fact, the ad platforms have gotten even better at letting you hyper target audiences and drive that traffic right away.

One of the things you can do is use StumbleUpon Paid Discovery. I love this platform for content promotion as well. But it’s great in this use case because it’s only $0.10 a click. Again, you can target based on different audiences, not as granularly as you can with something like Facebook or something to that effect, but you can get audiences around ideas, concepts, and things of that nature.

What you can also use is a tool called UserReport. What this tool does is allows you to do custom surveys on your own site. You put up your content experience. You throw UserReport on there. Once the user gets to a certain point in the page, you can make that survey pop up. You can ask them questions like: Hey, would you like this? Would you share this? What is it that you didn’t like about this content? Does this solve a specific need for you?

You can do that with StumbleUpon Paid Discovery. Start collecting data on the users that would visit your content, and then it helps you build a business case saying that these people would be interested in this content.

By the same token, you can also use Facebook ads to do this. Like I said, Facebook ads allow you to really granularly target your audiences. They’ve gotten increasingly more sophisticated with their ad targeting options. In fact, at this point, the ad targeting very much aligns with standard market research in that you can target based on income, education, and so on and so forth.

If you’re going after the B2C clientele, that’s probably your best bet, using Facebook. If you’re going after the B2B clientele, then LinkedIn ads make the most sense. You can also target very specifically on firmographics rather than just demographics. In both of these cases, you’re going to then continue to use UserReport to collect that data via these custom surveys on your site.

Additionally, you can use SurveyMonkey Audience. I love this tool because you can, again, very much target very specific demographics and ask them direct questions. What you can do is host that piece of content in the survey, have them take the time to review it and fill out the questionnaire, and then, boom, you get your results right away.

Competitive analysis

Those are different ways you can do surveying to understand whether your content’s going to perform. But, of course, competitive analysis is a really good way to make a case. I worked on a brand called LG back in the day. The best way to get them to do anything was to show them that Samsung was doing it.

By that very same token, you can use a tool like Social Crawlytics. What that tool does is crawls the site and identifies the social shares of every piece of content on that site. You can do that for your site and a competitor’s site and see what’s working, what isn’t, and quickly identify what you can create that is similar to what they’ve made.

Additionally, you can use BuzzSumo, which kind of takes out the legwork out of that, because they’ve indexed a lot of content. They’ve pulled out the semantic relationships from that content, the entities. You can search by keyword for different pieces of content and then see what’s the most popular content that fits that keyword. Now their index isn’t huge, but they have a lot of content, especially around the SEO space, that you can look at. So you can quickly identify what’s working for other people and then make your case that way.

Finally, you can use any of the link indices — Open Site ExplorerAhrefsMajestic. All of these tools, if you go to the top pages reports for the different competitors, you can quickly see what’s working and what’s not, and then you have those metrics to make that business case.

Pose/review discussions

One of the other tactics that I really love to use to identify content that will work is by using the different discussion sites. Quora is a really good one. You can actually identify questions that people have already asked in the past and then see how many people have responded to that. You can see whether or not it’s a popular question that you can then use into your content.

You can actually pose your own questions, see how many people follow the question and how many people answer the question. Then, you can look at those people that are following the question and see what their demographics are and, boom, another solid business case based on actual data.

The finally, Reddit is really good for this as well. People love to get in discussions on Reddit. We’ve posed questions in the past, and people have given really passionate responses. Then there have been cases where we’ve posed questions and we got no response. Once you know it’s crickets, it’s not a good piece of content to launch.

People components

Business case

These are all the content and metric components of this. But what you really need to focus on, when you’re trying to get buy-in for this type of content internally, is the people components. When you’re building business cases and you’re dealing with a variety of people, your boss in fact, you’ve got to think about what metric is the one that helps him get to his bonus, and how does the content that you’re looking to create help fulfill that metric.

In most cases, those metrics aren’t necessarily channel metrics. It’s not:
Are we going to be number one for this keyword? Are we going to get more visits from organic search or more likes in social media? It goes back to things that affect the business.

In the case of a SaaS company, it can be: Okay, how does this contribute to our cost of acquisition versus our LTV ratio? Does this lower our cost of acquisition because we’re going to get a wide range of people that are going to ingest this content and then come back to the site, ending up signing up? Then, is it reaching the right side of our audience that is high value a customer? Is it the one that has the bigger long-term value or lifetime value?

Think about those metrics rather than, oh, we’re going to get some more likes and shares, because these metrics are typically the ones that go back to the metrics that help your boss hit his bonus.

Also, is there a conversion rate based on your existing content on your own site? I’ve talked at length about doing content on that’s both qualitatively and quantitatively, in a guest post that I did for Copyblogger, which will be below in the description, about doing content audits where you can identify what is performing and what’s not, and then see what types of content you may want to create in the future.

Using that as a framework to work with, you can then look at these content ideas that you’ve gotten on this side and see, okay, we have content that fits this, and generally the conversion rate is X. So you can make some sort of prediction based on the search volume and the keywords that go with this piece of content, or the amount of traffic you’re likely to get from social media to go with this content, and then back that into the conversion rate and then get back to these business level metrics that we talked about before.

Finally, or the last two things rather, how does this map to your brand’s story? A lot of the times when you’re talking about content, you’re talking about the brand messaging architecture, the voice, the tone. What are the brand’s goals? What is the brand trying to put out there?

Moz is really good at developing a good brand story. They have Roger that they weave into a lot of things. How does your piece of content go with that brand’s story? Again, back to the Moz example, they’re about doing better marketing.

My Whiteboard Friday here goes with that idea. So it’s really easy for me to make a business case for this piece of content to align with the business. How does your piece of content fit that brand’s story?

Then, finally, what phase in the funnel does this piece of content serve?

Because ultimately, at the end of the day, we’re always trying to market something. We’re marketers. We’re trying to move people through the funnel.

So, if you’ve identified in your content audits that, oh, we’re missing a lot of stuff for the decision phase, so this content will specifically speak to that decision phase. Here are all the metrics that go with it. Now, we have a strong business case.

That’s all I’ve got for today. My name’s Mike King. I’m happy to help you guys out. In the comments, let me know anytime that you’ve come against anything where you couldn’t get a piece of content pushed through at your business or your agency or what have you, and I’m happy to answer your questions.

Have a great one, and I’ll see you guys next time on Whiteboard Friday.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Reblogged 4 years ago from feedproxy.google.com