Plan To Succeed And Succeed In Planning.

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Ok, so we all know ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’ but let’s not focus on the negative. One of the questions that causes the most debate when working with clients is ‘why do you have a website?’. Sounds simple right, but lets break this down a bit. Do you have a website with a clearly defined list of core objectives? A set of objectives that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed) with sound KPIs to support them? If so, great, but you would be surprised how many people don’t. If you’re one of the majority that don’t then this post is aimed to be a quick overview of how you can set your digital objectives.

Firstly, define what you want to achieve in a single, short vision/mission statement. Something like ‘we want to sell great products to our customers with great levels of service in order to build long term relationships’. Sounds good (and somewhat generic but you get the point).

Then break this down into the constituent parts:·

  • Sell products
  • Great customer service
  • Long term relationships

Then take each one of these in turn and define how you are going to measure success against each one? Define what you want to achieve or, to put it another way, define what good looks like.

Think about the KPIs that can help you measure success and set a target for each. Anyone who uses Google Analytics knows that there is a tonne of data you can mine, your job is to define what data matters to your brand. For example:

  • Sell products
  •          Online product sales value
  •          Number of baskets sold

  • Great Customer Service
  •         Online returns rate
  •         Page views on Complaints pages
  •         Feedback scores
  •         Ratings and Reviews

  • Long term relationships
  •         Returning visitors (percentage or actual) 
  •         Average session length
  •         Cross channel engagement
  •         Number repeat visits
  •         Number repeat purchases
  •         Share/ Likes on Facebook

Once you have established the metrics that matter and put in your targets (important point: you must have realistic and somewhat ambitious, yet achievable, targets against each KPI) all you need to do is define how you’re going to achieve each one.

At this point you need to start considering:

  • Proposition Development/Definition
  • Creative
  • Channel Mix
  • Content Requirements
  • Automated Marketing
  • Technical support

Finally, define your reporting framework – mainly who collates the data, from where and when and you have a simple executable plan for your digital brand platform which includes defined objectives, set strategies, measurable KPIs and a reporting framework.

A few notes on the above:

Firstly, your plan will change. The Army has something called ‘Commanders Intent’ and its based on the idea that the best laid plans will always need to adapt and change once they are put into action. Your digital plan is no different, as your strategies come to fruition and you’re into your reporting cycles you will need to adapt and tweak the plan (or maybe re-hash some of it). This is normal and its part of how we work with our clients through constantly reviewing the performance of the plan and the plan itself, to make sure it still works and is still relevant.

Secondly, if people in your organisation have specific data needs outside of your planned objectives then take advantage of Google Analytics automated reports and get these inboxed to your colleagues without taking you away from your core focus. Again, don’t be afraid to ask for help with this.

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.

 

Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

 
Nick Towers
Nick Towers
Co-Founder & Joint CEO
Co-Founder, CEO and self-confessed massive geek, Nick has been in digital since graduating from law and moving into technology many years ago. Through a combination of building awesome client relationships, crafting a formidable team of digital experts and consistently delivering results for our clients Nick has taken Sagittarius from being a successful small agency to the global digital customer experience consultancy and Sitecore powerhouse that it is today.
Nick Towers

Nick Towers

25 Jun 2014 - 5 minute read
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