How to base your content strategy around your customers problem areas

We have learned a lot over the last year experimenting with different forms of content and prioritizing different aspects of it.

With 2 new hires for the content marketing team coming soon, we wanted to revisit our documented content strategy and update it, so our new team members could hit the ground running with a fresh strategy.

In this post, we’ll explore some changes we made to our content strategy and why we decided to make them. You can use our approach to audit your own content strategy.

How to base your content strategy around your customers problem areas Click To Tweet

If you need a refresher on our content strategy, check out: The WP Curve content strategy, and how to build your own.

New metrics for content success

Over the past year, the influence of the WP Curve blog has grown substantially. With this growth, we have decided to redefine our metrics for a successful post and continue to challenge ourselves to create better content.

Previously, we identified a post with 50 or more tweets to be a “breakout hit.”  We measured this by checking the total shares at the end of each month for the post that were published in that month. We have raised that bar to 100 tweets and aim to have every single post net at least 50 tweets within 30 days of being published.

Adding this minimal tweet count will force us to be much more critical in the content we choose to publish on the blog. This new metric may conflict with our previous goal of publishing 10 posts of content each month. Though we have found in our research that the most effective startups publish content multiple times per week, we no longer want to incentivize pushing out content that is not ready or not good enough to simply make that quota.

Related: Content marketing, the most important startup growth channel [SURVEY RESULTS]

We have added a new goal of netting a total of 500 tweets a month from the new content we publish. This keeps our focus on quality over quantity each month and allows for more freedom to create something great, even if it takes more time.

There has been some rumors of Twitter removing share counts from their platform. Which would kill this part of our strategy. We’ll pivot and update this post if that happens.

A better way to measure social shares

In order to give a more accurate measurement of whether or not we are hitting this goal, we need to measure each post uniformly. Simply going through the content at the end of the month means that posts that are published earlier in the month seem to perform better, since they have had more time to get visits and shares, whereas posts published later in the month appear to be underperforming.

Measuring social shares 30 days after the post is published should give a more accurate gauge on performance, but this means there’s an added challenge of tracking each post individually.

We created a reminder with Zapier that triggers 30 days after a post is published so we can automate this process. This required 2 Zaps that worked together.

On the first Zap, when a post appears in the RSS feed, we create a Google calendar event 30 days later. In the event description we include the title and link to the post.

Description event

We set the start date of the event to be: {{zap_meta_human_now}} +30d

Then on the second Zap, we have the calendar event trigger the creation of a Trello card.

In the Trello card, we import the description of the calendar event, which contains the link to the post. So our admin team can easily copy and paste it into Like Explorer and get the share counts.

Trello card description

This system helps give us an accurate and unbiased measurement of how well our posts are doing, without the hassle of having to track all the publishing dates or setting reminders constantly.

Related: The best of WP Curve – content marketing

Focus on core problem areas

We weren’t happy with how slowly our email list was growing over the past year. We also had a sense that a lot of our best content was not getting the attention it deserved. But unless someone was searching for it or saw a link to it in a related post, it was unlikely they were going to find it.

We thought that focusing on core problem areas would tackle both of these issues. A “core problem area” is a pain point that our target customers have that we address in our content and in our service.

We decided to clearly define some core problem areas to help better direct our content creation. Previously, we had defined features of our posts and the values of our blog, but we did not have an explicit direction or next step for the visitor. We wanted to avoid being too “pushy” with our content and counted on the trust that we were building with the visitor to move them to action.

Though we still see trust with our audience as our most valuable asset, we believe that focusing on the core problem areas will provide more value to our visitors by connecting individual pieces of content together in more meaningful ways and allow us to better understand our audience and what they need from us.

The different categories of core problem areas will also help better organize our lead magnet structure. With our content categorized into the problem areas, we can develop lead magnets with a broad appeal in that category.

Once we capture a lead, we’ll send them through an automated email sequence tailored to that core problem area, suggesting similar content, and eventually pitching our service and framing it as a solution to their problem.

Content strategy flowchart

Another benefit of creating these categories is that it allows us to create some hub pages where we can collect our “Best of” articles for each category and link to those pages directly. This is particularly helpful for navigation through our site and allows new visitors to find some of our classic content without having to dig through the archives or search.

How we found our core problem areas

We were aiming for about 5 categories. That gave us enough flexibility to create content that appeals to a broad audience, but also didn’t get too broad and lower the effectiveness of our lead magnets.

We looked through our top 100 most visited posts in the last year and began to categorize them.

This started in Google Analytics, in Behavior / Site Content / Landing Pages.

We set the date range to cover the past year.

canvas

Set the display to 100 rows.

show rows

And exported this data to a spreadsheet.

export

We cleared out all the data except for the visits and the slug of the post. Then we began to organize the posts into common themes for the problem that they solved or targeted.

We took the sum of the total visits for each category and put them into a pie chart to break down the traffic that was currently going to each core problem area, which helped us prioritize where we needed to develop content and lead magnets, and also ensured that the category had enough traffic flowing to it to be worthwhile.

This took a while; some posts could fit into multiple categories, and we had to redefine the problems we solved several times, but eventually we found a balance between 6 categories.

pie

The next step was breaking down each of these core problem areas. We created another sheet that outlined:

  • The problem: What the pain point was and what kind of solution they were looking for.
  • Lead magnets: Any currently existing or ideas for new lead magnets in this category.
  • How we solve the problem: How WP Curve helps provide a solution to that core problem.
  • Top posts in each category: This will be helpful for creating hub pages for each category and for suggesting new content in the sequences we develop.

The core problem areas we target:

1. Content marketing

The problem: We specialize in content marketing; it’s a topic that we love to discuss and explore. So we created a dedicated category for this core problem area.

How our service helps: WP Curve helps content marketers by helping install the perfect plugins for their blog, keeping their site running fast (SEO), and allows marketers to focus on creating good content, without worrying about the technical issues on their site.

Related: The ultimate guide to creating content that converts

2. Improving your WordPress site

The problem: Though WordPress is a powerful platform to build a website, it can be very challenging to use, especially for those who are less technically proficient. People are looking for simple ways to improve the functionality of their site.

How our service helps: Making modifications and testing new plugins and themes on a site can cause unforeseen problems. WP Curve helps you safely install new software to your site and can help you fix any issues that arise.

Related: WordPress speed – How to reduce your load time to under 1 second

3. Traffic

The problem: This category is about other solutions for driving and understanding the traffic on your site. Topics like paid advertising, retargeting, analytics and customer CPA analysis.

How our service helps: WP Curve keeps your site running fast which helps with user experience and search rankings. We take care of your site so you can focus on driving more traffic to it, instead of keeping it running.

Related: The step-by-step Facebook retargeting guide: Get more conversions from your existing traffic

4. Starting a business

The problem: The early stages of starting and launching a business can be some of the most intimidating barriers for new entrepreneurs to overcome. People are looking for frameworks to structure their business and inspiration for ways to create value for others.

The founding story of WP Curve that Dan outlines in the 7 Day Startup.

How our service helps: WP Curve helps you quickly start your business by removing the technical hurdle for creating and maintaining a web presence.

Related: Is startup validation bullshit?

5. Business growth

The problem: There are countless strategies and tactics to grow a business online, but with limited resources, an entrepreneur needs to identify the most effective from these and not waste time on the rest. People are looking for actionable and relatable case studies and guides to help them find what will work best for them and their business.

How our service helps: We take the learning curve out of the technical side of growing an online business, so the entrepreneur can worry about moving the business forward without having to spend thousands of dollars or hours.

Related: Welcome aboard – 6 startup founders share tips for hiring

6. Productivity

The problem: In order to be successful, entrepreneurs and startups need to make the most out of the precious few resources they have. They are constantly looking for ways to optimize how they invest themselves to get more value. Our guides to using tools and apps for business fell into this area; these guides tend to be some of the most successful at driving traffic to our blog and made this category the largest of our core problem areas.

One challenge with this area is that it is difficult to create a lead magnet that has a broad appeal. Since most of the traffic is people searching about specific tools, we will probably be more successful at capturing leads by creating various content upgrades specific to each tool.

How our service helps: You can be more productive if you focus on your strengths, not weaknesses. WP Curve helps remove the time-consuming tasks of website maintenance and allows you to focus your valuable time on moving your business forward.

Related: What’s the best time of day to create great content?

Conclusion

A content strategy is the foundation to all of our content marketing, so it’s worth taking a look at it at least once a year to find ways to improve it. Our new metrics and focus on core problem areas will help us make better decisions and deliver more value to our audience.

A content strategy is the foundation to all of our content marketing, so it’s worth trying to find ways… Click To Tweet

What updates are you making to your content strategy this year? Let us know in the comments.

About

Kyle is the founder of Conversion Cake . He is the author of "The College Entrepreneur" A book for students who want to break into entrepreneurship. Follow him @kylethegray

18 responses to “How to base your content strategy around your customers problem areas”

  1. Chris O'Byrne says:

    This is an awesome article and very useful. Although the idea of using categories to silo content is not new, you took it to a new level with your analysis of the problem and how you solve it.

  2. Great findings Kyle. I like the idea of exporting analytics data based on page views and slug and then reverse engineering what problem those posts were solving. Going to have to incorporate this ourselves. We actually discussed this blog post in our daily marketing standup and plan to incorporate that level of research for our content marketing efforts with LeadFuze. Good stuff!

  3. Chris O'Byrne says:

    Justin, I LOVE your podcast with Greg.

  4. Nice Chris! Appreciate you listening. Stop by the free community if you have time: https://www.facebook.com/groups/zerotoscale

  5. Chris O'Byrne says:

    I’m already a member. ?

  6. Kelly Exeter says:

    Kyle this is awesome! I am looking at the content strategy for Swish Design at the moment and this is hugely helpful xx

  7. Ingrid Cliff says:

    Super strategy! Just followed along with your approach and ran the numbers on our site. Some huge ahas and “Would you look at that! Who would have thought that would come up” moments. Thanks!

  8. Chris Mack says:

    Love the idea of segmenting like this. We’ve been doing this for a while now, and can now dynamically segment our list based on what types of content they read most, so we can send them very targeted emails – no matter where or how they signed up. It worked so well we built it into our software so anyone with a WP site can now do the same.

  9. Ryan Love says:

    Thanks for this post Kyle, v timely for me!

    Great to see how you laid out the core problem areas WP Curve is solving and the content you’re creating / going to create to help people and then to eventually nudge them towards WP Curves services.

    I’m curious why you guys are using “number of tweets” at all as a goal and success metric. Surely all you’re measuring is how well a piece of content spreads on twitter, not necessarily how well it does for your business.

    What if a piece of content bombs on twitter, but gets linked to by various blogs and then brings in lots of new traffic, etc

    Or what if another piece gets no outside traction, but it’s a great piece of content that converts some of your existing audience to your service?

    Wont you be discarding that content as a fail because it didn’t hit your number of retweets target?

  10. Kyle Gray says:

    Hey Ryan,

    Great question! The tweets are important but not the only metric. We look at other things such as how much traffic a post drives, especially organic traffic over time.

    There are a few things we aim for in a successful post that aren’t quite quantifiable, like high-quality comments. Your comment is a perfect example of what we hope for. You mention specifically what you liked about the post and added an intelligent question.

    So we would still consider a post a success if it performed poorly on twitter but achieved some of these other goals then it would be a success.

  11. Kyle Gray says:

    Chris, this sounds like some very interesting software. Can you give us a link? This is next step we need to take with out lead magnets.

    Once we get more sophisticated with our segmenting, we’ll also be able to start asking, which content is converting visitors into customers the best? But that’s a whole new post.

  12. Kyle Gray says:

    Thanks Ingrid! It makes my day to know I’m creating those moments. Let me know if you have any questions about how you could apply this to your strategy.

  13. Kyle Gray says:

    Kelly, let me know how you apply this to the Swish Design strategy. I would love to see how other people run with these ideas for other content.

  14. Kyle Gray says:

    Take some notes and let me know how it goes Justin! It would be great to see some other case studies in how people segment their audiences and what they do with that data.

  15. Kyle Gray says:

    Thanks Chris! The next step is now trying to get some data on which problem is the biggest for our audience and how can we use that data to make better content and more conversions.

  16. Ryan Love says:

    Wait I said something intelligent… I didn’t mean to!

    No but seriously, thanks for answering, makes sense.

  17. Chris Mack says:

    Sure – I didn’t want to leave a link in my comment lest it be viewed as spam – I really did enjoy the article. http://www.getspokal.com is the software. It also goes a long way to delivering post-level analytics so you can see what content is working best across a variety of metrics (SE entries, social shares, comments, clicks from social, lead signups etc). And we’ve got some really interesting things – some of which you’ve hinted at in your article – being added soon.

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