That headline is in jest, but there is some truth to it. We have all heard the saying, “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” That might be true. But there is such a thing as a bad digital content strategy.

The worst example of a bad digital content strategy is not having one at all. If you have good content, then you owe it to yourself and your organization to build a strategy that will activate it to help achieve your goals. Otherwise, what good is it?

With today’s technologies and myriad channels for continuing exposure, communicators can take advantage of valuable collected content to reach new audiences and create new revenue streams.

Generally, content can be anything from PR and marketing materials (press releases, speaking abstracts, product brochures, enewsletters, etc.) to training materials and archived content (coverage reports, campaign proposals, etc.). Content is what you create and store, but if it’s in an unstructured format like paper or PDF, you are missing its true value, including the ability to repurpose. The replacement of printed materials with digital content and of static digital formats with flexible formats represents a huge marketing opportunity.

Your content needs to be converted so it is easily findable and accessible, and to do that properly you need a plan. Strictly speaking, when it comes to marketing, the more mileage you can get out of your content, the better. Think of it along the lines of syndicating a TV show. A TV show graduating to syndication is when its potential to find a wider audience really kicks in. This also means that the show’s key players will make ongoing profits for years, even decades, removed from actually working on the show. The same goes for your content and your brand—make it smarter so it works for you well into the future.

In Data Conversion Laboratory’s recent Following the Trends survey, more than half of respondents told us that that their content was not ready for the future. This means they do not have a digital content strategy and that is a mistake, no matter what the industry. Having a smart digital content strategy can boost your brand’s exposure, and as already noted, open up new revenue streams. Mobile marketing is a superb example of this. Whether you are marketing a product or service, being able to effectively reach people on their mobile devices should be one of the most important tactics in your digital content strategy. (This same survey showed that almost 40% of respondents do not even publish their content on mobile devices.) With or without mobile, the more time you waste not developing a content strategy, the further behind you will be.

As with most daunting undertakings, getting started is often the hardest part. The good news is that developing your strategy can begin with one definitive step: Convert your content to a standardized digital format (like XML for instance). To start, approach this content like you would any other marketing asset and use it at every stage of your marketing strategy. Hopefully you have identified audience segments and the potential they represent. Not every article, press release, presentation or piece of collateral will have the same value or potential for reuse. But if you design the right structure for your content and your goals provide a consistent way to prioritize, convert, and manage the content so that the most valuable elements are readily identifiable, then you can begin the process of creating a content strategy.

Optimally, make sure your content is searchable and findable so it can effectively be utilized to draw customers to your website, products or services—and better yet—keep them there and keep them coming back! A nice example of this is converted content can be tagged which makes it more likely that it will be served when someone does a Google search (SEO). Having a content conversion strategy can be an important element of good marketing plan. It can activate collateral that adds depth to your brand and possibly boost sales in the process.

Marketing in all its forms is a way to get your product or service out to as many people in your target market as possible. Building a digital content strategy is also a way to control your message, brand or image. The last thing you want is to spend time and money creating content that continually needs to be pushed to your audience rather than making it smarter so people can find it themselves. Again, make it work for you, not the other way around.

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Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Tom C. Smith is the Director of Marketing for Data Conversion Laboratory, Inc. Tom has been a marketer for over 20 years in tactical and leadership roles, including a senior position at Yahoo! in their paid search marketing division.

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