Content strategy is an essential element of any successful content marketing plan. It involves the planning, development, and management of all the content that a business creates to achieve its goals and engage its target audience. While content strategy and content marketing are closely related, they are different.
But first, what is content strategy?
Understanding Content Strategy
Content strategy is the creation of a roadmap for creating, publishing, and managing content to achieve specific business goals. It involves identifying the audience, mapping the customer journey, conducting keyword research, and developing a content calendar.
While content strategy and content marketing are often used interchangeably, there is a subtle difference between the two. Content marketing focuses on using content to drive profitable customer action, while content strategy is the overall plan for creating and managing content to achieve business goals.
The Benefits of Having a Content Strategy
Developing a content strategy offers several benefits for businesses. First and foremost, it helps establish clear goals and objectives for content creation, ensuring that each piece of content contributes to the overall business strategy. A well-defined content strategy also helps identify the target audience and understand their needs and preferences, allowing businesses to create content that resonates with their audience.
Furthermore, a content strategy provides a framework for organizing and planning content creation, which helps companies maintain consistency and quality across all their content. It also helps streamline content creation, ensuring content is produced efficiently and effectively.
Lastly, a content strategy allows businesses to optimize their content for search engines and improve their visibility in search results. Companies can create content that addresses their target audience's needs and search intent by researching keywords and mapping the customer journey.
7 Steps to a Winning Content Strategy
1. Define your Goals by Knowing your Audience
The first step in developing a content strategy is clearly defining your business goals. What do you want to achieve through your content? Do you want to increase brand awareness, generate leads, drive product sales, or establish thought leadership? Setting clear goals will help guide your content creation efforts.
However, to set effective goals, you must also understand your target audience. Without this basic understanding, it is simply impossible to create content that resonates with them! Conduct market research to identify their demographics, interests, pain points, and preferences. This will help you tailor your content to their needs and ensure its relevance.
One way to understand your audience is by knowing what types of content your audience is searching for. Sounds difficult? Doing this is quite easy using the variety of tools available to discover search intent data like Google Keyword Planner. This ensures you align your content strategy with the needs of your audience and improve your chances of ranking in search results.
Keyword research is a critical step in developing a content strategy. It involves identifying the keywords and phrases your target audience uses to search for information related to your business. This will help you optimize your content for search engines and attract organic traffic to your website.
Afterwards, you'll have the necessary knowledge to start creating your user personas. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer, incorporating critical demographic and psychographic information. Developing user personas will help you understand your buyer and target audience by helping you understand your audience's needs, motivations, and preferences. How do you do this? We've included a handy guide below 👇
2. Audit Your Existing Content
Before creating new content, conduct a thorough audit of your existing content. Evaluate its quality, relevance, and performance. Identify content gaps and opportunities for improvement. This will help you make informed decisions about your content strategy moving forward.
3. Map the Customer Journey
The customer journey is a potential customer's process from initial awareness to purchasing. Mapping the customer journey helps you understand the different touchpoints where you can engage your audience and deliver relevant content.
Traditionally, the customer journey was seen as a linear progression from awareness to purchase. However, with the rise of digital channels and technology, the customer journey has become more complex and non-linear. It now includes multiple touchpoints like social media, search engines, and online reviews. A comprehensive content strategy takes this new reality into account.
4. Build a Content Governance Structure: Content Development Processes and Calendars
A content governance structure defines the roles, processes, and policies for managing and maintaining your content. It ensures consistency, quality, and adherence to brand guidelines across all your content. Establish clear content creation, approval, and publication guidelines to maintain brand integrity and minimize risks.
This also includes the selection of channels to amplify your content. Creating great content is only half the battle; you need an effective distribution and amplification strategy to reach your target audience. Identify the channels and platforms where your audience is most active, such as social media, email newsletters, or industry publications. Develop a plan for promoting and sharing your content on these channels.
Once you've done this, you can unify it all under one content development process and calendar. Creating a content development process and calendar ensures consistency and efficiency in your content creation efforts. Define roles and responsibilities, establish workflows, and set deadlines. A content calendar will help you plan and organize your content production, ensuring you consistently deliver high-quality content to your audience.
5. Brainstorm Content Ideas and Plan a Variety of Content types
A successful content strategy requires a constant stream of fresh and engaging content ideas. Brainstorm with your team, conduct keyword research, analyze industry trends, and engage with your audience to generate a list of content ideas that align with your business goals and audience preferences.
Variety is vital to a successful content strategy. Plan a mix of different content types to cater to the diverse preferences of your audience. This can include blog posts, videos, infographics, case studies, whitepapers, podcasts, and more. Experiment with different formats and mediums to keep your audience engaged.
6. Choose a content management system (CMS)
A content management system (CMS) is a software platform that allows you to create, manage, and publish content on your website. Choose a CMS that aligns with your business needs and content strategy. Consider factors like ease of use, scalability, and integration with other tools and systems.
7. Execute your Ideas using Your Framework!
Once you have developed your content strategy framework, it's time to execute your ideas. Use the content calendar, production processes, and distribution strategy you have established to create and publish your content. Monitor the performance of your content and make adjustments as necessary to optimize its impact.
Other Noteworthy Content Strategy Considerations
Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust (E-E-A-T)
When developing your content strategy, it's critical to consider E-A-T. This acronym stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust, and it's an essential element for creating high-quality content that ranks well in search engines and resonates with your audience.
Content strategy and SEO
Content strategy and SEO go hand in hand. A strong content strategy considers SEO best practices, such as keyword optimization, backlink building, and technical SEO. By aligning your content strategy with SEO, you can optimize your content for search engines and improve its visibility and organic traffic.
Content Strategy Success Metrics and KPIs
Measuring the success of your content strategy is essential for understanding its impact and making data-driven decisions. Some key metrics and KPIs to consider include website traffic, engagement rate, conversion rate, social media reach, and search engine rankings. Regularly monitor and analyze these metrics to assess the effectiveness of your content strategy.
Future of Content Marketing Strategy
The field of content marketing is constantly evolving, driven by changing consumer behaviors, technological advancements, and algorithm updates. Staying ahead of the curve requires continuous learning and adaptation. Keep an eye on emerging trends, such as voice search, interactive content, and personalized experiences, to ensure the long-term success of your content strategy.
Content Strategy and Owned Asset Optimization (OAO)
Owned asset optimization (OAO) is a concept that emphasizes the importance of leveraging owned digital assets, such as websites, blogs, and social media profiles, to drive organic traffic and engagement. A robust content strategy should focus on optimizing these owned assets to maximize their visibility and impact.