A strong content strategy can spell the difference between smashing your content goals and wasting your budget. But what does a winning content strategy look like?
A content strategy differs from a content plan. But some content strategists are able to offer a business both.
A content plan tells you what content to create. It details specific content ideas and tactics, planning them out over relevant channels for a specific period of time.
In contrast, a content strategy focuses on why you create content. It gives your content marketing structure and purpose — setting you up for success.
To tease out your content marketing why, there are seven questions your content strategy should answer. Read on as we consider each in turn.
1) What are your content objectives?
First up, consider your overall business aims. Are you trying to feed your sales pipeline? Grow a community around your brand? Or increase brand awareness?
Set some content objectives that will support your business aims. For example, if you are trying to increase sales, your content objective could be to drive website enquiries.
Ensure your content objects are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) to make them meaningful to your business.
2) Who are you trying to engage?
Creating content to appeal to the masses lessens its impact. Successful content is framed to resonate with specific target personas. It’s better to fully engage a few than cast the net too wide and catch no one.
You may already have user personas in place. If so, revisit these are part of the content strategy process. If not, here are some points to cover to create some basic user personas:
- job title
- family situation
- personality traits
- preferred channels
The last point, language, is crucial. Understanding the language each persona uses will help inform the tone of your content. If you have a tone of voice guide in place, this is good time to revisit it.
3) What does your audience need?
Unpicking your audience’s informational needs in relation to your products is a key part of your content strategy. What might they be searching for at the top, middle, and bottom of the buying cycle?
Once you’ve completed your research, map your audience’s search intentions out into groups of related informational needs. Decide on three groups of needs to focus on. These will help inform your content pillars, which you’ll create next.
4) How can your content meet audience needs?
Once you’ve decided on the three main groups of informational needs your content strategy will focus on, you can define three content pillars. Each pillar describes how your content can meet that informational need.
Let’s bring this to life with an example. Imagine for a moment that are marketing a website personalisation platform. You may have identified the following three groups of needs:
- understanding the benefits of website personalisation
- finding examples of effective website personalisation
- comparing features of different website personalisation platforms
To meet these needs, your three content pillars could be:
- educating about the benefits of website personalisation
- inspiring with best practice website personalisation examples
- demonstrating the features of website personalisation products
5) Which content types, formats, and channels are relevant?
Now that you’ve pinned down your three content pillars, have a think about which content types and formats will best engage your audience.
Should the benefits of website personalisation be explored through a series of videos? Or are written guides better?
A good way to explore this is to do some competitor research. See what competitor content performs well for relevant searches. Use BuzzSumo to discover popular content shared on relevant topics. What format is this content in?
Consider which channels make the most sense to promote each content type through. Again, competitor research is key here. Which channels are your audience consuming relevant competitor content on?
6) What happens next?
Next, consider what you want people to do as a result of engaging with your content. For example:
- download a guide
- sign up for a newsletter
- make an enquiry
- share something socially
- read a product page
Consider whether certain these actions fit best with certain pillars. You can pin this down more precisely in your content plan. But it’s good to get thinking about onwards journey at the strategy stage.
7) How can you measure your success?
The actions you decide to drive will inform the metrics you use to measure success. You’ll want to measure engagement as well as actions, to get a full picture of the impact your content is having.
Make sure you’ve got everything set up in Google Analytics to measure the success of your strategy.
Creating a measurement plan that you can keep updated with monthly results to is a good way measure, refine, and improve upon your success.
This has been a whistle-stop tour of seven questions a winning content strategy should answer. Answering these questions will help you define the why of your content marketing, giving your efforts meaning and purpose, and improving results.
Whenever you commission a piece of content to be created for your brand, make sure it honours your strategy. If a piece of content does not support one of your content pillars, are you sure making it will benefit your business? And don’t forget, your content strategy is a living document, so don’t be afraid to update it.