With so many content types publishing on the internet daily, it can get confusing regarding which ones you should focus on and when. There are blogs, eBooks, podcasts, social media posts, and more – each with different goals. Your content strategy helps make sense of the content you want to publish and establishes a framework for its delivery.
Why should companies build a content strategy? Ultimately, content strategies close the gap between your company’s content marketing goals and its results. In doing so, this strategy helps your company get the most from the content you and your team create.
What is a Content Strategy?
After pre-defining business and marketing goals, your content strategy delves into planning, creating, distributing, and measuring every form of content against those goals.
Your content strategy outlines:
- Why you’re creating content.
- Who the content is for (who is your business helping?)
- How your business solutions (products and services) solve their pain points
Content strategies also help businesses prioritize what they want to do. Examples of these priorities include:
- Defining how your company intends to use content to meet business goals and objectives while simultaneously meeting customers’ needs.
- Guiding decisions regarding content throughout its lifecycle—from start to finish
- Setting benchmarks for measuring your content’s success
Steps for Building a Content Strategy
No two businesses are going to handle building a content strategy the same. For example, a B2B marketer has different goals than a B2C marketer. However, there’s a basic blueprint we can all follow to ensure we’re not missing any points.
Step One: Determine Your Mission and Marketing Goals
During this step, you outline why your content exists and what actions you want your audience to take after engaging with it. Determining your marketing goals also extends to the value you expect your business to experience after customers engage with your content.
Your content strategy’s mission should answer the following questions:
- Who is your target audience?
- What content do you intend to use to reach them?
- What benefits do you expect?
Mission Example: Our content is where [target audience] receives [content type] that offers [expected benefits].
Step two: Conduct Target Audience and Persona Research
It isn’t uncommon to see the phase target audience and the term persona used interchangeably. Even though this phrase and term describe who is or will read your content, there are different meanings and research approaches you should understand.
Who is or is going to be reading your content?
Before diving too deeply into building a content strategy, you must determine your target audience. Determine your company’s target audience by identifying their age, gender, educational background, marital status, location, and purchasing habits.
Target Audience Example: Single man, 40-50 years old, living in Boston, with a bachelor’s degree, monthly income ranging between $3,000 and $5,000, and has an interest in exercise equipment.
Personas differ from target audiences because they’re buyer profiles describing your company’s ideal customer. Personas include information about the customer’s professional background, lifestyle, interests, social media engagement, personal characteristics, and more.
Persona Example: Stephen, 45, is an unmarried investment banker living in Boston. He has a bachelor’s degree in finance and updates his website with data, posts, and tips about how corporations or government entities can raise capital. Stephen takes part in and attends trade shows and conferences to network with others in the industry. As a subject matter expert, he cares about what his followers read on his social media profiles. He likes to golf and rock climb during his free time.
What problem are you solving for your audiences?
Ideally, your products or services solve your target audience’s pain points. When they identify and address these problems, your content coaches and educates them through it. Your content strategy should support potential customers on both sides of the spectrum.
That means you’re helping those who are still trying to determine their challenges. It also means helping your existing customers that use your services or products to solve their pain points. You can achieve this goal by tailoring your messages to meet your potential customers at their level.
- Educate them about their problem and help them understand potential solutions.
- Engage with these individuals to better understand their challenges and establish your brand’s authority and credibility.
- Present high-value solutions once you can identify your audience’s most significant problem.
What makes you unique?
Here, you’re creating a unique value proposition (UVP). A UVP is a clear-cut statement focusing on the benefits your brand provides your customers and why it’s beneficial to them to choose your brand over the competition. Don’t mistake a UVP with a positioning statement. A positioning statement gives your target audience a brief description of your products or services and how it addresses your target market’s needs.
UVP Example: [Stripe] “Payments infrastructure for the internet
Millions of companies of all sizes—from startups to Fortune 500s—use Stripe’s software and APIs to accept payments, send payouts, and manage their businesses online.”
This value proposition example succinctly describes that Stripe has mobile and web payment products designed explicitly for tech-savvy businesses and developers.
Step Three: Conduct a Content Audit
Blogs might seem like a logical place to start. However, if you want your team to create other content, conducting an audit helps determine which ones to produce. For example, you might have an article or blog post that performs well. Think about how you can repurpose that blog into other content:
- Expand it into an eBook, guide, or white paper.
- Formulate into a course or webinar.
- Translate it into a video or podcast.
The best way to achieve content goals is by ensuring they’re measurable and specific. That involves setting key performance indicators (KPIs) when building your content strategy. KPIs provide you with a set of milestones that, when achieving them, you can check each off your list.
KPI Example: Boost website traffic by improving the search ranking on some of your company’s key pages.
Step Three: Choose a Content Management System
Companies can choose among three content management system (CMS) types. Determining which system is best depends on your company’s budget, if you want to use a third-party server, and which tools you’re using.
After purchasing a license, companies can install software where they lease their server space. Unlike on-premises CMS, companies don’t own the third-party servers on which the software installs.
Cloud-Hosted CMS Examples:
- Hostway: A global web hosting company offering hosting services for business applications, databases, managed web hosting, and websites.
- WPEngine: Dedicated WordPress hosting solutions
If companies decide they want on-premises CMS, they can purchase a license from the vendor. Then, they can install it on their servers or the servers of their hosting provider. Because the company is the license holder, that means they handle installation, security, and upgrades.
On-Premises CMS Examples:
- Drupal: An open-source software solution that anyone can download and deploy.
- Odoo: On-premises solutions are best for companies with over 50 employees for tracking leads, closing opportunities, and getting accurate forecasts.
Software as a Solution (SaaS) CMS is a “headless” solution that works similarly to many tools marketers are already using – like Google Docs and Salesforce. Companies don’t have to worry about installing, maintaining, or updating software. Instead, the CMS handles those details.
SaaS CMS Examples:
- Sitefinity: Deploy Sitefinity websites from any computer operating Windows with IIS and meets the CMS solution’s requirements.
- Butter CMS: Supports over 20 programming frameworks and languages.
Step Four: Brainstorm Content Ideas
There are many tools available to help brainstorm and improve upon content ideas, including:
- Bubble.us: Mind mapping brainstorming software
- Coggle: Collaborative brainstorming app
- LucidChart: Integrates with third-party apps, including DropBox and Google Workspace
- MindMeister: Idea-generating brainstorming app
- SpiderScribe: Connect calendar events, free-form maps, and notes.
Step Five: Perform SEO Analysis
Like there are many brainstorming tools available, you also have your pick of SEO analysis tools. Here are some examples:
- Ahrefs: All-in-one digital suite offering tools like Content Explorer, Keyword Explorer, Rank Checker, Site Audit Tool, and Site Explorer.
- Copyscape: Content optimization tool focusing on plagiarism and duplication within your site’s content (which can hurt your search rankings).
- HubSpot’s Website Grader: A free SEO audit tool that grades websites according to their performance, mobile optimization, security, and SEO.
- Page Optimization Pro: SEO audit tool that includes a Chrome extension for local SEO, LSI recommendations, on-page analysis, SEO recommendations, and SERP analysis.
- SEMrush: Digital marketing suite specializing in competitor intelligence, content optimization, keyword research, paid ad research, rank tracking, and social media monitoring.
Step Six: Create a Content Calendar
Part of building a content strategy involves creating a content calendar. That way, you know when you want to publish specific content pieces, what they are, and what platforms to use. Some companies have no problem creating a shareable Google or Outlook calendar containing due dates.
However, if your company produces a significant amount of content, you’ll benefit from using comprehensive calendar tools like:
- Airtable: a collaborative online platform for sharing and storing information in a visually appealing spreadsheet database
- Asana: Track and organize your team’s projects in a distraction-free and centralized location
- ClickUp: This cloud-based collaboration and project management organizational tool allows you to assign team members tasks, manage client projects, and collaborate over documents.
- CoSchedule: A single-solution platform allowing teams to plan, organize, and deploy everything in the content marketing plan.
- Trello: Organize projects on boards using cards that tell you at a glance who is working on what and where content is in the distribution process
Step Seven: Determine the Best Content Types to Create
Because not every type of content doesn’t appeal to every one of your visitors, you must spend some time determining the best types to create. Here are examples of content formats and how they can help reach your audience:
Written Content Formats:
- Blog posts: Blogging enables you to create niche content that’s authoritative and available for repurposing.
- Case studies: Use case studies to create powerful stories about your customers and their offerings.
- Checklists: Create documents that include downloadable and printable cheat sheets, checklists, tip sheets, and worksheets.
- eBooks: Add eBooks to blog posts as lead magnets or develop a resource library.
- Email newsletters: 78% of marketers state that they’ve seen engagement increase within the last year.
- Long-form articles: Here are blogging opportunities whereby you can publish “ultimate guides” and other sharable content.
- Quizzes and polls: Give your audience a chance to engage with the content you’re producing with a simple “click.”
- Research findings: We learned from Orbit Media Studios that, during 2020, the rise of original research among bloggers reached 42%, with 32% of bloggers being more likely to report solid results.
- White papers and reports: Nearly 80% of marketers say they share white papers with their colleagues.
Multi-media Content Formats:
- Images: When articles contain images every 75-100 words, they receive double the amount of social media shares.
- Infographics: We learn from HubSpot that up to 65% of brands include infographics in their marketing plans.
- Podcasts: In 2020, 55% of U.S. consumers listened to podcasts.
- Presentations: Upload presentations to SlideShare and then link them to LinkedIn to increase visibility.
- Video: 87% of video marketers report that this content produces a positive ROI.
- Webinars: 83% of marketers state they plan to start or attend a webinar.
Step Eight: Publish and Manage Your Content
By thinking beyond using your editorial calendar to outline critical deadlines, you can ensure your content strategy also includes how you plan to distribute, market, and manage your content. That involves:
- Identifying target dates for publishing and sharing content
- Creating an email marketing plan that distributes specific content pieces to your target audience.
- Sending notifications to subject matter experts, interviewees, and other sources, so they spread the word about the content.
Managing your content also includes measuring its results. This part of the strategy involves returning to your KPIs, identifying any changes, and determining if the content is hitting its targets. You can use metrics tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, BuzzSumo, SEMrush, and Ahrefs.
Content Strategy Examples
Creating a content strategy is laborious for some, and for others, it’s a matter of plugging pertinent information into the correct sections. If you’re new to building a content strategy, it helps to have some examples, tips, and resources. Here’s a list of our favorites:
- [Content Marketing Institute] The Best Checklists, Tips, and Templates for Content Marketing
- [CoSchedule] Download Your Marketing Resource and Template Bundle
- [HubSpot] The Ultimate Collection of Free Content Marketing Templates
- [SmartInsights] Free Digital Marketing Plan Template
Building a content strategy creates a foundational process for achieving goals, reaching and engaging with your audience, and sharing your brand story. The strategy’s framework unifies your company’s objectives, bringing everything into sharper focus. Do you need help building a content strategy? Learn more about how nDash can help by checking out our content services.
Do I really need to create a content marketing strategy?
The quick answer is – yes. Documenting your content marketing strategy is the best way of organizing, planning, managing, and distributing your company’s content.
What makes a good content strategy?
Determining what makes a good content strategy involves asking yourself:
- Can your target audience find your content?
- Is your target audience reading and engaging with your content?
- Do readers share your content on social media?
- Are people subscribing to your email newsletter?
- Is your website’s ranking improving?
- Are potential customers moving through the funnel?
What is included in a content strategy?
A good content strategy includes:
- Goals and a mission statement
- Target audience insights and personas
- Competitor analysis
- A content and SEO audit
- Distribution channels
- An editorial calendar
Need some help building a content strategy? Contact us today.