How to develop content strategy
A good content strategy seeks to make an impact with a target audience. This means that it has a clear message that produces meaningful and interactive experiences.
Most likely, the first thing to come to mind when you see the term ‘content strategy’ is in fact content marketing. While the two are not the same, they are closely linked. It is important however, to make the distinction and address them separately.
According to the Content Marketing Institute: “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”.
Whereas content strategy refers to: “...the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content”, according to Kristina Halvorson.
Where content marketing has a commercial angle and aims to improve the reach and sales of the products or services of a company, content strategy need not pursue the same goals, its purpose is purely communication.
Content marketing and content strategy in fact, function together, allowing a business to build on communication, and in doing so, improve its marketing. While the two concepts are often confused, they each deserve focus when it comes to your business.
The goal of content strategy
Content strategy is used for the goal of creating information through words to create clear, meaningful content that resonates with current and potential customers. It is about quality over quantity and aims to provide value.
It involves creating an impact on customers - not by hammering information, being shocking or obnoxious, but by making a mark, creating a positive effect without overwhelming or frightening anyone.
A step-by-step content strategy
Now that we’re done with the more abstract definition part, let’s move on to some concrete examples and an outline for getting started with your own content strategy.
1. Analyse the competition This might be something you have already done when launching your business. But it’s important to stay on top of the developments of your competitors in order to stay up-to-date in the market.
With content strategy, it’s no different. Study what they have done and use it as an example for your own strategy (but do not copy it!). Try to improve on it in your own business.
2. Define your objectives Before you can arrive somewhere, you must have an idea of where you are going. It’s no different when it comes to running a business. Setting clear goals is important for all parts of your company.
Your objective should be SMART. This acronym, used frequently in project management, is meant to help you cover all the requirements needed to successfully manage and pursue a goal. SMART means that every objective should be:
- S: specific
- M: measurable
- A: achievable
- R: realistic
- T: time-bound
For example, if your objective is: ‘to generate more traffic for your website’ (perhaps an insignificant example, but can be important to some businesses), then this goal is missing some of the parameters provided by SMART. It is neither specific nor is it time-bound.
After applying SMART, this goal would look more like: ‘To generate 100,000 visits to your website within a period of 30 days and improve the subscription rate by 10%’.
3. Define your audience Once you have determined where you want to go, you will need to define your target audience. Your current and potential customers will have particular interests and preferences, so it’s important to define these in order to take them into account when deciding how best to reach your audience.
4. Define your content With your goals and your target audience and channels well-defined, the next step is to focus on the content itself. Ask yourself what your business is about, what your customers might want/need to know and the right way to communicate this to them.
It’s key to make sure that your content is relevant to your audience, and goes without saying that it should be easy-to-read. This means avoiding any kind of industry jargon as much as possible if addressing a non-specialist audience. It also means not reverting to any kind of vulgar or otherwise meaningless content only aimed at attracting attention.
5. Define your tactics This step involves working out the best way to ensure that your content reaches your target audience. What’s the best channel? Newsletters, blogs, articles, landing pages, social networks...these are all options, and while all can be used, your initial focus should be those channels that appeal most to your target audience.
6. Monitor your strategy There’s not much point in a strategy if it is not being constantly monitored and adjusted accordingly. It’s therefore important to determine the best way to measure the success of your strategy over various stages of its implementation, in order to avoid wasting time in areas that are not providing any results.
Tools such as Google Analytics, for example, are an easy way to track the traffic for a website. They also make it possible to see any changes in website traffic, and in the case of our example above, whether you have succeeded in gaining any new subscribers.
Keeping a close eye on the strategy from its beginning through to its end will help you make necessary adjustments in order to improve the chances of its success.
If you’re looking to delve a bit deeper into the intricacies of a content strategy, you might check out this piece on ‘How to create a content strategy (in only 652 steps) by Ian Lurie.
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