In this article…
- Defining Content Lifecycle
- What Is Content Strategy?
- What Should a Content Strategy Do?
- What Are the Benefits of Content Strategy?
- What Do Content Strategists Do?
- Do You Need a Content Strategist?
- The Components of a Content Strategy
- How to Create an Effective Content Strategy
- Choosing What Types of Content to Create
- Tips for Creating Impactful Content
Creating a content strategy is a crucial step in executing successful marketing and advertising campaigns. Designing and implementing an effective content strategy can help you to standardize your creative team’s process and ensure that you are maximizing their potential. It can also assist you in using content to increase sales, promote your brand, and engage your customer base. Read on to discover how executing a high-quality content strategy can benefit your company.
Image via Flickr by Andrej Trnkoczy
Defining Content Lifecycle
The first step to comprehending content strategy is to understand how content is created and used. Throughout this article, you will see the term “content lifecycle.” This phrase refers to the journey that a company’s media products take from when they are first ideated to when they are successfully executed. A piece of content’s lifecycle typically consists of:
The creation of content begins with research and analysis. Before you can begin thinking of ideas for content, you have to know your audience and what they need. Researching which types of content are more influential and which demographics are most likely to interact with your brand is a crucial part of laying the groundwork for your content’s success.
Next, the brand’s leadership discusses how to strategically create and release the content. The goal of this stage is to find out how the content will contribute to the brand’s greater purpose. The strategy step of the process helps to determine whether content will improve the company’s relevancy, increase sales, or provide opportunities for lead generation. Working with the good of the brand in mind is integral to quality strategizing.
This step involves the practice of content marketing. Once you have a strategic idea, you need a concrete plan of action for how to execute that idea. This step includes discussing options with the marketing team and considering factors like budget, schedule, and reach.
Once the foundation is solid, it is time for your creators to design the content. This step should be guided by the previous stages, but should also leave room for the artists to innovate original and unique concepts that can help your content stand out.
Once the content is distributed, the content is in its final stage of the lifecycle. However, it can remain in this stage for months or even years. To maximize the potential of your content, it is important that you maintain it. This may involve updating facts and figures, converting the content to a different format or publishing it on a new platform. Content that remains relevant, accessible and evergreen for an extended period is the most valuable type of content you can create.
What Is Content Strategy?
The term content strategy refers to how you choose to manage the media that you create. This covers every type of content you could ever produce, including written copy, visual graphics, and downloadable videos. Your content strategy is the part of your marketing plan that repeatedly demonstrates what your company is capable of and what expertise you can bring to the industry.
A content strategy consists of a set of guidelines and a system that dictates what content you create, who it is designed for, and how it is distributed. Content strategies are typically created and communicated internally, as opposed to content marketing which is usually focused on external factors and interests. Content strategy answers “How?” and “Why?” questions, such as “Why should this content take this particular format?” and “How can we use this content to reach a target demographic?” Primarily, content marketing is more concerned with practical execution and tactics once the theoretical questions are answered.
In summary, content strategy is a discipline that guides the creation, distribution, and maintenance of valuable, useful content. A successful content strategy helps a company to provide the right content, to the right people, in the right way, at the right time. Your content strategy is fundamentally a collection of carefully considered, goal-oriented decisions that influence how you manage your content at each stage of its lifecycle.
What Should a Content Strategy Do?
Ideally, a content strategy helps a company to accomplish several important objectives. These objectives can be sorted into two categories: content-oriented and people-oriented. The content-oriented goals are to:
- Identify goals. Content strategies help you focus your energy and resources on content that will help you achieve core goals. Setting these goals and angling your efforts toward them helps you to use your resources efficiently and eliminate efforts that are distracting your team from their primary purpose.
- Determine structure. Determining structure involves deciding how your content is organized and accessed. Your content strategy should help you choose which content to prioritize and how each individual piece connects to the others.
In addition to helping you accomplish objectives related to your content, a content strategy can also help you manage your team of creators. The people-oriented objectives are:
- Outline roles. Outlining roles involves determining who is responsible for managing which types of content in what ways. This involves delegating daily tasks and selecting leaders for specific teams. Your content strategy should help make sure that every stage and element of your content is being properly handled and maintained at every step of your content’s lifecycle.
- Identify policies. The final objective involves establishing regulations, guidelines, and standards that will help expedite your content creation process. Setting rules that direct how and when your team handles content helps to eliminate confusion, reduce miscommunication, and sustain a consistent rate of production.
What Are the Benefits of Content Strategy?
Content strategies also provide benefits that affect your company as a whole. You might not think that the topics you choose to include on a blog might impact your accounting or sales teams, but a solid content strategy can actually improve the overall effectiveness of your brand. In many cases, it does so by promoting a cohesive theme and message. Your content should be a tangible representation of your company’s goals and values. If your content is well-designed and expertly executed, it will help each one of your employees to understand the theme and purpose of the brand.
Content strategies also promote collaboration and effective communication. Ideally, every department and team on your staff should be working toward the same goals. Each element of your business should positively affect and support other departments and teams. Creating cohesive content can help your team to visualize goals and align their efforts with those of other employees. Quality content strategies also provide a foundation for productive conversations and brainstorming sessions. If there is already a solid structure in place, it will be far easier for team members to suggest ideas that are both feasible and valuable.
What Do Content Strategists Do?
Content strategists are professionals who are responsible for creating and executing content strategies. Depending on the size of your team and organization, you can either designate a specific employee to hold this title or assign these responsibilities to an existing role. Content strategists often report to either the marketing director or, in smaller offices, the CEO. The primary duties of a content strategist include:
- Developing content strategies that demonstrate and support the brand’s mission
- Overseeing content creation processes to ensure that all content is consistent and meets the standards for quality
- Troubleshooting issues and innovating solutions to any problems that arise during the content’s lifecycle
- Conducting research and collecting data to help content creators target specific audiences and accomplish certain goals
- Analyzing content from competitors and others in the industry and staying informed of current trends
- Creating schedules, task lists, and style guides for the creative teams
- Mentoring and managing other employees by enforcing deadlines, offering insight, and maintaining budgets
Do You Need a Content Strategist?
Content strategy planning and execution is often the responsibility of a designated content strategist. Content strategists handle all the daily activities associated with creating, scheduling, and publishing content. If you are looking for a way to take your company’s content creation to a new level, you could benefit from hiring a skilled content strategist. You may be in particular need of a content strategist if your current content production schedule is inconsistent, disorganized, or inefficient.
A content strategist can also significantly impact the productivity of your marketing department by absorbing all content planning duties, allowing your higher-level employees to focus on other key areas.
The Components of a Content Strategy
A functional content strategy typically consists of these key components:
- Goals and vision: All content should align with the company’s vision and help to accomplish the leadership’s goals. Designing a content strategy often begins with a discussion of how the content will help the organization to increase sales, promote customer interaction, or meet other important objectives.
- Plan for marketing: Once the content is created, it must be marketed to the public. Before approving the production of content, the content strategist meets with the marketing team to brainstorm how they can best share the content. This includes deciding on a format for the content and setting an appropriate tone and voice.
- Audience overview: A crucial part of creating content is knowing your audience. An audience overview includes deciding which demographics to target and making sure that the content will effectively capture the audience’s attention. Content that promises to fill a need or provide a solution to a problem typically makes the best impression on potential customers.
- Channels and platforms: The final step in a content strategy is choosing the channels and platforms through which content is distributed. Options for channels include television, internet, radio, print, and urban advertisements. Popular platforms include social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as a branded company website that is optimized for search engines.
How to Create an Effective Content Strategy
Designing a content strategy is a multi-step process that involves a number of different team members. To create a content strategy, follow these steps:
1. Set a Goal
First, set a goal for what you want your content to accomplish. Different types of content can be used to help a company meet certain objectives. For example, a blog post about how your product can be used to address a common household problem may increase product sales and raise brand awareness.
2. Conduct Research
Next, research both your competitors and your customer base. Find out if other organizations have used similar content to promote a product or connect with their audiences. You can also distribute surveys and consult with the marketing team to determine if your current customer base will respond positively to certain types of content.
3. Execute a Content Audit
A content audit involves taking stock of the content you already have available. Decide if any of it needs to be updated, edited, combined, or eliminated. Find out which pieces of content have been the most successful and which have fallen flat. Collecting this information helps you to use your resources efficiently and reduces the chances of you producing repetitive content.
4. Choose a Management System
Executing a content strategy involves using a dependable management system to help you organize each step of the creation process. This involves purchasing and maintaining content creation software, providing digital and physical storage spaces and designating time and personnel for content analysis.
5. Brainstorm Ideas for Content
Once the fundamental structure of your strategy is in place, you can begin brainstorming content. This involves choosing formats and assigning tasks to different teams. Most content projects necessitate collaboration between photographers, copywriters, graphic designers, and other artists. Including team leaders in your innovation sessions can help you to diversify your content ideas and make the most of your team’s skills.
6. Publish and Maintain the Content
The final step of creating a content strategy is distributing the content to the public. This may involve publishing content to your website, sending it to your customers in an email newsletter, or including it in a marketing campaign. A content strategist’s work is not finished when the content is released. They must also regularly check previously published content to make sure it is still relevant, accurate, and up-to-date.
Choosing What Types of Content to Create
A key step in creating a sustainable content strategy is deciding which types of content will have the best impact on your audience and target demographic. There are dozens of different content types and distribution methods you can integrate into your content strategy. Here are some of the most popular types of content you could produce:
Blog posts are long-form articles that are typically between 500-1,500 words long. The purpose of a blog post is to share relevant content that attracts visitors to your website. Ideally, blog posts provide expertise or advice that the visitor can share with their friends using social media. Blog posts are a beneficial addition to a content strategy that is focused on generating new leads.
In marketing, the term media refers to all content involving photos, videos, and audio recordings. This type of content can be extremely rewarding since it appeals to a wide audience and can be relatively subtle. Many potential leads will interact with an informative video or entertaining audio clip without realizing that they are participating in a marketing campaign. Including high-quality media in your content strategy is a great way to maximize your most highly-shareable mediums.
Infographics are a method for presenting information in a visual format. Infographics often organize and communicate data in a way that is more appealing and entertaining than unformatted text. Infographics are an exciting element to add to a content strategy centered around creating high-quality, shareable content.
Testimonials, also called case studies, are written reviews or interviews provided by satisfied customers. The purpose of a testimonial is to tell the story of a loyal client who is willing to promote your brand to potential leads. Testimonials can come in a variety of formats, including video, audio, or written blurb. Part of your content strategy might be to use testimonials as a way of maximizing the marketing potential that accompanies having positive relationships with current customers.
Social Media Posts
Social media posts are pieces of short-form content that are shared using social media platforms. Frequently, companies take content that they have already shared through other channels and reformat it for social media. Publishing content through social media sites helps you to optimize your content for search engines and reach an entirely different demographic than the one you target with your website.
Popular social media platforms for content creators include:
Giveaways are a relatively new content format that often coincides with the use of social media platforms. To organize a giveaway, companies choose a photo or shoot a video that they can post on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. The media typically features some of the company’s products and its logo. Next, a content creator adds a caption that promises to give away a certain amount of product to one of the people who enters their contact information into a form.
This content format allows companies to promote their products while also collecting contact info from interested leads. When used wisely, giveaways can provide long-term value that makes up for the price of the giveaway items.
Quizzes and Surveys
Recent additions to the top content formats are interactive quizzes and surveys. A quiz invites visitors to answer a series of questions, which then provide a tailored result. The best quizzes are related to the company’s product, such as a “What Hairstyle Suits Your Personality?” quiz for a beauty brand or a “Which TV Show Should You Watch Next?” quiz created by a video streaming business.
Surveys are another type of questionnaire content that allow visitors to share their opinions and earn results. The best surveys gather valuable data that you can use to shape your marketing campaigns, while also providing some sort of reward. Many surveys require leads to input their email address in exchange for a free sample or being entered into a drawing.
Tips for Creating Impactful Content
Here are some tips on how to produce effective and memorable content:
- Consider your audience’s needs. All content should be designed to benefit your customers in some way. Effective content can be used to inform, to educate, to guide, or to entertain. Before dedicating time and effort to a project, make sure it can be used to address a relevant issue, answer a pressing question, or produce a desired emotional response.
- Broaden your focus. Impactful content is relatable to a diverse collection of consumers. Content that is too specific can be inaccessible to certain audiences. Keeping your content general and widely applicable allows you to promote customer engagement across demographics.
- Strive for accuracy and relevancy. All the content you produce should be fact-checked and carefully proofread. If your content contains errors or outdated information, it will be quickly discounted by cynical or skeptical consumers. Prioritizing accuracy earns your organization the reputation of being reliable, consistent and trustworthy.
- Show consistency. All your content should be consistent across channels and platforms. This includes visual appearance, voice, and message. Consistent content helps to communicate your company’s identity and promotes brand recognition.
- Be searchable. If you dedicate time and effort into creating content, you want it to be easy to search for and access. This involves optimizing your content for search engines. Best practices include using popular keywords, streamlining your copy, and using eye-catching photographs.
- Be unique. Your content should be superior to its competitors in some way. It can be longer, shorter, more in-depth, more general, more practical, more theoretical, more academic, or more conversational. Producing unique content is one of the best ways to consistently stand out from your competitors.
Designing and implementing a comprehensive content strategy helps you to increase your content’s impact and maximize its potential. Content that is well-planned, thoroughly researched, and expertly distributed can generate leads, broaden your reach, and improve customer interactions. If you are struggling to find ways to use content to your advantage, hiring a consultant or employing a full-time content strategist could be the extra push you need to improve your business’ long-term success.