Content marketing has proven its ability to drive traffic and attract buyers. But not on its own. Publishing content with no strategic roadmap is a waste of time and effort. To gain the results you expect, you must have a detailed and executable digital content strategy. That strategy then becomes the basis for everything you do.
Strategies provide purpose, goals, and directions on how you’re going to get there. Without this foundation, your brand won’t see the benefits of content marketing. So, let’s talk about how to build a strategy that drives results.
What Is a Digital Content Strategy?
There are lots of definitions of content strategy available from experts in the field. At a high level, a content strategy acts as a guide that dictates what, why and how content should be developed across an organization in order for the business to reach its goals. A strategy is concrete, not abstract. It delivers a clear framework of all aspects of a brand’s content. Digital content strategy is a subset of that with a focus on how a company will leverage the variety of digital channels to deliver the content.
Ideally, an organization begins its content marketing journey with a strategy. That doesn’t mean the approach is static. It will evolve as your objectives do. It will also change once you have content analytics that help you understand what actually works. Finally, it can progress as the needs of your audience change.
While it’s easy to believe that every brand producing content has a strategy, this isn’t the case. In the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) 2019 B2B Report, only 65 percent of content marketers said they had a documented strategy.
An additional 32 percent said their strategy is undocumented. Undocumented strategies are not typically followed closely, and you run the risk of getting off course when content asset requests start flowing in. If you’re going to do it right, write it down.
Creating a Digital Content Strategy: 7 Steps
No matter where you are in your content marketing maturity, you can use these steps to either develop or improve your strategy. Here are the fundamental steps you should take.
1. Define Your Goals and How to Measure Them
Start with your goals. What do you expect to achieve from producing content? This needs to be quantifiable. Beginning with objectives helps you complete all the next steps. Here are some common goals:
- Increase blog traffic
- Gain more followers and engagement on social media with original content
- Build email lists with gated content offers
- Expand thought leadership
Based on the goals you set, state how you’ll measure them. If the goal is blog traffic, you’ll want to monitor page views and track month over month changes.
2. Know Your Audience
You’re creating content for your buyers—not your executives. This is a common contention in the world of content. Brands have an inclination to write about how wonderful they are. But that’s not going to resonate with audiences. You need to understand who your buyers are and what matters to them.
Really knowing your audience involves:
- Identifying their pain points and challenges
- Finding out where they seek content
- Understanding where and how they seek information
- Recognizing their goals and motivations
All these elements should be part of a buyer persona. You will likely have more than one, so as you begin to plan out your topics, make sure that each one relates to one of your personas.
3. Outline Your Parameters
The parameters of content marketing involve big themes and details. These parameters provide every person in the content team full visibility. They also ensure consistency. Here are some of the areas you should identify.
- How frequently will you produce content?
- What keywords are important to your audience?
- What types of content will you produce (blogs, ebooks, white papers, videos, infographics, etc.)?
- Content guidelines (length, SEO best practices, formatting, etc.).
4. Create Topic Clusters
After you have the parameters, it’s time to create topic clusters. Look at the main areas that converge between your solutions and customer pain points. You are building content to be relevant to your audience, helping them answer questions and find solutions. Keep this in mind.
You aren’t going to be granular when creating topics for the strategy. That happens in your content plan and on your content calendar. But your strategy should address topic areas.
For example, if you run a recruitment company for IT talent, your categories might include:
- How to recruit
- Challenges in recruiting
- Reducing churn and turnover
- New employee onboarding
From these four main topics, you’ll then plan out content for each.
5. Account for SEO
We’ve already talked a bit about keywords and SEO, but it deserves its own step. SEO is instrumental to ranking organically, which is what great content marketing can deliver. However, you should write for people first, Google second.
Your SEO strategy should be more than just the keywords you’d like to rank for, their search volume, and competition. You should use tools that let you see who your content competition is. If you want to rank for “IT recruiting best practices,” you need to have a strategy that lays out how you’ll do it.
It should include:
- How to analyze content that ranks well for the keyword now
- How you’ll define keyword opportunities (will it be based on volume? Competition? Both?)
- What new or different angle you can spin
6. Determine Distribution
Content can’t just exist on your website. You should consider the channels for distribution. This can be a broad description that you later refine in the planning stage. It will include social media, email campaigns, or paid avenues.
7. Get the Resources (People, Tools) You Need to Be a Content Publisher
One of the most critical parts of your content strategy is defining what resources you need to execute it. Who needs to be part of our content operation (roles, skillsets, etc.)? What tools are necessary to consistently publish high-quality content that your audience wants to read?
On the people side, most content operations include a variety of strategists/planners, writers, designers and technology specialists. More and more, we’re seeing these capabilities brought in-house, but you also may leverage agencies and freelancers for a variety of projects. Having a strategy in place is key here in that it dictates the types of content and the volume of content you want to produce. Then it’s basically a reverse engineering exercise. How many people do we need on the team to realistically get all that done on a regular basis?
Budgets often determine where you will ultimately land. You may have grandiose plans for a large content output, but if you don’t have the budget for all the people you’ll need, you’ll have to scale back your plans and prioritize.
On the tools front, you’ll benefit greatly from a content marketing software platform. Such a platform will include various features, such as a content calendar, workflow builders, content automation capabilities, content analytics, and more.
Having one single platform to manage all this is essential for organization and consistency. Plus, it makes the process transparent.
It’s Time to Strategize
With these seven steps, your business can build a meaningful strategy that will align with your goals. And if/when you’re ready to execute, the DivvyHQ platform will be here to guide you. Try it out for free today!