This post follows on from our Why You NEED a Content Strategy post (definitely worth a read before this one) - in this installment we're going to go into the specifics of creating a great content strategy.
In its simplest form, a well-formed content strategy should answer these basic questions:
- WHAT do we want to say?
- WHY do we want to say it, and why do we want people to read it?
- WHO do we want to reach?
- WHEN do we want to publish it?
As the answers to those questions evolve, the content strategy will naturally form itself and gradually grow to give you:
- A style guide - this will help set the "voice" your brand or site speaks in, and will naturally lead you to the right tone and vocabulary
- An initial topic list
- A content calendar, which may include key upcoming events that affect your audience (for example black Friday, an election, and so on)
- A set of editorial processes to support content creation and allow you to respond to events that affect your audience (for example a sudden sale by a competitor, or a new product release).
Once you have these, it's time to start refining - it's really tempting to make your strategy as broad as possible, but doing so makes it much harder to measure success. It also increases the risk of "snow-blindness" - you get so busy creating content that you lose track of the end goals.
So how do we refine our strategy? Here are a few refinements we always try to apply:
- Think about the target audience. If you're mainly targeting males 25-35 some of your initial content ideas may not be suitable. You may also find that a content idea that sounded great no longer looks so interesting when compared to what interests your audience. Maybe your audience is busy professionals, in which case short, sharp, relevant content may work better than longer articles.
- Think about your content's objectives. Are you trying to build brand awareness? Promote a particular product? Overtake a competitor? Recover from some bad press? Gain new customers? All these things will help refine your strategy. For example, if you're trying to build brand awareness amongst younger users social posts and videos are more likely to succeed, but these probably wouldn't be as well suited to recovering from bad press.
- Think about your business goals. Are you trying to improve customer retention? Increase first-time customers? Increase average order value? Thinking about these things will help you ensure your content and communications support your goals, rather than detract them.
A final word of warning
Resist the temptation to make one single gigantic content strategy, and try to make that fit all your content plans. Remember that multiple small projects are easier to manage than huge ones, and it's much better to have a half-page document that everyone on the team can sign up to and stick to, rather than a 40-page thesis that no one ever looks at.
Schedule time to review the strategy regularly, and keep going back to older strategies for inspiration.
And of course... feel free to contact us if we can help you with your content strategy!