Over the years, we’ve seen varying degrees of success from our clients when it comes to content creation. Many do it well, and we just come in and make some minor enhancements to keep things rolling.
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However, sometimes we peek behind a new client’s online curtain and discover that they don’t have a clear content strategy. This is a common gap for many businesses—even successful ones. That’s because many marketing directors are stretched too thin; they’re juggling multiple roles, switching course due to changing objectives from leadership, and working without specialized staff like designers and copywriters. And, let’s be honest: content creation flat-out isn’t easy.
The fact that content creation is difficult makes it even more critical that you create a digital content strategy for your blog and/or website. So today we’re going to pose seven questions around devising a content strategy, and provide some realistic solutions. Because once you have answers to these questions, you’ll be well on your way to sustained content success.
Question #1: What Are Your Goals?
Before you start writing down your goals, your first task should be to create a mission statement. Sure, you probably have an overarching mission for your organization, but do you have one specifically for content?
If you don’t have one, don’t worry—many businesses don’t. But the good news is that it’s easy to come up with one. You simply need to define your target audience, the kind of content you’ll utilize to reach them, and the problems your content is solving for that audience.
Once you have that, you can move on to creating that list of goals. Some of them will be obvious: you want to drive revenue and sales, increase traffic to your website and/or blog, but there are others to consider as well. Do you want to be an influencer in your industry? Do you want to be more engaging on your social media channels? Taking time on the front end to clarify exactly what you’re hoping to accomplish will pay dividends down the road.
Question #2: What are your KPIs for Your Content?
While taking the time to come up with achievable goals serves as an ideal starting point, determining key performance indicators (KPIs) ensures you have clear-cut, measurable signposts to determine success along the way, ranging from revenue to sales, and from SEO to traffic.
Any good KPI will have a number attached to it, and can include (but not be limited to) the following:
- Revenue Goals
- Qualified Sales Leads
- New Subscribers
- Site Traffic
- Search Rankings
- Shares, Mentions, or Comments (Depending on the platform)
Again, your KPIs are going to be specific to your organization, and those goals you created. And don’t be afraid to be specific. Remember, these are designed to quantify success—or failures. Those failures will happen, and it’s important to have them so you can reassess your goals and KPIs when necessary.
Question #3: Have You Clearly Defined Your Audience?
Who, exactly, are you writing to? If you don’t know your audience, a successful website content strategy will be DOA.
The first step toward defining your audience—which includes email subscribers, site visitors, blog readers, and social media followers—is through gathering demographic info. By knowing the gender, education level, age, and more about your audience, you can cater your content to them. Google Analytics, and the analytics tools offered by most social media platforms, can provide valuable intel on how well your content is delivering on conversions.
You know another great way to find out what your audience wants? Just ask them. Getting customer feedback is a simple yet effective way to learn whether or not your content is striking a chord.
There’s one more crucial step to defining your audience: creating buyer personas. This will ensure you’re writing to your specific audiences (that’s right, you probably have more than one) effectively. Better yet, it makes sure all of your content creators are on the same page, which is especially important if you’re using contractors and freelancers to create content.
Question #4: Is Your Existing Content Working?
Now that you’re armed with all this data, you’ll probably be chomping at the bit to start writing new content. However, before you get going, it’s important to look at the content you already have.
One of the steps we always take with clients early in the process is an audit of existing content. Now that you have goals, KPIs, and a defined audience, it’s entirely possible that you have content that’s working extremely well for you. That means you can double-down on this content—and, just as importantly, remove the content that isn’t up to snuff, and identify any other content gaps.
Question #5: What Types of Content Do You Need to Create?
Remember those buyer personas you created? Now is a good time to consult them. The preferences of those personas will definitely help you determine which types of content to create. It’s also important to have content written for specific stages of the buyer’s journey.
Content types can include:
- Blog Posts
- White Papers
One powerful tool we use here is SEMRush, which allows you to search by topic or website to determine the popularity of your shareable content. Along with providing content insights, it can give you competitor analysis, influencer data, keyword alerts, and social engagement info.
Question #6: Do You Have an Organized Content Game Plan?
This is one question that has numerous answers, so let’s just list all the things you should be doing:
Someone has to write content, someone has to approve it, someone has to publish it, and someone has to monitor it. Make sure everyone knows their role.
Identify Tools and Key Resources:
This can range from purchasing equipment for videos to finding experienced freelance writers and videographers.
Create a Content Workflow:
Everyone knows their role and you have talent locked up. Now you need a workflow to ensure it all comes together seamlessly. Though workflows will vary by business and content type, it’s important to have a content production process—and stick to it.
Develop a Content Calendar:
Whether you prefer a good Excel spreadsheet, trusty Google Drive, or modern tools like Trello, having a content calendar ensures you’re staying on track, especially with time-sensitive topics.
Once you’ve got a solid game plan, you’re finally at a point where you can start creating content.
Question #7: How Are You Measuring Success?
Once you’ve created, distributed, and marketed your content, it’s time to return to your KPIs to monitor progress. From Google Analytics to SEMRush to your social sharing measurement tool of choice, taking an honest assessment of progress is the only way to gauge success, identify failures, and pivot your strategy accordingly. Pivoting can include adding new marketing channels, varying the type of content you’re creating, and leveraging new resources.
What’s nice about developing a content strategy is that after going through the process once, it gets much easier going forward. In fact, many marketing directors just tweak their content strategy from year to year until their business and/or strategy demands an overhaul. And, even when an overhaul is needed, it’s not as daunting since you’re familiar with the process.
Whenever we talk about content, we can never stress enough the importance of solving your customers’ problems. So as long as you remain committed to that idea within your content, you’re destined for success. Ultimately, if you’ve been diligent in creating a website content plan, we’re willing to bet you’ll reach most (if not all!) of your content goals.
We love helping clients figure out a content strategy for their website or blog. Want a specific example? Check out our case study. "Improved Website & SEO Delivers More Leads to Chemical Supplier"
William McKee is a founding partner of Knowmad. As a Web architect & Internet business consultant, he is passionate about applying business knowledge & technical expertise to deliver solutions that advance business online. With over 15 years of Web experience, his current work involves designing strategies and creating processes to help business attract, engage and convert website visitors into customers.