What Is Content Strategy, and How Do You Develop One?

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Whether you’re a beginner or have been using the same content marketing approach for a while, it’s always helpful to revisit your strategy and plan to ensure it’s innovative, updated, and engaging for your potential customers.

You might be having trouble planning for the year or need some new ideas. However, you don’t require a content marketing institute to help you. As far as content strategy guides go, this is one of the best.

Explore examples of an effective content strategy and the steps needed to create your own.

What’s Content Strategy?

A content strategy is the plan where you use content (written, visual, and audio) to achieve your business objectives. Generally, a successful content strategy attracts the target audience at each stage of the sales funnel and keeps them engaged after they purchase.

Let’s say that your business goals include boosting brand awareness. You could implement a content strategy with a focus on SEO to increase the website visibility on search engines and drive organic traffic to your services and products.

New company owners assume that a content strategy is something to work toward and not a necessity at the beginning. However, crafting high-quality content is invaluable for building trust with a new audience and succeeding in the long term.

Overall, a good content strategy is the foundation of the delight and attract stages in the buyer’s journey. This uses an inbound marketing framework. You’re bringing prospects to the brand and leveraging a content strategy for customer satisfaction and sales enablement.

Content strategy starts with having a buyer persona and creating usable content. Roughly 70 percent of marketers invest actively in content marketing, so you need an excellent content strategy to compete.

Questions to Consider When Developing a Content Strategy

Here are a few things to answer as a new company:

Who Is Reading the Content?

Who is your target audience for the content, and how many audiences are you ultimately creating content for? Your business probably has more than one customer type, so the content strategy must cater to more than a single user.

Using many content types and channels helps you deliver tailored content for each persona.

What Problems Do You Solve for the Audience?

Ideally, the service or product you offer solves a problem the target audience has. At the same time, the content educates and coaches them through the issue as they start to identify it and address it.

Overall, a sound content strategy supports people on either side of the product – those figuring out the main challenges they face and people already using the item to overcome their issues.

Content reinforces the solution you offer and builds credibility with the audience.

How Are You Unique?

Your competitors probably have similar products as yours, so potential customers must know why yours are better or different. Your main asset could be that the company has been in business for many years. Perhaps you’ve got a unique brand voice so that you stand apart from the competition.

Overall, you’ve got to prove why people should listen to you to show that they must buy from you. When you figure that out, include that message throughout the content.

What Content Formats Do You Need?

It’s important to meet your audience where they are to figure out what format to focus on. You might be tempted to launch podcasts because they’ve become popular in the last few years or think about launching a YouTube channel.

However, you need to know where the audience lives. Otherwise, you could waste time creating content that doesn’t reach the audience or capture their attention.

When you’ve identified the best formats, create a budget to determine how many resources you can allocate to execute that strategy.

What Channels Should You Publish On?

You should create content in many formats, but you also have multiple channels to publish to, such as social media and your website.

Again, it reflects on where the audience lives. If they like long-form video content, you might want to choose YouTube. However, a younger audience might like quicker content, so Instagram and TikTok work well.

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You learn more about a social media content strategy later in this step-by-step guide.

How Should You Manage Publication and Content Creation?

It’s a daunting task to figure out how to create and publish all the content. Before you execute things, you should establish:

  • Who’s creating the content?
  • Where it should be published.
  • When it goes live.

This is often easy enough for a small team because you could be the sole decision-maker. However, you might start collaborating with many content teams as the company grows to figure out the most effective process.

Content strategies often prevent clutter because they’re managing content from the topic standpoint. When you’re planning an editorial calendar around the topics, you’re quickly visualizing the company’s message and asserting yourself as the authority figure in the market.

Don’t forget about content promotion. Once you’ve gone through content production, where are you putting it, and how are you marketing around that? You learn more about this a bit later in this step-by-step guide.

Why Marketers Need a Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing can help companies plan for and prepare cost-effective and reliable sources of new leads and website traffic.

Think about this: you create a blog post that gets steady traffic, so if you embed a link to a free tool or ebook, that continues generating leads and can increase organic traffic as time goes on.

A reliable source of traffic and leads from evergreen content gives you more flexibility to experiment with marketing tactics, such as search intent, to generate revenue from social media advertising, sponsored content, and distributed content.

It’s best to work with a content strategist, either in-house or outsourced, so that you’re educating prospects and attracting leads while generating awareness for the brand.

Create a Content Strategy Framework

It’s important to have a documented strategy that helps you define goals, conduct research, and generate topics. It’s often called the content strategy framework.

If you haven’t created a documented content strategy plan yet, here is the top one to use:

Define the Goal

What’s your purpose for creating a content marketing plan? Why are you producing content and building this blueprint?

It’s important to know your goals before you plan so that you can easily produce content that fits into people’s organic search needs.

Conduct Persona Research to Determine Your Target Audience

You should clearly define the content’s audience to develop a successful plan. This is your buyer persona.

It’s especially important for beginners because when you know your audience, you produce more valuable and relevant content that they want to read.

Experienced marketers may also want to update their content strategy because the target might change. Are you now trying to reach new people or expand your market? Do you prefer to keep the same audience? Conducting market research each year can help you build and grow, pushing more prospects through the customer journey.

Run a Content Audit

Most brands begin with blog posts at the beginning. When you’re ready to venture into trying new formats, run a content audit to assess the top- and low-performing information. Use that to determine which direction to go next.

Consider reviewing your current marketing efforts if you’ve been in business for a while and upgrade it if needed. Figure out what to do differently and set some new goals. It’s always a good time to align the team objectives with the organization’s goals.

Overall, this part of the content strategy helps you determine what resonates with the audience, get new content ideas, and identify gaps in each topic cluster.

Select a Content Management System

Content creation, Google Analytics, and content publication are vital parts of content management. Therefore, your content strategy should include investing in a CMS to manage, create, and track content sustainably and easily.

HubSpot is a great choice, but WordPress is another popular management system. It helps you track Google Analytics, email marketing, live chat, and web forms.

Determine the Content Type to Create

There are tons of content you could create, such as ebooks and blog posts or audio content (podcasts). They can all be part of your content strategy, and you can learn about the most popular content formats and tools to get started below:

Brainstorm Content Ideas

The next step of the content strategy is to come up with ideas for the next project. Here are a few tools to get started:

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Feedly

A Feedly RSS feed is an excellent way to track trending topics in your industry to find content ideas easily. Just tell the software what you’re interested in, and the AI tool does the rest. You don’t have to scour the web to find new ideas anymore. Instead, you comb through a curated list that’s compiled from news sites, social media, and newsletters.

BuzzSumo

Do you want to find popular content ideas? BuzzSumo offers various market research tools, and one of them uses social media shares to see if a content piece is well-liked and popular. That information helps you understand which ideas might do well if you create content around them.

BlogAbout

Get the gears running in your mind with the BlogAbout title generator. It works similarly to Mad Libs, but it shows common headline formats with blanks instead of generating joke sentences. Fill them in with the subject you like.

The brainstorming technique allows you to put a general idea in contexts that the target audience might find appealing. When you’ve got a good headline, just add it to the “Notebook” to save it for the future.

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

Get blog post ideas for the entire year with the CoSchedule headline generator. Just enter some general topics and terms to write about, and the tool does the work for you. Overall, it analyzes the titles and headlines, providing feedback on word choice, length, keyword search volume, and grammar.

If you’ve got an idea already, run some title options through this Headline Analyzer to find ways to make it stronger and move yourself along in your brainstorming process.

HubSpot Website Grader

The HubSpot Website Grader is excellent if you want to see where you’re at for SEO purposes and with the website. It grades you in vital areas of performance and sends a detailed report so that you can optimize the spaces that need it.

Overall, you can use the tool to make your site content more SEO-friendly and find areas to improve.

Publish Content and Manage It

Your marketing plan must go beyond the content types you create to cover the organization of the content. An editorial calendar is crucial because it helps you publish content that’s well-balanced and diverse for your website. Then, you need a social media content calendar to help you manage and promote content on other websites.

Most ideas you have are evergreen, so they are relevant months/years from now without having to be changed much. This is the content lifecycle you should focus on because people can get information without you doing more work all the time.

However, don’t ignore timely topics and trends. They shouldn’t be the bulk of your content strategy and marketing efforts, but they can generate more spikes of traffic.

Most people incorporate popular holidays into their marketing plan but don’t limit yourself to important dates.

Make sure you’re keeping track of existing content through Google Analytics and other tools, as well. Don’t be afraid to update a pillar page when Google rankings start to wane.

Content Marketing Strategy Examples

Here are a few examples of real-life content strategies based on certain business goals:

Evernote is a note-taking app that developed its SEO-driven content strategy to bring more prospects to its website. The Evernote blog focuses on productivity, but you might wonder why a note-taking application writes about discipline.

Most people find the site when searching about how to stay disciplined and on track. Those interested in productivity are likely ready to download the note-taking app because it can help them!

However, if Evernote wrote only to increase traffic and crafted the 10 best Beyonce Songs, it might not have been considered a content strategy; it’s only content.

A content strategy must align content with your business objective. In Evernote’s case, it wrote blog posts on productivity intending to attract people who wanted note-taking apps.

Here’s another example of how a good content strategy could help with sales enablement:

A potential customer calls a sales rep at Wistia and asks about its video-hosting service. The representative speaks to them and learns that her company uses other tools to convert leads, such as Intercom.

When the call ends, the representative sends their prospect a follow-up email that includes a blog post about integrating with Intercom. This is a prime example of using a content strategy as a sales tool.

Initially, it seems odd for Wistia to dedicate content to another company’s product. However, it’s a great resource for the sales team because prospects know that the Wistia product integrates with other software or processes.

Let’s dive into what content marketing asset types you can develop!

Content Marketing Types

Here are the eight most popular content types to craft for customers and readers:

Blog Posts

Did you know that you’re currently reading a blog post? They live on websites and should be regularly published to attract new visitors to the site.

These posts should offer valuable content that the audience needs to know so that they’re more inclined to share posts on other websites or social media.

How long should a blog post be? Most experts recommend that they be between 1,000 to 2,000 words in length. However, you should experiment to find out what your audience prefers. They might like shorter things to read.

Blog posts can include listicles, how-to articles, and so much more. Generally, you start with a complex topic, creating different topic clusters around it to continue generating more content as needed.

Ebooks

Ebooks are a lead generation tool that some website visitors download after completing a lead form with their contact information. Typically, they are longer, published less frequently than a blog post, and are more in-depth. In a sense, you use an ebook when you’ve already attracted visitors to the site.

It’s important to note that ebooks aren’t just for top-of-the-sales-funnel. They serve different purposes for each stage of the buyer’s journey. Awareness-level ebooks educate prospects about pain points they might have and can be a great lead capture tool. However, the content must stay informational and introductory.

An ebook can also convert leads in the funnel when they provide useful tools the prospects must consider. It lets you dive deeper into a problem and offer solution options that you provide. Generally, they also include calculators, templates, and more.

Lastly, ebooks work further down the funnel when they’re personalized and offer sales content. You’re helping the sales team by giving out comparison guides or case studies.

Generally, they are the next step of your inbound marketing process. Once someone reads a blog post, they want more information. A call to action is great at the end of a post because it directs people to landing pages where they submit contact information to download the ebook and learn valuable information. In turn, you’ve got a new lead!

Case Studies

The case study lets you tell a customer’s story and build credibility for your brand in the process. Overall, case studies are the most versatile content marketing type because they can take on many forms. Some of them were included on this list!

You probably didn’t know that a case study could be a podcast, ebook, blog post, or infographic, but it can!

Overall, the goal here is to demonstrate and describe how your products helped real-life companies or people succeed. Make sure that you focus on the business area where you want to drive value before selecting a customer for the case study.

Templates

Templates are highly effective and should be the first content marketing example you try because they can generate leads and offer tremendous value to the audience.

Whenever you provide someone with template tools that save them time, help them succeed, and save money, they’re more likely to engage with the content you create next time.

Infographics

Infographics help you organize data in a more compelling way so that customers can visualize it. They work well when you’re putting out tons of information that words alone can’t handle.

This is a great content format to use if you want to share a lot of information and make things easy to understand and clear. You can even find tools to help you create infographics quickly and efficiently!

Videos

Videos are one of the most engaging content mediums out there because they are shareable across websites and social media platforms alike. Typically, videos require a larger time investment and might cost more to produce than written content. However, visual content offers more ROI, so it’s something to explore if you want to make it big.

Podcasts

Many companies use a podcast to help audiences find their brand. Some people aren’t interested in reading or have no time to do so each day.

In fact, the number of listeners for podcasts is growing. Just in 2021, there was a 10 percent increase in the United States.

If you’ve got interesting people to interview or some conversations you want to host, podcasting could be an excellent content format to use or experiment with.

Social Media

Have you been routinely publishing content on your website for a while? If so, you might want to think about creating a content marketing strategy around social media to distribute the content everywhere.

You’re sharing content on various social media platforms, but you may also repurpose it into other formats to create original content for each network.

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Posting information on social media is pivotal. You wish to amplify your brand’s reach, so you have to deliver content that the customers want where they spend most of their time. Popular networks include:

  • YouTube
  • Snapchat
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Facebook

Make sure that you adjust the content to the platform when launching a business account on the social networks above. For example, you might have to link to your YouTube channel on Twitter instead of uploading the video itself.

If you’re using Instagram, users prefer aesthetically-pleasing visuals. There’s more room to work with IGTV, Stories, and feeds. However, TikTok appeals to the younger demographic because they want funny, trendy, and creative short-form videos.

Do plenty of market research to find out which platforms your buyers use most to mold the content to those expectations.

Conclusion

It takes organization, creativity, and time to grow your successful content strategy. You’ve got to build the foundation of your plan, add tools to manage the content, set up the strategy for next year, and so much more.

Everyone has business objectives to consider, and creating high-quality content is part of that, regardless of where customers are in the sales funnel. You’ve learned so much, so now it’s time to create your detailed plan, understand your content goals, and move in the right direction.

Meta Description: Why is a content strategy important? This in-depth guide helps you understand what it is, why it’s necessary, and how to create a plan that fits your needs.

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