How to master the fundamentals of content strategy

 

Your organisation is producing content every day, but you need a strategy in place to reap the rewards from it. Here’s the beginner’s guide to getting started

 
Credit: Death to Stock

Credit: Death to Stock

 

If you’ve landed on this page because you searched for a variant of ‘What is content strategy?’ or ‘content beginner’s guide’ then you have proven that my own content strategy is working well.

I’ve discovered from speaking at events and discussing with clients that the idea of a content strategy is an unknown to a lot of people. They might be doing some of it and not have understood that that’s what it was, or they might have been so focussed on one form - such as social media - as to have neglected all the other potentially more efficient channels at their disposal.

Content is anything published or produced that acts as a touchstone for your organisation.

Often the discussion around content focuses on digital formats - email, social media, blogs, videos - but I would argue that this is missing many of the key elements, such as brochures, speeches, events and exhibitions.

Don’t just get distracted by the shiny and new at the end of your keyboard when considering your brand touchpoints.


Here’s why having a strategy for the content you produce is so important:

It’s noisy out there

These are the number of tweets sent by year in 2007, 2012 and 2017. 2007 barely exists as a data point. People have got a lot chattier. Your organisation is going to have to work smarter to make an impact in this environment.

 
Source: Twitter user data

Source: Twitter user data

 

Content is a long-term game…

If you’re adding content to a webpage, it needs to be indexed and ranked by Google.

If you’re creating thought leadership newsletters, you need to give the strategy time to build a loyal reader base that looks forward to receiving them.

If you’re setting up a series of events, the drip drip of content afterwards (emails, videos, social media) quite rightly takes time - from weeks, to months.

But it reaps rewards

As Neil Patel points out in his excellent introduction to content marketing for startups, ‘B2B companies that blog 11+ times per month generate almost 3x more traffic than those that do so 0-1 times per month’, but content marketing costs 31% to 41% less than paid search. Great news for your ROI.

 

 

So how do you go about setting up a content strategy?

1. Define your overall marketing KPIs

There’s no point in commissioning anything before you understand what you want to achieve.

2. Consider your audience

Once you understand your objectives, then - and only then - decide the format in which you want to create to ensure it’s the right fit for your audience.

Are you trying to demonstrate thought leadership within the professional space? How about a series of white papers and associated events.

Are you trying to engage a group with your community initiative? Try creating some FAQs (great evergreen content - stuff that has a longer lifespan beyond trends) alongside Q&As with relevant figures.

3. Create a content calendar and set to repurposing

A content calendar gives you a view of the next 12 months and shows how you can create or repurpose content to meet wider goings-on.

Let’s say you held a briefing for a report launch. From this you could have:

  • A printed version of the report

  • An HTML version of the report

  • Accompanying blog posts from the in-house team and external partners

  • Infographics from the report as standalone items

  • Infographics converted to social media image formats

  • Photos from the event

  • Videos from the event

  • Social media engagement from the event

  • Email list of attendees

All of that from one point of focus.

By using your content calendar to see what else is coming up in your industry - other events, announcements, white papers, partnerships - you are in a great position to highlight your own experience as an expert on the topic by pushing out what is in your content bank.

This is also an opportunity to get the wider team on board with the aims of the content team, by asking them to help out with your horizon scanning exercise.

4. Commission the experts

It takes skill to write, shoot, produce, design. Yes, you can do a certain amount in-house but as you scale up your efforts you should commission the crafts people, as well as editors and even a Chief Content Officer.

Although content and marketing functions have blurred lines, content folk tend to have an excellent specialist storytelling, editing and design eye that sits separately from campaign experts.

5. Analyse, iterate, publish, repeat

Once you’ve got your content strategy up and running, ensure you have regular (at least monthly) check-ins. What is performing well in terms of engagement and conversion? What does your audience like that you can do more of?

Analyse, iterate, publish and repeat.

If this has whetted your appetite, contact me to discuss how we can give your content strategy a boost that will reap long-term rewards.