What to Know to Craft a Killer Content Strategy Plan
Rising to the top of the SERPs and building an incredible brand you can be proud of are about more than making sure all the little details and technical aspects of your SEO approach are correct.
Incredible content that resonates with your audience and attracts the trust of search engines is the heartbeat of any digital marketing strategy, as well as essential for reaching your goals.
But you can’t simply guess what will work and produce content at random if you’re serious about getting real results. You need a solid plan based on research, data, and experience.
A content production strategy helps provide that structured plan. Here’s what you need to know to put together a good one.
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What Are the 3 Components of Content Strategy?
A content strategy plan covers everything involved in not only creating web content but delivering, planning, and managing it, as well. And content doesn’t start and stop at written words, either. Videos, audio content, multimedia graphics, and various other types of content are relevant, too.
Start your journey toward a truly fantastic content strategy plan by learning what digital marketing experts call the three components of content strategy, and keep them in mind as you move forward with your plans.
1. Brand Focus
Brands have more in common with individual people than you might think. They have personalities, unique points of view, and voices.
Modern consumers often make purchase decisions based on how well they relate to a brand on an interpersonal level, and a good content strategy plan takes this into consideration.
A well-planned content strategy involves choosing topics and approaches that are fully in line with a company’s established brand identity. Those themes also need to be relevant to both the company’s business goals and its customers’ needs.
2. Customer Experience
User experience is all the rage these days, and this is only becoming a bigger focal point as time goes by.
Search engines like Google are looking for genuinely helpful content that does the best job of answering searchers’ questions and addressing their needs.
Content that delivers a positive user experience is content that really sings on multiple levels. It’s content that taps into what matters to your visitors and holds their attention.
It’s formatted with readability, reader comprehension, and user-friendliness in mind, as well.
3. Content Distribution
A great content strategy plan is about more than just the content itself. You could have the most incredibly made, relevant content on the entire internet, and it still won’t succeed if you don’t have a good approach to content distribution.
That said, your content strategy needs to follow up with a solid plan that dictates where you’ll publish it and when. Choose channels, times, and posting circumstances that are the most likely to positively impact your audience’s level of engagement with your brand.
What Are the 5 Steps to Developing a Content Strategy?
No two brands or companies are exactly alike, so it only stands to reason that no two content strategies will be, either.
But there are certain key steps every digital marketer needs to take in order to ensure all their bases are covered.
The following are known as the 5 steps to content strategy development. Carefully consider how they apply to your brand and should be implemented for you to reach your unique goals.
1. Set clearly defined goals
Content that helps your brand connect with readers and boosts your bottom line is content that was created with a clear purpose in mind.
That said, the first step toward creating a content strategy plan that truly delivers is defining both your long-term and short-term goals for what you’re putting out there.
Are you looking to build your audience, establish your unique brand identity, or something else entirely?
Is the objective to sell a particular product, gain newsletter subscribers, or build your social media following?
You need to know where you’re going before you can start your journey.
2. Understand your target audience
Yes, part of the point of putting together a winning content strategy in the first place is to impress Google and rocket your site to the top of the SERPs.
But it’s crucial to keep in mind that Google’s algorithm is designed to deliver search results that real people are looking for.
That said, content that resonates with Google is always going to be content that also registers with living, breathing people looking for information and answers to their burning questions. So get to know your audience inside-out.
What demographics do they belong to?
Where do they live, and what unique concerns might customers from those areas have?
Do they have families or own homes? What are their approaches to those things?
What type of jobs do they work, and how much do they make?
What are they afraid of, what inspires them, and what are they hoping for in the future?
Where do your company and product fit in with these concerns?
A solid set of buyer personas can help you answer questions like these and tap into what your existing (or desired) audience would like to see from you.
3. Audit your existing content
At this point, you don’t just know what type of content you’re looking to produce. You also know which audiences you’re writing it for and why. But you’re still not done crafting your content strategy plan yet.
First, you need a better understanding of where your current content catalog is and what purpose it’s serving.
What’s the underlying message or point of view? Is it in line with your current brand identity?
What pieces resonated well with your audience? What do those pieces have in common?
Are there any content gaps that need to be filled moving forward?
A content audit can help you answer questions like those in preparation for putting a new content strategy into action.
An audit may also involve updating staple content, removing posts that no longer serve your purpose, optimizing your on-page SEO, and making some adjustments to technical SEO.
This is also a great opportunity to get a read on how your competitors are approaching content production – especially if they’re outranking you on the SERPs. What are they doing that you’re not? How can you learn from what you see and improve upon it?
4. Brainstorm themes for your content
This is the point where you start applying what you know and have learned about your target audience to the creation of new content. Start by identifying the key strengths, priorities, and themes attached to your brand identity.
Collectively, these will become the foundation for your new, emerging content strategy plan. Ideally, the goal is to do more than simply drive traffic and sell products.
Great content is a brand’s opportunity to bring something unique to the table.
At this point, there really isn’t anything such as a new content idea. The uniqueness of a great piece of content comes from the one-of-a-kind point of view behind it.
So decide what you’d like to say, as well as what media forms and platforms are the best fit for it.
5. Integrate your content strategy into your marketing funnel
Naturally, members of your audience won’t all be at the same point in their buyer’s journey, and they’ll occupy various positions within your digital marketing funnel as a result.
Some will be just starting out and still in the process of exploring the possible solutions that are open to them. Others will be primed and ready to buy. Then there are those in between or who may be looking to get more out of a purchase they’ve already made.
Each of these consumer types has a different set of needs, so your content strategy plan should consider all of them.
There are also 3 broad content types to make sure to include in your strategy.
Hero content is content designed to speak to huge chunks of your target audience at once – the backbone of your catalog.
Hub content consists of pieces that support your hero content by continuing narratives and fleshing out your larger message in meaningful ways.
Hygiene content is a form of supporting content designed to help by answering frequently asked questions, addressing common concerns, etc.
What Is the Core of Content Strategy?
Once you’ve got a winning strategy in place, it’s time to start creating pieces that entertain, inform, and resonate with exactly the people you’re looking to reach. That’s where the 3 Cs of your content strategy core come in.
The 3 Cs of content strategy
Naturally, the content itself is going to be a huge part of the core of any strategy, so this C covers all the considerations that go into making a piece of content incredible, including:
Themes and broad considerations, like whether a piece of content is more focused on your audience’s interests or something specific about your products
Format choices, including classic written articles, infographics, videos, ebooks, etc.
Target length of your content, as quick 250-word blurbs work very differently from long-form articles, that are several thousand words long
Volume concerns, including how often you’re publishing on each of your platform choices
Your approach to content channels can make or break whether your content even gets seen in the first place, so it’s crucial to choose wisely. This is especially important for companies just getting started at building an audience. Essentials include:
Social channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as potential alternatives like Quora, TikTok, or Pinterest
Sponsored content and other forms of paid distribution
Email, as this is still one of the most effective ways to distribute content and reach an audience
This factor covers who will be helping you bring your content strategy plan to life because it’s unlikely you’ll be doing everything alone, especially as your brand grows. Positions you may want to hire for or outsource potentially include:
A content strategy framework is a blueprint you come up with once you’ve hammered out all the basics as to what you’re looking to accomplish with your content and why. Think of it as the skeleton that will lend support to your larger content catalog, especially as it grows.
A good content strategy framework explicitly details what types of content you’ll be producing, who it’s for, what form it will take, where you’ll publish it, and how often. It’s essential for keeping your content production team on track over the long haul, as consistency is a key component in your long-term success.
Key steps to take when building your content strategy framework include:
Going over your primary goals and reflecting on how they fit into your content plan
Researching and building new customer personas if needed, as well as refreshing old ones
Auditing your existing content catalog to better assess what’s working for you and what’s not
Selecting a content management system that’s in line with your goals, your needs, and your audience’s expectations
Definitively deciding what types of content you want to focus on moving forward (and how often)
Brainstorming the actual ideas for your content
As far as the brainstorming bit goes, there are lots of great places to find inspiration for great posts your audience will love. You can weigh in on industry developments or emerging social trends. You can address common concerns your customers have or answer direct questions you’ve been asked.
You should also keep a close eye on what your competitors are putting out there and look for gaps your unique brand voice can fill especially well. And, of course, keep careful records of your efforts so you can get a feel for what works and what doesn’t so your next content strategy plan can be even better.
At this point, you know a bit about what a content strategy plan is all about, as well as how you can go about creating one that will help you meet your ongoing goals for your business. You know why it’s so important to have a clear, targeted plan in the first place. Now it’s time to start producing stellar content your audience will absolutely love.
A great content catalog starts with a terrific team filled with pros who really know their stuff – like experienced copywriters, bloggers, social media experts, and more. WriterAccess is the content creation platform to beat when it comes to hiring incredible freelance writers and creative pros who can deliver for you. Sign up for a free trial today!