What Is a Content Strategy and How Do I Make One? Your 5-Step Guide

What is a content strategy, you ask? In this article, we’ll tell you what it is and why it’s important for your business. Stay until the end to learn how you can make a content strategy in 5 doable steps.

caricature of a digital marketing team creating a content strategy

Introduction

If you’re looking to really make a dent in the digital landscape, you’ll have to have a solid content strategy in place—one that’s fresh and relevant enough to catch your audience’s attention and convert them into customers.

Even if you’ve already established your brand’s online footprint, it wouldn’t hurt to take a step back and audit your current content strategy. By revisiting your content, you can build on what’s working and improve on those that don’t.

Whether you’re looking to create a content strategy from scratch or thinking about updating your current plan, keep reading!

What is a content strategy, you ask? In this article, we’ll explain what a content strategy really is. Plus, we’ll give you answers to other questions about content strategies that marketers and business owners like you often ask.

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What is a content strategy?

A content strategy is a more specific part of your business’ overall marketing plan. It is your company’s way of creating and managing the digital media assets you publish online.

Having a sound content strategy can help you come up with unique, branded content that best shows off your business. In an increasingly competitive market, having exclusive content can really help you stand out.

Here’s a list of branded digital assets you can produce with a well-planned content strategy:

  • blog articles
  • infographics
  • downloadable e-books
  • white papers
  • trend reports

Why does my business’ marketing plan need a content strategy?

A sound content strategy won’t just make it easy for you to create unique, branded content for your business. It also helps you plan content that nurtures traffic and delivers leads in the long run.

For example, you’re able to publish an informative article that delivers a steady amount of traffic. If you embed an opt-in email form in that post, you’ll be able to generate leads and grow your email list in no time.

Having a content strategy in place also benefits your audience. Properly planned content ensures that what you’re publishing is informative and up-to-date. This educates your audience and builds awareness for your brand.

Who makes the content strategy?

As the business owner, you’re probably in the best position to craft your company’s content strategy. You know the ins and outs of the business, so you’ll also know what your customers need and want to read about.

But if you don’t think you’re up to making one, you can hire a content marketer to help craft one for your business.

You can also partner with a content marketing agency and outsource your content strategy to them. If you decide to do this, make sure you’re clear on your business goals. This way, the agency can create a content strategy that guarantees a return on your investment.

macbook with a screen covered in post its

What things should I consider when developing a content strategy?

When making a content strategy, you’ll need to consider these four key aspects:

Consideration #1: Identifying your audience

The key to creating a solid content plan is to craft one with your audience in mind. Tailor your content to fit your customer’s needs. Know who they are and what problems they have. As soon as you know these, you’ll be able to make the content they’ll want to consume.

Consideration #2: Understanding the stage of the consumer journey your audience is at

First off, a consumer journey describes the stages people go through to discover, consider, and buy a product or service from a brand.

Think about the last time you bought something. Do you remember how you ended up buying it? You likely went through the consumer journey without even knowing! Seeing a pizza on television, realising you're hungry, finding your local pizza store using your phone's browser, ordering through the website, paying with PayPal, meeting the delivery guy at the door, then eating the whole pie and having a big ol' nap – that's a consumer journey right there!

What are the stages of the consumer journey?

The simplest way to understand the consumer journey is through these three stages:

  1. Awareness: The consumer has a problem and needs to solve it ASAP!
  2. Consideration: The consumer looks for ways to solve the problem.
  3. Purchase: The consumer chooses one out of the many products or services they think best solves their problem.

Here's what the consumer journey of an up-and-coming baker might look like:

Customer purchase journey stages of awareness, consideration, and purchase

How does it affect my content strategy?

So far, we've talked about what the consumer journey is from the customer's perspective. Let's talk about it as content marketers this time around.

The consumer journey has a massive effect on your content strategy. To be more specific, the stage where your customers are at dictates the content you'll offer.

At each stage, customers expect specific information. If, for example, your blog article doesn't deliver what the reader is looking for, you'll have a hard time moving your prospects to the next stage of the journey.

That's a lost sale opportunity. You don't want that.

So, how do I know what stage my audience is on the consumer journey?

Identifying the stage your target audience is on the consumer journey is key to developing a high-converting content strategy

Customers in the Awareness Stage usually do these things:

  • Search for broad keywords you're ranking for
  • Read your blog posts
  • Comment on your social media posts 

At the Consideration Stage, they'll most likely do the following:

  • Search for niche keywords you're ranking for
  • Spend time on your Products or Services pages
  • Read case studies and customer reviews 

When your audience is at the Purchase Stage, here's what you can expect from them:

  • Request for a product demo or free sample
  • Send you inquiries about product or service subscriptions
  • Ask about your pricing and modes of payment 

Once you've identified where your customers are at in the consumer journey, you can create content according to their informational needs.

What kind of content best fits each stage of the consumer journey?

The kind of content you publish should complement the stage your audience is at on the consumer journey. Here's a breakdown of content and formats for each step: 

Awareness Stage

At the Awareness Stage, your customers aren't looking for your specific brand yet simply because they don't know who you are.

To understand how people think in this stage, you have to broaden your thinking. This means thinking outside your brand or company.

Instead of releasing brand-specific content, try crafting blog posts or social media content that touches on your audience's problems. This way, you help capture your reader's interest.

Consider white papers, too! They're a great way to flex your industry expertise without name-dropping your brand, product, or service too early in the game.

Consideration Stage

Only when your customers are at the Consideration Stage do they find out about your brand. At this point, you can afford to be more brand-centric in your content.

It's essential to make sure you have content that educates your audience about you and what you offer. Crafting optimized product pages is the best way to do this. 

RELATED: How to Create Better Product Pages for Your eCommerce Store 

Uploading case studies on your website also help audiences see how your product or service can help them. Publishing positive customer reviews is also a good source of social proof that what you offer really works.

Purchase Stage

At the Purchase Stage, a content strategy should make room for website content that details pricing and payments. You can take this a step further by providing customers with a free quote!

If your business can afford it, you can also offer free product trials and demos. Videos that show how your product works also sit well with customers in the purchase stage.

The key at this stage is to make sure that the customers can contact you. And when they do e-mail or chat with you, you have the responsibility to reply promptly.

The graphic below summarizes the best types of content titles for every stage of the consumer journey:

sample best practices for content titles based on consumer journey stages 

Unlike the nine Rings of Power, your content strategy should not be forged in the dark! Understanding your audience's consumer journey is the key to creating a high-performing content strategy. Once you know the stage your audience is on down the line, it'll be easier for you to create content that delivers results.

Consideration #3: Choosing which channels to prioritise

Knowing where to publish your content comes hand-in-hand with understanding your audience. Make sure your blog and social media management plans align with your audience’s most-used channels.

Choose channels that your audience is frequently on so you can maximise the exposure of your digital assets.

Consideration #4: Knowing how to publish and manage your content

Figuring out how you’ll publish and manage the content you’ve created can get overwhelming real quick. It gets challenging as soon as you get into the groove of churning out content.

At this point, you might want to consider using a content management system (CMS)—an application that helps you organise your content. Using a CMS also lets you do the following:

  • Draft and edit posts in real-time
  • Allow multiple contributors to edit content
  • Schedule posts in advance
  • Optimise assets to fit specific online platforms

How do I create a content strategy?

There are six steps to creating a content strategy:

Step 1: Set Your Goals

The first step in creating a successful digital content strategy is to set your goals. Ask yourself, "what do I want to achieve with my content?" Answering this question gives your plan a direction to follow.

Let's say your goal is to drive 2,000 visits to your website every month. Or get your website to page 1 on Google. Your content strategy should then prioritise content that encourages links to your site.

Setting goals also helps you determine Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). You can use these KPIs to determine whether your plans work later on.

Step 2: Identify Your Audience

An effective content strategy should cater to your customers. This makes identifying your target audience a critical step in developing an effective content strategy.

Researching your audience and their preferences—knowing who they are and what they search for—allows you to develop a strategy with relevant and valuable content.

You can get to know your audience by taking a look at the people who:

  • Visit your website
  • Send you inquiries
  • Subscribe to your email list
  • Follow your social media accounts

Segment your current audience based on their demographics—age, gender, location. You can also pinpoint the types of content they engage with the most.

Another way to identify your audience is to conduct market studies. Market researches give you an in-depth look at your industry, including your audience and competitors.

Conducting market research can be expensive, but doing so at least once a year is an investment worth considering, especially if you have the budget to do so.

Step 3: Audit Your Current Digital Assets

a marketer writing on a post it note

Doing an extensive audit of your current online assets is an integral part of creating your content and digital channel strategy.

For one, auditing helps you determine the content pieces that are already aligned with your goals. When you find them, you can simply recycle them back into your new content strategy (make sure you at least proofread them to ensure they're still relevant!).

Reviewing your current assets also helps you determine which pieces you need to improve on. This helps you further cut down on your to-do list once you've finalised your new content strategy.

RELATED: 5 Web Content Writing Mistakes That Drive Us Crazy! [Don’t Do These!] 

Step 4: Create Your Content

Once you've determined your goal, identified your target audience, and audited your current digital assets, you can proceed to the next step—creating new content.

When brainstorming for new content ideas, make sure to keep your target audience in mind. Remember to align your content topics with those your customers are searching for. You can even consult a content writer for websites to help you!

Another point to remember is to execute content based on the platform you'll be publishing it in, whether it be for search or social advertising. This ensures that your content is optimised to fit the dimensions of a webpage or social media feed. 

Step 5: Publish and Manage Your Content

An effective content strategy isn't just about creating infographics or blog posts that engage your audience. Content strategies should also account for how you and your team will be publishing and managing these pieces.

You can keep track of your pipeline by creating a content calendar. Update your content calendar regularly to ensure the timely deployment of each post.

Once you've drafted and proof-read your content, go ahead and upload it on your website or social media accounts. You can also consider subscribing to a content management system to help you draft, edit, and publish posts across different platforms.

Key Takeaways

If there’s anything we want you to know, it’s this—an effective content strategy is the foundation of your brand's online presence. Mastering how to create a solid plan should then be a digital marketer's top skill.

To create an effective content strategy, you begin by setting your goals and identifying the audience you want to target. From here, you can create content that addresses your customers’ concerns and aligns with the stage they’re at in the consumer journey. 

We hope that by reading this article, you'll be able to develop a successful digital content strategy that accomplishes your goals and ensures a return on your investment.

 

Need help developing a results-driven content strategy for your business? Connect with us, and we'll help you craft a plan that's tailor-fit for your brand's needs!

 

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