Content is one of the most effective and useful tools in a marketer’s toolkit, but it can be worse than useless if not managed correctly. Content on its own, or content created for the sake of it, serves no purpose and can be detrimental to a brand’s image. To make content marketing work for you, you need a content strategy.
Content strategy merges organisational objectives and goals with a content plan, making your content work towards the outcomes of your entire company. It aligns company-wide strategizing with marketing campaigns, bringing the ‘why’ behind your content to the forefront and offering a method of managing every piece of content produced.
If you’re reading this article, you’re most likely already aware of the power of great content. But understanding content strategy can be trickier than it first appears. This article will explore what content actually is, why a content strategy is such an important tool, and what it can do for your business.
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- What is content?
- What is a content strategy?
- Why is a content strategy important?
- What is a content strategy for SEO?
- How can a content strategy grow your business?
- How do you create a winning content strategy?
What is content?
Before exploring the concept of content strategy further, it’s worth taking the time to properly define what content actually is.
You might think that it is obvious, but content actually defies a clear, concise description. Everything from technical articles in industry journals and academic white papers, to memes and Instagram reels is covered by the umbrella term, demonstrating that it needs a little further exploration.
Therefore, it’s worth thinking about content more in terms of what it is for and who it speaks to, rather than what it actually is. Content can be broadly broken down into four fundamental elements:
- What the message of your content is, and what information it contains.
- Who your content is for, which market is it targeting, and how it speaks to them.
- Which channel your content is published on, and how this changes the way it is received.
- What form is your content presented in – video, text, audio, virtual reality, etc.
So content is not just ‘what it is’ but rather what it aims to do, who it targets, and how it is presented. Every aspect of the above core elements is a vital part of content creation and plays a huge role in how successful your content will be.
What is a content strategy?
A content strategy is all about connections. It can’t exist or survive on its own. It isn’t just about making content plans, creating a content calendar, or setting out schedules and timetables for publishing (although this is all obviously important). It’s more than just coming up with blog titles, even if they are carefully constructed to link up with trends and important events.
A content strategy combines your content plan with your organisational goals to create an overarching strategy to deliver the high-level outcomes you want.
Why is a content strategy important?
Without a content strategy, your content will be aimless, disorganised, without focus. Sure, with high-quality content, you might still see decent one-off results, but it will be impossible to build anything. You will always be following and chasing with your content, never leading and directing.
The content lifecycle essentially reads ‘strategy – execution – results’ and loops back on itself. Great results lead to better research to create better content in the future, but none of it is possible without a strong content strategy.
You can’t produce good content without knowing who it is for and what you want it to accomplish. A feedback loop helps you optimise your content, as well as your workflows and business processes, in order to impact the strategy itself. It is a fluid thing, constantly evolving – not something that is set in stone. This is what makes it so compelling and so much fun!
What is a content strategy for SEO?
Content strategy and SEO are inextricably linked. SEO works to make content more impactful, while content plays a huge role in all SEO activities. The two are essentially designed to work together.
Most businesses are looking to maximise their organic traffic and develop more leads using their content. So how can a defined strategy work towards this?
In the early days of SEO, a lot of emphasis was placed on technical puzzles and link-building, which remain important. But as search engine algorithms have become more nuanced and evolved, content has become far more significant.
This is why content is so crucial for smaller organisations, as putting out high-quality content lets them punch above their weight.
One of the most effective ways to leverage your content strategy for SEO is with content clusters.
Topic clusters help you organise content into topical groups, using core topic pages that group all cluster content together, giving users and customers a coherent experience throughout their journey through the sales funnel. Tools like StoryBase are a great way to get the most out of content clusters and ensure they work effectively.
So ensuring SEO is a fundamental part of your content strategy lets you put your content to work more effectively, while simultaneously making your SEO efforts more successful.
How can a content strategy grow your business?
A solid content strategy is the foundation of your content marketing. Creating something that gives you a reliable indicator of predicted website traffic, new leads, and conversions means that you can look further ahead with better scope to grow.
A content strategy ensures that your traffic and lead-generating content can be stabilised and steadied. It allows you to plan evergreen content that generates steady traffic month after month. And it indicates when you should go big on current topics that will spike and plummet rather than plateau.
A content strategy offers more flexibility, letting you experiment with potentially lucrative (but risky) content tactics, safe in the knowledge that your efforts are supported by strong foundations.
Perhaps most importantly, a content strategy lets you optimise your content marketing, bringing in more traffic, more leads, and more converted customers. This, of course, ultimately leads to more revenue! It may sound simplistic, but a strong content strategy is the best way to maximise your content marketing, improve your bottom line, and grow your business in the short, medium, and long term.
How do you create a winning content strategy?
There’s no one-size-fits-all method of creating a winning content strategy, as they are bespoke tools, tailored precisely to your organisation’s needs. However, there are a few key questions you should keep in mind as you go about developing your own.
- Who will be reading your content?
- What problem(s) will you be solving for your audience?
- What makes you unique?
- Which format will you publish in?
- Which channels will you use?
- How will you manage creation and publication?
The first step towards creating a successful strategy is defining your objectives, goals, and desired outcomes. You can follow this up with research into your audience personas, gaps in the market, and what content you already have. You will undoubtedly want to invest in some content tools, such as a CMS and an analytics platform (like StoryBase!). After this, it’s time to brainstorm ideas, create a timeline, and publish away!;
We hope this article proves helpful, and enables you to leverage your content to drive the growth of your business. For more information about content strategy and content marketing, we have a wide variety of articles on our blog!