What Is Content Strategy & How to Create a Plan That Drives Results
Content marketing is a powerful strategy for attracting and engaging website visitors and encouraging them to take the next step with your business. However, if you want to achieve success with your content marketing efforts, you need a content strategy in place.
So, what is content strategy?
On this page, we’ll discuss what content strategy is and 13 steps for creating a content strategy that drives results.
If you need help creating a content strategy that works for your company, call us today at 888-601-5359 to speak with a strategist about our custom content creation strategies.
What is content strategy?
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of content strategy, it’s important to answer the question: What is content strategy?
Content strategy involves the planning, development, and management of written and media content on your website — and it guides the creation and delivery of content.
In other words, an effective content strategy allows you to deliver the right content to the right person at the right place and time in order to achieve business goals.
Typically, a content strategy includes:
- Keyword research and topic selection
- Competitor research
- Developing and maintaining a content calendar
- Overseeing writing, editing, and publishing
- Content promotion plans
- Monitoring content results
- And more
Your content strategy provides the foundation for getting started with content marketing — and it ensures you create content that attracts and converts customers.
Content strategy vs. content marketing: What’s the difference?
As you learn more about content strategy, you may see people use content marketing interchangeably with content strategy. It’s important to understand the difference between content strategy and content marketing.
Content strategy is the strategic plan for creating and managing your content marketing efforts. Just as the name implies, it’s the strategical process you use for determining why you create a specific piece of content, how it’s formatted, and how it will serve your audience and business’s overall goals.
Content marketing, on the other hand, typically refers to the process of researching, writing, publishing, and promoting your content.
Your content marketing process is part of your content strategy. When you have a strategy where you know how to develop your information, you can create content for your marketing process. The only way to be successful and impactful with your content marketing is to have a content strategy in place.
How to create an impactful content strategy: 13 steps for success
Now that you know more about what a content strategy is, you can dive into how to make a content strategy that works. Let’s look at the six key components to creating a successful content strategy.
1. Audit current content
Before you create your content strategy, it’s important to look at the content you’ve already created. You can’t make a successful content strategy without knowing how your current content performs. Your current content will give you a basis which you can use to better understand how to create a successful content strategy.
Let’s take a look at the process of conducting a content audit:
- Inventory your content: Take note of all the content you currently have on your site.
- Organize and tag content: You’ll want to organize your content by topic, length, tone, and relevance.
- Analyze engagement: See how much traffic specific pages drove to your site, the level of engagement, the number of social shares, and more.
- Analyze for patterns and gaps: Once you have all the info gathered, you can see where you can build your plan out further, and how you can improve it.
These aspects will help you audit your content’s current status to help you develop a content creation strategy.
2. Identify your target audience
The first step to any successful content strategy is to establish “the who.”
Who do you want to target with your content marketing?
Your audience is a critical component of your digital content strategy because it determines the type of content you create. You want to create content that resonates with your audience, so you must know who is in your audience to deliver better content for them.
This point is also where you’ll want to determine how many different types of people are in your audience. Many businesses cater to multiple types of people in their audience. It’s fairly common for people to have different interests in your business.
You’ll want to ensure that you establish the different groups within your audience so you can create a content strategy that appeals the most to them. Personalizing your web content will drive better results for your business because it will increase engagement with your audience.
3. Pinpoint a problem
When you create content, you must know the problem you’re trying to solve for your audience. Your audience is looking for information because they want answers. Their biggest issue is the lack of knowledge on the subject and this is where you can provide them with the knowledge they need.
Content helps educate your audience and helps them address their issues. You can’t help them solve their problems if you don’t know the problems. Identifying your audience’s problems will help you create content that resonates better with them.
At this part of your content strategy, you’ll want to identify challenges your audience may have that would drive them to check out your content. You want to focus on people who are still figuring out their main challenges, but also people who know their challenges and are looking to overcome them.
Let’s say you own a plumbing business. What are potential problems your audience could have regarding plumbing?
From leaking pipes to clogged toilets, there are numerous problems your audience could encounter with plumbing. When you know these potential issues, you know what type of content to create for your audience.
4. Establish your unique selling points (USPs)
You and your competitors are trying to get your audience’s attention and get them to choose their business. When you create a content strategy, you must indicate your unique selling points (USPs) that help your business stand out from the competition.
You want to show your audience why your business is the best option for their issues. When you create USPs, you show your audience how your business can help them. These USPs help you show your audience why your business is better than the competition or how you’re unique from your competitors.
5. Choose your content format(s)
Before you dive into creating content, you’ll want to establish the type of content you’re creating. There are various formats of content you can create to appeal to your audience. Some of the most popular formats of content are:
You’ll want to use a variety of formats to keep your audience interested in your content. If you want to have a successful strategy, you want to establish which formats you’ll use the most.
When you know the formats, you can better allocate your budget for each type of content. You can put your funds to better use when you know the types of strategies you’re using for content.
6. Conduct keyword research
Keyword research is a crucial part of content marketing. When you’re looking for topics to cover, you must conduct keyword research to find industry-related key terms.
When you conduct keyword research, you’ll want to focus on long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are keywords that contain three or more words. An example of a long tail keyword is “how to build your credit score.”
Long-tail keywords are better for your campaign because they drive more relevant traffic. If someone is searching that key term, you know exactly what they’re trying to find. They’re looking for information on how they can build their credit score.
If someone searched “credit score,” you wouldn’t know what they’re trying to find. They could be looking for what a credit score is, how to find their credit score, or how to build their credit score. The search intent isn’t clear, which makes it more challenging for your business to figure out what they want to find in the search results.
A Partner Businesses Trust
Their focus on ROI and their innate ability to communicate this information in a way that I understand has been the missing link with other digital marketing firms that I have used in the past.
Leah Pickard. ABWE
By focusing on long-tail keywords, you’ll drive more interested traffic to your content.
7. Research your competition
In addition to keyword research, you’ll also want to conduct research on your competition. There are two aspects of competitor research you’ll want to conduct.
Research who’s ranking for your keyword
The first part of conducting competitor research is seeing who’s ranking for the keywords you’re using. As you conduct keyword research and find relevant keywords, you want to see who’s ranking at the top of the results.
You’ll want to look at the first page of results for your keyword. The companies ranking on this first page are your competitors. You’ll want to check them out and learn about them.
You can include your known competitors in your research, too. For example, if you own a coffee shop, you know Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks are big competitors for your business. You’ll want to include them when you do competitor research to ensure you’re analyzing all potential competition.
Research competitors to find new keywords
As you’re researching your competitors, you’ll also want to analyze keywords they use. You’re not going to find all the relevant keywords for your business through keyword research. Researching your competition enables you to find additional keywords.
When you search your initial keyword and analyze your competitors, you may find additional keywords you can use. It’s a great way for you to expand your keyword list and rank in other relevant results.
With tools like Ahrefs’ content gap tool, it’s easy to find keywords your competitors are using but you aren’t. Finding these keywords will help you remain in competition with your competitors.
8. Assign content roles
Another important part of your content strategy is the management aspect. This part dives into the nitty-gritty of content creation.
You need to have a management aspect in your content to help you know who is creating different pieces of content. You must have a plan for who will create your content.
Secondly, you need to know when you want to publish your content. Having deadlines will help you set goals for people creating your content and give them a timeline for completion.
Lastly, you’ll want to establish when your audience will see your content. It’s important to know when your content is going live so you can strategically plan your content.
9. Maintain a consistent posting schedule
When you’re creating a content strategy, it’s important to have a consistent schedule. Content production requires constant publication. If you want to be successful with content marketing, you must create a consistent schedule for publishing content.
Let’s say you have five pieces of content you want to publish. Without a schedule, you may end up front-loading all of your content at the beginning of the week and have no content for the end of the week. A schedule will help you balance out your content and ensure you are consistently publishing content.
A consistent schedule will also help you post your content at the right time. If you’re posting content at night, but your audience is online during the day, you’re not going to have as high of engagement. A content schedule will help you post content at the right time every time.
10. Optimize your content with SEO
There’s no point in creating content if your audience can find it. When you’re creating your content strategy, it’s important that you have a distribution plan.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important part of the distribution process. SEO is the process of boosting your website’s ranking in the search results. This strategy helps more people find your content.
When you’re creating a content strategy, you want to focus on ways for people to reach your content. SEO enables you to reach people who search for your content. By following best practices for SEO, you can help get your content optimized to be found.
11. Use a content management system (CMS)
Content marketing requires constant creation and publication. It’s challenging to keep up with all the content you’re putting out for your audience. By investing in a content management system (CMS), you can help manage your content for your business.
A CMS allows you to create, edit, organize, and publish all your content. These tools often allow multiple users to use the same program wherever they are. This process creates a more efficient system that allows multiple team members to prepare and publish content.
If you want to be more effective with your content strategy, implement a CMS. It will help you stay organized and put out more content for your business.
12. Develop a content promotion plan
Once you’ve created content, you want people to read it. To get people to read your content, you must create a content promotion plan.
A content promotion plan will help you create a strategy to market your content to your audience. You can rely on your audience and hope they stumble across it. You must promote your content to help you reach the right people.
So, how can you share your content with your audience?
If you have a list of subscribers, email marketing is a great place to start sharing content. You can send your content to your subscribers and get them to check it out. It’s also a great opportunity for them to forward it along to anyone else who might be interested in it!
Through social media posts
Social media is another great place for you to share your content with your audience. You can share a link to your content in a post and promote it to get your audience to check it out. Similar to emails, users can share your content and pass it along to others through social platforms.
Reaching out to industry authorities
When you have great content, you want others to find it. Reaching out to industry authorities can help you gain more exposure for your content. Since people in the industry trust these websites, they’re more likely to trust a link to your site.
You can reach out to these industry authorities and send them your content. Invite them to check it out and see if they will link to it in their own content. It’s a great way for you to build backlinks for your site and drive more traffic.
13. Evaluate content results
If you want to have a successful content plan, you must constantly evaluate your content results. It’s important to track your content campaign to see which content drives results for your audience.
You’ll want to monitor each piece of content and see how it performs. You can monitor the page dwell time, clicks on the page, and number of pages visited after the content. It’s a great way for you to see if people check out your content for a longer period of time and remain on your site after reading or watching it.
Evaluating your content results enables you to see what’s working for your business. You may find that a certain type of blog post resonates better with your audience than another. Monitoring your content will help guide your strategy so you can continue to produce great content.
Start creating your custom content strategy today
Want to create content that ranks at the top of search results and earns you leads and revenue? You need a solid content marketing strategy.
A well-planned content strategy will help you create an impactful campaign that drives more traffic to your pages and increases engagement.
At WebFX, we have a team of over 200 experts that will bring their knowledge and expertise to your campaign. We’ll help you create a content marketing strategy that enables your business to grow.