What is A Content Strategy and Why Do You Need It?

December 23, 2020 DJ Team

what is a content strategy

Building and distributing engaging content to an online audience can be intimidating. When you consider all of the forces at play, like who makes up your audience, what kinds of content you should create, and how to understand what your best opportunities are, it’s easy to get lost.

Great content marketers have gathered firm footing in their marketing tactics by developing a clearly-defined content strategy. This is often what separates a content marketer from a great content marketer. But, every professional begins somewhere.

Marketers looking to dip their toes into the seemingly turbulent waters of digital content marketing might be wondering: what is a content strategy and why does it matter to me?

What is a content strategy and why is it important?

Any content marketing efforts you deploy need to have a guiding plan. Some marketers build a simple plan that outlines publication schedules and call it a strategy. But if you’re looking to make a real impact on your returns, then you’ll need a robust content strategy.

Kristina Halvorson, a respected industry thought-leader, provides a good definition:

content strategy guides the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content.

A well-defined content strategy can make a purposeful impact on digital content marketing tactics by

  1. Defining the ways a marketer will create and distribute content that satisfies customer needs while meeting determined business goals.
  2. Set a timeline that guides decisions on when to create, distribute, and even remove content from the public.
  3. Designate performance benchmarks and determine key performance indicators to directly measure that performance.

So why is it important for content marketers?

The short and skinny of it is that content strategies dictate the direction and means of travel for marketing navigating a new content marketing campaign. For large teams, a content strategy will work to keep all components and key players aligned on the execution of project deadlines, voice and messaging, even how each piece of content works to funnel users through their own buying journey with your brand.

Without a clearly defined content strategy, you may be throwing away substantial opportunities to maximize the efforts and resources given to content marketing campaigns.

What is in a content strategy?

Content strategies often contain separate sections that determine different aspects of a campaign. For many, these components are what outlines a path to success, detailing the answers to important questions like:

  • Who are we talking to?
  • What do they search for?
  • Do they have problems that we can answer?
  • What kinds of content does our audience prefer?
  • How does this campaign connect curated content topics to overarching business goals?
  • How do we know if the campaign is successful?

These questions are important for making critical, purposeful decisions about your content. When you have a question, you should find the answer in the content strategy. It’s a lot of upfront work but the end-result can see large returns, iif due diligence was done to create the strategy.

That leads to the next crucial component to a content strategy: data. You can’t really make educated decisions on your content, like what to write about it or where to publish it, without having data to support them.

The good news is that if you have a website and a Google Analytics account, you’re on the right track to start gathering data on your users and how they interact with your content. These metrics can help you understand how to change things up with future content and make bigger impacts.

How do you create a content strategy?

Well, now you know what a content strategy is, and what it typically includes. How do you start? Begin by answering the questions we laid out above, thinking critically about your answers and finding data that can either support them, or change them.

Who is my audience?

Who are you talking to? Do you have multiple consumer personas that buy your products? What about those who don’t currently occupy a large proportion of your customer base but one that would benefit from your brand? Identify these key audiences, what they like to read and watch, what problems they have, and even more, how they differ from one another. Then, determine which personas your content campaign impacts on a whole. Now you’ve got your readership defined.

What are my goals?

A goalless campaign is one that can never really be successful. Behind every action should be a purpose. Whether you determine your own goals, or you align your efforts with goals outlined by leadership, it’s important that you match your efforts to these goals. If the goal was straightforward, like capturing more qualified leads, then you have a direction to work towards.

Capturing more qualified leads might mean you develop a content map that moves users through a buyer’s journey with each piece of content becoming more and more detailed until you’re reached a very specific problem and have placed a contact form that will identify a content as qualified and needing something very specific.

What content should I create?

Pieces of a successful content strategy

Your audience and their preferences will largely determine the types of content you create. Younger audiences prefer video and interactive learning. Older generations might prefer long-form articles that answer their questions. Regardless of what you think they’ll want, do some research to discover what best content types they interact with, and then consider how you’ll create them.

What is our timeline?

Timelines can often dictate how robust your content campaigns can be in the end. A 3 month campaign will look quite a bit different next to a 12 month campaign. While many factors can contribute to how long a campaign is— like budgets, resources, product launches, seasons— having a clearly-defined timeline with a start and end that outlines when each piece of content should be released will enable you to be more organized and work with a purposeful plan.

Automate Your Content Strategy Planning

Wouldn’t it be nice if all the information you need to craft a content strategy was immediately available to you when you start to plan? Good News: DemandJump has automated the content strategy planning process.

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