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8 Quick Steps to Build an Effective Content Strategy

Two hands on desk with computer that says strategy on the screen

You’ve probably heard this before: if you want your business to succeed in the digital world, you need to have a content strategy.

What is content strategy?

Well, at its core, it’s about reaching the right people at the right time with the right content to help you reach your business goals and bring value to your audiences.

How do I make a content strategy for my business?

Developing a content strategy can sound like a daunting task–especially if you don’t feel that you have the time or resources to do such a thing. But the beauty of a good content strategy is that it’s iterative–it changes over time.

That’s why we’ve created a quick and easy overview of how to develop a basic content strategy so you start reaching your digital business goals (and worry about refining your strategy later).

If you feel that content strategy isn’t something you can DIY, Usabal Solutions offers ad hoc digital marketing services to support your online strategy. Contact us for a free demo or to talk about your needs.

1. Define the scope of your content strategy work

Content strategy can become incredibly detailed and stressful when you start to think about the process of creating and maintaining content. However, when you’re just starting out, it’s okay to commit yourself to focusing on only one or two aspects of content strategy (such as creation and distribution). Make your scope as broad or as specific as you need to make content strategy feel manageable for your company. You can (and should) add other elements to your strategy later.

2. Define your goals, your value, and your message

Before you run off and create any new content, you need to think about the bird’s-eye level message of your content. Here are some questions to think about:

  • What are your business’s goals?
  • What does your audience want to see?
  • What message do you want to send to your audience?
  • Is this message valuable to them?

Answering these questions and referring back to them whenever you decide to make or edit a piece of content will help you make sure you stay on brand and that your content is useful. You should repeat this same exercise for each individual piece of content you create.

3. Get to know your audience (in real life)

Before you launch your content out into the ether, you need to know who they are and what they want (just like we asked in step two). Knowing your audience will help you create engaging content that they want to see.

We strongly recommend that you create user personas based on user interviews with people in your target audience. But we understand if you don’t have the time or experience to do this. To start out, it’s okay to use existing information you already know about your customers and competitor information to put together user personas, but eventually you should fine tune these personas with interview data.

Did you know that USABAL can help you conduct user interviews to guide the creation of your site? Contact us and let us know you’re interested in doing user interviews.

P.S. if you haven’t already–we recommend setting up Google Analytics for your site. After you collect some data, you can use it to help you add to your user personas.

4. Decide what kind of content to create (and where you want to publish it)

If you read this step and your answer was “all kinds of content” and “everywhere,” let’s take a step back. While the power of the internet can’t be understated–playing to your strengths is still a worthy strategy.

The truth is that not every kind of content is the right kind for your business (the same applies to social media platforms). If you don’t have the time and resources, don’t feel like you need to have a presence on every single platform. Additionally, don’t feel like you need to create every kind of content (I’m looking at you, Twitter chats) to engage with your users.

To help you decide where to build your presence, check out statistics about what kind of content gets the most engagement on each platform, and evaluate what kind of content you and your team have the resources to do well. Then, build a presence on those channels only. You can add more channels when you have more resources.

5. Determine how you’ll decide if content is successful

You should always define measures of success because it helps you see how your audience feels about your content. Don’t let this feel like too much pressure: if your content doesn’t measure up, you’ll have the data you need to improve it!

A good place to start when thinking about measures of success is the usual list of key performance indicators (KPIs). You can select KPIs for existing and new content.

6. Evaluate what you already have, then create new content

It’s more efficient to leverage the content you already have. Before you jump into creating new content, you should run a content audit (which is fancy speak for going through your website page by page) and figure out how to work with what you have.

Check the Google Analytics of pages in your audit to see how people are engaging with them. An easy way to make more engaging content is to identify the content that is getting the most engagement (whether that be page views, a low bounce rate, or other indicators) and try to make more content like that.

7. Create a process for content creation, publication, and maintenance

Creating a single piece of good content is one thing, but what happens to that content after it’s published? How does this piece of content relate to all of the other content you own? It’s important to have a basic plan in place for content storage, maintenance, and branding. That way, no matter who is writing your content and when they’re writing it, everyone has standards to conform to.

Some ways you can establish standards across your content include:

  • Creating a style guide
  • Developing templates
  • Implementing a file naming convention (i.e. naming your files in a certain way so they’re easy to identify)
  • Documenting all of the above somewhere where you and your coworkers can easily access it

Again, while this may sound daunting, it’s something that can be refined over time!

8. Measure your results (and repeat)

The shelf life of your content doesn’t have to end after you hit publish. After a couple of months, find out how your content performed by using Google Analytics. Some questions to ask when looking at data are:

  • How did this content perform against my KPI?
  • What didn’t work about this content?
  • How can I improve this content?

If you find that a certain kind of content consistently engages your audience, keep making that kind of content! If content didn’t do so well, think about why. Is the format wrong? Did you distribute it in the wrong places? Was the user experience of the page bad?

This is another opportunity for you to do some user interviews to get real-life feedback from the people you create content for. It’s much easier to iterate and update content according to people’s needs than to ask them what they want with no examples.

Remember, you don’t need to change and update all of your content at once! Focus on the most important content and make your way to the rest of it.

Good content strategy requires thoughtfulness and time, but businesses of all sizes and capacities can and should be doing it. You should now have a basic idea of how to tackle your content, but if you still have questions feel free to reach out to us!

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