What Is a Content Strategy? Steps To Getting Started

Posted by Kelly Braun on January 29, 2024 at 2:26 PM     Content
What Is a Content Strategy? Steps To Getting Started

In the fast-paced world of digital marketing, a robust content strategy stands as a cornerstone for businesses aiming to establish a strong online presence that helps grow revenue. So, what exactly is a content strategy, and why is it crucial? More importantly, how can you start building one? Let’s jump right in and explore.

What Is a Content Strategy?

Think of a content strategy as a master plan that encompasses the creation, development and management of all your brand’s content. This isn’t just limited to writing blog articles or social media posts. It's an all-encompassing strategy that includes various forms of media such as videos, blogs, social posts, website content, podcasts, billboard messaging, direct mail pieces and more. Essentially, it's the blueprint guiding the creation and delivery of your brand's content to educate and inform customers.

Why Is a Content Strategy Important?

A content strategy is essential today because customers expect to find solutions to problems, answers to questions, customer reviews and more before they purchase a product or service. Putting this information out there via a content strategy helps:

Build Brand Recognition: Consistent, high-quality content puts your business on a customer’s radar. It drives awareness of your brand, its products/services and its overall mission. 

Establish Brand Authority: Authentic expert content establishes your brand as an authority in your field. It answers your customers' top questions and builds trust with your audience, which is critical for long-term success.

Improve SEO: Search engines love fresh, relevant content that matches what online users are searching for. A solid content strategy boosts your SEO efforts, making it easier for potential customers to find you online.

Enhance User Engagement: Engaging and relevant content keeps your audience hooked to your brand. It encourages interactions and fosters a loyal community around your products or services.

Drive Conversions: Content is a key driver in the conversion process. Educational blogs and website pages, informative videos and engaging social posts help guide customers through the buying journey. If they don’t find the answers they seek with your content strategy, they likely will from a competitor.

What Are the Steps to Creating a Content Strategy?

Creating a content strategy involves several key steps to ensure that your content effectively meets your goals and resonates with your target audience. Here's a general roadmap:

  1. Define Your Goals: Start by clearly defining what you want to achieve with your content. This could be increasing brand awareness, generating leads, improving search engine rankings or engaging your community.
  2. Understand Your Audience: Know who your target audience is. Create buyer personas to understand their needs, preferences and pain points. This will help you tailor your content to their interests.
  3. Audit Existing Content: If you have existing content, conduct an audit to see what's working and what isn't. This helps you understand what to continue, improve or stop doing.
  4. Choose Content Types: Based on your goals and audience, decide the medium that best fits the content and how your target audience will consume this content. This could be a video, new website page, blog article, social media post, direct mail piece or others.
  5. Plan with a Content Calendar: Plan your content in advance. A content calendar helps you organize when and where to publish your content and keeps your team on the same page.
  6. Develop Content: Start creating content. Ensure it's valuable and aligns with your brand voice. Interview company and subject matter experts to capture authentic, high-quality content unique to your brand. Incorporate SEO best practices if your strategy includes improving search engine visibility.
  7. Distribute and Promote Content: Simply creating content isn't enough. You need a plan for distributing and promoting it through various channels like email, social media, partnerships, etc.
  8. Measure and Analyze Results: Use analytics tools to track the performance of your content. Look at metrics like engagement, traffic and conversion rates to gauge success.
  9. Refine Your Strategy: Based on the insights from your analysis, refine and adjust your content strategy. Be open to experimenting with new ideas and adapting to changing audience preferences.
  10.  Stay Agile: Content marketing is dynamic. Keep up with industry trends and be ready to pivot your strategy in response to new goals, challenges and opportunities.

Remember, a content strategy is not a one-time effort but a continuous process of learning, adapting and evolving your content.

Best Practices for a Successful Content Strategy

Some top tips to help in creating a winning content strategy include:

  • Prioritize Quality over Quantity: Focus on creating high-quality content that provides value rather than churning out content for the sake of it.
  • Use Storytelling to Engage: People resonate with stories. Use storytelling to make your content more engaging and memorable.
  • Collaborate with Others: Content creation should be a collaborative initiative internally between marketing, sales, customer service and your subject matter experts. Also, don’t hesitate to collaborate externally with industry experts, influencers or even your audience to generate fresh content ideas.
  • Maintain Consistency: Maintain consistency in creating or refreshing your content. Also, be consistent in brand voice and style across all your content. This helps in building a strong brand identity.

Content Topics to Include in a Content Strategy

The big five content topics outlined in Marcus Sheridan’s "They Ask, You Answer" methodology is a great starting point for mapping out an effective content strategy. This approach is centered around creating content that answers customers' most pressing questions.

The big five topics include cost, problems, comparisons, best of lists and reviews. These topics are relevant across various industries and typically will address customers' core needs during the buyer’s journey. 

  • Cost: For a piece of content focused on cost, answer your customers' most pressing questions about price, ROI, warranties, fees, etc.
  • Problems: Content about problems could cover potential issues with a product or service and present solutions, thus building trust and filtering out non-ideal customers.
  • Comparisons: Comparison content compares different options, highlighting the pros and cons of each.
  • ‘Best of’ Lists: Best of content, often in listicle format, guides customers in making informed decisions by showcasing the best options in a market.
  • Reviews: Reviews leverage the power of customer feedback, as a significant portion of buyers read reviews before making a purchase.

Along with the big five topics, ask your sales team and customer service representative: what customer questions do you repeatedly hear? Use those questions and answers to fuel your content strategy. Create a list of content topics and then determine the best way to execute the delivery of that content, which may include blog articles, ebooks, videos, emails, infographics, case studies and more.

An Effective Content Strategy Is a Comprehensive Approach

In summary, a content strategy is more than just a plan for what to blog about. It's a comprehensive approach to how your brand communicates with the world. It's about telling your story, engaging with your audience, and, ultimately, driving business success. As a marketer, understanding and implementing a sound content strategy is not just beneficial — it's essential.

At Marketing Essentials, we bring more than 15 years of experience crafting custom content marketing strategies for a variety of industries. With Marketing Essentials as your partner, you can use content to drive more qualified leads and grow deeper relationships with your existing customers.

Curious? Request a free 30-minute consultation.