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Content Strategy: A Method To The Madness

Oct 22, 2012

You may have heard a lot of buzz lately about Content Strategy and the importance which has been placed on it. Although it seems like a new trend, Content Strategy has been around since the beginning of the web. Now that search engine algorithms and online consumers have become more sophisticated, there is now a renewed focus on doing it right.

What Is Content Strategy?

Put simply, Content Strategy is the careful planning, creation, distribution, and measurement of a website's content. Content can be in the form of written articles, videos, whitepapers, podcasts, e-mails, and a variety of other media. The purpose is to target the appropriate audience with helpful, useful information so that when the time comes for a purchase decision, your company is in the forefront of their mind. There are 4 main areas of Content Strategy which are essential to the success of your business' website.

1. Substance

What does your content contain? What information are you imparting on your visitors and for what purpose? Remember, the goal of your content is not to convince people to buy your product right off the bat, because people don't make transactions without being well informed. Ideally, you'll have content that targets people in each stage of the sales funnel - from those doing research and browsing, to those ready to punch in their order. Become an authority on your topic and in your niche. Establish this trust with customers, and they'll be all the more confident when they're ready to purchase (and as returning customers too).

2. Structure

How will your content be organized, and in what format? The success of your content can not only rely on the substance, but also the medium. For example, a video might be the best way to communicate a new method for tying shoes, while a podcast might be the most effective format for a recorded interview. This is also the section where you'll decide how to distribute your content and display it for all the world to see. Depending on your target audience, you'll want to display your material in the right social media channels and websites.

3. Workflow

All of this planning is well and good, but who at your company will pull it off? Furthermore, what resources will these people need to do their jobs effectively? Your content strategists will need the ability to do heavy research on current and potential customers, access to analytics and the skills to interpret them, and the budgets to create or outsource the content creation if need be. You need to clearly define your team members' responsibilities, so everyone works together smoothly to accomplish goals effectively and on time.

4. Governance

Finally, there needs to be a primary content owner, responsible for managing and maintaining the content strategy. Content consistency for message, style and tone are important, as well as identifying marketing opportunities. Making smarter, streamlined processes with governance will help you accomplish your content strategy goals in a more efficient and focused manner. Governance includes both the process and the people responsible for content creation, and generally serves as a backbone to the entire life cycle of the content - from creation and beyond.

If You Publish Content, Consider Yourself A Publisher

Content is a digital asset, just like your website itself. The more useful, targeted content you create the more your audience can find you. Imagine content as a magnet, attracting people to your site or business. A great way to get your content strategy off the ground is to put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Or, ask your employees what questions they hear the most from customers, seek out Q & A sites to learn what information people are looking for, and most of all, see what your competitors are doing - and be better at it.

Harris Schachter