An Introduction to Content Strategy

January 14th, 2011 • By:  • Content Strategy

Content Strategy

Content strategy is defined a number of different ways, mostly because it encompasses a number of different pieces of the overall Internet marketing puzzle. In the simplest definition, content strategy is the process of creating and developing a plan that includes content creation, distribution and governance.  It answers the “why am I creating this content?” question, along with “where should this content go?” while also tackling the “who is this content for?” debacle. The process includes a look at content from a user perspective to ensure that web content is useful, flows logically and can be effectively navigated, as well as makes certain the content plan aligns with company objectives and goals.

Content strategy can be broken down into a few (okay, more than a few) different parts.  These parts include:

Content audit. This audit includes a content inventory that is basically your site in an Excel-spreadsheet nutshell: what content is found where, page by page.  A content inventory is useful in that it shows the structure of your site and allows you to see not only where individual pieces of content are located, but what other destinations those pieces point to. (Think, where would a user go after this page?) The inventory can also divulge what content is outdated or flat out incorrect, as well as dig up content that you may not even know you had. (And if you didn’t know you had it, should you use it? Probably not.) The qualitative part of your audit can divulge insights such as if the content is appropriate for the audience. Does it answer questions your audience needs the answers to? And of course, much, much more.

Web content creation. Writing and creating for the web is a harder task than it may seem, as there is so much to take into consideration including user needs, company objectives and style. Not only does this include website copy, it also regards other content development including blog writing, slideshows, webinars, videos and photos.  Content strategists are faced with the questions: Does the content make sense to a user? Do internal links point to the correct places? And of course, what about those search engines…will they find this data useful?

Editorial strategy. An editorial strategy includes the tone and voice of your content and ensures content produced follows a certain style. The editorial strategy also includes developing and creating an editorial calendar, which depicts when and where certain content will be published. The strategy also defines who owns the content that is published and how long that content will be up to date for, also known as the content lifecycle.

Listening to your audience and your competitors. What exactly does your audience need to know about your product or service in order to make a decision or complete a call to action? This information can be found by listening to what your customers are saying.  Also, investigating your competitors content can show you what your visitors will end up reading/watching/seeing if they aren’t on your website.

Content distribution. There are a number of different channels content can be distributed to, but which makes the most sense? Distribution channels include your website, blog, social media platforms, e-mail marketing and more.

Seems like a lot to take in, right? Perhaps it is.  But content strategy is something that all websites publishers should take into account if they want to be successful in pleasing their visitors.  Ever heard the phrase, “content is king?” It’s true. Quality content is what drives us to visit websites and spend our time and money online. It is what keeps us coming back for more and is the reason why we trust the people and brands that we do. If we don’t have great content and a plan to back it up, then what do we have?

Though content strategy may seem like a challenging project to take on, it doesn’t make it any less important.  By listening to our visitors and asking ourselves “why” content should be created and what it is meant to accomplish, we are giving our visitors what they need to be successful and have a positive online experience with our brand.

Do you have content strategy in place? Tell us about your experience in the comment section!

Abby Gilmore

Abby Gilmore is a content strategist at Vertical Measures. When she is not creating, tweaking and developing strategies for online content, she creates her own offline content as a freelance print journalist.

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6 Responses to “An Introduction to Content Strategy”

  1. Abby Gilmore Says:

    Yes, I agree that the art of storytelling is a fantastic way to connect with others and it is often a tactic used in an overall content strategy. When I use the term “content strategy” I am referring to not only creating content, but the planning and governance of online content.

    Thanks for your comment!

  2. Greg Shuey Says:

    Thanks for sharing Abby. Content is a huge piece of the SEO puzzle and unfortunately most clients don’t understand (or refused to understand), or they don’t have the time or budget to integrate content strategies into the business. The most important thing when creating content is making sure it is relevant and meets the needs of your potential audience. If you produce your content naturally, it will be higher quality and it will also attract links.

  3. Abby Gilmore Says:

    Agreed! Yes, many may overlook content strategy because of the cost and the headache (for some, I personally love it!), but it is truly important if you want to give your visitors and customers useful and usable content.

    Thanks for your comment, Greg!

  4. SearchCap: The Day In Search, January 14, 2011 Says:

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  5. Social Media Marketing HQ | Learn Social Media From the Industry's Brightest Minds » Is An Arsenal In Your Content Strategy Says:

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  6. Richard coen Says:

    Great article, like the comment about storytelling, its amazing the number of people who areuncomfortable writing content about their business. Telling real stories is easy. Being a thought leader in your market is hard, this needs guidance and planning.

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