Content Strategy – The Brains Behind Content Marketing

“Content Marketing” is the new cool kid on the block — a trend rapidly replacing traditional marketing and advertising techniques. However, in all the excitement, executives and writers alike often leave out the fact that bad content can bore customers away just as quickly as a screaming banner ad can. Therefore, when a company is shifting its focus to content marketing, content strategy is key.

Content. Wait a second. What is content?

Lately, I see content being defined by what it should not be, rather than what it should be (e.g. it should not be dense, text-only paragraphs). Content can take the form of text, photos, videos, infographics, or audio, and can deal with any subject you wish, so long as it provides substantive value to a specific audience with a specific goal in mind.

Content is what makes up your webpage right now. So the real trick to Content Marketing isn’t a renewed focus on this magical “content” – content is already there – it is Content Strategy.

The keys to effective Content Strategy:

  • Identifying and balancing business vs. user goals
  • Collaboration from day one between writers, strategists, and designers
  • Deciding what medium you will display your content in
  • Making a plan to cultivate content after day one

Balancing business and user goals

Hitting your users over the head with your brand and story, instead of incrementally building trust, is a major pitfall. While your business goals might be to garner more press and recognition, successful content marketing is more pull than push. You want to draw your users and readers in through offering them content that is useful and relevant to their needs, rather than forcing your mission statements and products on them over and over.

Collaboration from day one

The blind men and the elephant: Four blind men were put in a room with an elephant, and asked to tell the king what they thought the elephant was. Because each man was touching a different part, everyone had a different definition, and no one could see the full picture.

Have you ever noticed that a beautifully designed page or blog looks terrible once “lorem ipsum” is replaced with the real copy? All too often, writers and designers only connect at the last stages of a project, not realizing that content strategy needs to be a collaborative effort. Define a Creative Brief for content strategy from day one, outlining your goals, process, audience, and examples to make sure everyone is writing and designing for the same elephant. Check in and review multiple times before launching new content to keep everyone on track.

Decide which medium/media is appropriate

While studies have shown that web users tend to prefer text over video, don’t stand by text-only as a rule. Take a step back and consider what medium meets user needs the most; when offering educational materials, offer the same topic in multiple formats (text, video, quizzes, etc.) whenever possible.

Additionally, always organize by subject first, medium second. Users know what type(s) of information they want to consume, and only after they find it will they decide how they want to consume it.

Here is an example of a webpage which utilizes multiple types of content (thus appealing to many different user-learning styles) all in one place.

Making a plan to cultivate content after day one

You are the proud owner of new web content!

But before you celebrate, make sure to answer the following questions:

  • Who owns this content?
  • Who will add more content regularly?
  • Who will monitor it and track its progress?
  • Who will correct its path, and ensure it remains relevant?

Content Strategy is an ongoing exercise, and must be regularly revisited in order to be successful.

What have been your best experiences in creating useful content? Where have you seen the process break down?

Categories: Digital Marketing
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