Digital 101: Content strategy

Content is central to everything we do now in marketing including both on and offline channels. Whether you believe content is king, context is king or any of the other cliches that have been circulating for years, there is no denying that it impacts your SEO performance, return visits, site engagement, social media, conversion, advertising strategy and more.

So in this latest Digital 101 blog we’ll get down to looking quickly at the top 10 considerations when building your content strategy.

1. Plan ahead

A good content strategy must have a plan. Some can be looser, some more structures but you need to plan ahead. This helps to avoid duplication and enables you to take advantage of subjects that will be in people’s thoughts in coming weeks and months such as sporting events and national holidays. Have a plan that looks for future events in the general public, in your industry, driven by your company and anything else relevant. Plan ahead and you can create a really relevant and diverse content plan.

2. Listen with both ears

Planning is one thing but you can’t predict the future so you can’t plan for everything. To keep your content as fresh as possible (which is essential for engagement and for SEO) you must keep an ear to the ground. As well as the proactive planning above you must also have a reactive process. Ensure you create a clear process that allows you to write, approve and distribute a piece quickly when news breaks. That will keep you ahead of the game and delivering a content strategy people will start to navigate towards.

3. Be engaging

Easier said that done but the key here is to write in a readable tone. The subject matter expert is not always the worlds greatest writer. Make sure your tone is consistent and easy to read. It should fit with your brand of course but also needs to be interesting and well written. That is a skill not everyone has.

4. Content is not just words

We’ve focussed on the written word so far but content also includes imagery and video. In fact video is becoming incredibly important. Consider how to gild infographics, vlogs, how to guides and other creative assets into your startegy for maximum effect.

5. Distribute and amplify

It’s all very well producing all this great content but without distributing it the world is missing out. Don’t forget to use your social channels and email to get relevant content to your audience. You can also use you content to help generate links into your site which will help SEO of course.

6. Measure up

Producing content is the easy part. Shaping it to be effective and evolving it is where it gets tricky. This is impossible without analytics. Understand what you’re trying to achieve with you content and measure what is working. Understand the subjects and trends and then shape your strategy accordingly. Look for bounce rate, entering the funnel from the page (assuming you have a CTA), sharing metrics, time on page, returning visits, % played (for video).

7. Theme

Those of you that are super smart (which is probably all of you as you’re reading my blog), will have realised that this blog you’re reading is part of a series. This helps my followers to easily understand and recognise what I’m writing about. Humans love to categorise so help them. Create themes and people can and will follow them more than random content. This could be how to guides, beginners tips, product tours or any number of areas.

8. Write just enough, no more, no less

Keep it punchy so readers aren’t daunted but not so short that it has no value. No one has time for lengthy blogs these days. It needs to be accessible. It does however need to provide enough length to offer some useful insight. Also content is of course intrinsically linked with SEO and so it needs to have enough substance to interest a search engine.

9. Keep it up

One of the common issues with content strategies is that they fade away over time. Keep blogging regularly. Keep the pages and videos coming. Recency is as important as relevance. Big gaps look poor and will affect your performance.

10. It takes time

So yes it takes time for a strategy to bed in so be patient. That’s not the point I’m making here however. It takes a lot of time and effort to deliver content. You need writers, designers, directors. Do not under estimate this. Do not build a complex content strategy that is going to fall apart in months as it quickly becomes too much to manage. Build it up slowly and organically. Get help from agencies or bring in qualifies teams. It’s not easy to get this right so invest in it if you’re serious.

That’s it for this Digital 101 on Content Strategy – the top 10 content rules.

For more on building an effective content strategy you can get my best-selling book ‘Digital Marketing Strategy’.

Buy Digital Marketing Strategy by Simon Kingsnorth

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