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Content Strategy: What Is It & How to Create One

  • Post category:SEO
  • Reading time:10 mins read

Are you looking to land the top spot, or even the first page, on Google? If so, here’s a top-secret tip: you have to have a stellar content strategy.

Your content strategy needs to focus on producing high-quality content, engaging with your audience, and measuring your successes and failures. You simply cannot produce content for the sake of producing content.

Let’s dive in and explore what a strong content strategy looks like and how you can create one of your own.

1.) Define the Goals for Your Content Strategy

You need to create content with a specific purpose in mind. Furthermore, you need to clearly define this purpose from the very beginning. Ask yourself – are you creating this content to increase brand awareness, generate leads, convert users, attract past customers, improve search rankings, or something different altogether?

Once you have clearly defined the goals, you can determine if a content strategy is the best way to achieve them.

It’s essential that you understand that a content strategy isn’t always the most viable solution.

For example – content is of little use in most cases when converting users at the bottom of your sales funnel. However, it can prove valuable in attracting new users to your site in the first place.

Different segments of the sales funnel require different types of content. This means that you need to decide what content is best to deliver at any given time.

Our friends over at HubSpot provide a great breakdown of the different types of content that are required at each stage of the sales funnel.

<Image of HubSpot’s Content for Each of the 3 Stages of the Sales Funnel>

2.) Research & Understand Your Audience for Your Content Strategy

It is essential that you develop a firm understanding of your audience in order to develop a strong content strategy.

You can glean valuable information by checking what types of sites your prospects already visit. You can also research which content they engage with or even which social media platforms they are active on.

Google Demographics & Interests and Google Analytics allow you to accomplish these tasks. Furthermore, you can make an educated guess as to which social platforms your users will be on based on demographics.

Content Strategy - Audience

Understanding which types of content works best and where can prove useful in the long run. Facebook has made it quite difficult for small businesses to engage with potential customers organically without promoting their content. Thankfully, video content seems to dominate on the platform. Video content generates 1,200% more shares than text and image content combined.

Understanding your audience, and how they behave, will help you refine your content strategy. Lastly, it’s important that you understand that social media content works well for B2C customers. However, the same cannot be said for B2B businesses.

3.) Hyperfocus on Your Niche

It’s a sad fact, but there’s a lot of garbage content out there on the internet these days. A lot of it is either plagiarized from an existing post. The rest of it is either a repost or it just lacks any real value. Thankfully, most people never see 99% of this garbage content since it doesn’t rank well on the SERPs.

In order to make your content stand out, it needs to be unique and possess a distinct voice. Most importantly, your content needs to provide readers with value.

The more specific you are and the more you focus on your niche, the greater your odds of evolving into an authority in your niche.

4.) Measure the Results of Your Content Strategy

Measuring the results of your content marketing is one of the most vital elements of an effective content strategy. Publishing content without analyzing your user feedback is similar to having a phone conversation on mute. You need to know what your audience likes and what they don’t like. Most importantly, you need to know why.

Here are a handful of important metrics that you need to wrap your head around.

Consumption Metrics

This is the top layer of information you can harvest when people view your content. As we’ve already mentioned (and as shown in the graphic below) you get this data from Google Analytics. Simply click Behavior > Site Content > Content Drilldown. You can then sort by different factors including, but not limited to, average time on page, bounce rate, and pageviews.

This data allows you to answer questions such as the following:

  • Did you craft a post that brought on a huge spike in traffic?
  • Do your users spend more time on a particular type of content?
  • Did a singular piece of content produce a large number of comments or shares on social media?

Content Strategy - Google Analytics 1

Social Sharing Metrics

Your social media content provides a great metric for measuring how engaged your audience is. You need to ask yourself what types of content you’re sharing and on which platforms are you sharing? Lastly, and quite possibly most importantly, what content is converting?

Here’s how you can find out which content is converting:

  1. Log into Google Analytics.
  2. Click on Acquisition > Social > Overview

Content Strategy - Google Analytics 2

This will yield a report similar to the one below (assuming you have goals set up).

Content Strategy - Google Analytics 3

This report provides three important metrics:

  1. Conversions: This shows you the total number of conversions. They are from every traffic source, not just social.
  2. Contributed Social Conversions: In order for an assisted social conversion to register, a visitor must visit the social media site at least once, though they may have used another traffic source before the last portion of the conversion.
  3. Last Interaction Social Conversions: Visitors are attributed to this group if they enter your site via social media and complete the assigned goal in the same session.

Once you collect this data, it will yield insights into the style of content that you need to create to get conversions. Furthermore, you can also decipher which social media platforms are most efficient. Lastly, it’s important that you recognize that some niches encourage sharing more than others. That being said, it’s critical that you compare your performance to those of competitors with similar user bases.

Lead Metrics

If your content is part of a sales funnel, you have to ask yourself which part of the sales funnel is your content designed to target? After all, you need to tailor your content to a specific audience at each level of your sales funnel.

Your content could be written to attract leads. If this is the case, you need to monitor its performance and identify areas in need of improvement so that future users don’t leak out of your sales funnel. The quickest and easiest way to track leads is to use goals in Google Analytics.

The easiest type of goal to set up is a URL destination goal. Here’s how to set up a URL destination goal:

1.) Log into Google Analytics

2.) Click Conversions > Goals > Goal URLs

3.) Click “Set up goals”

4.) Click the “+NEW GOAL” button

Google Analytics Goal URLs

5.) Select “Template”

6.) Type in a description for your goal

7.) Select “Destination” and click the “Continue” button

8.) In Goal Details, you need to add the URL of the goal you want to track. The whole URL is not needed, just the final path. For instance, to track “www.example.com/thankyou.html”, you only need to input “/thankyou.html.” Here, you’ll have a pair of optional details:

Value: It is possible to assign a value to the goal. For example, if you’re selling a product for a specific price, you can add it here.

Funnel: It is also possible to track a specific part of the sales funnel by adding it to the goal.

Google Analytics Goal URLs 3

9.) Click “save” and that’s it – you’ve set up a goal!

10.) To view goals once you’ve set them up, click Conversions > Goals > Goal URLs and you should see something like this:

Google Analytics Goal URLs Report

Sales Metrics

For most businesses, the ultimate goal of content generation is to boost revenue. Therefore, if your content strategy is revenue-based, you’ll need to find ways to measure the amount of revenue your content marketing generates.

Here’s how to measure the amount of revenue your content generates:

1.) Log into Google Analytics

2.) Click on Behavior > Site Content > All Pages

You should see something like this:

 

This element of Google Analytics allows you to assign value to a piece of content. IF the content isn’t performing as necessary, then you should check out this article on how to increase engagement with content.

In review, this image visually represents the four content marketing strategy metrics we’ve outlined above:

Content Marketing Metrics Pyramid

5.) Listen to Your Customers to Improve Your Content Strategy

Data analysis is great and is an extremely helpful tool. However, it only provides black and white figures on a spectrum that incorporates a lot of subtle details. You can access these subtle details by listing to your customers. Your customers need to know that you’re listening to them on social media. You can show them that you genuinely care by asking them for feedback and suggestions and engage with them on a regular basis.

It’s also helpful to speak with other members of your team to gain a better understanding of your customer’s needs. Sales teams and support staff engage with customers on a daily basis and are better positioned to collect thoughtful insights on how customers perceive your business. Reaching out to your customers and responding to their feedback enables you to collect valuable data, while also showing them that their contributions matter.

6.) Amplify Your Content Strategy

A strong content strategy and precise content creation only constitute the first part of the equation. The second part involves amplifying your content.

In order to successfully amplify your content, you need to determine the places online that your audience frequents. Once you identify these hot spots, it’s all about publishing on these channels to reach them.

In the end, you’ll need to think strategically in order to identify all the resources at your disposal and truly harness the power of employees, customers, and influencers that can help you amplify your content.

Content Strategy - Audience

Content Strategy FAQs

What is involved in content strategy?

Content strategy involves content ideation, content development and publication, editorial calendar planning, process and system creation and oversight, writing, editing, on-page SEO, and a host of other activities related to content management.

What is a content strategy framework?

A content strategy framework is an outline of how you plan to create content. A framework might include your audience, keywords you will target, how often and when you will publish content, and who will create the content.

Why is content strategy important?

If you want to rank high in Google, you need quality content. You also need good content so when people visit your website, they want to convert. Sloppy or visually unappealing content may turn off your potential customers.

What’s the first step of creating a content strategy?

The first step to creating a content strategy should be to define your goals. From there, you can make decisions about what your processes should look like, who your target audience is, what your publishing schedule should be, etc.

Closing Thoughts on Content Strategy

As we’ve discussed, creating an effective content strategy isn’t brain surgery. However, it can be quite challenging to put into action.

You should expect to encounter roadblocks and go through lots of trial and error. Once you have a game plan for success, all you have to do is rinse and repeat to see the kind of audience growth you’ve dreamt of.

Andrew Roche

Andrew Roche is a Digital Consultant at Shift Digital. He is also pursuing an MBA in Marketing & Finance through the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University

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