Best Practices for Your Content Strategy (Part 1)

Missy Hildebrand | March 19, 2015 Comments
Best Practices

You’ve heard it before – "Content is King". A cliché for sure, but it is for a good reason. It’s true. In a previous post we talked about how content IS king, BUT…it is nothing without a strategic plan! You can blast content across the web until you’re blue in the face, but no one will care to listen if it’s not what they’re looking for. The strategic plan is the foundation to success, and in reality, can be an extensive process. But to help get some quick insights on how you should be thinking about your content strategy, we’ve provided some high level insights for getting started.

The Grand Scheme

The key to any successful content strategy is to plan.  Without it you will set yourself up for failure. It is essential to have a clear roadmap of the types of content you need to produce, as well as when you’ll need it. But how do you know what you should be creating? How do you know what will cater to your users - informing and engaging them?

The key to any successful content strategy is to plan.  Without it you will set yourself up for failure. It is essential to have a clear roadmap of the types of content you need to produce, as well as when you’ll need it. But how do you know what you should be creating? How do you know what will cater to your users - informing and engaging them?

First, you need to understand exactly who your audience is. Many organizations tens to overlook this (with many strategies), and it really is the foundation of the whole process. Obviously, we know that all men and women are not the same, so we shouldn't treat our audience as the same person with the same values and needs. This is why you need to segment your audience in a way that is relevant to your company.  Think about the two, three, or even four different types of consumers you help and how each might perceive your product or service.  Keep in mind that you can’t begin to talk about personas or content if you don’t have your brand values solidified. Make sure there is a clear understanding of your mission statement, what you stand for, and brand strategy.

The plan to fully understand and define your reader is a multi-step process. To begin, you need to create your "typical" user.  In order to do this, you will need to do both quantitative and qualitative research. This could be anything from surveys via email and social, to customer focus groups that enable you to get a picture of how your product /service fits their lives and the buying cycle. 

Once you’ve gotten a well-rounded understanding of who your average customer is, you can more easily break down your audience into personas, each having more specific characteristics and ways of interacting with you and what you’re selling. Then you can determine the tone for each persona to ensure your content will appeal to the various users who access your site. Overall, the process of creating personas is a subject all its own. For some additional insights, you can check out this previous post that talks about the importance of personas.

So you’ve identified who you’re talking to, but what do you talk about? This is where mapping the buyer journey comes into play.  If you know your buyers journey, you can map your content according to each user 2level of that conversion process. By assigning content to the most appropriate buying stage, you make the best use of your existing content, and you also discover gaps that need to be filled. A typical buying cycle is need, learn, evaluate, negotiate, purchase, and advocate. At a higher level - awareness, consideration, and decision. Keep this in mind when sorting through existing or creating new content. Determine which persona the content addresses, and which stage of the buying cycle it will serve.

Stay tune for Part 2 of Best Practices for Your Content Strategy to learn more on how to execute an effective content strategy!

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