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What are the essential ingredients of a content strategy?

  • By 3chillies

“Content is king” is a phrase that’s been around for a long time, and to a certain extent it still rings true. A website is only as good as its content. Of course, elements such as design are critical, but ultimately site visitors will be consuming what they read and view on your pages.

It is still surprising how few teams don’t take a more structured and consistent view of creating and managing the content on their website. Sometimes it is something that has been focused on when a new website goes live, but then starts to fall apart.

The best way to ensure the content on your website continues to provide value is to have an up-to-date content strategy that provides all the details required on creating, managing and maintaining content.  While there is no exact consensus on what a content strategy should contain, there are some common elements that are usually included. In this post we’re going to cover our view of the essential ingredients of a content strategy.

What is a content strategy and why is it important?

A content strategy can be considered a plan for your website content that provides detail on the why, what, when, who and how. It covers what you are trying to achieve, the type of content that will meet that need, how it is going to be created and kept up to date, who is going to be doing what, and when content will be published. It could also include extra details such as measurement and reporting.

A content strategy is important because it helps to ensure your content meets your overall website needs, but also provides detail on managing content. This will help drive overall website value as well as ensure different content owners are on the same page and have clarity about what they are doing and why.

When you don’t have a clear content strategy, websites can become directionless, become bloated with too many pages that don’t have value, and suffer from a lack of engagement.

What are the typical ingredients of a content strategy?

There is no standard format for a content strategy or consensus on exactly what it should include. It can also be a document or a presentation (or both).  Below is our view on eight ingredients that should be included in a content strategy; your own content strategy might not include all of these, and could also include additional areas.

1. Website purpose and objectives

Every website needs to have a purpose and set of objectives. These are usually pretty clear and high level, for example:

  • to generate sales by highlight our products, leading people to our e-commerce store
  • to encourage people with business queries to get in touch with one of our partners to generate potential work
  • to validate our brand and proposition by showcasing our expertise and knowledge
  • to drive brand loyalty by getting customers to keep returning to our site and interacting with our content
  • to generate potential leads through SEO
  • and more!

Clarifying and articulating your website purpose and objectives within your content strategy then helps to define some of the detail about how your content is going to help achieve these aims.

2. Details of your audience

A content strategy should also include details of your target audience segments, as this will have a significant bearing on your website content. For example, a legal firm website may be targeting other legal professionals working in-house, senior management working within corporates, potential recruits, and even individuals seeking advice, depending on the services offered. Content targeted to each may be quite different in tone and format.

A content strategy should include some salient details about the audience and how (and which) content is going to be targeted to them. What are their interests? What are their pain points? Ideally, the content strategy should include some insights that are a result of user research and could even include details of personas if these have been created.

3. Customer journeys

Customer or user journeys help to establish the route and steps a site visitor might take to meet a need such as finding a contact and initiating a sales query, finding out about a job position to apply for, or buying an item from the store. The user journeys are usually an output of user research and help to establish some of the detail of the design of your site, but also to establish the content along the way that will help successfully guide users. Usually, teams are looking to improve user journeys by providing content that will make it easier and encourage visitors to complete a goal such as making a sale.

4. Types of content you’re working with

A content strategy should define the different content types and formats that you’re working with on your website. These can include news, events, blogs, articles, infographics, product catalogue descriptions, reports and more. Within some of these content types there could be further details such as different types of reports or differentiation between blog post categories. The strategy should also cover different content formats including text, video, images, PDFs and more.

How are each of these content types and formats going to be used? What are they trying to achieve? And where are they going to appear on the site?

5. Content governance and lifecycle management

A content strategy should also include more detail about the governance of content and any related content lifecycle management to ensure there is a good flow of content on your website. The extent to which this is included in a content strategy document can vary, but it needs to cover areas such as:

  • Who is going to be producing the content.
  • How often content is produced and any relevant details of a content calendar.
  • Any approval workflow required for different content types.
  • When and if content needs to be reviewed on a regular basis (usually for evergreen content).
  • Deletion and archiving policies – an important area that sometimes gets forgotten about.

6. Content topics

A content strategy might also cover some of the content topics that are covered in your different content types. For example, these might cover things such as product updates, business topics, typical customer problems, and so on. Listing typical topics can help with content creation and also ensure that all topics are being covered.

7. Brand and publishing guidelines

A content strategy will also potentially detail brand and publishing guidelines covering elements such as content structure and layout, tone of voice, visuals, use of images and even choice of terms. There is likely to be a separate brand and publishing guidelines document but the content strategy should align with and reference it.

8. Measurement and reporting

Measurement and reporting are key for website improvement but it sometimes is an area where teams go through the motions, produce a monthly report, but then don’t really act upon it. A good content strategy should include:

  • Details of the process for measurement and reporting including frequency, who is responsible, who receives the report and some of the metrics covered.
  • Any relevant KPIs that can be easily mapped back to the overall website purpose and objectives,
  • The regular follow-up actions or processes that are going to take place after reviewing the metrics to help produce better content.

Need help with your website content strategy? Get in touch!

Having a content strategy is essential for a successful website. If you need help with the content strategy or your website project, then get in touch!

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