Your organization’s content strategy impacts many aspects of the direction you take in business, from organizational goals to hiring decisions to how your mission is fulfilled. Rather than reinventing the wheel each time you revisit strategy, however, creating a content strategy template enables teams to work within set parameters in order to successfully complete content goals.
Here are the basic building blocks that make up a content strategy template, as well as a template resource you can use to start to create a custom content strategy.
What Goes Into a Content Strategy?
Using a content strategy to drive decision making is nothing new. Statistics from a 2018 study by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) show that 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing to reach customers, and 86% of B2C marketers think content marketing is a key strategy. It is integral and necessary to use content strategy in order to reach the audiences you want to reach, but to do that, you need to think critically about what your content says now and what you want it to say in the future.
The elements that make up your content strategy can be multifaceted and include:
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Metrics
- Target Audience Research
- Audit of Your Current Content
Each of the above guides your content strategy in its own way and can provide direction no matter the maturity level of your team’s current content plans. For instance, if you have existing plans and solid metrics for your KPIs, you may want to focus more on updating your target audience based on new research and data.
Following the creation and execution of these, you may want to create an editorial calendar to give your team direction and create a content strategy that is robust, long-lasting, and based on the direction you’ve determined ahead of time with your team.
Your content strategy KPIs are an essential part of how you determine whether or not your strategy is successful. While a data-driven approach is best, some ideas you may decide to use for KPIs that are then identified with quantifiable metrics include:
- Goal completions
- Returning visitors to your site
- Scroll depth
- Open rates or click through rates if pairing content marketing with marketing automation
When determining KPIs, you also must consider where in the funnel your reader might be based on the content you are creating. Are they top-of-funnel and seeking out high-level information, or are they truly interested in the products or services you offer and could convert into a lead?
While each campaign is unique, determining KPIs and realistic goals can help you measure what is working well and what needs to be improved.
Defining Your Target Audience
Some organizations have an innate sense of who their target audience is made up of, but updating your persona research can enhance the information and minimize biases you may already have. Some ways you can do this include:
- Analyze existing data - Google Analytics may be a good place to start. Review the pages that receive the most traffic and see if you can uncover any patterns. Are they on specific topics that might cater to specific audiences? Once you have a better understanding of your audience, you can use some of the themes you find to conduct keyword research on topics most important to them and tailor your content accordingly.
- Complete user testing - Investing in user testing can give the people directly using your site a chance to provide direct feedback about what they like, what is not working for them, and what opportunities may lie ahead for your content strategy going forward.
- Review evolving goals and technology comfort - When you last designed your site, did your data show that users were accessing it via mobile devices? If you are noticing a shift in technology toward the mobile experience but your content is not catered to it, then it might be time to think about how to better prepare your content strategy to meet the goals and technology usage of your users today.
When you take the time to better refine who makes up your target audience, you can create a content strategy that opens up opportunities for them to truly identify with your content. You can also better identify with their pain points if you are able to seek out what kinds of problems they are trying to solve.
Completing a High-Level Content Audit
Now that you have improved your research into the types of people consuming your content, it’s time to better understand if your content is meeting their needs or missing the mark. A content audit can help you identify shortcomings and opportunities to improve your messaging.
When conducting your content audit you might look at the elements that make up your written content such as your SEO, voice, and tone. However, don’t forget to review your non-text media as well, such as images and videos. Could you find better ways to communicate your content? If so, it’s time to plan out ways to improve your existing pages, blogs, and content resources like videos. Depending on what you find, you may want to fix the most important pages, but it’s also important to think about what lies ahead in your strategy and develop an editorial calendar your team can follow.
What Makes Up an Editorial Calendar?
An editorial calendar consists of several elements of your content strategy and helps you keep your content focused on specific users’ needs as well as topics they may be interested in about your product or service. When you use an editorial calendar, it’s important to make sure that you fill in columns for specific elements such as the following:
- Who the content is for - Your content could be for more than one persona, so it is important to note in the calendar who the primary audience is before creating the content. Tracking the secondary audience is helpful, too, so that you can make sure the voice and tone will work for the specific perspective they may have on your topic.
- The type of content being created - Are you asking your team to work on a blog post or a whitepaper? Do they know the difference between the two resources? Make sure to include what is being created so that you can track the resource later and its effectiveness. You may be able to use the content to spin off other resources. For instance, if you see a lot of success in a blog post about a particular topic, you might reuse some of its elements in a video series for the same target audience.
- The season that aligns with your content - The time period when you publish your content can impact its reach. Certain dates and predictable trends need to be taken into account when you are brainstorming the topics you hope to cover. Also, if your content is written for a specific industry, you may need to consider if the content falls in line with common tradeshow times or other recurring events that may be known ahead of time.
- Channels receiving the content - Chances are you are not going to reuse the content, word for word, across all of your platforms. What works in a blog post doesn’t necessarily fit into a tweet. Keep track of where you plan to publish your content and think about ways it can work, with revisions, in other channels so that you extend its reach beyond just one or two. If you are marketing events such as webinars, you can assess how your content aligns with your annual plan or where changes can be made to make a cohesive strategy.
- Deadlines - If you are relying on several people in your team to create content, it is important to have a good workflow for who will write content, edit the content, and create graphics about the written content, as well as your target date to publish the final product. Adding in deadlines that coincide with your project management software can help!
More Ways to Level Up Your Content Strategy
Other considerations for improving your content strategy include taxonomy, governance, and accessibility. Each of these describes ways to ensure your content is well structured, well maintained, and accessible to as many people as possible.
Taxonomy is made up of several parts: the content hierarchy in the site, as well as the metadata information that helps both users and search engines determine what topics are being covered. Taxonomy is important for teams to consider so information is not confusing and is clearly aligned with the goals of the content. You may have to think about your site’s information architecture (IA) and how new content plays a role. IA best practices from Usability.gov provide a good starting point for applying this information at an organizational level.
Governance of content strategy embodies the ways in which content keeps consistent formatting that does not confuse the reader or detract from the content’s message. Some things to consider when governance is being discussed include:
- What policies are in place to create, review, and implement content
- What standards, such as style guides, are followed in content creation
- How the organization will sustain its content strategy
- How the organization will evolve its content strategy
GatherContent, a leading content software company, has several principles and guides on content governance that can be used to review your own content and ensure governance principles are being followed.
Accessibility is important to consider in your content strategy because it allows you to reach users and remove barriers they may face regularly when accessing content on the web. Some ways you can do this include making sure the website user experience works for keyboard navigation and screen reader.
Additionally, content editors can impact accessibility through their own work with inputting content. They can learn about using alternative text with images and adding captions to videos so that users who prefer reading content or who may not be able to hear the audio content can understand the content in the video.
Download the Mediacurrent Editorial Calendar Template
Start creating a robust content strategy with the Mediacurrent downloadable editorial calendar template. Use it as a building block and customize it with the information most important to you and your team. And if content strategy is a topic you’re passionate about, talk to our digital strategy specialists about how Mediacurrent can make a difference in building a strategy that fits your needs.