What Is a Content Strategy? (Plus How To Create One in 5 Steps)

By Jennifer Herrity

Updated November 7, 2022 | Published February 4, 2020

Updated November 7, 2022

Published February 4, 2020

Jennifer Herrity is a seasoned career services professional with 12+ years of experience in career coaching, recruiting and leadership roles with the purpose of helping others to find their best-fit jobs. She helps people navigate the job search process through one-on-one career coaching, webinars, workshops, articles and career advice videos on Indeed's YouTube channel.

An effective content strategy is crucial for your business' success. It communicates the messaging about your products or services clearly, attracts and retains customers and promotes any improvements to your brand.

In this article, we explain what content strategy is and why good content matters, plus demonstrate how to create meaningful content that wins in just five steps.

Woman stands at whiteboard and draws a circular strategy of 5 content strategy steps: 1. Conduct research, 2. Develop a plan, 3. Choose metrics, 4. Create content, and 5. Maintain content

What is content strategy?

Content strategy is the planning, development and management of content online, including websites and social media. Content includes images, sound, video, product descriptions, advertisements and downloadable information as well as any other written material on a website.

Verifying that your content is useful, applicable, cohesively structured and easy for site visitors to find is vital to improving user experience and site traffic. Excellent content strategy lends itself to an impactful company brand and promotes business growth. Content strategy is just one piece of an overall content marketing plan.

Read more: Content Marketing Basics: What Is Content Marketing and How To Do It

How to create meaningful content

The process of creating meaningful content will evolve based on the needs of your market. To help your business grow and thrive, you must be able to consistently produce well-researched, compelling content that is sustainable and dynamic.

Here's how to do it:

1. Conduct research

Developing a successful content plan entails a complete understanding of your target audience or buyer persona. By understanding the needs and desires of your target audience, you can tailor content to better attract and retain your customers. Research methods can include content stakeholder interviews, competitor analysis and objective evaluation.

Read more: 4 Steps to Build Your Buyer Persona

2. Develop a content plan

Your content plan should include your product goals and a business model. You should also delineate the unique quality content you hope to provide—your voice and brand—and outline obstacles and opportunities you may encounter.

Consider staffing recommendations on content processes, as well as a metadata and migration plan. You may also want to map out content you can deliver throughout the buyer's journey.

Finally, identify the channels and platforms you will use to deliver your content and how they’ll remain connected to create a consistent brand identity and messaging.

3. Choose your metrics

Depending on your content goals, you’ll want to choose your metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) in advance that will help you measure the success of your content strategy. Metrics might include conversion rates, social media engagement or increases in organic traffic through unique visitors or time on page.

Example content goal Metric(s)
Increase website traffic Pageviews
Create more engaging content Time on page, bounce rate
Remove content that's less effective Exit pages
Increase user loyalty and repeat visits Pages per session, unique visitors
Create effective website forms Conversion rate
Measure ecommerce success Abandonment rate

4. Create content

Create quality content relevant to your buyer persona through meticulous planning and stay on brand with a consistent voice. Consider improving aspects of online content, such as meta descriptions, how the content compares to competitors high on search engine results pages and search engine optimization and quality assurance efforts. Make your content unique to your audience and its needs to keep buyers returning.

Read more: 5 Tips and Fundamentals for Better Content Promotion

5. Maintain your content

The maintenance stage of content strategy is perhaps the most useful, as it ensures the process is a recursive one keeping content current, compelling and relevant. Be sure to plan for periodic content auditing via web analytics, which will help in determining targets or remapping for measurable success.

Related: 16 Types of Marketing Content To Engage Your Audience

Evaluating your content strategy

While conducting periodic content evaluations, you should always consider content quality. Verifying that each page, image or download has a purpose for a target persona guarantees that your content remains integral.

The following core principles identifying quality content offer a practical method to validate content authenticity. Good content must be:

Appropriate

Content is appropriate for users when it helps them accomplish their goals. It must be appropriate in method of delivery, style, structure and substance. It anticipates needs but does not offer everything for every need all of the time—this would overwhelm and make finding content nearly impossible.

For example, when some businesses scale down their websites, user numbers increase. The improved accessibility may better meet the needs of the target persona, creating a more enjoyable and beneficial experience.

Clear

Your content should be clear in both language and organization and should appeal to your target audience. You should make resources and information simple and quick to access, and lead to links that are live.

Read more: 11 Writing Strategies for Effective Communication

User-centered and useful

Understanding and appreciating the role of the user helps create content focused on their cognitive framework. You should always keep your page visitors in mind when writing content to enhance accessibility and lower the risk of ever alienating your target audience.

Consistent and concise

Consistency in language, tone and content format makes your message easy to comprehend. To assure consistency, consider using a style guide. Content and information must also be concise, direct and focused so your users don’t get lost in your content.

Read more: How To Build an Effective Editorial Style Guide

Appropriate for the business

Your content should add to your business’ success rather than detract from it. Consider how creating and implementing a content strategy affects your resources, profits and employee well-being.

Related: 10 SMART Goals in Marketing (and Why They're Important)

Content strategy FAQs

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about content strategy:

Why is content strategy important?

An effective content strategy gives your customers helpful and relevant information, which may lead to more relationships, subscribers and profits. New customers may discover your business through your online content strategy, and you can gain trust with current ones.

What is a content strategy framework?

A proper content strategy framework includes steps that help guide your marketing decisions. You’ll want to conduct market research, develop a content plan, choose your metrics and create and maintain your content as part of your framework.

What’s the difference between content strategy and content marketing?

Content marketing is a campaign that’s one component of an overall marketing strategy, while content strategy is the thought and research that’s behind effective content marketing.

Read more: 16 Types of Content To Use in Your Marketing Strategy

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