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6 Steps to Creating Your Digital Content Strategy
If you’re wondering whether you need a content strategy, just think about the last site you visited, the last app you used, the last thing you shared online—why did you go to that site, open that app, share that link? We’ll bet it was the content.
Content is the lifeblood of every digital product you create. It’s the reason customers choose to use your app, visit your website or log in to your platform. It’s the reason they’ll keep coming back or decide not to return.
Yet despite this, 31% of organizations don’t have a documented content management strategy, and only 26% of organizations describe the strategic management of their content as ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ successful.
Without a Content Strategy, You Don’t Have a Clear Direction
Building out valuable content that resonates with customers requires significant time and resources to create and maintain, but without a clearly defined strategy, this effort is likely to be misdirected and won’t generate results. Without a clear strategic vision and roadmap, you won’t know:
- The kind of content your audiences want and need
- What content you’ll need to support your business goals
- How your content will be managed and maintained
- The technical systems the content will interface with, such as your CMS, PIM or DAM platforms
- Whether your content is performing well and delivering business results
A strong content strategy tackles these points, allowing you to effectively address your audience’s needs and create sustainable plans for keeping them engaged in the future.
How to Create Your Content Strategy
Here’s our six-step approach to creating and implementing a content strategy:
- Understand your audience: Understanding the needs and pain points of users at each stage in their journey is the foundation of any content strategy. Start by mapping these journeys, then overlay them with the content that users will need at each stage. This will also lay the groundwork for your personalization strategy – putting yourself in the customer’s shoes helps you to identify how to differentiate the content and messaging.
- Set your strategy: What role should content play in meeting the needs of your audience, and delivering on your business strategy? You must define your content ambitions and KPIs, and create a set of principles that will guide the creation of future content. If content doesn’t meet these principles, then it doesn’t warrant a place on your digital platforms. Be sure to think about structure, tone, format and channel. Adhere to this rigorously, to ensure you don’t have content on your sites or apps which is just there because someone in the business asked for it. All content should provide real value to your audience.
- Audit your content: Once you have defined your content strategy, it’s time to audit your existing content to assess if it’s aligned with the principles and criteria you’ve defined. While spot-checking content to perform this subjective analysis needs a human eye, tools such as Screaming Frog will give you a full picture of the content you have, and highlight technical content fixes such as broken links, redirect chains and meta description issues.
- Plan and create new content: Your strategy has set your content agenda, and your audit has shown you how your current content measures up. The next step is to plan your content improvement process and identify new pieces of content that should be created to achieve your strategy. Always keep in mind the fact that brilliant content is what will keep users coming back.
- Measure the impact: Monitoring the performance regularly through analytics, user feedback and A/B testing is critical to ensuring your KPIs are met. Reports on content performance should be circulated throughout the business, and a ‘test and learn’ approach should be adopted to ensure you’re continuously optimizing content.
- Maintain: Content strategy is an ongoing cycle, not a one-off project. When content has no real owner or gatekeeper, it quickly becomes out of date, and carefully planned site architectures get warped over time as more and more pages are added without full consideration of the user experience. It’s vital to have a content ops model in place to define the people, process and tools needed to make content planning, creation and management run smoothly.
Defining a solid content strategy takes time and expertise, but if you want to attract customers (and keep them coming back), it's essential. Putting this effort in place early paves the way for greater return in the long run, and ensures the cost and effort spent on creating content is directed in the right way to drive real results.
Eleanor Drew is a Lead Content Strategist at EPAM UK. Want to talk about how to get the most out of your content? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.