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A Beginner’s Guide to Content Strategy

Using content as part of a marketing strategy requires time, expertise, planning, and proper management. Don’t produce bad content. Plan for the publication and distribution of unique, relevant, and engaging content through the implementation of a content strategy.

What is a content strategy?

There are a number of definitions for content marketing floating around the Internet. Here are a few good ones worth pondering:

  • Content strategy has been described as “the practice of planning for content creation, delivery, and governance” and “a repeatable system that defines the entire editorial content development process for a website development project” (Wikipedia).
  • Content strategy is using “words and data to create unambiguous content that supports meaningful, interactive experiences.” (Rachel Lovinger, Content Strategy: The Philosophy of Data).

Kristina Halvorson, author of the book Content Strategy for the Web explains content strategy in the following way:

“It plots an achievable roadmap for individuals and organizations to create and maintain content that audiences will actually care about. It provides specific, well-informed recommendations about how we’re going to get from where we are today (no content, or bad content, or too much content) to where we want to be (useful, usable content people will actually care about).”

A well-thought-out content strategy takes into consideration the culture, approach, and end goal of delivering information about your company, product, service, or brand. Where should you publish content? When? How often? What kind of content is best suited for this purpose? When done properly, content can be used strategically as an asset and a quantifiable ROI.

Why do I need a content strategy?

Many companies think they can simply “wing it” when it comes to creating content. A couple of articles here, a press release or infographic there — easy, peasy.

Not quite.

Think of it this way. You wouldn’t try to cook a complicated meal without the help of a recipe. Nor would you try to drive to a remote destination without the aid of a GPS or Google Maps. A content strategy acts in a very similar way. Not only does it provide you with an end goal to work towards, but it also enables you to outline detailed instructions for achieving these results.

What should my content strategy contain?

Before you plan your content strategy, check out Kristina Halvorson’s article The Discipline of Content StrategyIn this post, Halvorson explains that every content strategy should start with the following elements:

  • key themes and messages
  • topic recommendations
  • purpose (how will your content close the gap between what your audience is looking for and what your business is offering?)
  • content gap analysis
  • metadata frameworks and any necessary content attributes (including various search engine optimization techniques)
  • any implications of strategic recommendations on content creation, publication, and governance

These basics will then lead to a more in-depth analysis of editorial strategies, content management, content delivery and distribution, ongoing optimization goals, and key performance metrics.

And you thought you were just publishing a blog!

Putting together a content strategy will help ensure that you have the right resources in place to produce the content you need to set your company apart from the competition.