Ready to craft a content strategy? Answer these questions first

Pore over these crucial branding, distribution and technology considerations before blasting out your next campaign.

Crafting a successful content strategy requires a comprehensive approach that’s flexible enough to adapt to your evolving needs.

If you’re just starting out (or reworking your content strategy entirely), answer the questions below with your team:

1. Brand

  • What is our brand’s purpose, vision, mission and values?
  • Why does our brand or product exist?

2. Objectives

  • Why are we creating content, and what are we hoping to accomplish?
  • Which goals take priority?
  • How will we know our content is on track to achieve our goals?
  • How will we define vital elements and metrics of our strategy, such as a “lead”?
  • What behaviors do we want our content to affect and influence?
  • How do we define concepts or keywords that might be easy to misinterpret?
  • What other important considerations will influence how we approach our solutions?

3. Personas

  • Which specific audience are we trying to reach?
  • Why are we trying to reach them?
  • Where are they located?
  • How do they consume information?
  • How do they speak and prefer to be spoken to?
  • What do they care about?
  • What are their goals, fears and motivators?
  • What problems do they need solved?
  • Who are their heroes—or their nemeses?
  • What would make their lives easier?
  • What are their key demographic and psychographic attributes?

4. Existing content insights

Unless you’re concocting a content strategy from scratch, you probably already have content living online. Examine and audit your current content, and use those insights to drive your new content strategy. With your team, answer:

  • Is our user experience optimized?
  • What content gaps should be filled (formats, subjects, platforms, etc.)?
  • Does our mix of channels make sense?
  • What content is working, and what is not?
  • How else can we use or repurpose our current content for more impact?
  • Do our readers or visitors have a clear path to the next stage in the content (or customer) journey?

5. Measurement methodology

  • Which key performance indicators will we use to measure success?
  • What do all our KPIs mean, specifically? Do we all agree what constitutes a “qualified lead” or a “prospect”?
  • How are our KPIs linked to our overall company goals?

6. Journey or lead mapping

  • What signals help us identify someone in any particular stage of the customer journey?
  • How will we move prospects and customers along to the next stage of the pipeline?
  • On which stage in the journey should we focus our content strategy efforts?
  • At what point will we bring in our sales team to close the deal?

7. Messaging platform

  • How is our content supporting our overall brand messaging?
  • What messages are most relevant for our current goals?
  • Will our key messages resonate with all personas, or should we tailor them for more specific audiences?

8. Channel opportunities

  • Where are we going to reach people?
  • How will we reach them?
  • Where are their preferred online communities?
  • What are the best times to reach them?
  • What will our mix of channels be (owned, earned or paid)?

9. Storytelling opportunities

  • What are the big ideas, general topics and content pillars that tell our story most effectively?
  • Do these stories align with our main goals?
  • Are these stories interesting or relevant to our target audiences?
  • How will we vet, hone and improve our stories?

10. Editorial calendar

  • How much content will we publish?
  • How often will we publish?
  • Who will create our content?
  • What types of content are we creating? Do we want articles, infographics, videos or motion graphics?
  • Who will “own” each type of content?
  • What does our production cycle look like (drafts, visual assets, publishing dates)?
  • How will we determine how to publish and promote each piece of content?
  • Are there major events or holidays that are relevant to our audiences or industry?

11. Keyword strategy

  • What are our top keyword opportunities?
  • How will we optimize content around keywords?
  • Are our publishing platforms optimized for SEO?

12. Media planning

  • Which publications will we target?
  • Who will establish and maintain those relationships?

13. Budget allocation

  • How will we budget time, money and resources toward our content efforts?
  • Who will approve or oversee budget allocation?
  • Will we use our own resources or hire outside help?

14. Tech stack

  • Do we have the technology infrastructure in place to create, publish and distribute content?
  • Do we need additional software?
  • What design tools will we need to invest in?
  • Which content platforms should we explore?

Stay flexible

A savvy content strategy shouldn’t be set in stone. Plan to tweak, pivot and shift tactics based on your results, and review your content strategy at least every six months. Stay flexible, keep an open mind, and be prepared to head in whatever direction the data points you toward.

Katy French is managing editor at Column Five Media. A version of this post first appeared on the Column Five Media blog.

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