The 5 Pillars of Every Great Content Strategy

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Every business needs a plan. That’s far from revolutionary, but it’s true. It always has been, and it always will be.

Whether you work for a Fortune 500 company or are the first (and currently only) employee at a startup, you’re going to need a clear vision for how to grow the business.

In the digital marketing age, content has become the driving force for growth. And having a good strategy for distributing content can help you establish reliable ways to generate income.

Defining that strategy can provide a variety of benefits, both for you and for anyone else who works for the company. To help you create a clear plan that everyone can follow together, here are 5 things that should be in every great content strategy.

How To Build A Great Content Strategy

The earlier you build a strategy, the sooner you’ll be able to start publishing the sort of content that can actually drive your business forward. From choosing the proper medium (i.e text, video, etc.) to finding SEO keywords, there’s a wide variety of things to figure out.

But in terms of the absolute basics, you only need 5 specific things to give yourself a strong foundation that will last you for years to come.

1. Some Solid Content

It might sound obvious, but the most important piece is having content. Content marketing is 3x more efficient than traditional outbound marketing — that’s because great content achieves a variety of goals for both the creator/publisher and for the target audience.

Having good content is so important that it’s basically the basement of the house you are building with any business. You need a reliable foundation (that’s the strategic benefit of this) but everything revolves around the content you have.

It’s in the name of the strategy, after all.

But let’s assume you’ve got a team that’s already pumping out golden nuggets of killer content. What else do you need to build a great content strategy?

2. Some Specific Goals

If a content strategy is a map to help you navigate your business, the set of goals is the legend or compass that helps you make sense of the map. Humans need established guidelines, particularly to help them work together effectively.

So the single most important piece of any content strategy is a clearly defined set of goals. And the more specific, the better. Adding more details or qualifiers to a goal isn’t just a trendy thing to do — it gives you the capacity to track your progress, and pinpoint any problems early on.

Something like “grow the business” is a good aspiration, but it’s so vague that you won’t know how you accomplished the goal or what could have gone better. Compare that to the goal of “Improve email conversions by 12% this quarter” and you should be able to imagine which one will let you and your team do a better job of using these goals to sustainably grow the business.

You can find all sorts of resources out there to help you set realistic goals for your business. The important thing to remember is that they need to be specific and measurable.

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3. Some Customer Profiles

Having these goals can make a big difference. But if you don’t understand your audience’s needs, then you’ll have a laundry list of guidelines…and nobody paying attention to you.

It’s a recipe for disaster.

Customer profiles help you avoid that. A good customer profile will provide a clear path to better understand the customer’s situation, including the problems they’re facing and how they will benefit from whatever product or service your company offers.

In addition to getting familiar with the demographics of your audience, customer segmentation is the practice of breaking down that group even further. You’ll group customers based on their need, or their current position in your sales pipeline. And that will inform the sort of content you make, where you share it, and how you target it at people.

Here’s an example. Joe has been engaging your company on social media and receiving emails for 6 months, but has never made a purchase. Angelica, on the other hand, just got on your email list last week after requesting more information.

Would you send both people the same information? Or would it be more beneficial — both to these people and to your company — to approach these people differently? After all, Joe is familiar with your brand and products; he just needs a little push, perhaps with a good sale. Angelica, on the other hand, has only just become aware of your company.

Segmenting your audience into customer profiles means using “Joe” and “Angelica” as templates, helping you provide the right information to the right people at just the right moment to encourage them to take the action you want.

4. Some Content Guidelines

All of your favorite brands have a unified message. That might be a tone of voice they use, or a slogan, or even a defining ideal that you connect with them. But it’s not a call to action.

What it is, however, is a way to avoid sending mixed signals to people. This message or idea should help you build guidelines for the rest of your content to follow. It will also give you the tools (and the details) to maintain a consistent voice across different projects, and even across different writers.

5. Some Useful Feedback

Customer feedback is an invaluable resource. It will help you shape that central message, and verify your customer profiles, and adjust your goals, and shape your content.

In other words, a feedback loop between your audience and your brand can (and “should”) change every other part of your strategy.

Only 9% of unhappy customers will voice complaints about a product; the rest simply take their business somewhere else. That gives credibility to the idea of the “vocal minority.” Except, in this case, the silent majority aren’t just frustrated customers — they are churned customers, and that’s a whole lot worse.

Bringing customers into a feedback loop gives them a voice, which in turn creates a sense of connection between themselves and your brand. But this idea also gives you a wealth of information to use, whether that’s how to head off future problems or how to turn positive customer feedback into testimonial content you can share on your website and social channels.

And since, 74% of people want to find word-of-mouth recommendations before making a buying decision, these testimonials can also bring even more value to how people perceive your products.

Drew Gula is a copywriter at Soundstripe, a music and stock video licensing company that provides resources — like storyboard templates and music for videos — to help businesses make better marketing content.

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