How To Develop a Digital Content Strategy

Shane Davis
Shane Davis
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So you're doing your own content! We help many of our clients with content planning and strategy, so they can build and manage content for their websites, social channels, email and other digital platforms on their own. It’s important that content is created with a strategy and business goals in mind, so that a larger brand story is told across your digital presence. Here are some of the key points we discuss and encourage when building a content strategy.

Audience Focus

Before you begin, understanding your audience is imperative. Spend a bit of time researching where your target audience appears online, then take a critical look at your own digital platforms and make sure they align. For instance, if your product targets teenagers, you need to be on Instagram, and you don’t need to waste your time creating content for LinkedIn.

Another part of this is knowing if you have audience variation across your platforms. You may have a specific audience that is buying your services from a specific social platform, but not on another. Regardless, you need to build an integrated plan across your content platforms. For example, you would plan to focus on a specific service you provide and write a few articles to position yourselves as thought leaders on the subject. Then create posts for each social channel you wish to use, with the post copy focusing on why that audience would enjoy it. Many companies just write the same headings and same body copy on each channel - and while it’s cohesive, if you have different audiences on each, it’s also less effective.

When the audience for each social platform arrives to read one of the articles be sure to serve the other relevant content pieces at the conclusion of that initial article. Then measure which content gets the most clicks, click-throughs, time on page, etc. to gauge interest. Use this data going forward to create more content your audience cares about.

Keywords

SEO and content go hand in hand. As Google’s algorithms become more powerful at detecting a brand’s authority over its industry-related topics, it’s more important than ever for your content to be part of your SEO strategy.

When building your SEO content strategy, your first step is research which keywords are most valuable. Not many companies take the time to see what keywords have value in their industry. This research helps guide what language to use in your content to make sure you have a better chance of showing up on the first page of search with your site and articles. Looking at high search volume is effective, but this research will also tell you what language your potential customers are using to search your services and industry. You might believe you have the vernacular down, but keywords will confirm or deny this. Then make sure you use those words in your content, page meta descriptions and titles, and even your homepage. To dive into building your own keyword lists, check out my previous blog post.

Brainstorm and Building Your Editorial Content Calendar

One struggle that many of our clients have is just building that bank of article ideas they can reach into when they need content. We have done this brainstorm here at Flywheel as well as with our clients, and we have a few key takeaways:


  1. Bring in employees from several different departments, like customer service, sales, marketing, account management, and have all of them give ideas on content. The more the merrier! This will provide content that addresses issues for all customer touchpoints.

  2. Allow people to go wild with suggestions and help refine each suggestion if needed later on. Your employees have a different perspective on the work you do, which is great.

  3. Define pillars that support the core components of your business. These are the areas in which you want to position your brand as a thought leader. Make sure you have a solid balance of content covering these themes every month.

Now take all this content and plot it throughout the foreseeable future - we recommend three months to a year. Make sure you coordinate with big projects, launches, or other announcements so you can hit key times where these initiatives could be supported with specific content. For example, if you have a big conference once a year, focus the right content to support those actions and the other marketing initiatives you have going on outside content. Content needs to be integrated into all other activities and the editorial calendar will help keep that on track.

Once you have done these activities you should be ready to go. Start writing! If you aren’t sure how to develop a cohesive voice for your brand, check out our post on how to write for an online audience for some tips.

One additional point here is that content development can feel a little isolating. We have a weekly afternoon session where the content team gets into a room and just starts writing, chatting about their content, what they may have observed with competitors, what they learned that week, etc. This is helpful to make sure people hit deadlines, develop deeper opinions and keep churning out more content ideas overall. If you want to learn more or discuss your own content tactics, feel free to reach out to me directly.

 
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