1. Find and Convince Stakeholders
We start by finding out who your stakeholder groups are and place them on a stakeholder map. Who takes strategic decisions regarding corporate communications? Who is in charge of the priorities in product management? Who decides on the budget? We don’t just spark their curiosity – together we convince them that you need a content strategy. To do that, we identify problems that need solving and opportunities we want to seize.
2. Create a Common Understanding
Now that we have identified our stakeholder groups, we create a common understanding. What do we mean when we talk about a content strategy? What is out of scope here? Getting everyone on board right from the start sounds mundane, but it is important. For one thing, your content strategy will affect countless people in your company. But at the same time, many colleagues will have relevant input for your strategy and influence it in some way. As well as the marketing team, your colleagues from legal may also have something important to contribute. We agree on roles and expectations in a joint kick-off meeting.
3. Taking Stock: A Content Audit Offers Valuable Insights
As soon as we have convinced our stakeholder groups and created a common understanding, we take stock. To do this, we determine how comprehensive we want the audit to be. Do we want to evaluate all the existing content on our website? Or just parts of it, such as a certain product category or the online magazine?
During the content audit, we create an inventory of existing content and assess it based on qualitative and quantitative criteria. In this post, our SEO expert Matthias Schmid explains what a data-based content audit can look like.
4. Why It Is so Important to Listen
Now that we have taken stock of what content performs well and how, we want to find out how this performance came about. Don’t worry, we don’t want to linger in the past too long. But it is still important to know what internal and external factors influenced our content and in what way. The key to that is listening. We talk to employees to find out which target groups were served which messages in the past. By doing user research, analytics and usability testing, we listen to the market to find out what our target groups want, how they behave and what their issues are.
5. The Core of the Content Strategy
Enough with the analysis, time to face forward. Together, we develop the core of your content strategy. Brain Traffic’s “core strategy model” has proven to be a helpful starting point. To develop our core strategy, we look at the following components and ask the related questions:
- Substance – What do we want to achieve with our content? What needs of our target groups do we want to fulfil with our content?
- Structure – What is the right format for our content? How do we prioritise our content?
- Workflows – What workflows do we need to establish as an organisation to make the required content available? What methods and tools do we want to use for that?
- Governance – How will we update our strategy? How will we make decisions, what responsibilities lie with which role?
We capture the essence of these four components in a core strategy statement. This sums up in one sentence what our content should look like, who it is for and what problems it solves.
Let’s look at the four components of the core strategy in more detail.
6. What kind of Content Do We Need – and Why?
All content serves a purpose. Our content only makes sense when it helps us achieve our business objectives, serves the needs of our target group and is tailored to the channel we’re using it in. Creating content can never be an end in itself, because then it has no purpose.
So, when we ask about the kind of content that is needed, we focus on the needs of the people who will be consuming the content. Does a person require certain information at a specific point in time? Does that person want to validate their opinion, obtain instructions or just be entertained? All content needs to be the answer to one of these needs. All content serves a purpose.
7. Striking the Right Chord
The right content in the right format won’t get you far if you can’t find just the right words. Together, we craft language that fits with the values and identity of your company and is easy to understand for your target group. Do we want to show off our expertise and give advice? Do we pose as buddies and use the language of our customers? When do we stay serious and factual, and when do we crack a joke? Striking the right chord at the right time can increase customer loyalty – getting it wrong may cause permanent damage.
8. What Is the Right Format, Structure and Priority for the Distribution of our Content?
Now we know what kind of content we want to create and what language and tone we need to use. We are ready to ask: What is the best format and structure for its distribution?
Do we want to publish mostly static content in a traditional, hierarchical structure? Or do we want to publish dynamic content, such as blog posts? What attributes to we attach to them? Which ones will we make public? The publication date, or the author? Which ones will we only use internally?
Content modelling will help you answer these questions. It visualises the relationships between different content, which can later be used for cross-linking in the content management system (CMS). We also visualise which content items and pages will become pillar pages, serving as hubs, and which will become blog posts with categories and tags. These are ideal teasers for newsletter campaigns or content snippets for social media.
9. Workflows and Methods for Content Production
Now that we have defined the type, form and structure of our content, we need to figure out the workflows, roles and tools required for content production. How do we organise this? Which roles will have which responsibilities? Is there a chief editor? What tasks will the web editor do? And how is this different from the content creator? How will we include input from the subject matter experts (SMEs) in the creation process? Together, we set up these roles and establish workflows and tools for editorial planning.
In an additional step carried out in parallel, we discuss how you can secure the quality of your content over the long term. More specifically: What criteria will we use to assess the content? How often will we audit our content? What tools will we need in our daily work to ensure quality? Simple checklists with requirements for good content are often an excellent start.
10. How Do We Govern Content Management?
After all that strategising and a lot of work up front, how do we ensure the team will keep challenging and developing the strategy? What decisions do we need to take? Which roles are involved in the decision-making? What projects need to be set up to ensure high quality over the long term?
Together we determine which tools, guidelines, prioritisation matrices or meeting formats will help us achieve these goals.
Last, but not least: Share your findings with your stakeholders. Celebrate successes, learn from mistakes. By sharing with those around you, you generate interest in the content strategy of your company, turning sceptics into supporters.
Your content is a way for your company to stand out from the crowd. It deserves your undivided attention. We support you in your efforts – from analysis and strategy to setting up an editorial schedule and copywriting texts for users and search engines (SEO).
We show you how to better structure your content production and therefore, how to improve your web presence in search engines. A four-step tutorial.