Developing Content Strategy: Where to Begin

Pawel Grabowski
by Pawel Grabowski | Last Updated May. 6th, 2014 0 COMMENTS

“Scary.”

I guess that might be the first word that pops into your head when you think of developing a content strategy, right? After all, seeing so many companies successfully producing vast amounts of content every day can intimidate anyone. And certainly make you think twice about competing with them.

There is just no chance you could write so many articles. Not to mention record videos, run webinars, create podcasts and who knows what else.

And that’s leaving aside the fact that you are not a writer, video producer or a designer. It’s simply unachievable with all your other responsibilities. You have a business to run after all, you need to oversee it, deliver the work and look after your clients.

These things alone can take up most of the day.

At the same time though, these days it’s hard to market a business in any other way than through content. Whether you like it or not, content is something you need to consider for your new website.

So how do you come up with a plan that will make you competitive on the market while being achievable at the same time?

Well, I hope these 7 steps will set you on a right course.

Content Strategy for a New Site: Where to Begin

Let me tell you what is your real challenge – creating a strategy without having any historic data on your site. Let’s face it, you haven’t had any visitors to the site, you don’t know who they could be and thus, have no idea where to start.

Luckily, you can make up for that pretty quickly. Here’s how.

1. Define and Research Your Audience

If you did your business research right, this step should be easy. Your content audience are your customers, people with the very problem you have a solution to. There are however some additional information you need to find out about them.

What topics they are mostly interested in. This is actually quite easy to do. List all problems you are solving for your customers and build your topics around those. Also, find what other websites they are reading and what are the most popular topics there.

Their literacy level. Every audience has a different literacy levels. You need to learn this to know how to write and structure content for them. Again, the most effective way to do this is by visiting sites they commonly frequent.

Tone of voice that will suit them best. You also need to decide what tone of voice they will respond the best to. Should you sound casually, perhaps even like their friend, or will a more formal, business tone be in place?

2. Develop Content Personas

Next you need to build an actual image of a person you will be talking to. For a long time marketers have been creating a perfect image or representation of a typical target audience member to have a better understanding who exactly they are speaking to.

Having content personas will make it easier to pick topics and create a more engaging copy. I wrote a very detailed article on developing content personas here.

3. Choose Your Topics

Once you gained a good understanding of your audience, it is time to pick topics for your content. You need to discover what problems you can help your audience with but also, how you could entertain them.

But remember, you are only picking topics, not listing actual content ideas. A topic is a general area you will create content on and each topics can have an unlimited content ideas.

Here is a simple system to get you started:

  • If you deliver a service, map out all your services to customer problems they solve and see how many topics you could create from that.
  • If you sell a product, do the same with its features. Map them out against problems they solve and you will definitely find plenty of potential topics.

4. Select Content Types

Content marketing is not just about blogging. Naturally, writing blog posts is a major part of it, there are however other content types you could create:

  • videos
  • graphics
  • comic strips
  • infographics
  • memes
  • ebooks
  • white papers
  • reports
  • quizzes

and many others.

When picking your topics, think of:

  • which ones your audience will find attractive
  • which ones you are able to create (or have resources to do so)
  • and which ones will most effectively present your topics

5. Set Goals for Your Content

The next step in developing your strategy is to define what goals you have for your content. You may want your content to:

  • bring more traffic to the site
  • generate leads
  • raise awareness of your business
  • help to build your social media tribe

Those goals will determine the types of content you produce, how you are going to create them, how you will set your content on the site (or other sites), where and when you will post and how you are going to measure your progress.

6. Define Actions You Want Your Readers to Take

Together with your goals you need to specify actions you want your readers to make. Do you want them to share your content, inquire online, view your product page, download a report? These decisions will affect how your content is structured and presented.

For instance, if you want your audience to find out more about your product, you might decide to leave only one link in the main navigation of your blog, pointing to your product page for instance (f.i compare the menu on serps.com and on their blog). If however, you want readers to download a specific report, you might want to create an appropriate call to action button at the end of a post sending them to a dedicated landing page.

7. Set Your Schedule

And lastly, you need to realistically decide how much content you are able to produce. This is by far the most difficult aspect of the strategy, mainly because we tend to be over ambitious. You may think you can churn out those blog posts in an instant. In reality though, it takes time to create (and promote) every single piece of content. To do it well you have to spend time on research, production, networking and much more. Therefore, be realistic. Focus on creating one great piece of content a week and don’t burn yourself out. Content marketing is a long term strategy and no matter what you do, it will take time before it yields any results anyway.

Conclusion

Developing content strategy for a new website can be scary. There are a lot of variables to consider, many affecting one another and it can be easy to get lost in all this. However, the most important things to consider are your audience, topics they are interested in and what content formats you can create.

image via handsonwp.com