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How To Develop A Content Strategy

Developing a content strategy can be an intimidating process.

It requires a comprehensive understanding of the target audience and their needs, as well as the ability to create content that resonates with and engages them.

In this article, we’re looking at how to develop a content strategy that will help you meet your business and content marketing goals.

We'll discuss how to set realistic goals, develop a content plan, and measure the results of your content strategy.

With the right approach and tools, you can create an effective content strategy that will help you reach your desired audience.

What You’ll Learn:

  • Understanding your target audience is vital.
  • Look at your analytics to determine your audience.
  • Consider the needs of your audience and how you can meet them by creating a customer persona.
  • You should set goals and objectives before implementing a content strategy to streamline your content.
  • Identify the type of content you want to create based on user needs and engagement.
  • Use metrics to determine what your content strategy should focus on.
  • Look out for user suggestions. If they’re telling you what they want, listen.
  • Identify which content promotes sharing. Focus on this to further your reach.
  • Improve your existing content where you can to meet customer needs and enhance engagement.
  • Creating standards of procedures is important for all aspects of content. Ensure you have detailed guides on researching, writing, uploading, and managing content. Don't forget a great content brief!
  • Managing content is vital, you need to have procedures in place to measure the success of your content.
  • Monitor what your competitors are doing. Getting the top spot is difficult but losing it is easy. Try your best to stay ahead of the competition.
  • A content inventory provides a simple way to manage your content and provide suggestions for improvements.
  • Analytics, research, and content management system tools can help you master your content strategy and improve your ranking.

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Understanding Your Target Audience

The most important part of creating content is understanding who’s consuming it. There’s no point in creating a content strategy if you don’t know who you’re creating it for.

The point of content is to enhance the lives of your audience - at the end of the day, the audience is your bread and butter.

To harness information about your audience you need a way to understand who they are, where they’re coming from, and what age bracket they fall into. This allows you to direct your content to their needs, meaning they are fulfilled by the content you’re providing.

For example, let's say the majority of your readers are under 18 and you’re providing the top things to do in a city for under $10. You wouldn’t suddenly start recommending bars and clubs, because your audience won’t consume or act (click through) on the content.

You can get your audience demographics through analytics. Google Analytics makes this really simple. You can see things like location, age, and gender. Understanding these demographics also allows you to target your content based on the social media sites your audience is more likely to use.

If we stick with our under-18 target consumer, a 2022 study found that 95% of teens use YouTube and 67% use TikTok. This tells us that providing content that our target audience can share on these two sites is vital.

On the other hand, Facebook usage among teens has dropped by 39%. This indicates that our content reach wouldn’t be as significant if shared only through Facebook.

By understanding your audience you can streamline your content, making your content strategy detailed and specific to your business.

Target audience vs. a customer persona

The target audience is the people we are actively creating content for. You can define your target audience using the following:

  • Education background
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Social class
  • Location
  • Purchasing power
  • Consumption habits

Here’s an example of a target consumer member using the above information. Mary is a 40-50-year-old (age) woman (gender) living in New York (location). She has a Master’s degree in finance (education background) and makes approximately $120,000 a year (purchasing power and social class). She has a passion for fine art and classical music (consumption habits).

Now, say 100 users have very similar characteristics and circumstances to Mary. Clearly, this type of user forms a part of your demographic.

Based on this information you can create a customer persona. This is the ideal customer that you want to consume your content. You will create this persona to help you create and direct your content because you always have this ideal person you’re creating for in mind.

You can create a persona in detail based on the research you have on your target audience. This means your ideal customer has more in-depth characteristics. These include:

  • Social network engagement
  • Professional information
  • Purchasing power
  • Personal characteristics
  • Interests
  • Lifestyle

Let’s apply an example:

Mike is a 45-year-old financial advisor that lives in Nolita, NYC. He has a Master’s degree in finance from NYU. He is a respected member of the financial industry with a big following on his social media platforms (TikTok and YouTube).

His trading program involvement has made him an authority on the subject. His followers rely on him to provide trustworthy information and guides on good financial decisions.

Mike makes $3 million a year providing financial advice to some of the top financial industry leaders. In his free time, Mike is involved in various charity organizations, providing his expertise and influence to get more donations.

As you can see, the persona is quite a lot more detailed. This is necessary to truly harness your ideal customer persona and create content that is focused on fulfilling this specific person's needs. You will use this persona to constantly assess whether your content is reaching the right type of person.

Why you should care about your target audience

In its most basic form, your target consumer is how your content makes money. If customers aren’t getting what they need from your content they aren’t going to come back.

The only way you build an authoritative voice on a subject is by providing exactly what your target audience needs. You also need to create transparent and trustworthy content that they want to come back for.

You can save your business a lot of time and money too. If you know your target audience you won’t waste time on articles that have “potential” reach. Instead, you'll create content that meets the needs of the audience and is streamlined toward them.

Based on your research, you know that the content is going to be successful. Whether you know this because of a competitor's article success or listening to what your target audience wants, you know that the content works for their needs.

Also, having these specifics makes other elements easier, such as keywords. If you know exactly what you’re researching, finding those high-ranking keywords becomes a lot simpler.

For example, say you want to write a blog on how Facebook marketing can positively impact a financial business.

However, when you research your target audience you find that their Facebook usage is declining rapidly and you quickly realize that the post isn't worth it.

In this example, the initial target market research has just saved you from wasting time on a blog post that wouldn't have been successful.

What to consider when defining your target audience

Here is a simple list of things to consider:

  • What type of information are they looking for?
  • What kind of information do they trust?
  • What do they want from the information?
  • Where do they get information from?
  • What problems do they face? How can you solve them?
  • How can they benefit from consuming your content?

Setting Your Goals And Objectives

Before you start developing a content strategy you need to set very specific content goals that are attainable. It helps you stay on track while ensuring the content strategy is actually achieving something.

There’s no point in developing a content strategy without knowing what the main objective of the strategy is. Here is an example of specific goals for a strategy:

  • The company’s content strategy is going to improve its SEO ranking. I would like the content writers to triple the organic traffic by December 2023. They can do this by uploading seven blog posts per week.

The best way to set your goals is to use SMART objectives. They are:

  • Specific: Your goal needs to have a clear objective. It should contain action verbs and specify who is responsible for achieving the goal. If we use the example above, the goal is specific (triple organic traffic) and mentions those responsible (content writers).
  • Measurable: You should have a measurable and trackable goal. For example, we can measure organic traffic on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. We can see what works to improve the traffic and measure its success through clicks and viewership.
  • Achievable: Your goal needs to be realistic. For instance, tripling organic traffic within eight months is possible with the right research and work input. It’s very disheartening to never achieve your goals because you set them too high.
  • Relevant: The goal should focus on fixing a specific problem. If content writers have only been writing three blog posts a week and that isn’t reaching your SEO goal - increasing that to seven and covering articles that are intentionally targeting users should fix the problem.
  • Time-bound: A goal without a time limit means nothing. You can spend a lifetime attaining a goal without one. The goals need to be achievable and that goes for the time limit too. Having a two-week timeframe to triple organic traffic is pretty much impossible. Set time frames that are attainable.

Developing Your Content Strategy

We’ve gone through the first two parts of developing a content strategy (understanding your target audience and setting your goals). Now, let’s look at the other elements.

Figure out the type of content you want to create (niche)

There is an abundance of content available online. So, how can you stand out from the crowd and make a name for yourself?

That’s where finding a niche comes in. If you can whittle down your content to fit a specific niche you have a much higher chance of becoming an authority on the subject.

For instance, the pet industry is massive - how would you go about breaking into that market?

Well, rather than creating content on pets as a whole, why not produce content for a specific breed of dog? By focusing your content on one breed you can harness a part of the larger (pets) market by simply creating content surrounding one smaller part.

By doing this you can create all the same high-ranking content, but rather than saying “the best dog harness” you would have “the best dog harness for a German Shepherd.”

You still have the opportunity to hit all the keywords and get your site ranking with the additional chance to harness an entire group of users (owners of German Shepherds).

The more focused you can make your content, the better your chance of ranking and becoming a trusted authority on the subject.

Nothing is stopping you from broader content creation later on but start with a specific niche.

Analyze your content

This is one of the biggest mistakes content creators make.

You CAN’T produce content, post it, and leave it. It’s literally like writing the content and throwing it in the trash straight away.

The only way to know if your content strategy is working and reaching the audience in the right way is to monitor what it’s doing online.

To do this effectively you need the right content analysis procedure which we’ll get into soon.

In short, you need to constantly analyze how your content marketing strategy is performing. You then need to identify how you can improve it to get a higher ranking on search engines and better reach.

Improve your content through your users

This is often forgotten about with advances in content strategy analyzing technology. Yet, it’s one of the simplest ways to give consumers the content they want and need.

Be sure to check the comments section on all the content you post whether it’s on social media or directly on your content management system. If users are asking for more of a specific type of content, listen! We get that following SEO is important, but so is listening directly to your consumer.

All it takes is one article to take off and you never know which piece it’s going to be. Your users could be the ones to give you the key to success.

Take your content strategy to the next level

Your content strategy doesn’t need to be static. It can morph and change as you gain more information on your users and the direction that your site is taking.

It doesn’t matter if you’re number one or one hundred, there is always room for improvement. Assuming your content strategy doesn't need to be adjusted because your content is doing well is a big mistake.

Your content strategy should change as your business grows. If it’s not changing you’re losing out on some massive potential. Plus, it won’t take long for another company to harness that potential and knock you from the top spot.

So, look at your content strategy continuously.

Look for ways to improve, target your audience, and provide transparent content your users genuinely need.

SOP For Content Creation And Production

Each piece of content your company creates needs to follow an SOP (standard operating procedure). This means you should have guidelines for each type of content you create whether it be written, designed, or filmed.

A well-designed SOP can help the team create cohesive content. It should also allow new team members to get a handle on how the company does things.

Ideally, each task in your business should have an SOP, but this can be a little overwhelming. We recommend starting with the tasks that get done frequently (writing blogs, content creation, and designing infographics).

Here is a basic guideline for what your SOP for content creation and production should include:

  • Deadlines
  • Goals
  • Content briefs
  • Instructions on uploading (where it’s going and any follow-up work required)
  • Target audience
  • Examples (where possible, provide examples of high-ranking content that meets all the requirements)
  • Specific project instructions (tone of voice, formatting, word count)
  • Who to contact

Before sending your SOP out into the world, it’s best to test it on someone who has no idea about your company's procedures and content strategy. If they can understand what’s required, you’re good to go.

Don’t be afraid to add visual aids where you think it might help. This can be in the form of screenshots or short instructional videos.

SOP For Content Distribution And Promotion

This is vital for content strategy success. While we know the importance of well-researched content, did you know that the timing of uploading can make a massive difference in content success?

Imagine you’re a content company that works predominantly with clients that provide informational content about taxes and finance. Is the content likely to succeed if you post a blog on tax breaks one month after tax season is over?

Planning when and how your content is distributed is very important.

Crucially, the distributors (posters) need to know how your company does this.

You should have a step-by-step guide on what needs to happen. For example, for a blog post you might have:

  • Who is responsible for the content upload
  • How to access the content calendar
  • Login information and instructions
  • How to publish content
  • Adding photos (searching and posting)
  • How to write meta descriptions
  • All platforms that need promotional material and how to post this
  • Where to upload progress (content calendars and spreadsheets)

Your content calendar is your best friend in your content marketing efforts. It’s where you’ll find critical dates that keep your company running smoothly. It can also help you establish how long it’s taking your content to reach the right users.

You should be producing content consistently, so users know what to expect. You can become part of their routine which can quickly establish you as a leader in a specific topic. If your users know that every Friday they can sit down and learn from your content, it’s something they can look forward to.

SOP For Content Maintenance And Governance

Content won’t manage itself!

You need a strict SOP for employees to know who is responsible for governing and maintaining the posted content.

You’ll need a step-by-step guide on how your company performs content maintenance. Depending on the size of your company this maintenance may be a full-time job.

All content needs supervision to ensure it’s reaching its full potential. It can also help guide the type of content your company should be focussing on.

You’ll need to decide how often content needs reviewing, as well.

To start, it's best to look at content every six weeks. You need up-to-date information on engagement to begin setting up a successful content strategy.

It does take time to build this strategy up to a working document, but you have to start somewhere.

Once you’re up and running you can get away with less monitoring. This should be around every three months.

This gives the content enough time to accumulate engagement and provide solid information for a good content strategy.

Now, here are the steps to building a sufficient content audit:

1. Set your goals

Before you begin you need to set your intentions for the audit. Are you looking to improve your ranking on search engines or improve user engagement?

Let’s explore some of the different goals:

  • Improving user engagement: Here you should identify the topics your visitors are most interested in. Look at what content is bringing in the most social engagement.
  • Increasing SEO results: Look at which of your web pages have high SEO ranking potential. This should ideally be in the top ten. Based on this you can identify what content needs more focus and which articles aren’t necessary. Look at your internal link opportunities and where you can optimize them.
  • Increase conversion rates: Identity which content generates the most leads. Look for pages with the best user engagement, and pick out the best types of content for different stages of the buyer's journey.

Once you’ve set the goals of the audit it’s time to apply them to the relevant content metrics.

2. Content Metrics

  • User behavior metrics: Session durations, page views, and bounce rates.
  • SEO metrics: Keyword ranking, organic traffic, and backlinks.
  • Sales metrics: ROI, number of leads, and conversion rates.
  • Engagement metrics: Mentions, likes, comments, and shares.

If you want your content to be more engaging, you’ll look for articles that have higher engagement metrics.

Based on what users are engaging with in that article you could apply the same types of content and format to new or existing content.

3. Content inventory

One of the most important things you need for a sufficient content audit is an inventory of your content. All the information about the content needs to be available in one place. We recommend a spreadsheet. It should include:

  • The article title
  • Word count
  • URL
  • Internal links
  • Content type (blog, landing page, about us, etc)
  • Date of publication and last modified
  • Writer and editor's names
  • Format of the content (videos, text only, infographic, etc)

This allows the auditor to go through and see what’s been changed in the past and helps identify what might need to be done going forward.

If it’s evident that there aren’t sufficient internal links or the article isn’t long enough, this is an easy way for the auditor to pick this up and make changes.

Once these basics are in the spreadsheet you can start adding the metrics to monitor whether your changes are working.

4. Creating your SOP

This might seem like a lot of information but it’s absolutely vital to the success of your content strategy.

So, to get your SOP going for maintenance of the site you’ll need your content inventory with the basics and then a step-by-step guide on how to complete the audit.

The steps will differ based on the goal of the audit (improve engagement, increase SEO, etc.), so be sure to have a guide for each one. It helps to have short videos here showing the auditor what to look out for and how to add the information to the spreadsheet.

Based on what the auditor finds it’s a good idea to have an SOP for bringing forward suggestions for improvement.

That’s why it’s best to stick with one goal when conducting a content audit. It can get a bit much when looking at user engagement metrics and SEO metrics at the same time.

Your SOP for content maintenance needs clear instructions on how the auditor makes suggestions. We highly recommend a working spreadsheet so that everyone at the management level has access to what needs to be done to prioritize the projects.

Content Strategy Tools And Resources

Here are some of the most popular tools and resources to help you build a successful content marketing strategy:

  • SEMRush: This amazing tool can seriously help with keyword research and analyzing what your competitors are up to. It can give your content the push it needs to get a higher ranking. Plus, it has content marketing features to get your content out there organically.
  • Ahrefs: A must-have in content strategy, Ahrefs analyzes the competition and tells you how you can improve your ranking. It’s also brilliant for monitoring your site traffic.
  • Yoast: This is a fantastic tool for WordPress sites. It helps you optimize your SEO in real time to boost your engagement and ranking.
  • MailChimp: If your company uses an email marketing content strategy, this tool is a must-have. It makes your job a whole lot easier and has fantastic monitoring tools to see what works.
  • Hootsuite: This tool is brilliant for content strategy and management. You can create calendars and set up social media posting schedules. So, if you need to distribute content at a specific time, HootSuite posts it all and manages the engagement.


Why is content marketing strategy important?

A good content strategy can be the difference between ranking on the first page and being lost in the crowd.

A content strategy helps you focus your content and streamline it to your target market to improve rankings and get your content into the right hands.

What is the most important part of developing a content marketing strategy?

This will change depending on who you ask.

In our opinion, the most vital thing is identifying your target audience. It allows you to create content that your user needs, create an environment to promote engagement and grow your organic traffic.

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