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How to Develop a Content Strategy

Updated Dec 20, 2023

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Content is crucial for business growth. It can help you generate leads, build trust with your target audience and establish expertise. To create content effectively, you need a content strategy.

A content strategy ensures you aren’t aimlessly creating content for content’s sake. Designing and implementing a plan allows you to produce more impactful work that meets your short- and long-term goals. By examining your audience and your company’s objectives, you can set intentional targets and track them against benchmarks that help you determine if your content is driving the intended outcomes.

There’s much to consider when creating a content strategy. Read on to learn how to create one that delivers results.

What is a content strategy?

A content strategy is the planning, development, distribution, management and oversight of your online content. It’s part of a broader marketing strategy and should align with specific business goals, particularly as they relate to marketing and sales goals. Whether you want to increase revenue or grow traffic, a content strategy can help you get there.

Your content strategy should identify your audience and detail how you’ll reach your target customers. It should list the goals you hope your content will help you achieve and the channels you’ll use to publish your content. 

Your strategy must be flexible. Sometimes, even the best-laid plans fall short or perhaps what worked for your business in the past no longer does. The good news is that content strategies are adaptable. Because you account for different variables, you can identify quickly what is and isn’t working.

TipTip

As you learn more about how your audience reacts to your content and your business goals change, your content strategy should shift and evolve.

What is included in a content strategy?

While content strategies vary depending on a company’s goals, they should include the following elements:

  • Why are you creating content? Devising topics and choosing keywords will be much easier when your content strategy has a clear goal. For example, if you want to boost sales, consider crafting product reviews and best picks lists of items you keep in stock. This content can be linked to e-commerce pages and sent via your blog, email marketing campaigns and social media.
  • Who are you targeting? It’s impossible to create a successful content strategy without pinpointing your audience first. Consider your target consumers and how you can solve their problems. Think about how you’ll engage them throughout the piece and in all subsequently published content.
  • What are your content goals? What do you hope your content will achieve? Consider concrete goals with clear key performance indicators (KPIs). For example, you may want to create a blog to increase website traffic and user engagement. A concrete goal with clear KPIs might be “Rank on page 1 for two major keywords in Q1” or “Improve average time on page by 15 percent by EOY.”
  • How will you stand out? Consider your company and what it stands for. Focusing on what distinguishes your business from competitors can help you build a more robust content strategy.
  • Where will you tell your story? Your content strategy should include the channels or platforms you’ll use to deliver your content. From social media platforms to email marketing and more, your content should be repurposed and optimized for distribution far and wide. Consider each channel and how your content should be framed. You should also think through how they will work together to tell a cohesive story about your business.

As you build a content strategy, you may also want to consider the following questions:

  • How will you build a content calendar?
  • How will you source ideas for your content?
  • How will you organize your content ideas?
  • How often will you publish content?
  • How will impromptu requests or trending moments work with your existing content calendar?
Did You Know?Did you know

Evergreen content stays fresh indefinitely. It’s crucial to develop an evergreen content strategy to drive brand awareness.

How do you develop a content strategy?

Many elements go into developing a content strategy. Here’s where to start.

1. Set goals for your content strategy.

Define why you want to create content and how it will tie to your goals. Some goals may include the following:

Ensure your goals are measurable and timely. For example, “Increase organic traffic to service landing pages by 15 percent year over year” is an easily measured goal with a clear timeframe.

2. Define your content’s target audience.

Your target customer can’t be everyone. Defining your audience starts with establishing a buyer persona to serve as a fictional representation of your ideal buyer. Start with your typical customer type and consider their geographic location, interests, aspirations and needs. Flesh out a complete picture of how this person comes into contact with your brand. What would help usher them along your sales funnel until they make a purchase?

3. Analyze your content.

Even if you’ve never created a content strategy, you’ve probably used content to interact with your audience. Look over what you’ve created. Consider content on your website, social media channels, email, text messages and more. What have you done well? What hasn’t worked? What could be improved? Pull any available analytics to understand your successful content and identify content that hasn’t driven engagement.

4. Learn from your competitors’ content.

Just as you analyze your content, you should analyze your competitors’ content. Visit their websites, follow them on social media and subscribe to their email newsletters. What do they do well? What doesn’t work? Replicate successful approaches and fill in the gaps where they haven’t built a strategic advantage.

TipTip

Various tools like a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats analysis and Porter’s Five Forces model can help you better understand the competition and how you fit into the industry landscape.

5. Consider keywords for your content carefully.

Analyze your keywords with tools like SEMrush and Moz so you understand where you rank better. You can also use search engines and tools like Ahrefs and Google Keyword Planner to find keywords you may have missed.

6. Brainstorm ideas and create a content calendar.

After examining keywords, your content and your competitors’ content, you should know what topics you want to target. If not, you can use platforms like BuzzSumo or BlogAbout to inspire you. From there, you can begin to plan your content calendar.

7. Choose a content management system.

What content management system will you use? Will you use a spreadsheet or something more robust to build your content calendar? When choosing tools, consider how your current systems may fall short, what features will make your life easier and how you plan to keep yourself organized.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway

You can create your content calendar on a free tool like Google Calendar or download templates from sources like monday.com, HubSpot and Trello.

8. Decide how you will measure results from your published content.

To gauge how effective your efforts are, you must have a way to track results and measure return on investment. This may be page views, time spent on your website, social media engagement, number of new customers, newsletter signups or more. What matters most to you will depend on your business’s goals.

9. Determine your content type and cadence.

Consider your resources and determine what types of content you can produce and how often you can create and publish them. You can include this in your content calendar.

10. Publish and distribute your content.

The last step is to get your content out in the world. After publishing your content, evaluate the channels that yield the best results. For example, leverage Google Analytics to review the performance of your blog and your website’s landing pages. Additionally, you can use the analytics tools on your social media page, email marketing software and the other software solutions your business uses to track KPIs, such as user bounce rate, click-through rate and more.

What are the types of content to consider in your strategy?

You can incorporate several types of content into your content strategy. One isn’t necessarily better than another. Whether it works for you will depend on execution, your audience, the topic and more. Here are a few content types you should consider using:

  • Blog posts: Blog posts can inform your audience about your products, answer your customers’ questions or tell your business’s story. They also help build organic traffic and can keep audiences engaged long after they’re published.
  • Infographics: Informational graphics are a visual way to present complex information in an easy-to-scan image. Infographics lend themselves well to social media.
  • Case studies: Case studies help illustrate how your products or services can help your customers specifically.
  • Videos: While they’re not as easy to produce as other pieces of content, videos provide many opportunities. They can make your business more personable and customers like them.
  • User-generated content: By using your customers’ photos, videos or words (testimonials) to talk about their relationship with your business, you put the spotlight on them and reinforce your brand’s credibility. The cherry on top is that content generated by others requires little to no work on your end.
  • White papers: White papers break down complicated information, research or data, providing expert-level content to help audiences make a decision, understand a topic or solve a problem.
  • E-books: Longer than a blog post but shorter than a novel, e-books allow you to explore a topic at length, all while giving your customers the information they need. Some companies use e-books as an incentive when leads sign up for a newsletter or service. They can also be featured on your website for anyone to view.
  • Podcasts: While written content is very effective, some consumers will not have the time to read it. A podcast is a good option to help you reach people who may not engage with your written content.
  • Social media: Social media channels make it easy to connect with your audience and distribute or repurpose your content. Whether you use LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, you can amplify your message.
Did You Know?Did you know

White papers, e-books, podcasts and other content types can establish you as a thought leader in your industry and give your brand more credibility.

Why do you need a content strategy?

It isn’t just big or established companies that need a content strategy; every business can benefit from one. A good content strategy provides the following benefits:

  • A content strategy gives your content a purpose: By fleshing out a strategy for your content, you gain a clear idea of what you want it to do. Without a strategy, you risk creating content that doesn’t tie to your business goals or isn’t meaningful to your brand.
  • A content strategy simplifies content creation: Filling out a content calendar can be challenging if you’re unsure of your purpose. However, with a content strategy and keyword research, you can devise and schedule topics to strategically suit your business goals.
  • A content strategy keeps you consistent: Consistent messaging across all channels helps you establish your brand’s voice. Your brand voice will influence heavily how your audience sees your brand. For example, a law firm might want an authoritative and academic brand voice while a fast food brand might be a bit more casual, fun and witty.
  • A content strategy grows your organic traffic: To grow traffic organically, you must regularly feed Google and other search engines high-quality content. A content strategy helps you organize the keywords your audience searches for and informs content creation around those terms. Organic traffic, or visits driven by clicks on a search engine results page, is one of the best and most cost-effective ways to boost brand visibility.
  • A content strategy builds relationships with your audience: Content can help solve your customers’ questions and problems. By creating content that considers your audience’s needs, you can gain their trust. If you have well-written, helpful content, customers will likely have a high opinion of your business and buy your product or service.
  • A content strategy boosts your credibility: As you create high-quality content, you can position yourself as an expert and improve your reputation, which can cause your business to rank higher on search engines and gain your audience’s trust.
  • A content strategy generates leads: Content can also be used to generate leads and capture user contact information for marketing campaigns. For example, consider offering your audience some type of valuable content, like a case study or a white paper, in exchange for their email address. Once a user gives you their contact information, they receive access to the content and you can begin marketing to them on another channel.

From planning to publishing

With a content strategy in place, it’s much easier to regularly publish blogs, social media posts, videos and other internet content. Sharing this content is a tried and true way to build and engage a steady, long-term audience of current and potential customers. Plus, content is among the easiest types of work to outsource, so you can stay focused on essential tasks as you grow your business. Collaboratively devise and execute a content strategy and you’ll reap the best rewards imaginable.

Yara Simón contributed to this article.

Max Freedman
Contributing Writer at businessnewsdaily.com
Max Freedman, has spent nearly a decade providing entrepreneurs and business operators with actionable advice they can use to launch and grow their businesses. Max has direct experience helping run a small business, performs hands-on reviews and has real-world experience with the categories he covers, such as accounting software and digital payroll solutions, as well as leading small business lenders and employee retirement providers. Max has written hundreds of articles for Business News Daily on a range of valuable topics, including small business funding, time and attendance, marketing and human resources.
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