Content strategy: A clear and differentiated definition

I’ve asked many clients  what content strategy means to them. Their answers vary widely based on who I’m asking, their background and their  specific objectives. This is because most organizations usually focus on one dimension when solving for their content strategy. For example, creative teams and their agencies will focus on the raw content assets. Developers will focus on the back-end management of content that supports storage and decimation of content. Marketing and technology teams will focus on the management of content as a workflow and brand teams will focus on the governing aspects of managing large amounts of content.

All of these definitions are correct, yet they are also incomplete. With many companies focusing on content today, it's important to have a clear definition. Most content projects fail because various marketing and technology teams only focus on one aspect of content strategy and management. In order to ensure success, a more holistic and enterprise-wide approach is needed. This approach should focus on the four pillars (or dimensions) of content:

  • Substance : “What type of content is needed?”
  • Structure: “How is content organized, formatted and displayed?”
  • Workflow: “What people, process and technology is needed for content?”
  • Governance “How are changes made and implemented?”

Addressing all aspects of content strategy- from technology to creative--  ensures a complete solution for the client that takes business goals and customer needs into account.

So, what is a clear definition of content strategy?

Content strategy – from our view – can be defined as: “The ongoing process of leveraging business objectives and customer insights to create, distribute and maintain valuable content to customers and prospects; resulting in engagement and conversion to desired actions.”

Content strategy is not:

  • A list of creative assets for short term development
  • Content production
  • Specific promotional campaigns
  • Product centric
  • A content management system
  • Branding

Content Strategy is:

  • Data and insights driven: Business goals/objectives and customer needs are the basis for all content creation. Successful content strategy projects are data-driven and leverage one of several known frameworks (e.g. customer lifecycle) to ensure content is produced based on objective content needs.
  • Cross functional: Content strategy incorporates different disciplinary areas including: marketing strategy, analytics, technology and creative.
  • Holistic: The output includes content assets as well as tool recommendations to fulfill the content needs (people, processes, technology).
  • Multi-format and omnichannel: Considers all formats and channels needed to achieve goals and meet customer needs.

One critical aspect of content strategy is that it is founded on insights. Aligning content strategy to available customer data and insights (including lifecycle, transactional, behavioral and attitudinal data; and secondary customer insights) helps drive “what” customers want to see with respect to the content. It is also important to align content strategy to the client’s business and customer level goals and objectives. By starting with these two building blocks, you can begin to develop a content strategy that meets both business goals and customer needs.

In addition, it is important to anchor content strategy in an established framework that ensures that content, process, tools and technology recommendations are not only relevant, but comprehensive.

In the next blog post, we will explore our proposed framework to solve for content marketing.