5 steps to develop a content strategy

In our last blog post, we addressed the importance of a content strategy framework that meets both your goals and objectives, and customer needs. A complete approach to content strategy incorporates both of these platforms to develop a recommendation that holistically incorporates content assets, tools and processes needed to create the ideal customer experience.

Our approach to content strategy consists of 5 key steps. Each step includes a rigorous methodology in order to understand the current state and desired future state of content and results in recommendations that are holistic and actionable. In this blog post, we will review the steps at a high level in order to provide an understanding of the framework.

Step 1: Analyze customer data

The first step of the content strategy process includes identifying your business goals and objectives in order to understand what your organization is trying to achieve when it comes to both content strategy and enterprise-wide goals. Likewise, it is important to understand your customers. Customer data, secondary research and analytic insights, such as customer segmentation, help us understand not only who customers are, but what their journey looks like and what their needs (and content needs) are. Thirdly, content-specific best practices are explored in order to understand what expectations exist for content.

These three components provide a baseline for all content-specific activities recommended through a content strategy.

Step 2: Evaluate the current state of content

In this second step of content strategy, we aim to understand what content currently exists and is available for use. There are two main ways of doing this. The first way is the manual way. Though not granular, this method allows us to understand current content at a high level. Using the 5 C’s of content (Classification, Composition, Collection, Coverage, Caliber), we are able to classify, quantify and qualify existing content.

The second way to understand the current state of content is by using content management systems to pull and analyze what is currently available. One thing to consider with this approach is the methodology  used to tag existing content. If  nomenclature used is not accurate or actionable, it may lead to unusable or misleading results: garbage in, garbage out.

Once there is a complete understanding of the available content, a gap analysis is conducted. This helps inform what content is missing and needs to be developed, what content needs updating and what content should be deleted.

The output of this step is a list of creative assets and initiatives needed.

Step 3: Evaluation of current contact plans and go-to-market vehicles

“If you build it they will come” does not always apply to content. You can offer the best and most relevant content to your customers; but if their customers are not aware of this content, or the content is difficult to find, it is useless.

This step is designed to evaluate current programs or campaigns used to push content out to customers. This way, recommended changes to existing programs and/or development of new programs can be made, all of this considering the correct channel, for the correct audiences.

Step 4: Identify tools

In the previous steps, content assets and programs  have been identified. Now, it is time to understand what tools are required in order to implement and manage these assets.

By understanding the your current inner workings: what teams are involved in content production, who is responsible for what, what processes are in place, what technologies you have access to, etc. it's easier to identify the tools needed to implement on content strategy. While Step 2 identified the assets needed under the “Substance” pillar of content strategy, Step 4 identifies the tools needed under the “Structure”, “Workflow” and “Governance” pillars.

The four pillars of content strategy include:

  • 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?”

Step 5:  Create a go-to-market (GTM) roadmap

Once the content assets and tools needed to achieve a successful content strategy have been identified, these initiatives are put into a GTM roadmap. This roadmap is a calendar view of both assets and tools and takes into consideration:  stakeholders responsible, dependencies and timing.

This actionable plan of specific tasks is a result of a rigorous process, beginning with customer insights and your business goals. By using this approach, it is possible to develop an all-encompassing content strategy that is strategic and drives real-world results.

How do you approach content strategy? Leave your thoughts in the comments.