5 Elements of an Effective Content Strategy

Written on
November 13, 2020
by
Caitlin Schubert
in
Content Marketing
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Creating an effective content strategy involves defining a style, researching your audience, and streamlining production efforts. Strategists who utilize these five elements of a successful content strategy can produce powerful content that converts and engages your audience from start to finish.

1. Start with strong and consistent editorial guidelines

2. Outline your target personas

3. Build a customer journey map

4. Define goals and objectives

5. Outline the content production process

Read on to learn how to use these elements to create meaningful content for your audience.

1. Strong Editorial Guidelines—Consistency is Key With Content

Effective content strategy needs direction. Readers can look at each post on Whole Foods' blog and immediately recognize the use of strong editorial guidelines. Companies that integrate an overarching theme into their content consolidate their message—making it strong and focused.

When outlining editorial guidelines, consider the following:

  • Compose your content with purpose in mind
  • Strike the right tone with the reader by using a consistent voice
  • Consider how the user consumes content and write to that medium
  • Create a style guide to keep punctuation and usage reliable and consistent

Adhering to these rules will set your publications apart from the rest. They give writing a personality and identity, unifying the message for the reader.

2. Outline Target Personas

Content creation is difficult without knowing your target audience. Outlining your target persona will help strategists speak directly to the customer through their content. When using tools like Google Analytics, for example, you can look under the audience tab for insights into your customers' age, gender, lifestyle choices (affinity) and product-purchase interests (in-market). Each of these categories can fine-tune content in a way that speaks to the target persona. Other useful tools include Ahrefs keyword explorer, Facebook Insights for Business, and the Consumer Barometer.

3. Customer Journey Map

The customer journey map will be different for every business, but they all follow a similar theme. Every map begins with identifying the stages of customer interaction with your brand. These stages highlight the customer lifespan—from the discovery stages to post-sale engagement.

After identifying the stages of interaction, describe what activities customers will perform in each phase of the journey map. For example, if a software company's first step is to build awareness, they could start by optimizing their website with engaging content. If the content is rich with valuable information, customers will discover and connect with your company.

Once you understand what stage customers are in and what activities they are performing, identify what mediums they are using to engage with the product or service. Determine if customers are using a mobile device, website, social media, in-person purchasing, etc.

Plotting the customer's journey is vital to gain oversight. The sooner you can establish a customer journey map, the more efficient your content strategy will be.

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4. Goals and Objectives

A holistic content strategy will include each stage of the buyer's journey. Understanding how to implement each stage of your content strategy within the marketing funnel is imperative. Here are the most prevalent themes, in order of execution, when choosing which goals and objectives to focus on:

  • Targeting keywords in your industry and creating engaging content to educate, promote your product, and attract attention. This is how you raise awareness in the early stages of the customer's journey.
  • Build leads by connecting with prospects that have already shown interest in your SaaS product. Companies will use methods such as drip email campaigns to capitalize on interested parties.
  • Trial sign-ups are used to entice potential customers to try the product. Free demonstrations and service trials can work well at the bottom of the marketing funnel—when people are almost ready to purchase.
  • Finally, once a purchase is made, the content focus should shift to retain active users. Content strategists will reinforce the value of the product by educating current customers on features and benefits.

Content should be flexible throughout the buyer's journey. Expert strategists will pinpoint where their audience is in the purchasing process—and create content to meet their needs.

5. Content Production Process

The process of producing great content has many stages. These stages lead to the formation of written or visual assets. Popular assets for content creation include blog posts, eBooks, videos, whitepapers, and infographics. Always optimize your content by establishing editorial guidelines, target personas, journey maps, goals and other objectives before engaging in the content production process.

The five necessary steps of content production are:

  • Start with picking a goal, possibly from the goals and objectives list above. Goals provide clarity and direction throughout the process.
  • Now, break the goal into smaller pieces with specific deadlines. This will allow the content production team to allocate resources effectively.
  • Next, ensure you have someone covering each role from start to finish. Delegate roles to everyone involved—playing to their strengths. The roles include a strategist who will create your outline, a writer or thought-leader, an editor, and a final approver who ensures the content meets your editorial and style guidelines.
  • Once you have outlined the resources needed, it's time to build a timeline. Build a document stating each task's name, who is responsible for it, and when each assignment is due.
  • Finally, manage the project throughout its production cycle, ensuring quality and timeliness.

Build Your Own Effective Content Strategy

One element of an effective content strategy is to start with strong editorial guidelines. These guidelines will set the tone for your intended audience and make content creation easier across platforms. After selecting the style, use tools such as Google Analytics to gain insight into demographics, lifestyle choices, and product-purchase interests. These insights can be especially useful when plotting the customer journey map. When strategists can identify how customers will interact with a brand, they can optimize content. Finally, take the goals and objectives you have outlined and put the content production process into action.

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