A Guide to Content Strategy

Learn how you can use relevant, engaging content to connect with existing and new customers.

Content Strategy Why You Need It and How to Craft It Hero Image Illustration

Your small business’s online presence is made up of branding, marketing, social media, your website, and more. Content strategy ties these elements together for a cohesive brand experience.

At its core, content strategy is a comprehensive plan for creating, releasing, and managing your content. It provides guidance for every step of the process, including:

  • Writing. Whether you write articles, blog posts, or social media posts and comments (or hire someone to do it for you), your goal is to engage your audience and provide them with meaningful information.
  • Curating. Besides creating original content, gathering content from other reputable sources can keep your audience engaged and create mutually beneficial relationships within your industry.
  • Presenting multimedia. Just like the written components of your content, images, videos, and other media need to engage, inform, and entertain your audience in harmony with your business goals.
  • Releasing the content. An essential aspect of content strategy is to schedule and post your content regularly to keep your audience engaged.
  • Maintaining the content. Once the content is published, you have to manage it. Some content is permanent, some needs to be updated occasionally, and some is only relevant for a period of time (after which it needs to be removed).
  • Engaging with your audience. Additionally, it’s best to acknowledge feedback and engage in conversations with your audience.

What can content do for you?

Relevant, engaging content helps strengthen your brand, and it gains momentum as your business grows.

Here’s what content strategy can help you do:

  • Build brand recognition. Content can put your business on the radar, so to speak. It drives awareness of your brand and your mission.
  • Establish your place in the industry. Timely, dependable, and informative content shows your audience that you know what you’re talking about. The better your content, the more people will see you as an authority.
  • Support your marketing efforts. Generating good content is a cost-effective complement to your marketing strategy. In tandem, they promote your brand, advertise your products and services, and draw potential customers.
  • Promote trust to boost customer loyalty. By being a reliable source of information and responding promptly to feedback, customers will gain confidence in your brand and keep coming back for more.

Questions to answer before you create your content strategy

Your content strategy is a crucial part of growing your business, but what do you need to know before you create it? Use these questions to get started.

Who is your audience?

The purpose of creating content is to connect with your audience—and keep them engaged. Are they prospective clients or customers? Are you trying to gain social media followers? What age group or community are you targeting? What interests them?

Defining who your audience is will help you produce content that’s meaningful to them.

Where will the content be published?

Connecting with your audience through blog posts and articles on your own website can help boost search engine optimization (SEO) rankings, increase traffic, and drive conversions—whether that means making a purchase or subscribing to your newsletter. Social media, email, digital ads, and postcards are also important channels to consider in your content strategy.

How will you maintain a consistent brand?

Your voice and tone characterize the way you communicate with your audience. To maintain consistency in the written elements of your content, you’ll need to create voice and tone guidelines. This guidance can be used by anyone on your team or hired to create content—whether it’s video, written pieces, social posts, webinars, or even talking to your customers directly.

For the visual elements of your content strategy, you’ll want to incorporate your logo, the fonts and colors you use, and the imagery and graphics you create or choose. With a tool like Mailchimp’s Creative Assistant, it’s easy. The AI-powered tool pulls brand elements from your website (or the assets you’ve already uploaded in your content studio) and generates and resizes more designs for you to use across your marketing channels.

Factoring all of these considerations into your content strategy will help create a clear, consistent brand that your customers like and recognize.

Which Mailchimp tools and resources can help with your content strategy?

If you’re ready to begin creating your content strategy, Mailchimp’s all-in-one Marketing Platform offers many tools and resources to help you at each step.

  • Get to know your audience. Using Mailchimp’s marketing CRM, you can learn things about your audience, like their demographics, where they live, and how they interact with your marketing. With this information, you can craft a strategy for content that speaks to them.
  • Create content for all of your marketing channels. Your content counts on every channel—website, email, social media, digital ads, and beyond. Using Mailchimp, you can put your strategy to work on each channel, from a single place.
  • Track engagement with your content. One of the most important steps for your content strategy is to track how your audience responds to it. With Mailchimp’s insights and analytics, you can see what’s working and improve as you go.
  • Schedule and manage your content. Publishing content regularly is key to keeping your audience engaged. Not only can you schedule campaigns like social media and emails in Mailchimp, but you can also get a clear view into how it’s all working together from the marketing calendar.

With tools in hand, it’s now time to execute your content strategy. Each channel has its own purpose and benefits.

  • Your website. As the hub of all your digital marketing efforts, your website is one of the first places you should implement your content strategy. Make sure you include information about who you are and what you do so that visitors can quickly gain a sense of what your business is all about.
  • Your blog. Once you’ve built your website, posting blogs or articles drives traffic by boosting SEO rankings, promoting brand trust and awareness, and generating leads.
  • Your social media networks. Social media platforms allow you to engage your audience in conversation regularly. Interaction gives you the feedback you need to stay responsive to your target audience.
  • A weekly or monthly newsletter. Email newsletters build brand loyalty, promote deals or sales, and keep your audience engaged with alerts and news.

The marketing funnel

The goal of your content strategy is to draw potential customers into the marketing funnel and nurture their journey into becoming loyal customers and brand advocates.

The top of the funnel is where your content first grabs people’s attention, and you want to cast a wide net at this point. At the next stage, your content piques their interest and makes them want to learn more. You may lose some leads at this point, but that’s why it’s called a funnel—it gets narrower as it progresses. Next, the people who’ve made it past the interest stage move into the consideration stage, when they realize they need or want your product or service. Finally, they’re moved to action: buying the product, subscribing to your content, or paying for your service.

Content strategy comes into this because you need to supply content to keep your prospects moving through the funnel, and that content needs to be relevant at each step along the way.

How to create a content strategy for your business

Content without direction doesn’t reach the appropriate audience. With so much content available online these days, a good content strategy needs to be built on a solid framework of goals, targets, and milestones.

Your content strategy goals should relate to your business goals, and they should be both actionable and measurable enough to break down into specific targets.

For example, if you sell clothing online, a business goal might be to increase sales 5% this quarter. So, a goal for your content could be to drive awareness about your new seasonal line of clothing to create interest and ultimately boost sales. A target, in this case, could be to send weekly emails about your seasonal clothing line and increase audience engagement with your emails by 10% over the quarter.

To begin crafting your own goal-oriented content strategy, answer these questions:

  • What goals do you hope to achieve through content?
  • How do those goals contribute towards broader business goals?
  • How can you break your goals down into smaller, more quickly achievable targets that contribute to your content goals?
  • How will you track and measure engagement with your content?
  • What key performance indicators will quantify your progress towards each target and goal?
  • When do you hope to achieve each target and goal?

If you already have content in place, the first step after you answer the questions above is to audit your existing content to review its performance. Does the content resonate with your target audience? What do analytics and metrics show? How are your SEO rankings or results? The audit results will define whether you can build on existing content or if you need to start from scratch.

Either way, your content strategy should address the following specifics.

Schedule

Once your goals and milestones have been outlined, you need to decide on a timeframe for achieving them. Relevant content releases should be planned at strategic points along the way. Even if your schedule has a bit of leeway, it’s always useful to have the workflow laid out.

Topics

Include a list of topics in your strategy so the content creators and curators have ideas to choose from. Remember, you want to inform and engage your audience, so the topics can vary greatly. But they should all be consistent with the brand or image you want your business to project.

Audience

Identifying your audience is part of your initial content strategy planning. But within that strategy, you may want to consider specific segments of that audience you’ll be targeting with each piece of content. Segments will vary based on the platform where you’re releasing the content, the content itself, and the product or service you’re marketing.

Channels

Again, as part of your initial strategy, you may have chosen the platforms where you’ll release your content based on where your target audience will most likely see it. But you might need to get more specific—some people will respond to blog posts on your website, and some will find you on social media. Be sure to consider how the content on each channel relates to the others. For example, your digital ads might drive newsletter signups and the newsletter might drive traffic to blog posts on your website, which include links to follow your social media accounts.

Links to content

Part of your strategy should be to thoughtfully choose the products, services, or external content you’ll link to. Keep the marketing funnel stages in mind and consider how the linked content will work at each stage. Don’t forget that links also factor into your SEO and how search engines rank your site.

How Mailchimp can help

Your content strategy is the key to growing your business and staying relevant. At Mailchimp, we have the resources and tools to help you do this successfully. With our easy-to-use all-in-one Marketing Platform, you can create and manage an online presence that will reach your audience, keep them engaged, and convert them to loyal customers.

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