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A Beginner’s Guide to Building a 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

As a small business owner, you know the importance of creating content for marketing channels like social media or your blog. But you may not realize that it’s not just about the content that you post, it’s also about the strategy behind it. Content strategy is key to ensuring that what you publish gets seen and helps you achieve your goals.

You work hard to produce blog posts, infographics, videos, and e-books using your expertise to inform your audience about a topic and teach them something new. But how do you get people to read that content? Posting it on your website and hoping for traffic might not be the most effective route. However, if you have a plan to distribute the content on your marketing channels or to optimize your content for search engines, you're sure to reach more people.

But what is a content strategy, and why is it important? A content marketing strategy can help ensure your content gets seen by your target audience at the right time. It can help you do everything from informing your followers about a specific topic, product, or service to convincing them to take action on your website.

Your content can help you attract new customers and retain current customers through organic traffic on several mediums, including social media and your company website. Once visitors are on your website, your content can be used to educate and convince, bringing you closer to reaching your business objectives.

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.

What is a content strategy?

At its core, a 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, emails, 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 involved 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 posting your content on a regular schedule so your audience will stay engaged anticipating new information from you.
  • Maintaining the content. Once the content is published, you have to manage it. Some content is evergreen, 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. Acknowledging feedback and participating in conversations with your audience is a great way to keep them coming back for more.

You can—and should—use multiple formats for your content. A successful content strategy will rely on a mix of blog and social media posts, emails, videos, infographics, case studies, and more.

Content strategies must be comprehensive and include a method of delivery. How you distribute your content may be just as important as the content you create. After all, you have to ensure your target audience sees your content.

How does content impact the marketing funnel?

The goal of your content strategy is to draw potential customers into the marketing funnel and nurture their journey to becoming loyal customers and brand advocates. Relevant content at each step is what will keep your prospects moving through the funnel. That’s where content strategy comes in—you can use a content strategy to target different stages of the buyer's journey. Understanding what type of content is most effective at each stage of the funnel will help you attract and convert website visitors. The content marketing funnel has 3 parts: discovery/awareness, consideration, and purchase/conversion.

1. Discovery/awareness

The discovery/awareness stage in the content marketing funnel is used to attract organic or paid website traffic, depending on your distribution method. For example, you can attract organic traffic using an SEO content strategy with keyword research, or you can attract paid traffic by posting an ad on social media. (If you're using social media as a distribution method, you should set up a marketing calendar to ensure you're posting at the right times.)

The discovery/awareness stage is the top of the funnel, so your main focus will be brand awareness. When creating content, you should focus on what potential customers are searching for and issues or problems your business can solve for them. At this part of the content marketing funnel, you should create content that addresses customer questions to help them discover your business and its products.

Even though you may hope to reach as many people as possible, a successful content marketing strategy targets the right potential customers based on market research and buyer personas. This data informs you and your team about what your target customers are like and what problems they could solve with your products.

2. Consideration

In your content marketing strategy, you'll need to plan what types of content to share with individuals who are in the middle of the funnel, at the consideration stage. Middle-of-the-funnel content helps people who are already on your website or social media sites decide whether or not your product is right for them. This is a great chance to impress your target audience with content in different formats—infographics or video, for example—and help them learn more.

Visitors in the middle of the funnel may be organic or paid traffic, and the type of content you share with them may depend on how they arrive at your website.

3. Purchase/conversion

The purchase/conversion stage is the bottom of the content marketing funnel and is where prospects or website visitors decide to take action or not. The actions they take at this stage can include signing up for a newsletter, submitting a form, or—ideally—making a purchase.

The point of this stage is to make your customers feel more confident about taking action. The content you share with them here can include trials and demos, e-books, guides, or another blog post that discusses the benefits of your products or services, describing why they should become a customer or client.

What can content marketing do for your business?

A content strategy can help you attract website visitors and prospective customers and guide them along the marketing funnel with usable content that teaches, informs, and convinces them. Such content can help you reach your business objectives, including gaining more customers and securing their loyalty.

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. A quality content strategy can put your business on customers' radar. It drives awareness of your brand and your mission. The more helpful and engaging the content you distribute, the more your brand will be recognized.
  • Establish your place in the industry. Timely, dependable, and informative content shows your audience that you know what you're talking about. Publishing valuable content regularly can help you become known as an expert in your industry. In our digital world, your customers can find any information they need online. However, when it comes to your industry, if you publish accurate and reliable content, you can become a respected source of information, making your audience more likely to purchase your products and services because they trust you.
  • 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 into the marketing funnel. You can increase organic traffic, boost sales, and support the rest of your marketing strategy with different content formats, a content calendar, and a content audit that allows you to learn which types of content perform best. Promote trust to boost customer loyalty. By being a reliable source of information and responding promptly to feedback, you'll gain customers' confidence in your brand and keep them coming back for more. When your customers trust you, they're more likely to return to make a purchase. Even if you have tons of competition, trust can be the one thing that sets you apart. Regular content creation can help you build that trust and encourage customer loyalty.

Content strategy questions to ask yourself

Content marketing is simple, and anyone can do it. But before you dive in, you should ask yourself some questions and outline a plan.

Your content strategy is a crucial part of growing your business. Use these questions to get started.

  • How will you distribute content?
  • What types of content will you create for each stage of the customer journey?
  • How will you measure the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy?

Once you've determined the answers to these questions, continue to think through these key elements of your content strategy.

Who is your audience?

The purpose of creating content is to connect with your audience——and to keep them engaged. Are they prospective clients or existing customers? Are you trying to gain social media followers? What age group or community are you targeting? What interests them? Defining your audience 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 other 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 your team to ensure that your messaging is consistent across content types—whether it's video, newsletters, 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.

Consistency in text and visuals helps create a clear, coherent brand identity that your customers like and recognize.

How will you measure your strategy's performance?

If you're spending time and money creating content (or revamping existing content), building an editorial calendar, and expanding your brand's presence online, you'll need to know whether your investment is paying off.

The availability of tools like Google Analytics and customer relationship management (CRM) software makes it easy to measure the effectiveness of your content. With Google Analytics, you can determine which pages or pieces of content perform better than others, see where customers drop off the customer journey, and get actionable insights into your content marketing strategy.

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 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.

How to create a content strategy for your business

If you already have content in place, the next step after you answer the questions above is to audit your existing content to review its performance. Conduct your content audit by answering these questions:

  • 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 determine whether you can build on existing content or need to start from scratch.

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


Once your goals and milestones have been outlined, you need to decide on a time frame 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.


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. The topics can vary greatly, but they should all be consistent with the brand or image you want your business to project.


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 release the content, the content itself, and the product or service you market.


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 sign-ups and the newsletter might drive traffic to blog posts on your website, which include links to follow your social media accounts.

Links to external 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 can Mailchimp help with your content strategy?

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

With 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. You can also create content for all your marketing channels, including website, email, social media, and digital ads.

Of course, you won't know if your strategy is effective unless you measure it. Mailchimp allows you to track engagement with insights and analytics to see what's working and adjust your strategy as you go.

With these tools in hand and Mailchimp by your side, it's time to plan and execute your content strategy.

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