Content marketing is now part and parcel of every major brand’s marketing strategy. But still many marketers underestimate the importance of a carefully planned and well-documented content strategy.
In fact, a 2016 CMI report showed that 88 percent of North American B2B businesses actively engage in content marketing. Yet, 68 percent of businesses feel that their content marketing efforts are not very effective, while 32 percent of businesses claim that their content marketing initiative is yielding good returns.
If you’re wondering what the problem is, the report reveals the answer: only, 32 percent of the surveyed businesses have a documented content strategy.
But before we explain the reasons to adopt a content strategy, let’s first define what a content strategy is.
What is a Content Strategy?
As we mentioned in our blog post explaining the difference between content strategy and content marketing, you can think of your content strategy as a building blueprint.
That blueprint should map out everything a marketer needs to know about his or her objectives when it comes to content production. That can usually be done by answering questions such as:
- Why are we creating this content?
- What audiences do we want to address?
- What kind of actions and reactions do we want to achieve?
- How will we promote the content once it’s published?
- How will our audience find our content?
- What types of content do you plan to create?
- Where and when will you be publishing your content?
- Who is in charge of creating your content?
- How will you maintain your brand style across various platforms?
Going by the stats from the aforementioned CMI report, businesses with a documented content strategy are more effective at content marketing than their competitors.
But the reality is, many marketers — and perhaps quite shamefully, many CMOs — underestimate the importance of a carefully planned and well-documented content strategy to help guide each content producer.
If you’re still unconvinced, here are six compelling reasons to gather your marketing team and kick off a content strategy.
#1 A Content Strategy Helps You Set And Reach Goals
Ideally, all marketing efforts should bring you one step closer to your goal. However, misguided efforts only leads to wastage of time, money and energy.
For example, you may be creating content for an audience that doesn’t match your target market. Or, you might be trying to create content for very competitive keywords, while ignoring the low hanging fruits which are more likely to yield results.
A content strategy helps you define your marketing goals and set priorities. It allows you to plan your work and ensure that all marketing effort is goal driven. With a documented content strategy, you can ensure that every bit of effort put-in by your team translates into tangible results.
#2 A Content Strategy Helps You Track Progress
According to Rebecca Lieb, a content strategy consultant and keynote speaker, "There is no content strategy without measurement strategy. Before embarking on a content initiative, irrespective of medium or platform, it’s important to know what you want to achieve.”
In other words, your short-term and long-term goals serve as a yardstick for measuring the effectiveness of content marketing initiative. A strong content strategy should outline the metrics you should track and analyze to constantly determine whether or not your content marketing efforts are yielding results.
#3 A Content Strategy Helps You Identify New Opportunities
Successful content marketers constantly look for new content creation opportunities. They create content around hot-button news topics which help in the effort to reach more of their target audience.
To help with that, a good content strategy should outline all the avenues that a marketer can use to follow news and trends and find story ideas. Without a content strategy, the effort put into discovering new opportunities will be uncoordinated, and that disorganization will be reflected in the brand’s publications and tone.
#4 A Content Strategy Cuts Costs
Creating and distributing content can get costly. When marketers work without a content strategy they can often lose sight of the bigger picture and spend far too much on projects, leaving only limited funds for later in the financial year.
Content strategies help define how much money should be spent per project, how it should be spent and how marketers can find ways to cut costs if needed.
#5 A Content Strategy Optimizes Your Marketing Team
Accountability is crucial for making any tangible progress, no matter the context. Without a documented content strategy, your marketing team won’t know how much content needs to be produced, where it needs to be posted, how it can be repurposed, or anything else that can govern their day-to-day tasks.
Most people need a little nudge to get going, and a formal content strategy serves as a call to action. It sets out performance metrics for team members, defines a work schedule for content creation, guidelines on the management of social media accounts, maintenance of marketing automation system and everything in between. When you have a strategy, all of this becomes much easier, resulting in a more productive marketing team.
#6 A Content Strategy Help You Produce Content That Converts
Last, but certainly not least on this list, is the fact that a content strategy is essential to producing content that converts on a consistent basis. That is, if the content strategy contains the right guidelines, such as:
- Who your target audience is, and what kind of content they want to consume
- The tone of your content
- The style and formatting of each content type
- The distribution and promotional channels to leverage
If your content strategy contains those guidelines (and it definitely should, and then some!), then your marketing team will have the foundations they need whenever they approach a new project. All they have to do is build on the foundations set out in the content strategy.
Great Content Marketing Is Rare
Keeping your goals in sight, tracking progress, discovering new opportunities, minimizing cost, increasing productivity and producing content that converts are all essential reasons for having a content strategy.
Great content marketing is rare, but when you do see a brand developing relevant content on a consistent basis, it’s almost always down to the quality of their content strategy.
With that in mind, check out our guide to the five hallmarks of a great content strategy to help mold your strategy in a way that promotes efficiency, cost-effectiveness and quality content production.
What are you planning to include in your content strategy? Let us know in the comments below!