English Teacher’s Guide to Content Strategy
Communication is key in any relationship, especially in business. Every day you try and build a connection with your target audience, and the content you create is at the heart of developing that bond. Like any relationship, creating a tie with your consumers takes some time and thought. Especially when you consider that people consume more content in this era than ever before. It’s important you develop a quality content strategy that helps you cut through the internet clutter. Here’s a guide to content marketing using the same questions your English teacher taught you to collect basic information.
Who, What, Where, When, Why and How
These questions constitute the basic formula for getting the complete story on a subject. You likely learned them in high school. Here’s a bit of a refresher on the basic information questions and how they translate into the basic guide for content strategy.
Who is your audience segment?
The first question is commonly, “who was involved?” Related to content strategy, “who” is your audience segment. You should ask yourself who you are trying to reach or who would like to read the specific piece of content you’re creating. That is exactly who should be the target of that piece of content.
If you’re not currently dividing your audience into segments that are similar in specific ways such as location, interests, purchase behavior, etc. You should work towards adopting that as a strategy. Rarely, if ever will a piece of content be relevant for everyone in your audience and grouping your contacts based on interests and behavior is the first step towards providing personalized content.
What is your offer?
Generally, the second question is, “what happened?” In the case of content strategy, you want to think about what action you want your readers to take – so “what” is your offer. The offer is a critical part of conversion strategy. Whether your offer is small (micro-conversion) or a bigger ask of your audience, nearly every piece of content you share should have some type of offer included.
It’s okay to be creative with your offers and use elements of visual communication. You should also be specific and use landing pages to create a better user experience. And when in doubt, add a bit of color to see if that can increase conversion.
Where is your best marketing channel?
Typically, asking the where question refers to the place something happened. Here, “where” is still a location, but it’s the place your content will appear, AKA the marketing channel.
Thinking about internet marketing, there are a variety of marketing channels: display advertising, email marketing, SEO, affiliate and influencer marketing, social media, viral content campaigns, website and blog, and more. Knowing there’s lots of options to choose from, you should consider these items in your planning:
- Audience segment – is this a channel that will reach them?
- Offer – is this a channel that will create a delightful user experience for this offer?
- Budget – how much will it cost to reach my audience using this channel?
- Delivery – do I have people (in-house or agency) who know the channel well enough to flawlessly execute campaigns?
- Measurement – what are my goals and how will I measure them using this channel?
When is your content sequence?
Another basic question is, “when did it take place?” Related to content strategy, “when” is your sequence. Yes, it’s the time you will place content into marketing, but in this guide, I deliberately refer to it as sequence. That’s because your content should be aligned to your audience’s buying journey, not a specific calendar.
Here’s a video that shares an in-market example of a sequence related to the typical awareness, consideration, purchase, post purchase phases consumers go through on their journey to purchase. Each consumer is unique, which is why it’s better to move towards thinking about content sequences, rather than specific times and dates on a calendar.
Why are you creating this piece of content?
The final W stand for “why”. In most cases, writers would ask why something happened, but in this case, you want to think about why you’re creating the content. That will help you identify the utility it provides your audience and your intent behind developing it.
Related to content strategy, “why” and “what” (offer) are the two most critical categories. If you do not have compelling answers to those questions when developing your content strategy, it’s likely you should rethink your strategy before creating your content.
How will you create your content?
The basic question of “how” is a bit different than the previous five items. It does begin with a different initial, breaking the pattern of all “Ws”. But I like that, because it is a bit different. Here is the transition from content strategy into content marketing. You identify how you will create your content based on the elements you identified in asking who, what, where, when and why. Use the assets you develop from asking those questions to create and share a brief with your creative and content teams to deliver the communication objectives you identified in your baseline strategy into compelling content that your audience will appreciate.
…but wait there’s more.
Content strategy is a fairly comprehensive, all-bracing topic that I share more details on in this webinar. While buyer personas, journey analytics, technical SEO, keyword research, and more are part of a truly cohesive content strategy – However, I hope this basic guide helps make your content marketing programs a bit easier. If you have any questions about the topic, feel free to give me a shout, I’m happy to help!