How to document your content strategy

How to document your content strategy

Here’s what you should include in your content strategy document to guide your content marketing toward success.

So you’re ready to document your content strategy.

You think you know what that entails – you need to write this down somewhere… right?

OK, you’ve got a blank Google Doc waiting with a blinking cursor. Now what?

What pieces should be recorded in your strategy document?

What information is a must to include?

Most importantly, why does it matter?

Whether you have nothing more than a verbal understanding across your brand or team about your content strategy and you’re finally writing it down, or you’re creating a strategy from scratch and documenting as you go…

We’ll cover it all in this guide, including:

  • Why you should document your content strategy.
  • Where to document your strategy.
  • Why you should create a document that can be shared and read across teams, departments, and roles.
  • What you should include in your content strategy document to guide your content marketing toward success.

What is a content strategy document, and why do you need one?

A content strategy is a plan that governs all of your content marketing activities, including:

  • Researching and ideating content.
  • Creating content.
  • Publishing content.
  • Distributing and promoting content.
  • Tracking and measuring your progress toward your content goals.
  • Maintaining your content.

That means a content strategy document is the written form of this plan. 

Why do you need to write it down? Why can’t you just start creating content, already?

Because content created without a plan is destined to fail. And writing that plan down helps you integrate content seamlessly into your brand. You’ll create content strategically, anticipating your audience’s content needs and filling them vs. randomly creating content and hoping it works. 

43% of businesses don’t have a documented content strategy or aren’t sure if they do. But, ultimately, the most successful brands and marketers create a strategy and document it.

More reasons why you should document your content strategy

Without a steady, solid plan behind you, your content marketing actions will be random guesswork. You’ll most likely create content based on assumptions rather than data. Your output will be inconsistent as a result, and so will your content quality.

Marketers who proactively plan are 3x more likely to report success than those who don’t.

Why is that? Without a strategy guiding your actions, you won’t have or understand:

  • The deep why behind your content marketing – and what you’re ultimately trying to achieve.
  • The specific metrics you should be tracking to reach your goals.
  • A deep understanding of what your audience needs and wants from your content.
  • The content types and formats that will bring the best results for your specific situation.
  • When and where to post for the best visibility and engagement with your particular audience.
  • Defined processes and workflows for creating, publishing, and distributing content – and who is responsible for each step.
  • And so much more.

Lastly, a finished content strategy is a fantastic asset in your business and marketing, but it’s not the whole point of creating one. (Wait, what?) It’s true. 

Instead, the process of planning you go through to create that strategy is just as important. It requires research, thought, ideation, mapping, and plotting, which help you get crystal clear on the above items. 

That’s why all the work that goes into strategizing is worth it. It will make your content marketing 1,000x more powerful!

Where should you create your content strategy document?

A content strategy document can solve many problems and challenges you might face with content marketing. For that reason, you should think carefully about where you’ll document it.

The top content marketing challenges organizations struggle with include: 

  • Creating content that appeals to different buyer stages. (61%)
  • Aligning content efforts across marketing and sales. (50%)
  • Developing consistency with measurement. (43%)
  • Communicating internally across teams and silos. (41%)
B2B organizations current content marketing challenges

But a documented content strategy solves all these problems. The act of strategizing answers the above questions (how do we create content for different buyer’s journey stages? How do we align content between marketing and sales? Etc.). 

But – you must write it down. That’s the key.

You need a written, centralized document that people and teams across your business can access and reference. You need to solidify the strategy to be shared, learned, and implemented repeatedly – and easily.

That means if your strategy is currently nothing more than a nebulous verbal agreement between your team, you’re sitting on a big opportunity to make it real and better.

If you’ve never talked about strategy at all and are currently just “doing content marketing” – that’s insufficient. You could be getting so much more from content.

For these reasons and more, sit down and strategize. Create an organized strategy document that’s easy to read and access.

Tips for creating a content strategy document

  • Create your content strategy document in a shareable format, like in a shared Google Doc, or upload your document to Dropbox, Google Drive, or some other file-sharing platform. Ensure anyone on your team who needs access to the strategy can find it.
  • Create sections for each major element of the strategy. Format your strategy for ease of reading and finding specific information.
  • Include extra information like tools to use at different stages, links to those tools plus account/password information, screenshots of tasks and how they should be completed, links to templates and examples, links to related documents (like brand style guidelines), and anything else that helps your team execute the strategy.

Let’s be real: This will be a lot of work. You won’t be able to create a content strategy in a single day. It might take weeks or even months to complete.

But the difference between having vs. not having a strategy is quantified in light years. If you want real results from content, you’ll invest the time.

10 pillars to include inside your content strategy 

Let’s get down to brass tacks. What exactly do you need to include when you document your content strategy? 

  • Err on the side of including more information than you need. If you’re unsure whether you should put it in your strategy – do it.
  • Don’t get discouraged if this task seems neverending. You’re doing all this work now to save yourself later with a streamlined, set content process that brings in more and better results.

With all that in mind, here are the categories and questions your content strategy needs to answer definitively.

1. Goals: Why are you creating content?

Answer with: Your content marketing goals, including how they connect to your larger marketing and brand goals. What do you want your content to do, ultimately?

As you set goals, don’t be vague. Get specific about exactly what you want to see happening, thanks to your investment in content. 

For example, don’t just say, “grow brand awareness.” That’s a fluffy goal that’s hard to measure. Yes, you can do that with content, but how are you defining brand awareness? What does that mean for your business, specifically? 

Get more specific. Instead, say, “grow brand awareness by increasing our following on social media by 15% in 3 months and earning top rankings in Google for relevant keywords in 6 months to 1 year.” 

2. Audience: Who are you creating content for?

Answer with: The audience you plan on targeting with content. 

What do they look like? What do they do? What are their interests and preferences? What are the biggest problems your brand solves for them with your expertise and products/services? Where are they searching for information online? Where do they congregate on the web?

Note: As you move through each piece of your content strategy, give yourself time to research and analyze your findings. Then record those findings in the strategy.

For example, audience research will require a few weeks of study, from social listening to conducting surveys, to setting up interviews and sitting down with your potential prospects. 

If you already have a defined audience, return to your data on them and make sure it’s still accurate.

3. Platform: Where will you publish content?

Answer with: Your main content platform of focus. 

Will you create a blog on your website? Will you post content on social media? Will you create a YouTube channel? Consider your goals and resources and plan accordingly. 

For instance, to drive more traffic to your website, you should focus on creating an SEO blog.

4. Content: What content topics will you cover, and what types and formats will you create?

Answer with: The main topic areas you will lock into for content. They should be relevant to what you sell and what your audience wants. Then, choose the content format that you have the means to produce consistently and that your audience most wants to see. 

Videos, blog posts, podcasts, webinars, infographics, whitepapers, ebooks, case studies, and more are all possibilities. Keep in mind you may need to diversify to more than one type.

Content marketing formats

At this point, it’s helpful to create content templates for the formats you want to focus on. These can be used repeatedly for anyone who writes or creates your content, which builds consistency in your content.

5. Team: Who will create your content? Who will manage, publish, promote, and maintain your content?

Answer with: The person, team, agency, or freelancer who will be responsible for your content, from the seeds of ideas to finished pieces. 

If you have a team of people working on content, break each task down by who is responsible for what. (Who’s writing the content? Who’s editing it? Who’s posting and publishing it? Who’s promoting it?) 

If you’re a team of one, use this section to brainstorm how you can streamline content tasks and make them easier on yourself. Consider adding scheduling, editing, and optimization tools to your lineup. You can also create a timetable or schedule for yourself for completing various content tasks.

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6. Schedule: How often will you post content, and to what channels?

Answer with: A rough content schedule, including how many blog posts you'll publish to your main channel(s) each week or each month.

Consistency, consistency, consistency. Planning out a posting schedule helps you establish and keep it going. Be flexible because things can and do go awry, but plan for a general cadence of posts that will help establish your brand online.

7. Promotion: How will you promote and distribute content?

Answer with: A rough plan for promoting your main content on social media and email.

How will people discover your content? What are ways you can bring new audience members into the fold?

Make your promotion plan with your resources in mind. Posting links to your new content on social media is one of the easiest, low-cost ways to do this. If you're more advanced and already have an established audience, including email subscribers, leverage that list and promote your content to people most likely to read it!

Content Promotion Cycle

Lastly, don't forget about organic search. This is another low-cost but highly effective way to increase your content's visibility while bringing in ultra-targeted leads.

8. Tools: What tools will you need to execute every step of content marketing?

Answer with: The tools you or your team needs to execute content planning, creation, publishing, promotion, and maintenance. 

At a base level, you'll need a content management system (like WordPress), a keyword research tool, an analytics tool, and an editing tool.

Add information about what tools you have in your tech stack. You could also use this section to keep track of your subscriptions and monthly costs.

It's also helpful to return to earlier sections and list the tools you'll use for each. For content creation, you could include links to your Grammarly, Canva, or Google Drive accounts.

9. Progress tracking: How will you track content metrics and KPIs? How will you measure results?

Answer with: Map your content goals to key performance indicators (KPIs). 

In a nutshell, this means making your goals actionable by attaching them to measurable metrics. For example, one way to track a vague goal like brand awareness is through measuring likes, comments, and brand mentions on social media over time.

Detail how you'll track and measure your goals: what metrics you'll focus on and what tools you'll use to monitor them over time. 

10. Budget: What's your content marketing budget?

Answer with: What you plan to invest in your content marketing actions. Calculate your costs in terms of people, tools, processes, and technology.

Put it all together and document your content strategy

There are a lot of moving parts to a content strategy. But they connect to the moving parts of your content marketing activities and processes, guiding them strategically toward success.

If you don't have a strategy documented yet, mountains of untapped potential for your content are waiting in the wings. 

That also means if you're doing content marketing and not seeing the results you'd like, there's hope. 

For better content that grows your brand, sit down, strategize, and document. 

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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