Digital content strategy: What is it?
A digital content strategy is a concrete plan of high-quality content targeted to your audience or personas and aligns with your mission/goals. The plan consists of the form of content (audio, visual or written) and the channels they will be distributed across. However, a content strategy is so much more than that – it is about consistency.
Imagine you’re a gardener from a small village. You’re aiming to win the prize for biggest cucumber at the county show. You have the perfect soil conditions and all the equipment you need to plant and nurture a cucumber that will grow 5ft tall and 20ft in length. But there’s a problem – you aren’t 100% sure how to do it.
You rake the earth, plant the seed, then wait for it to grow. Nothing. You water it a little and add some fertilizer. It’s growing. Finally! You leave it alone to grow. It stops growing.
This process continues for some time, until it’s time for the show. You pluck your tiny cucumber from the patch and wonder what on earth went wrong.
In this, one of few cucumber/content metaphors in existence, the cucumber is your company website. The rake, fertilizer and water are your content channels. Without continuous and consistent nurturing, your content cucumber isn’t going to win any prizes.
In this blog we’re going to look at how you can improve your digital content strategy and create a consistent approach that will boost SEO, improve sales and build your brand. And we’ll try to keep further vegetable-based metaphors to a minimum.
Put it on paper
First thing’s first. You need a comprehensive digital content strategy. This is an important, yet often overlooked, step in the journey towards content marketing excellence. A good strategy should dictate a number of things:
- How often to publish and post content
- Which channels you want to focus on
- Who your content is aimed at
- What the purpose of your content is
- Who creates what
- Which days and times you’ll post
Without committing all of this to paper (or a doc) you’ll lack a concrete structure for your content creators and will struggle to maintain a consistent approach. This can lead to content for the sake of content: posts that aren’t focussed on solving a problem, don’t align with your audience and aren’t consistent in branding or timing. Committing to a plan helps to hold yourself and your team accountable.
If you're unsure about the type of content to write or how to write it well, this is a great 4-step guide to writing a great content.
Save the date
Once you’ve decided how often you want to post, it’s time to be consistent. Try to stick to your schedule and have your content ready with plenty of time before it is due to be published. You should be able to plan a couple of months ahead using a content marketing calendar.
A content marketing calendar is the granular view of each social post, blog post and downloadable you’re going to post over the next few months. It should have:
- The name of the content being posted, and a link
- The content format (i.e. blog, infographic, whitepaper, Twitter post etc.)
- A draft of the copy (for blog posts and social posts)
- A link to the content being shared
- The date and time it should be posted
- The name of the post owner
- The age of the content being shared (Is it new? Is it a relaunch?)
- All metadata and titles
It’s not what you know…It’s who else knows it
Sharing content is all about knowledge. It’s using your business expertise to give a little something to your audience, showing them that you know your stuff and they can trust you. It’s also about sharing a consistent message. If your sales, marketing and customer success teams are all speaking about your products and business in different tones of voice, your customers will notice that something is off, and you’ll lose their trust.
So how do you overcome this? Knowledge management is the act of pooling all knowledge into one central hub that can be accessed by whoever might need it. IT releases siloed data and personal knowledge so that it can be put to use across your teams. You can also use a knowledge management system (KMS) to ensure that customer data, marketing collateral and more are shared with all teams who need it – so everyone is aligned.
If you’re not used to sharing knowledge, this can be something of a culture shift, and the whole premise relies on buy-in from everyone: writers, designers, salespeople, accounts managers – everyone. Making a Content Matrix, that everyone can access, gives your organization access to one centralized hub containing all existing content.
You can use the data from the content calendar, along with any engagement stats to give Sales and Customer Success teams more information on which content resonates with your audience. This way, everyone is aligned with your approach. Sharing knowledge is just one way of improving the creation and delivery of your content.
The aggregation of marginal gains
Why content consistency matters
Dave Brailsford joined British Cycling as head coach in 2003. Before he joined, the British cycling team was a mess, having won just one gold medal since cycling was introduced at the Olympics in 1896 – and no British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France.
But Dave introduced a new philosophy: ‘The aggregation of marginal gains.’ He began to look at every stage in the process of training cyclists and maintaining bicycles - and made it as consistent as possible.
This meant assessing which pillows would allow riders to get a better night’s sleep, and painting the inside of bike workshops white to make it easier to eradicate dust and keep machinery clean. He oversaw the introduction of electrically heated trousers to keep riders’ leg muscles warm before a race, reducing injury.
By doing hundreds of little things better, consistently, Dave Brailsford pulled British cycling out of the dark ages. Thanks to his new philosophy, between 2007-2017, British cyclists won 178 World Championships, 66 Olympic and Paralympic Gold Medals and took the top step of the podium at 5 Tour de France.
When you apply this philosophy to your content, you’ll also start to see changes too. It might feel insignificant at first. 1% here, 1% there. But with a consistent approach to planning, scheduling and sharing knowledge, those 1%s will all start to rack up. This is why consistency is key to building a strong digital content strategy.