A content development strategy is critical for guiding content marketing decisions. Every team must revere it like they would a roadmap to their favorite vacation spot, while knowing the journey may shift every couple of years. Businesses will publish inconsistent, underwhelming content without careful forethought and research. You must look into your audience and consider the company’s tone. Ensure they align, which is the catalyst to a solid content development strategy.
What Is Content Development Versus Creation?
Content creation is a more common term, especially in the age of online influencers. Everyone creates content, whether it is a TikTok or writing an email. Numerous motivations power content creation, from converting leads to gaining more followers.
The content creation process is imaginative and thoughtful, focusing on the creative side of marketing. The final stages of content creation involve publishing the media. Content creators can interact with live reactions in variable avenues, like comments or live streams.
Development is almost the same as content marketing, where the goal is to envision how content will benefit a company and connect to its customer base. Content development focuses on customers’ feelings as they view and interact with content. It is the stage where marketers instill a vision. Will the content be informative or entertaining? Will that inspire people to subscribe or visit an in-store location?
Finding the answers to what the content will achieve is the focal point of a content development strategy. The content development phase does not include writing social media posts or designing advertisements. Development may brainstorm ideas of what types of content designers and writers will create, but marketers will not undergo that process yet.
The Steps for Developing a Content Strategy
Tasks involved in content development sound nebulous. You can transform vague ideas into tangible actions by following these steps. Taking time to reflect and plan crystallizes content intention and increases the chance for success when the content reaches the public eye.
1. Brainstorm Goals and KPIs
Ask yourself and your team what you want the content to do. Do you want more customers to be aware of your brand, or do you want to increase conversions? Determine this before determining metric-related targets.
It is essential to consider what competitors are doing. However, acknowledge what works for them may not work for you. They may find investing in YouTube content to increase AdSense revenue by a target percentage works for them. It may not be worth putting time and resources into if you do not have a reason to delve into long-form video content.
Analyze what marketing focuses have and have not been beneficial in the past. Do your customers like email marketing and engage with it? Is your content suitable for influencer marketing through Instagram or podcast sponsorships? Here are key performance indicators and goals to consider when you are brainstorming what will impact your company the most:
- Use PR marketing to increase inbound links
- Improve click-through rates
- Lower the average cost per lead
- Increase the session time visitors spend reading blogs
- Grow social media accounts
2. Empathize With Your Target Audience
Once you know what metric(s) you want to measure that lead to your goal, it is time to get to know your audience. The content can be anything so long as it is relevant. What does that look like?
Content developers must use market research to figure out more about their current and prospective customers. Their original thought of who they were targeting may be inaccurate, and you are targeting a completely different group. Researching new vectors is another option for this stage. Here are some metrics you will want to understand:
- Demographics like age, education, gender, and income
- Behavioral trends like how and why they use products from your company
- Psychological aspects like lifestyle choices of the customer base
- Geographic data like climate and language
Gather as much data as possible and determine what is most important concerning your products. For example, if you focus on e-commerce, knowing what devices customers shop from might be more important than geographic location. If you sell clothing, it is essential to know the income level to determine the luxury of the products.
3. Mind Map a Content Profile
This is the most reflective part of the process. It can only happen by understanding your customers or goals first. You should have a clearer picture of what content might look like at this stage. Compare this vision with the content your company has already put out there. It’s time for a content audit to develop a content profile.
Analyze engagement against types of content and if it matches your brand voice. Do these data points align with your KPIs? How consistent is the content, and does it provide value to your target audience? Once you audit the content to discover what is and isn’t worth keeping a part of the content development strategy, you can mind map content themes.
What does your content contain? Depending on your niche, your content may be videos, inspirational quotes, infographics, fun facts, behind-the-scenes photos, industry research, testimonials, calls to action, product showcases, or real-time photos. What content types and subject areas are the most effective?
Answering these questions will lead to the most engaging part of content development — taking action.
4. Blend Content With Your Marketing Funnel
You have a content profile. It includes the subjects you will cover with what kinds of content for ultimate KPI achievements. The content has to get into the world in a way that makes sense with your current marketing funnel. The funnel represents the customer journey. How can you create and publish content to guide customers throughout their journey, from discovery to lead conversion?
Start by creating a content management system. Determine the tools you will use to schedule social media posts, design graphics, post blogs, and manage emails. This is more practical because most of these are external services. Ensure the price aligns with your goals and provides all the services you need to scale content development if necessary.
For example, if you’re focusing on brand awareness tactics to bolster the beginning stages of the marketing funnel, blend the content profile with those intentions. If you leave any part of the marketing funnel unattended, you won’t have a comprehensive content development strategy.
Discuss with content creation teams the desired schedule to achieve goals. They will create the ideas and publish them when content development is complete. Handing off these responsibilities signals you have a solid foundation for the future.
The Ultimate Content Development Strategy for Growth
A content development strategy is not a one-time process. It will continuously develop, primarily as a business scales and customer bases expand. The plan evolves with the company. The more organic it grows with the customers, the more natural it appears — even if you go through a rebrand.
The benefits of a cohesive strategy will be worth the time and resources invested into it. Your brand will be more recognizable, increasing the likelihood of customer advocacy and engagement. The foundation of every company will become more assertive with content development, lifting bottom lines annually. Over the years, you can look through advertising channels to see growth and inspire future goals.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.