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Content Strategy for the Web: 5 Essential Elements

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content-strategy-for-the-web I’m headed to Florida in a couple weeks (goodbye and good riddance Winter) and while I’m excited, I’ve been thinking a lot about past trips. We’ve been to Florida quite a bit, it being a direct and relatively short flight for us, but this year I decided to do something differently.

For some reason, when we rent a car, I’m somehow the driver. But not this time. I’m making my husband drive.

Every single time in for the last five years it’s the same thing because my amazing husband is directionally impaired and a completely craptastic navigator.  So we end up lost. Naturally, this happens after we’ve been travelling for hours, we’re trying to find our hotel and we’ve turned off data on our phones so Siri is no help at all. Plus, for the win we’ve got a hungry, hostile and/or tired kid in the backseat.

Inevitably the bickering starts. And that is exactly when I think “OMG, I need a partner who knows where we are going” and I loathe beyond belief him in that moment.

You know how we could fix this problem? A map, or maybe having the person who can actually read it not being the driver. How hard is that? With a little planning, not that much really. But we’ve been to Orlando so much that we we’re a pair of navigational know-it alls and at 11 p.m. we’re accidentally heading down the Interstate towards Tampa.

Which is exactly how Content Strategy works, especially when it comes to Content Strategy for the web. We think we have it handled, until we really don’t and we find ourselves in the middle of unnecessary stress and drama. All of which we could seriously eliminate if we had it all mapped out in the first place.

What is Content Strategy?

Content Strategy is a really a framework for your content. It’s not an editorial calendar or a list of blog posts, it’s much, much deeper. What it really is at the core, is a way to guide your content development, and do it in a way that matches up with your big WHY and business goals. Content Strategy helps ensure your content is actually useful to your audience. In a world where content is king, you can’t afford to be flip flopping around or confusing your audience.

If a Content Strategy seems like overkill, I encourage you to see if you’re experiencing any of the warning signs that you may need a content strategy:

  • Every week you’re writing your blog post the night before and you keep jumping from topic to topic based on a whim.
  • You’re not really sure how your content supports the big picture let alone what your mission and values are.
  • The customer journey and experience is unclear and you’re not really sure how your content drives them to purchase.
  • You constantly feel like you’re trying on new voices, tones and styles in an effort to find one that fits well.

[Tweet “Do you need a content strategy? Recognize the signs from @magspatterson”]

Are you nodding along? Do you feel a little bit uncomfortable? Then you need a Content Strategy so you’ve got a game plan for content! Without it you’re selling your business short and wasting valuable time on things that probably don’t matter and you’ll end up like me ranting in a parking lot somewhere in the middle of central Florida as you try to figure out where the hell you’re going.

The 5 Essentials Elements of a Content Strategy

Let’s say you’re ready to dive in and you want to create this Content Strategy so you feel super clear on what content to create, what you’re going to say, how it connects with your goals and more. Here’s what you need to know – the 5 essential elements of a Content Strategy:

  • Your Customer’s Journey – Who they are, how you can serve them, their journey through your business and their path to purchase.  You need to know more than the fact their guilt pleasure is Gossip Girl on Netflix, and more about what triggers them to purchase, what they need from you and how they move across the know-like-trust continuum.
  • Your Mission, Vision + Values – For content to make sense it must tie back to your why along with what the purpose for this company of yours actually is, where do you want to go, and what are your business goals.
  • How You Communicate – What’s your tone/manner, how do you want people to feel, what kind of language and writing style do you use?
  • Prioritization + Presentation of Information – How do you share this information and in what structure? Do you blog or do video? How do you have visitors travel through your site?
  • Workflow + Schedule – How do you create content, what are the steps involved, who’s involved, what’s the schedule for publishing?

Some of this you may have done before and other parts you may need to dig into a bit to get figured out.  The time invested in a Content Strategy for the web will save you time and effort later.  So stop expecting your editorial calendar to do the heavy lifting and swap it out for a Content Strategy instead. You’ll thank yourself later as you’ll know where you’re going and not have untoward thoughts towards your partner on your next road trip.

[Tweet “Stop feeling like you’re on the road trip from hell. @magspatterson talks content strategy”]

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