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The ultimate guide to digital content strategy

Over the years, content strategy has evolved from a nice-to-have to a standard operating procedure for every successful company. Let's take a look at what it takes to launch a successful digital content strategy.
Nikola Gemes

Nikola Gemes

Jan 19, 2023
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Over the years, content strategy has evolved from a nice-to-have to a standard operating procedure for every successful company. At the same time, content operations have evolved from web-based initiatives to include content across all digital channels.

#What is a digital content strategy?

A digital content strategy is a plan by which a company produces high-quality content for its target audiences and buyer personas in a repeatable way, to achieve consistent experiences throughout the buyer journey and across all of its digital channels.

Your digital content strategy should reflect your business goals and include blog posts, video content, podcasts, webinars, infographics, landing pages, online tutorials, social media platforms, eCommerce sites, mobile apps, IoT, etc.

#Why is digital content important?

Clear content roadmap

When mentioning digital content, people tend to think of blogs right away. And they’re partially right. Blogs are a huge part of it, but they’re not the only option. By creating different types of content, you can better reach your audience, achieve higher rankings, and drive more traffic.

According to an OptinMonster report, articles with video get 94% more views than those that contain only text. By adding content like infographics, images, videos, polls, and quizzes, you’re creating a more engaging experience for your audience.

Defined team goal

Studies have found that defining and documenting your goals is an important step to achieving them. People who vividly describe their goals are between 1.2 and 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals than people who don’t.

In another study, participants were divided into two groups: those who wrote down their daily goals and those who didn’t. At the end of the study, the group who wrote their goals down had a 42% higher success rate than the control group.

Marketing research also shows that companies that track their marketing goals report better performance and higher ROI. A digital content strategy helps you determine the number of content types, optimal roles, and permissions, and

Better measurement

Your digital content strategy should have measurable goals. You should be able to analyze the progress by constantly tracking and measuring steps you take towards accomplishing your goals. This provides you with an answer to the question — What is the role of your content in all that?

Knowing how much time and how many resources would be spent on accomplishing your goals is key to a goal-driven marketing campaign.

Better cost synergy

When you know what content format to focus on, you can meet your audience where they are.

It makes little sense to launch a podcast or invest in a YouTube channel only to find out that they bring little value in terms of conversions and engagement.

Identifying the best formats allows you to optimize the budget and allocate the team resources where they’ll bring the highest returns.

#Components of a digital content strategy

Goal setting

You need to increase brand awareness and conversation rates, optimize your content to rank higher in search engines, and focus on lead generation. Your business goals will help you decide what types of content work best for you and which key performance indicators (KPIs) you should use to measure your progress.

Target audience

Next, you need to identify your potential customers and their pain points, as well as how they overlap with your business goals. A deep understanding of your customer demographics and buyer personas will guarantee that each piece of content is relevant to the user.

Plan & schedule

What are the foundational and supporting content that will help you achieve your goals? The content plan includes things like email guidelines, content journeys, priority topics, target keywords, etc. it specifies which content you’ll promote and which channels you need to prioritize.

Content operations

Also, you need to decide how you will be producing, managing, and publishing content. Content ops specify the workflows that take content from a new idea to a published piece of content. These workflows include editorial calendars, approval processes, campaign coordination, custom role permissions, and content governance.

Content infrastructure

The tool and technology you need to maintain a digital content strategy. This includes your content solution, localization, and translation tools, personalization, product information management, digital asset management, CMS, and your content model. For example, Hygraph’s federated content platform allows you to integrate your tools of choice into a custom tech stack that perfectly matches your business goals.

#How to create a strong digital content strategy

Define the content strategy goal

At this stage, you need to identify your potential customers, markets, and buyer personas. Outline the business priorities, value propositions, and metrics that are essential to your success. Once you do this, determining the business goals and target audience will be much easier.

For example, you should be interested in these metrics:

  • Organic conversions (sales & leads)
  • Organic visits to your website
  • Keywords you rank for in the top three SERP results
  • Engagement (comments, shares, likes)
  • Domain authority (long-term priority for every digital company)

It pays to notice here that many of the high-tier goals are directly related to your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. This shouldn't surprise you because digital content marketing has a strong relationship with SEO.

A stellar digital content marketing strategy will help boost your SEO rankings, while great SEO will ensure the maximum reach of your content.

Research your target audience

It’s hard to devise a solid digital content marketing strategy if you can’t say who your ideal customers are.

Things you need to find out include:

  • Where your target audience spends time online
  • What type of content they prefer
  • What voice are they most likely to follow
  • What are their most important needs and concerns

Then you can use these aspects to create an ideal customer persona for your business.

But how can you get this information?

  1. Filter through customer data and explore their social profiles
  2. Use tools like Facebook Audience Insights or Google Analytics to see what your audience is doing online.
  3. Send customer surveys or interview individual customers that represent relevant segments of your target audience.

The bare essentials you should find out include

  • Age (broad range)
  • Job title
  • Typical problems
  • Channels they use
  • Where you can help

If you get stuck with one, don’t hesitate to create multiple different personas. No one says you can’t have different customer segments that are equally important to your business.

Let me share an example. I used to work for a company that developed a digital proposal tool, and we targeted mostly mid-range sales executives. However, it was only later on that a simple client call revealed that our step-by-step proposal funnel was also used by HR personnel — for leading new hires through the hiring process.

Run a content audit

Reevaluate the existing content to spot the most effective content pieces, formats, and channels. Perform keyword research to find content gaps, and brainstorm new content ideas in your team meetings. These are the steps to a robust content plan that improves the reach and reusability of your content and paves the way for the development of new content. If you need to migrate your content to another platform, the content audit can help you decide which content gets to migrate and which one sails into the sunset.

Choose the content format

Do you have ways to tell what type of content your customers already consume? Which channels do they prefer?

Finding answers to these questions should be your seeing-eyed dog in making decisions about the channel and format.

Here’s an example. Over the years, YouTube videos have been mostly used for building audiences. And they are still excellent in that role. However, as users in many niches have come to prefer video for different search terms, YouTube videos have become Google’s preferred content format.

Type any keyword in the DIY or home improvement niche, and Google displays multiple videos, the top one complete with time stamps and all.

In 2021, 73% of consumers said that they’d rather watch a short video about a product than read a written post.

Use keyword research to help you find the intent behind the phrases — which can lead to their preferred content format.

Also, make sure you know which social media platforms you want to use. If you’re promoting B2B-focused content, LinkedIn is your first stop. On the other hand, audiences interested in interior design or fashion predominantly live on Instagram and Pinterest.

Outline content workflow

Digital content strategy demands you to have different roles on your team. Apart from content creators, you need an SEO specialist, link builder, social media manager, as well as a product marketer who often works as a liaison between marketing and product development. Your job is to

  1. Define clear roles on who is going to be in charge of what.
  2. Find ways these people can work more efficiently together.

To help you with that, choose a content platform that will allow cross-functional collaboration in an agile and adaptive way.

Here’s an example.

At one point, as a multinational company, Samsung realized that its local content focus might not align with its global initiatives. The company started looking for a content platform to enable it to implement local content solutions more easily, unrestrained by the global governance barrier.

Hygraph offered a composable CMS solution that allies Samsung to deliver content in a flexible, design-agnostic way that allows frontend developers to focus on building localized features without involving backend developers.

As a result, Samsung managed to improve content workflows for local custom solutions and increase developer productivity by relieving them from content updates.

Set up the Promotion strategy

Creating new content costs money, time, and effort. Promoting it is the only way to see a serious return on that content. Without help from a few smart promotion strategies, your new post or landing page won’t fly beyond basic SEO and organic shares. So how to promote new content? By distributing it on multiple channels. For example, you can use Instagram stories to link back to your content, cross-post it on every social platform you use, or even use social sharing buttons to your posts. Over time, you should also be able to re-publish your old posts on different platforms with updated, relevant info and optimized content. In other words, you need to make your content easily available to different roles in your team, which is only possible if you have a capable content platform.

Measure the results

Since your digital content strategy isn’t static, you need data on SEO performance, conversion rates, Google Analytics, and other tools that measure performance. When you refine your strategy for constant gains, you are allowing it to evolve with business priorities and new channels.

#Tools you need to execute a digital content strategy

Content Management System (CMS)

A CMS is a platform designed to automate, manage, and publish content online. At least, that’s how the original definition goes.

However, over the last few decades, the variety and volume of digital continents and platforms have exploded with new channels, devices, and interfaces.

As the digital ecosystem evolved, the limitations of traditional content management systems began to show.

Traditional CMSs with coupled content and delivery layers struggle to keep up with delivering an orchestrated experience that reaches beyond traditional web and mobile channels.

In this type of CMS, everything is managed by one application layer and is almost always page-based.

On the other hand, a headless CMS separates (decouples) the content from the presentation function. This allows developers to create content objects for any application or device.

As different frontends have unique presentation requirements, they only require desired content from the CMS, not the page layout, styles, management framework, etc.

A headless CMS retrieves raw content as data through API calls and enables developers to create as many frontends or “heads” as many channels you have.

Using a headless CMS, you can manage multiple content presentations from a single content repository, and provide a seamless digital customer experience across all channels.

But what if the content you want to redistribute is not in your CMS?

Why is Hygraph better than standard headless CMS solutions?

  • As a content federation platform, Hygraph allows you to source content from other systems and use one single powerful GraphQL API to distribute it to any frontend using a framework of choice. These federated content applications wouldn’t be possible without implementing a digital experience platform (DXP) that makes sure your data is consistent across the platform.

  • Hygraph is an ideal content management interface for content teams to produce structured content with speed and ease.

  • Using modular components as nested and repeatable content blocks, you can easily create a desired layout while keeping your schema clean.

  • Hygraph integrates with popular translation management systems and features granular locale-based permission to help you distribute global content.

  • You can define roles for internal or external collaborators and define access rights for reading or modifying content.

Task management tool

When you start producing content, you need some way to manage the process. This is especially important if you have a lot of staff and guest writers on your payroll.

Trello is a task management tool that holds all your team’s projects in one place and should be customizable enough to grow with your changing needs.

Keyword research tool

You need a tool that does basic SEO research but also handles more in-depth projects like performance reports. Ahrefs is a great keyword research tool that you can use to track the rankings of your keywords, as well as analyze your competitor’s keywords and traffic.

Tracking site metrics

When talking about content marketing tools, you can’t leave out the measurement. Sure, you can get good insights from Ahrefs, but you also need a digital analytics platform to track business metrics. Google Analytics is free and easy to use, making it one of the most widely used platforms online.

Not only it tracks your goals, like form submissions or product purchases, but also behavioral events.

Video presentation tool

A versatile and user-friendly video creation tool comes in handy when you need to answer complex questions using a visual aid.

Loom is a simple tool that allows you to create, edit, and share videos, as well as record your screen. Great for tutorials and technical walkthroughs.

Editing and proofreading tool

Finally, nothing gets published until you run it through an editing and proofreading tool.

Grammarly works across many communication mediums, ranging from email and documents to social media.

It has a browser extension that works with Chrome, Safari, and Firefox, offering a basic grammar and punctuation package for free.

#Wrapping up

A successful digital content strategy takes time, organization, and creativity. Companies who have already done their homework – identified the business goals and buyer personas can move on to implementing digital content strategies for content types that bring the highest ROI.

However, digital content platforms are huge equalizers that can even out the playing field. A thoroughbred content federation platform should become the foundation of every digital content operation.

Blog Author

Nikola Gemes

Nikola Gemes

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