Plenty of brands are out there creating content. But crafting and executing a successful content strategy is something entirely different. It requires a comprehensive strategy that is both solid and flexible enough to adapt to your evolving needs. To craft one successfully, you need an intimate understanding of your brand and its goals, as well as the many components that go into a successful content marketing operation. Unfortunately, we often see brands craft a content strategy that is too broad or vague. This causes confusion, requires guesswork, and results in a generally disjointed execution. How do you ensure this doesn’t happen to you? By asking the right questions (using our handy content strategy template).
The Questions to Answer in Your Content Strategy
Luckily, we’ve helped plenty of brands build their strategies, so we know the right questions to ask from the jump.
If you’re just starting out (or reworking your content strategy entirely), these are the questions to ask to build a comprehensive, airtight content strategy. (Note: You may not need to answer all of them if you’ve already articulated some of this thinking elsewhere.)
Some of your thinking may change overtime, but the answers to these questions are crucial to build the core of your content strategy. As you work through them, make sure you have the answers documented to keep everyone on the same page.
To make it easy for you, we’ve compiled the questions below into this Content Strategy template. Just make a copy, then fill out as you please.
We’ve also broken the questions down by subject, allowing you to dive into each in detail.
Knowing who you are and why you exist influences everything you do, from the products you sell to the content you create. Thus, it’s important to keep your brand front of mind as you move through the content strategy process. Answer:
- What is our brand heart (purpose, vision, mission, values)?
- Why does our brand/product exist?
Content strategy is always in the service of a particular goal, both business and marketing. Answer:
- What are we trying to accomplish?
- Why are we creating content?
- Which goals take priority?
- How will we know our content is on track to achieve our goals?
- How will we define vital elements, such as a lead?
- What behaviors do we want our content to influence?
- How do we define concepts or keywords that might be easy to misinterpret?
- What other important considerations will influence how we approach our solutions?
Knowing who you’re trying to connect with is crucial to create effective content. Answer:
- Who are we trying to reach?
- Why are we trying to reach them?
- Where are they located?
- How do they consume information?
- How do they speak (e.g., technically or conversationally)?
- What do they care about?
- What are their goals, fears, and motivators?
- What problems do they need solved?
- Who are their heroes? Their enemies?
- What would make their lives easier?
- What are their key demographic and psychographic attributes?
For more on creating personas, try our step-by-step guide to create personas quickly and effectively.
4) Existing Content Insights
Unless you’re crafting a content strategy from scratch, you probably already have content living online. Consider how effective this content is currently and how it may need to change based on your new content strategy. Answer:
- Is our user experience optimized?
- What content gaps need to be filled (formats, subjects, etc.)?
- Does our mix of channels make sense given our goals?
- What content is working, and what is not?
- How else can we leverage your current content for more impact?
- Do our readers or visitors have a clear path to the next stage in the journey, if interested?
5) Measurement Methodology
Choosing the right KPIs (and associated metrics) is crucial to determine whether or not your content strategy is working. (If you’re not sure what to track, see our comprehensive breakdown of the metrics for every stage of the buyer’s journey.) Answer:
- What KPIs will we use to measure success?
- What do all our KPIs mean, specifically?
- How are they mapped to our goals?
6) Journey or Lead Mapping
To make the most effective content, you need an intimate understanding of your buyer’s journey. Answer:
- What signals help us identify someone in any particular stage of the journey?
- How will we move prospects and customers along to the next stage of the journey?
- What stage in the journey should we focus our content strategy efforts on?
- At what point will we bring in our sales team to close the deal?
7) Messaging Platform
Telling the right story at the right time is the key to a successful content strategy. Answer:
- How is our content supporting our brand messaging?
- What messages are most relevant for our current goals?
- Will key messages resonate with all personas, or do we need to tailor them?
If your brand messaging could use some revamping, try this framework to tell a consistent brand story.
8) Channel Opportunities
To get the most eyes on your content, you need to identify the right distribution channels. Answer:
- Where are we going to reach people?
- How will we reach them?
- Where are their communities?
- When are the best times to reach them?
- What will our mix of channels be (owned, earned, paid)?
For more on getting your content in front of people, find out how to craft an effective content distribution strategy.
9) Storytelling Opportunities
Strong content tells a strong story. There are plenty of storytelling opportunities in your organization, you just need to identify which will be most effective. Answer:
- What are the big ideas, general topics, and content pillars that tell our story most effectively?
- Do these stories track to our main goals?
- Are these stories interesting or relevant to our personas?
- How will we vet our stories?
If you’re looking for more storytelling inspiration, here are 5 fresh ways to tell your brand story.
10) Editorial Calendar
Your editorial calendar is the key to keeping your content operation going. Answer:
- How much content will we publish?
- How often will we publish?
- Who will create our content?
- What formats are we creating (e.g., articles, infographics, videos, motion graphics)?
- Who will own each type of content?
- What does our production cycle look like (drafts, visual assets, publish dates)?
- How will we determine how to publish and promote each piece of content?
- Are there major calendar events or holidays that are relevant to our personas or industry?
Splitting your content into campaigns can help you better organize your editorial calendar. See our tips on how to do that here.
11) Keyword Strategy
A good SEO strategy is an essential part of a good content strategy. Answer:
- What are our top keyword opportunities?
- How will we optimize content around keywords?
- Are our publishing platforms optimized for SEO?
12) Media Planning
Beyond your general channel distribution strategy, identify the high-level media buys you might need to make.
- What media mix will be most effective?
- What publications will we target?
- Who will create/maintain those relationships?
13) Budget Allocation
A content strategy is especially helpful because it allows you to plan for and allocate resources effectively. Answer:
- How will we budget time, money, and resources appropriately?
- Who needs to approve or oversee allocation?
- Will we use our own resources or need to hire outside help?
14) Tech Stack
Different content requires different capabilities, which is important to consider before you dive into creation. Answer:
- Do we have the tech infrastructure in place to create, publish, and distribute content?
- Do we need additional software?
- What design tools will we need to invest in?
- What content platforms?
Remember: Your Content Strategy Isn’t Set in Stone
A content strategy provides a solid plan, but you should be able to tweak and adapt based on your results. We recommend reviewing your content strategy every six months (even once a quarter) to ensure it is working and serving your needs.
Of course, there are always ways to improve your content strategy.
- Start with our complete guide to build a content strategy.
- Learn how to fix the 15 most common content strategy mistakes.
- Maximize your content by using microcontent to expand your reach.