When some businesses are asked if they have content strategy in place, they may answer “We have a plan for the content.” Or if the question of “Do you have a content marketing plan?” arises, the reply along the lines of something such “We have our content goals” might be a response. Unfortunately, this “checkbox” approach to content marketing is nothing more than going through the motions and filling in every box in the buyer’s journey whether it’s absolutely needed or valuable.

It’s important to also understand that content strategy and content marketing planning are two very distinctive areas that must be properly defined. The two terms are often mistakenly used in the industry interchangeably or, as mentioned, using the checkbox approach to content marketing.

With that in mind, other questions arise:

How is content strategy and content marketing planning properly defined? Which comes first? What are some challenges faced?

Let’s examine how these concepts are defined, see a few examples in action and cover some best practices to help you create a harmonious relationship between content strategy and content marketing planning.

Content Strategy Defined

The Content Marketing Institute defines content strategy as an approach that “helps organizations provide the right content, to the right people, at the right times, for the right reasons.”

Think of content strategy as the processes and goals you determine before you get to the content planning stage. Content strategy evolves the strategic mapping, creating and managing of all the business’ content. At the crux of content strategy is the strategic conception of business goals and user needs in accordance with the content.

Content Strategy Best Practices

Now that you’re clear on how content strategy is defined, you can jump into the writing and creating of content immediately, right? Not yet. It’s judicious to take a moment to look at the broader picture before jumping into the content creation.

Here are some essential elements to consider while creating your content strategy:

  1. Clarify target personas – Determine the correct audience so the content you create is on the market in terms of addressing the buyer’s pain points, needs, and considerations. A good question to ask in this stage is “Will the audience find this content beneficial?”
  2. Determine the content substance – It’s vital that you not only figure out what type of content (web copy, blog, white paper, video, case study) to use but what the content is about. Resonating with substance is determining the value of the content to not only the business but the user audience.
  3. Establish the content structure – This is how the content is organized and displayed. Too many organizations get caught up in the quantity vs the quality of the content but spend less time focusing on how the content is digested by the audience. Is the content easily accessible and found? For example, Aventi Group client and cyber security company Okta organizes their content via a Content Library where users can simply search or browse the various topics, content types, and solution.
  4. Create a call to action – Determine what you would like your audience to do once they have read the content. Is it for capturing leads? Downloading other content?
  5. Organizing workflow – Content strategy requires determining which people and processes are needed to support content creation and management. Select a team or specific person in charge creating and managing the content who will act as the gatekeeper of the content.
  6. Measure usage – A content management system or marketing automation platform can help you can see how often the content pieces are viewed (ungated) or downloaded (gated.)
  7. Practice good governance – Decide who will keep the content on track with the content strategy. This might be the same individual who manages the content or you can establish a team or hold meetings regularly to make sure the content is aligned with the establish content strategy. If your content deviates from the content strategy you run the risk of lower audience engagement, which may ultimately impact the content’s effectiveness on business goals.

Content Marketing Planning: Definition and Best Practices

Content marketing planning is the tactical execution of the content strategy created beforehand. Content marketing planning may include content audits, editorial content calendars, the actual creation of content, measuring and adjusting. Consider content planning as putting the content strategy into action.

Content Marketing Planning Best Practices

Here are some content planning best practices suggested by Divvy HQ as well as few we’ve seen to be tested and proven.

  1. Leverage your content strategy – While this may seem common sense, it’s important to keep in mind the content strategy created and stay focused. Otherwise, the work in the content strategy gets nullified. Keep in mind the content strategy’s business goals and audience benefits then stick to it.
  2. Create a content calendar – An organized editorial content calendar keeps the content creation on track with the creating, revising, finalizing and publishing of the content. A content calendar also sets expectations, deadlines, and removes the scattershot content publishing method.
  3. Be consistent – A regular content publishing cadence keeps your audience engaged. Consider timely content or creating evergreen content that has a longer shelf life. Consistency also means the content you produce is an accordance with your brand narrative and company’s positioning.
  4. Generate relevant content – Create a content plan that creates useful content to your target audience. Publish and distribute content that is, at its crux, beneficial to audience, users, and customers. As example, Aventi Group collaborated with UNISYS to create a compelling content that is beneficial to the customer, partner and industry audiences. Working with the UNISYS team and their strategic objectives, we helped develop eBooks, blog posts, thought leadership articles, infographics, white papers, solutions briefs and more. The UNISYS Insights page wonderfully organizes the content in a clear and accessible manner for audience.
  5. Measure and adapt – It’s important to gauge and measure the success (as well as the off-target misses) with your content. As covered, a content managed system can help you track the usage of the content. Determine what content works and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to adjust your content plan; adapting will help you stay relevant and on course.

Strategy and Planning – Working Together

It’s not about content strategy versus content planning but how they work harmoniously to achieve results. Success may not happen overnight but if you thoughtfully work on your content strategy before putting your content plan into action, you can better position your business.

Aventi Group has the expertise, resources and proven track record to help your organization with content strategy and content planning. Whether you need brand new content or existing materials refreshed, our team of writers, editors and designers can quickly create compelling and effective content the delivers on your objectives. Aventi Group has the experience of help you develop the strategy and then putting the tactical plan into motion.

 

Roger has over 20 years experience working in technology as a journalist, content strategist and copywriter. He has held marketing and editorial positions at Symantec, Yahoo! Search Marketing, YP.com, AT&T Interactive and iMedia. As a content strategist consultant for Aventi Group, Roger enjoys working with various organizations to create valuable and clear content that resonates authentically with the target audience.