Six questions to help you develop a content strategy

It is crucial to have a clear picture of who exactly you are targeting, how they consume content and what they care about. (Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Unsplash)

Choosing the right media channels to reach your stakeholders and clients is a tough challenge because it is easy to get wrong. It is even harder for small teams with limited resources.

A website and corporate presence on the most relevant social media platforms — usually Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube — provide the backbone, but sooner or later you will need to weigh the pros and cons of adding other products and services to the mix, perhaps a blog, newsletter or podcast.

It is essential that you base any decisions on a well-defined strategy that clearly identifies your target audiences and takes into account your team’s skills base and available resources. You need SMART goals and relevant metrics for assessing your success at delivering the right messages to the right audiences.

The data you are looking at should cover demographics, behaviour and motivations — i.e. what drives people to consume your content and identify with your brand? This will also help you to develop the appropriate tone and personality, and to make the right editorial decisions about your content.

You will need to decide how often your newsletter, podcast or blog will go out and what times of day work best. As discussed, decisions should be based on what you know about your audience, including their location. It is important that you are flexible and able to make changes if and when required.

It is surprising how some managers can be unaware about their team’s skills base. A good manager will know what individual team members can and can’t do. If you are developing a strategy, you must always have in mind who will be creating your content and whether they will require training or additional resources. Even if you decide to outsource, your team should retain editorial control and quality assurance.

Using relevant metrics will allow you to measure performance in a meaningful way. Following are a few examples.

For a newsletter the bounce rate is crucial for the simple reason that if people don’t receive your emails they can’t read your newsletter. The open rate tells you the percentage of subscribers who opened your email, while the click-through rate (CTR) is the ratio of users who click on links in your newsletter. The CTR would be very important, for example, if one of your aims is to drive traffic to your website. Other newsletter metrics you should be looking at include the percentage of recipients who click on a social sharing or ‘forward to a friend’ link, as well as subscribe and unsubscribe rates.

Data about the success of podcasts is bit more limited. Available analytics include number of downloads, total plays, top episodes and listener location, as well as data about devices and apps. Hosting services provide the best overall source of analytics, although it is also possible to glean additional information from the individual podcast clients, including the services run by Apple, Google and Spotify.

The best way to make your decision is to ask yourself these six questions:

1. What do you hope to achieve? (What is the message that you are trying to deliver?)

2. Who is it for and why do you think they will be interested? (Why do you think the new blog/newsletter/social media channel/podcast is the right way to reach your audience and what will it give them that they can’t get from your existing channels?)

3. What type of content and voice will it provide? (Why do you think your audience or stakeholders will be responsive?)

4. How does it strengthen your communications mix? (To what extent does it complement what you already do and how is it new or different?

5. What are the most appropriate metrics and do you have benchmarks? (How will you know if it is successful and worth pursuing?

6. How sustainable is it? (Does your team have the necessary skills base and resources to create content and manage the new channel?

Journalist working at the intersection of technology and media

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store