• Mike Mullane

Six questions to help develop a content strategy

Updated: Apr 17, 2020

Choosing the right media channels to reach target audiences is one of the toughest challenges for any communications department and especially those with small teams and finite 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 identifies target audiences, SMART goals, and relevant metrics for assessing success, as well as taking into account the available resources and skills base. It is crucial to have a clear picture of who exactly you are targeting with your newsletter, podcast or blog, how they consume content, and what they care about. The data you are looking at should cover demographics, behaviours and motivations — i.e. what drives people to consume your content and identify with your brand? It will also help when developing the personality of the new product or service and making decisions about the type of content that will be regularly included.

You will need to decide how often your newsletter, podcast or blog will go out and what times of day work best. Decisions should be based on what you know about your audience, including their behaviours and location. It is important, though, that you are flexible and able to make changes if required. Of course, you will need to have in mind who will be creating your content and whether they will require training or additional resources. Even if you decide to outsource, you will still need to keep 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 are the goals of the new blog/newsletter/social media channel/podcast?)

2. Who is it for and why do you think they will be interested? (What evidence do you have that it will reach them and what does 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?

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