Whether you are an affiliate, agency-owner, freelancer, or marketer you’ve probably fallen into the content trap.
What is the content trap? At first, you create a long-term, overarching strategic mission for your business. Once this mission is created, you proudly frame it (metaphorically, or sometimes literally) and, subsequently, forget it exists.
Quickly, you become preoccupied by competing for the short-attention span of your target audience. You create click-bait tweets and funny memes, as your perfectly-framed strategic mission collects dust. You end up focusing on short-term, sporadic business tactics, that do not relate to your initial strategic mission.
So, how can you not only align your overall strategic mission with your day-to-day tactics, but also win your customer’s attention and loyalty in this saturated market?
I’ve rounded up some expert advice from Shopify’s content-obsessed partners, affiliates, and app developers, and asked them what content strategy means to them, and why it adds value to their business and target audience. Read on to hear the pearls of wisdom they had to share.
What is content strategy?
So, what is this elusive, two-word solution that is ubiquitous to every marketing blog and listicle?
A content strategy is a tangible but iterative plan. This plan allows you and your team to clearly define the process, timeline, and stakeholders needed to coordinate, create, and distribute your content. Your content, when executed through a content strategy, will be engaging and consistent.
With this content strategy, your primary objective should be to provide the right content, to the right audience, at the right time, with the right goals. The “right” goal, is to not only align with but also bolster your business’ overall mission.
Rachel Jacobs from Pixc explains that content is at the core of every business, and strategy is needed to keep your messaging consistent.
“At Pixc, content is the glue that brings each element of the business together. By defining a content strategy, we were able to pinpoint our target customer and understand their needs better, making it easier to produce content that meets their needs.”
At Pixc, content is the glue that brings each element of the business together. By defining a content strategy, we were able to pinpoint our target customer and understand their needs better, making it easier to produce content that meets their needs.
Stacey Ferguson from Blogalicious sees content strategy as an essential tool to engage with her audience, and advises using it as a means to position yourself as an industry expert.
“I truly believe that every single brand, whether personal or professional, needs to implement a content strategy. It's a highly effective (and free!) means to engage with your audience, build your community, and to position yourself as a subject matter expert. With Blogalicious, we use content to celebrate the successes of our community members, and also to serve as an information resource and voice for multicultural bloggers and content creators.”
You might also like: Content Monetization: How it Works and Mistakes to Avoid.
Why is content strategy valuable to your business?
Content strategy sounds great, but why should you or your team take time out of your inevitably busy schedules to plan and implement a content strategy?
1. Mission-specific content.
First and foremost, a content strategy will ensure that the content you are creating has your business’ mission and target audience in mind, and furthers this mission with each piece of content. A content strategy is meant to be implemented by stakeholders in your business from a range of disciplines. This ensures that each piece of content will be grounded in your business’ mission and focused on your target audience’s needs.
For Andromeda Raheem from Women by Choice, a piece she wrote about working through adversity as a business owner not only allowed her readers to relate to her more, but also helped her achieve her business goal of generating book sales.
“The context behind this piece is telling a story that allows my readers to relate to me, while showcasing my experience with and expertise on using one's mind to manifest success. The strategy used creates more opportunities for me to achieve the goal of generating more sales of my book.”
By contrast, Debra Lutsky from DRP Design Co works mostly with new brands, or brands new to commerce. Her focus is on crafting mission-specific content throughout a client’s website.
Content strategy and planning is essential to the conversion funnel for these new companies to quickly educate their customers about their brand in less than 20 seconds.
“Content strategy and planning is essential to the conversion funnel for these new companies to quickly educate their customers about their brand in less than 20 seconds. We focus heavily on storytelling and implementing core brand pillars throughout the website, marketing, and the entire customer experience. We found the biggest change and challenge in ecommerce is the addition of value propositions to product pages, not just the homepage. We work very closely with our clients now to focus on strong copy, headlines, and adding unique selling propositions (USPs) to these pages.”
2. High-quality, customer-centric content.
Because your target audience is top of mind with each piece of content, you will engage with your audience more strategically and effectively. With a content strategy, you can be intentional with each piece of content you publish.
Do you want to entertain your audience and poke fun at your brand? Do you want to equip them with valuable tools that augment your services? Whatever strategy you take to engage with your audience, you will be able to improve on tangible and meaningful customer metrics, such as customer acquisition, customer retention, and customer satisfaction.
Sarah Chrisp from Wholesale Ted created a content piece on sales tax dropshipping in order to build trust, challenge, and educate her readers.
I wanted to build trust with my viewers by proving to them that I not only know my stuff, but that I'm not afraid to tackle hard topics. And I just wanted to genuinely help people because very little information is available on this subject.
“The strategy behind the video was that I wanted to build trust with my viewers by proving to them that I not only know my stuff, but that I'm not afraid to tackle hard topics. And I just wanted to genuinely help people because very little information is available on this subject. And reading the comments, I've been able to see that I've helped many people, which is great.”
For Reese Evans of Yes Supply, building trust with her audience is integral to her business.
“Especially when they are investing in higher price point items,” Evans adds. “By creating high-quality content, it allows my audience to get to know me as a person, and see that I know my stuff.”
3. Consistent, and comprehensive content.
A content strategy will allow your team to produce, share, and amplify your content with ease. You will be able to hone in on various aspects of your content so that they all work together to augment your business’ overall mission.
- You can focus on the overall tone of your content. Is your business diplomatic, delighted, or cynical?
- You can curate consistency in the cadence and volume of your pieces. What day of the week, month, or quarter will you consistently post? How many times a day, week, month, or quarter will you post?
- You can decide what form and medium your content will come in. Will you summarize your month’s worth of long-form articles in short, digestible infographics? Will you post solely on your business’ blog.
- You can hone in on where and why your content will be distributed. Will you post all of your content on your blog? Will you summarize your content on email newsletters?
Not only will a consistent and comprehensive strategy help your team create content, but it will also allow your audience to have expectations for when and where your content will be.
Bob Rockland from Code used his content strategy to create evergreen resources.
“We get a lot of organic hits, especially on our blog about migrating from Magento to Shopify. Also, it’s very easy to point this out to future customers — all is told in the blog and they just have to read it, and we don’t have to tell it over and over again.”
We get a lot of organic hits, especially on our blog about migrating from Magento to Shopify. Also, it’s very easy to point this out to future customers — all is told in the blog and they just have to read it, and we don’t have to tell it over and over again.
Thomas Holmes from Shopify and You explains that creating his content guide not only brought traffic to his website, but helped him connect with members of the app community.
“My definitive guide to invoices on Shopify draws good numbers of people to my website. But also interestingly, writing it created the opportunity to connect with the people behind several apps, which made it even more worthwhile.”
4. Iterative and ever-evolving content.
Lastly, the content strategy you create is not stagnant. Your content strategy should be a living and breathing organism. It should adapt to your target audience’s needs. Each piece of content will have meaningful analytics associated with it, that you can track, understand, and analyze. Equipped with this meaningful insight, you can make data-driven decision to develop future content to more effectively engage your audience and further your business’ mission.
"Your content strategy should be a living and breathing organism. It should adapt to your target audience’s needs. Each piece of content will have meaningful analytics associated with it, that you can track, understand, and analyze."
Although Josep Garcia Bonilla from WebsiteToolTester plans his content for the year in advance, his team is open to regular updates and changes.
“For us, this content creation process is an ongoing task, which we complement by creating a content plan at the beginning of the year. It gets updated regularly so we can include new ideas and opportunities.”
Gina DeVee from Divine Living embraces feedback online and offline to improve her ever-evolving content.
“We want everything that is put out into the world with the Divine Living name (the magazine and training videos) to embody the strong but feminine, powerful and impactful traits that our clients possess. Through direct feedback, social media, and in-person meetings, we’re always looking to hear what’s on their mind and always open to feedback to create better content for next week, next article.”
You might also like: 10 Apps to Boost Your Content Marketing Efforts.
Create a content strategy that works for you
A content strategy is crucial to your business whether you are an affiliate, agency-owner, freelancer, or marketer. A content strategy will allow you to clearly define the process, timeline, and stakeholders needed to coordinate, create, and distribute your content. When implemented effectively, your content will be mission-specific, customer-centric, consistent, and iterative content.
What are your content strategy tips? Let us know in the comments below!