If you’re wondering whether you’re working from a content strategy or simply doing content marketing, there are four important questions you can ask yourself to find out.
First, it’s important to understand that “doing” content marketing is not the same as “implementing” content strategy. Just to be clear, both activities are important, but content marketing without a strategy as foundation is really just the tactical implementation without the larger vehicle required to make sure those dollars and initiatives are being allocated most effectively.
In order to evaluate whether what you are currently doing falls into the content strategy category, ask yourself the following four questions:
#1 Does it ladder back up to business goals and objectives? And, is there a plan to measure the activities and discuss effectiveness?
While content marketing may outline the what of the content plan, the content strategy should outline the why. So your company is writing blogs (the what), but why? Well, it may be that you have a business objective to increase traffic to the website and your content strategy might be to develop blogs in an effort to increase organic traffic to the website by x % per month. In that case, your team would meet on a monthly basis to review whether you are on track to increase organic traffic by 10% and then discuss why or why not, alongside any other insight or recommendations for future management. Within the content strategy, you would outline the specifics of the tactics that will get you to your goal as well as how to track and optimize on a regular basis.
#2 Are there several content types and channels represented?
While content marketing is more focused on the tactics themselves and may not always start with the big picture, the content strategy should outline all the different channels that can help to meet the business goals. It should allow for some exploration into new territories and even push the comfort levels internally as you discuss testing elements for the first time. It is important to think through an integrated channel approach and even make sure that each channel has its own goals and attribution models set up in order to understand how each portion of the content strategy supports the user/customer through the sales funnel.
#3 Does it include a testing component?
As mentioned earlier, testing is important because stagnation can be the death of companies. If they don’t take the time to evolve and either predict or follow where their customers are to intersect with them in a meaningful way they may lose the connections and relationships. Every member on the team should be able to tell by looking at either a report or a metrics dashboard whether a certain tactic, channel or content piece was successful on a monthly basis. There should be no excuse for allowing bad campaigns to continue running. Campaigns should be approached a bit like a puzzle that each month needs some pieces moved around for the whole thing to come together. What worked last month may not work next month.
#4 Are reporting and optimizations an integral piece of the plan?
Without reviewing the data against your expected goals or KPIs on a regular basis, you will be unable to change course as needed. It is important that your content strategy allows and even supports changes and exploration. There is no set it and forget method that works. As humans and channels evolve, so too should the individuals and companies looking to connect with them.
In closing, while content marketing is a great place to be as far as taking the first step into the unknown world of content, a content strategy will generally hold the team, channels and the plan itself accountable based on the data.
Need help defining your content strategy or getting out from under the content needed to execute it? We’re here to help.