How to Create & Execute a Digital Content Strategy

digital content strategy
digital content strategy

Your digital content strategy is the key to driving some of your biggest success factors: organic web traffic, brand awareness, lead generation, and ultimately sales. The thing is, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to actually creating your strategy.

Content, audience, schedules, channels, KPIs — where do you even start?

Our advice: take it one step at a time. Start with what’s most important, and build on each step until you’re ready to launch an intentional, strategic plan that will drive ROI for your brand.

We’ve created a step-by-step guide you can follow to create and execute your digital content strategy right away.

Quick Takeaways

  • Audience should be #1 priority for any digital content plan.
  • Setting clear goals and measurable KPIs makes it easier to evaluate progress.
  • Test, measure, and focus on the things that work to drive marketing ROI

8 Steps to Launching Your Digital Content Strategy

Think Audience-First

Who are you creating your content for? This should be the first question every marketing team asks themselves when developing a digital content strategy.

Hint: the answer is never for your own executives.

It’s tempting to create content that touts all the really great things about your company, but that’s why you have a sales team.

Content marketing, when it’s done the right way, steers away from over-selling the brand. Instead, it focuses on consistent, quality content that’s relevant to your industry and engaging for your audience.

So, back to the original question: who are you creating content for?

You can use a number of strategies to find the answer to this question. It’s a good idea to spend substantial time researching your audience to be sure you get it right. Customer personas (when they don’t suck) can be a really effective way to understand your different audience segments. Looking at customer demographic data (like web analytics and historical sales data) is another powerful tool for understanding your audience.

You should also think about your audience from the perspective of the problem you’re helping them solve. Why would someone search for your content? What need do they have that would drive them to your website? Considering your audience this way helps you create content that specifically addresses your audience’s needs and thus resonates with them more directly.

When you do your due diligence to know your audience, you are much better equipped to launch a digital content strategy that works.

Set Goals with Measurable KPIs

Now that you know your audience and what your content will do for them, it’s time to think about what you need it to do for your brand. What are your goals for your content marketing strategy? Is it to increase brand awareness at the top of the funnel? Convert leads you can pass along to your sales team? Increase your search engine rankings?

It’s likely you have more than one goal for your content. By spending time outlining each of the goals of your digital content strategy, your team can be more intentional about creating content that hits all of your objectives.

Just as important to knowing your marketing goals is establishing how you will measure your progress. First, think about the key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll use. Is it the number of people who visit your website? The amount of leads you generate from your blog? The number of people who follow your social media accounts? Whatever your specific KPIs, be clear about them from the start so you can craft your content accordingly.

Second, put a specific number on your KPIs. If you’re aiming to increase your social media following, set a clear numerical goal (for example, increase organic web traffic by 10% in the next 3 months) so your team can objectively measure whether or not your goal is met.

The S.M.A.R.T. goal framework is a simple but valuable tool that can guide your goal setting process:

S.M.A.R.T. goal framework

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Perform a Current Content Audit

It’s easy to get so focused on the new content you’re going to create that you forget about what you already have. But auditing your existing content is a key part of creating a new digital content strategy. It helps you identify what’s working and what’s not. You can build on content that’s performing well and eliminate content that’s outdated or underperforming.

To perform a current content audit, establish first what you want to accomplish with the exercise. Are you aiming to reorganize your content to create a better system? Update old content to optimize SEO? Eliminate outdated web pages and links? Assess brand voice and messaging? Again, you’re likely to have more than one goal for your audit.

Once you know what you’re trying to accomplish, clearly outline which content you’ll include. Are you auditing your website? Your YouTube channel? Your social media content? Maybe you’re planning to audit everything. Either way, decide what’s going to be audited before you start.

Then, think about how you’ll evaluate the content you’re auditing. Decide how you’ll track the content you audit and create consistent rating scales and systems. Once you do, you’re ready to begin the actual auditing.

Want a deeper dive into the process? Check out Laura Creekmore’s content audit talk from a recent Content Marketing World conference.

Decide What Types of Digital Content You’ll Create

People often think blogs right away when they consider digital content strategies. And they’re right — blogs are a huge part of effective content marketing. But they definitely aren’t the only option when it comes to content. By creating different types of content, you can better engage your audience and let your content work together to drive higher rankings and more traffic.

For example, OptinMonster reports that articles with videos get 94% more views than those that are text-only and video content is 50 times more likely to drive organic search traffic than plain text. I

ncluding content like infographics, images, videos, polls, quizzes and more can enhance your text content and create a more interactive, engaging experience for your audience. Creating email newsletters can help drive your subscriber base. Publishing how-to videos can increase your brand authority.

The important thing to know here is that diverse content is effective, and you have options. Decide what fits best with your brand, and work it into your content plan.

Types of content marketing content

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Be SEO-Focused

This one’s easy, right? We all know that SEO is important. Your search rankings are essentially the deciding factor for your brand visibility and the number one driver of organic web traffic. In fact, 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine.

The thing to keep in mind here is that Google ranking factors are constantly evolving. A decade ago, you could stuff your blogs with keywords to your heart’s content and expect results. Today Google can assess quality and sentiment (among many other things) to eliminate spammy content and push the best stuff to the top of their SERPs. In other words: you can’t cheat the system.

And that’s a good thing! It means the hard work you put into creating great content won’t go unrewarded. But it also means you have to keep up with trends, algorithm changes, and best practices.

Brainstorm Fresh Content Ideas

Okay — you know your audience, you’ve set your goals, you audited your content. You know what kinds of content you want to create, and you’ve done your research on SEO’s latest trends. Now you just need a ton of great ideas.

No big deal, right?

Actually, right! Don’t be intimidated by the prospect of coming up with topics to cover with your content. First and foremost, know that there are keyword tools out there to do most of this work for you. SEMRush is one of my favorites. Their keyword research tool can generate millions (yes, millions) of ideas from just one seed keyword. Pretty awesome.

That’s not the only place to get ideas, either. Stay up to date on news and trends to provide commentary on what’s happening in your industry. This can help establish brand authority and build your brand personality by offering unique opinions.

You can also check out what your competitors are doing and cover the same topics. It might sound counterintuitive, but it’s actually a proven content marketing strategy called the skyscraper technique. Basically, you reverse-engineer the SEO system by finding topics that are already ranking high and being covered frequently. Then, you publish your own content on those topics and put your own spin on it.

That last part is important. Skyscraper content is not duplicate content. It’s content that adds something new and novel to the existing library of content that already exists on a topic.

Finally, you can ask your team and your customers for ideas. What are the people in your organization finding important? What do your customers want to know more about? Going directly to the source can be an easy and effective way to find content ideas. You can send surveys and emails to large groups at once to make the process even easier.

The key takeaways here: coming up with fresh content ideas is important and it’s an ongoing process. Build time in your plan for sourcing ideas and do it periodically — not just at the launch of your plan.

Create (and stick to) a Publishing Schedule

Creating a publishing schedule and sticking to it is one of the big keys to digital content strategy success. Content calendars keep you organized and accountable, help you identify opportunities and gaps in your content plan, and ultimately lead to better content and stronger results.

There are many tools out there that can help you maintain your content schedule. Using a dynamic content calendar that lives online and comes with automatic alerts to help you manage the process is an ideal option. But there are also free tools and content calendar templates you can download and start using right away. Creating your own calendar using Excel or Google Sheets is a simple starter option that many brands find effective, too.

Have a Multichannel Digital Content Strategy

Did you know you have the opportunity to be your own best brand promoter? A multichannel digital content strategy can exponentially increase your views and web traffic. Think about ways you can share your own content across channels. For example, share your blog posts on social media platforms, or highlight your newest article as the headline of your email newsletter.

multichannel digital content strategy

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Another way to drive your multichannel strategy is to create highly shareable content. Seemingly small details like social media share buttons on your blog or encouraging followers to share something in your caption can go a long way in increasing your brand visibility.

Some of the most shareable types of content include:

  • Facts and statistics
  • Infographics
  • Commentary on current events and news
  • Listicles
  • How-to Guides
  • Videos

Launch Your Digital Content Strategy Now

If you’re ready to launch your digital content strategy right now, Marketing Insider Group has the right tools and people to help you do it. Our Content Builder Services include a full content audit and customized editorial plan. Our writers can deliver you SEO-optimized, publish-ready blogs every week.

If you’re interested in learning more, set up a free consultation with me today!

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.

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