content strategy

Content Strategy: A Simple Success Guide for 2023 & Beyond

Content Strategy—it’s knowing your message, your audience, and how you’ll reach them. Here are the essentials of a content strategy document, and how to write one of your own  

Welcome to our Simple Guide to Content Strategy! In this guide, we’ll–

  • Define content strategy and explain why it’s important.
  • Explore the essential elements of content marketing strategy.
  • Take you through the steps of writing your own strategy document.

Along the way, we’ll share a few tips, tools and templates, plus an awesome, indispensable resource.

Writing a content strategy gets you clear on your brand message, your audience, and how to reach them. This guide will show you how to do all three.  

Let’s begin.  

Content Strategy

Content strategy is the process of planning, creating, publishing, and managing content that aligns with business goals and audience needs. It involves identifying target audiences, defining key messaging, and establishing a framework for content creation and distribution across various channels.

content strategy

What Is Content Strategy?

content strategy

Before diving into Content Strategy, let’s define Content Marketing as—

A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a defined audience.

The goal? Increase brand awareness and engagement, and ultimately drive profitable customer action.

Content Strategy, then, is creating a plan for producing and distributing content that supports those marketing goals. It’s a documented plan, one that involves—

  • defining target audience personas.
  • establishing key branding messages.
  • identifying the content type that best resonates with audiences.
  • choosing proper distribution channels.
  • selecting performance metrics that evaluate success and guide content iterations.

Content strategy framework brings methodology alongside the creative process, ensuring deeper audience engagement and better conversion.

Why Content Strategy Matters

content strategy

Having a documented strategy behind your content marketing is important in that it–

  • Builds Trust and Credibility: Savvy businesses know carefully-selected topics generate content that positions them as industry thought leaders.
  • Generates Leads and Sales: eBooks, white papers and case studies are purposefully used as lead-gen content in the B2B sector.
  • Improves Search Engine Visibility: Content strategy carefully considers short- and long-tail keywords which drive organic traffic and build topical authority.
  • Increases Brand Awareness: Strategic distribution uses a variety of channels to discover new audiences.
  • Creates Conversations, Builds Relationships: Content that engages promotes transparency, opens dialogue, and creates loyalty.
  • Saves Money: Reaching your target audience with content marketing will often yield a higher ROI than traditional advertising and PPC.

Why Write a Strategy Document?

This study from provides an easy answer–

78% of marketers whose content marketing was exceptionally effective (in 2021 ) had documented content strategies. 

content strategy

Writing a content strategy document offers the following advantages over winging it–

  • Clarity and Focus: Documenting your content strategy clarifies brand objectives, identifies your ideal customer, and firms up your messaging.
  • Accountability and Measurement: A documented strategy sets clear Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to measure content effectiveness.
  • Consistency and Quality: A strategy document’s content guidelines set style and voice consistency.
  • Efficiency and Scalability: A documented content strategy streamlines content creation and distribution with workflows, processes, and tools.
  • Collaboration and Communication:  Documented strategy clarifies mission, which leads to better collaboration, and better content.

Content Hubs & the Brands Who Do Them Well

The content hub is a collection of branded content on a specific website– where you as a customer can explore a subject the brand is an expert on without being marketed to. does this very well, creating exceptional digital marketing content that positions them as industry thought-leaders.

Content hubs are smart content strategy in action. Who else does this well?

Red Bull

content strategy
redbulltv .com

More than just an energy drink, Red Bull wanted to be a lifestyle brand. To achieve that, they focused on adventure lifestyles that resonate with their target audience and created blog posts, videos and social media that showcased extreme sports events worldwide

American Express

American Express builds brand identity with their Open Forum, a dedicated hub featuring entrepreneurial resources that position American Express as a trusted small business partner.

General Electric

GE Reports is a content hub General Electric uses to showcase innovation and thought leadership across a variety of high-tech and scientific industries.  

These are just a few examples of companies who successfully align brand and audience using content marketing. And the success of each begins with a clearly-documented content strategy.  

Fundamentals of Content Strategy

Your Buyer Persona

content strategy

The buyer persona is a semi-fictitious Avatar of your ideal customer. It’s based on the buyer’s disposition, goals, motivations, pain points, and demographics.

You’ll create a buyer persona (it’s kinda fun, actually) to better understand your ideal customer and why your brand’s unique value proposition should matter to them. The more vivid and well-developed your buyer persona, the easier it becomes to create outstanding, empathetic content.

How a Buyer Persona Informs Your Content

Building a buyer persona means studying your target audience’s needs, interests, and pain points. Those insights can powerfully influence your content, and its relevance to your readers.

Your buyer persona also guides the tone, style, and format of your content. For instance, a B2B tech company’s avatar is a busy executive who prefers concise, data-driven blog posts. She wants easy-to-scan content that brings quick, valuable insights supported by clear visuals like infographics and screenshots.

The buyer persona is a key asset for the content strategist, because content that’s aligned with the persona ultimately drive success metrics upward.

Your Audience and Their Buyer’s Journey

content strategy

The buyer’s journey reflects the stages your ideal customer will go through when making a purchase. Your content must address the challenges your buyer experiences at each of them. These stages include–


In the awareness stage, a prospect is becoming aware of their problem. Your goal is to help them more deeply understand the problem and open their eyes to potential solutions.


In the consideration stage, the prospect is actively researching and evaluating potential solutions. Content forms like product comparisons, case studies, and white papers help the reader compare options and evaluate the broad scope of available solutions.


By now, your prospect has narrowed her options and she’s weighing the pros and cons of choosing your product or service over your competitors. Your content strategy at this phase will call for product demos, free trials, or testimonials to help her make a final decision and take action.

Purchase & Post-Purchase

Your prospect is now a customer, so your content will build the enjoyment of owning so they become a repeat customer and even an advocate for your brand.

Knowing your buyer’s journey is critical to smart content strategy. Here’s a way to get it right—

5 Steps to Knowing Your Buyer’s Journey

content strategy
  1. Define Your Customer Persona: Know your ideal customer’s demographics, psychographics, behaviors, and pain points like they were your own.
  2. Know Which Stages REALLY Matter: All stages are not equal. Your buyer’s awareness of problem and solution dictate which of them you should pay special attention to.
  3. Identify Touchpoints & Gather Data: Know how your customers interact with your brand at each stage of the journey. Website analytics, customer feedback, and sales data are great observation sources.
  4. Analyze the Data: Look for patterns and trends. Knowing where and why customers drop out of their journey shows opportunity to adjust strategy.
  5. Turn Insights into Strategy: Take what insights your data gives you and adjust your content strategy to better address pain points and improve the journey’s success.

With a clear understanding of our audience, and what happens at each stage of their journey, let’s take a look at the content we’ve already produced.

The Content Audit

content strategy

A content audit analyzes and evaluates your existing content for quality, relevance, and performance. The goal? Find opportunities to improve the content experience, search engine performance, and reader engagement.

Here’s a quick walk-through–

A Content Audit in 7 Easy Steps

1. Define Scope and Purpose

Decide what content to audit and how you intend to apply what you learn.

2. Collect Your Content

Gather any content that’s pertinent to your audit, including blog posts, video, landing pages, infographics, e-books, whitepapers, case studies, etc.

3. Organize Your content

Organizing content by format, category and topic helps you see gaps and redundancies and determine which types of content are executed better than others.

4. Evaluate Content Quality

Assess quality based on relevance, accuracy and readability. Use tools like Google Analytics, SEMrush, or Ahrefs to assess engagement metrics like page views and bounce rates.

5. Identify Opportunities

The audit invariably reveals opportunities, like keyword clusters that are suddenly relevant, or content ripe for repurposing.

The audit is also a perfect time to see what content forms you should put into practice.

content strategy
6. Amend Your Current Strategy

The audit is a great time for some positive direction-resetting to happen. Here’s a few tips from our friends at—

  • Think long-term, and steer your content strategy towards content forms and distribution channels that best position you for organic search and conversion success.
  • Build on what’s working well, but take what’s not working and strategize for improvement or move on from it.   
7. Develop an Action Plan

Take what you’ve learned and optimize your content strategy. This includes—

  • Updating or removing outdated content.
  • Creating new content to fill topical and strategic gaps.
  • Optimizing existing content to improve its performance.

Competitor Analysis

Analyzing competing content reveals content gaps to take advantage of, and ways of differentiating your content from the rest. It can also shed light on what formats and styles of content resonate with your target audience.

Here’s a 7-step process for analyzing competing content.

A 7-Step Competitive Analysis

content strategy
  1. Identify Your Competitors: Base your list on market share, industry influence, and online presence.
  2. Analyze Their Web Content: Include blog posts, landing pages, product pages, and other content types. Analyze style, tone and content structure.
  3. Review Their Social Media Marketing: Assess types of content shared, frequency of posting, and follower engagement.
  4. Study Their Email Marketing: Subscribe to competitor newsletters. Check subject lines, messaging, and calls-to-action.
  5. Review Their Search Rank: Use SEMrush or Ahrefs to analyze competitors’ Search Engine Results Page (SERP) performance. Note the keywords they target, and quality of their backlinks.
  6. Identify Strengths and Weaknesses: Decide what to emulate, and how you’ll differentiate yourself.
  7. Develop a Plan: Focus on addressing market gaps and connecting with your audience’s pain points.

Strategic SEO

content strategy

On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO, Technical SEO, Link-Building and Featured Snippets, they all matter. But for the content strategist, SEO will mainly involve strategy– which target keywords and secondary keywords to rank for, and making sure content is optimized for relevant terms.

Strategic SEO is too vast a topic to take on here, but there are a few things to bear in mind–

  • Keyword Research: Use Semrush or Ahrefs to find keywords with good search volume and moderate keyword difficulty.
  • Search Intent: What do users expect to find when they search your target keyword? Search intent is the backbone of relevant content, so make it the same for your SEO strategy.  
  • Optimize Content for SEO: Relevant terms should be logically worked into content to make it search-engine friendly. MarketMuse is a great tool for this.
  • Mind Your Keyword Density: Aim for around 1% keyword density, and avoid overuse of your target keyword.
  • Continuous Analysis: Monitor your rankings, analyze your traffic, and stay current with search engine algorithms.

Content Format(s)

content strategy

The content type you choose will be influenced by your audience, marketing goals, and message. These forms include–

  • Blog Posts: Though competitive, blogging is universally effective for establishing topical authority, thought leadership and driving organic traffic to your website.
  • Social Media Posts: Text, visuals, and other multimedia designed to engage followers and promote your brand.
  • Video: Product demos, tutorials or testimonials. Video educates, entertains, and engages.
  • Infographics: Super-effective at communicating complex ideas in a simple, engaging way.
  • Whitepapers and eBooks: Longform content often used to generate leads and establish thought leadership.
  • Webinars and Podcasts: Used to educate your audience, establish thought leadership, and engage followers.
  • Case Studies: Real-world stories of how a product or service creates solutions. Smart for building trust and establishing credibility.
  • User-generated Content: Audience-created content like reviews, testimonials, and social media. Excellent social proof that builds trust with your audience.

The ideal content mix is one that fits your audience, engages them, builds your brand, and drives results.

Content Standards & Style

content strategy

Even the most thorough, well-researched content strategy needs exceptional content to be successful. Strong, unique content not only validates the sweat you put into your strategy document, it also–

  • Establishes authority with Google search engines.
  • Builds trust with your audience.
  • Drives search engine traffic.
  • Captures social media shares and mentions.
  • Moves your audience to take action.

High-quality content is everything to a successful content marketing strategy. And though we don’t have space to get into the fine art of content writing here, let’s emphasize what matters.

Elements of Effective Content

There’s a lot that goes into quality content production, but lean into these elements, and you’ll be way ahead of most bloggers–

  • Relevance: Provide valuable information that addresses audience’s needs, interests, or pain points.
  • Originality: Offer a fresh perspective or new insights on a topic.
  • Readability: Use clear headings, subheadings, and short paragraphs. Avoid jargon and use simple language.
  • Engagement: Use images, videos, or interactive elements to make your content appealing and hold the reader’s attention.
  • Authority: Demonstrate expertise and credibility on the topic using data, research, external links and examples.

Style Guidelines

Your content style guide should be a separate document (if you don’t have one, here’s a great guide to building one). However, your content strategy should clearly emphasize the standards of excellence you adhere to, along with the style, tone, and voice guidelines you’ve identified in the style guide.

Content Calendar

content strategy

A content calendar outlines the content your business will create, distribute, and promote over a specified period. Templates make planning ahead easy, and ensures a consistent, high-quality content stream.

In addition, the content calendar accounts for important events, holidays, and other key dates, so content types and topics are published at optimal intervals to maintain audience interest.

Finally, because the content calendar is about planning ahead, you can create content in batches during business lulls.

Content Distribution

content strategy

The content distribution channels you use will vary based on your audience and financial resources, but all of them fall under one of three distinct distribution categories—owned distribution, earned distribution, and paid distribution.

Here’s a breakdown of the distribution network

Owned Distribution

Owned channels refer to content properties your company owns and controls. They include your website, blog, social media profiles, email newsletters, landing pages and any platform where you alone decide when and how content is published.  

Earned Distribution

Earned channels, also known as shared channels, refer to third-party promotion or sharing of your content.

These third-parties include public relations, social media shares and mentions, guest articles and roundups, and product reviews. Forums and communities like Reddit or Quora allow you to post free, but since the content is third party-owned, it falls under earned channels.

Paid Distribution

Paid channels refer to the distribution of your content on specific channels for which your company pays. This includes pay-per-click (PPC), sponsored content, paid social advertisements, and paid influencer content.

Content Promotion

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Digital PR

Digital PR is essential content promotion. It uses digital media channels like online publications and social media to promote and build relationships for your brand.

Digital PR is work, but it brings a big boost to brand exposure. And done well, it can even position you as an industry expert.

Digital PR is also effective for building backlinks to your website. Not only does it promote your blog, it boosts your domain authority, making your content more likely to rank in search results.

Digital PR is earned promotion, but it’s a very effective way to reach your target audience and drive traffic to your site.

content strategy

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing builds your brand in ways few other channels can.

Influencer marketing involves partnering with influential people in your industry to tap into their audience and gain exposure to a wider group of people interested in your content. This can increase your reach, credibility, and drive website traffic.  


Email marketing is a very effective and cost-efficient way to promote your content and engage audiences.

By building an email list and keeping them up to speed with periodic newsletters and promotions, you have a ready audience and a medium for mass sharing of your content. And promotion is made infinitely easier using content promotion kits (w/checklists), many of them free.

As with distribution channels, the more widely you deploy your promotional tactics, the wider your reach, and the higher you’ll drive your brand success.

Success Metrics

Why Measuring Matters

Believe it or not, many content marketers go soft on analytics, so let’s quickly cover why measuring your content marketing efforts is important–

  • Track Progress–Identify Areas for Improvement: Measuring success helps you see opportunities to fine-tune strategy and optimize your content.
  • Justify Your Investment: Content marketing is a big investment in time, resources, and money. Success data validates that investment.
  • Make Data-Driven Decisions: Data creates insights into audience behaviors, preferences, and needs, which informs topics you’ll cover, formats to use, and channels to prioritize.
  • Set and Reset Goals: Success measurements reflect on your goals, which can factor in future strategic planning.

Key Metrics To Track

content strategy
content marketing institute

A few thoughts on metrics, from the folks at Content Marketing Institute

There are just 3 things that matter when measuring content strategy success–

  1. Deciding what to track
  2. Tracking, measuring, and managing the data
  3. Finding actionable insights

Here are the metrics most commonly tracked, and tools that measure them–

Website Traffic

Site traffic is a great way to gauge content performance and pin down areas for improvement. Use Google Analytics to measure pageviews, bounce rate, and time on site.


Engagement metrics reveal how your audience is interacting with your content. Social media management tools like Hootsuite or Sprout Social track engagement by social media shares, comments, and likes.

Conversion Rate

Google Analytics, or marketing automation platforms like HubSpot, are great tools for measuring conversion rate (percentage of visitors who take a desired action like filling out a form or making a purchase).  

SEO Performance

 Measuring SEO performance is crucial to optimizing your content for better search ranking. Tools like Google Search Console or Ahrefs allow you to track metrics like organic search traffic, keyword rankings, and backlinks.

Email Metrics

If email marketing is part of your content strategy, email marketing platforms like Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor will help you track open, click-through and conversion rates.

Your objective? Identify the success measures most relevant for your strategy and use them to optimize your content.

Document Your Content Strategy

content strategy

The research is in, the audit and competitive analysis are completed. Let’s write your Content Strategy document.

Your Content Strategy Document in 12 Steps

1. Define Your Objectives and Target Audience

Know your brand. Know your target audience, their needs, challenges, and preferences. And most importantly, know what you want your content marketing to do.

Create greater brand awareness? Lead generation? Improved customer retention? Content Marketing is time and resource intensive, so it’s vitally important you’re clear on things from the start.

2. Develop Your Buyer Persona(s)

Know your ideal customer and build the buyer persona that represents your target audience.

3.  Map Out Your Customer Journey

Know the stages that are most important and how the buyer touchpoints at each of them.

4. Conduct a Content Audit

Take stock of the content you’ve already created to assess what’s working, what’s not, and what you’ve been missing.

5.  Run a Competitor Analysis

Identify gaps in your industry or niche. Find ways to stand out from the competition, and paths to becoming more competitive.

6.  Choose Content Forms and Distribution Channels

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Decide which content formats and channels for distribution-promotion are best suited to your audience and your brand objectives.

7.  Develop a Content Calendar

Create a calendar for brand presence and content consistency.

8.  Assign Roles and Responsibilities

Determine who will be responsible for creating, editing and publishing each piece of content.

9.  Define your metrics

Decide which metrics you’ll use to measure strategy success, and the frequency of each.

10. Create High-Quality Content

Publish original, engaging, and relevant content, type-matched to your target audience. Use keyword research and on-page SEO best practices to optimize your content for search engines.

11. Distribute and Promote Your Content

Distribute your content through suitable channels and promote it with digital PR, email marketing and influencer outreach.

12. Measure Success, Reset Strategy

content strategy

Track the success of your content marketing strategy and adjust your tactics accordingly.

Follow these steps and you’ll have a strategy document that guides your content creation now and into the future. Know your brand and unique value proposition, know your ideal customer, be consistent with clear goals and KPIs, and be ready to adjust your content strategy as needed.

Do this, and you’ll be the proud owner of a successful content marketing strategy.


There’s only one resource for this post, because if you read Content Rules once, and read it once more, you’ll have a true appreciation of content strategy. As practiced by one of the (coolest) pioneers of content marketing.

I also recommend subscribing to Ann’s newsletter, Total Annarchy

Content Strategy— Brand, Audience & Purpose

content strategy

There it is. Content strategy, in its many steps and stages.

Content strategy is knowing your brand, and your message. Who it’s intended for, and how you’ll reach them.

It’s about honesty, clarity, and consistency. It’s knowing why you’re doing the work.

So, go ahead. Lean into your brand message, get into your ideal customer, and get all the help you need to get your strategy down on paper.

Now you’re creating content! Keep it coming, and we’ll see you on Page 1.

Questions? Clarifications? Feel free to drop me a line. Check out our blog page for examples to model your own work on. You can shoot over to our portfolio page for inspiration too. And if you prefer to have an agency do it for you, read about our content writing and SEO services here.

In the meantime, Best of Luck. And Be Well.

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