48 ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE DEVELOPING A CONTENT STRATEGY
Here are 48 essential questions you should ask before your content strategy planning takes flight.
“The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions.”
When I was young, I was told there were no stupid questions.
Till now, I still hold on to this belief.
But time unfolds the underlying truth about this belief: there are no stupid questions, only relevant and irrelevant questions.
If you know what is content marketing, you’d know it’s concomitant to content strategy. Both of them are basically Bonnie & Clyde in digital marketing.
We’ve also discussed why content strategy is critical for a business, but the groundwork of structuring a content strategy deserves a post of its own.
What do we mean by groundwork? If you answer “research”, you’re half right.
Profuse in-depth research, accompanied by drudgeries, are sine qua non to the formation of any strategy.
But before research, we ask questions. Relevant questions.
Every business is different. Having well-defined answers to relevant questions is the lifeblood to develop your content strategy framework.
Let’s get your feet wet with some of these necessary questions.
STEP 1: KNOWING YOUR BRAND (8 Questions)
Surely any business owner will know their business in and out.
But documented ascertaining answers to the following questions is imperative to building a defined and measurable content strategy.
How is the brand currently perceived?
What is and is not going well with the brand’s current image?
What are its unique selling propositions?
What are the goals of the brand?
Is the brand operating purely online or does it have physical locations?
How does its offline/online market affects content opportunities and execution?
Who has the brand identified as competitors?
What are your competitors doing well and not?
Don’t fall into a mental rut — listen to what your team (marketers, customer service officers, salesperson, etc.) have to say about the brand and business.
STEP 2: AUDIT YOUR CURRENT CONTENT (17 Questions)
If you already have published content, audit them. Review your efforts with a critical eye and be mindful about how you’ve been capitalizing your content.
Imagine this: you’ve completed the article or blog post and you hit the publish button. Do you afterwards pray that it’ll hit 500 views or are you pretty confident it’ll amass 500 shares via social channels the next morning?
Carefully curated content should not wind you up in a publish-and-pray kind of situation.
You can’t guarantee a 100% ROI, but certainly you won’t want you and/or your team efforts to go down the drain right?
Study your contents, know their performance and assess which are the changes you need to make.
You don’t get breakthrough results if you keep using the same template for years, especially when you’re not getting the ROI you want. This is the time when you can evaluate if there are any areas and gaps for improvements and opportunities.
Have your contents been properly utilized?
Have they been fittingly repurposed?
Are these contents agile and repeatable?
Can they be used to generate more fresh contents?
Are all the content accessible and on-brand?
Are there topics that should be covered and aren’t?
If you’re a greenhorn to content marketing, skip this step for now but keep it in a safe spot. You’ll be needing it for your next round of content strategy assessment or when you’re measuring your content success metrics.
Knowing how your content are performing gives you a heads up on whether you’re communicating well with your target audiences and also emerges trend that you can utilize in future.
Are all content being distributed or promoted the right way?
Are you receiving the responses that you want for your content?
Do you get the social shares that you’ve expected?
Do you generate the amount of leads you’ve set for the campaign?
If it’s content that’s meant to convert, is it converting?
What gets the most (and least) traffic?
Examining your competitors’ content strategy bestow you with more opportunities to know the gaps in between and lets you create contents more powerful than your competitors’. Aside from that, it helps you discover the strengths and weaknesses of your content strategy too.
What content are your competitors producing that are getting good results?
What are your competitors doing that you’re not?
What platforms are they using to deliver their content?
How often do they publish their content?
What is the percentage of content they repurpose?
STEP 3: IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET AUDIENCES (13 Questions)
After drilling yourself with the abovementioned questions, it’s time for the grunt work: building your buyer personas.
It takes two to tango. You need to know your target audience like a friend before you can start to build rapport with them.
The right questions, including their demographics, their lifestyles, opinions, values etc. invite conversation between your business and target audiences that desperately needs to happen.
After knowing who these people are, try to trudge along their neural path based on their demographics. You’d be more likely to mould a far more relevant and valuable content strategy that they’ll want to read and convert on if you’re more familiar with their thought process.
The key to developing buyer personas is including your entire team. Salespersons meet customers all the time; ask them what are the common challenges that customers face. Customer service officers should be pretty clear of what after-sales service customers require the most.
If you have an existing pool of customers, go ahead and ask them! Surveys, questionnaires, or just a casual chit-chat with them will do more help than you know.
Who are your target audiences?
If you’ve current content efforts, are your audiences responding well to them?
What are their ages?
What is their occupation?
What is their job title?
What are their interest?
What are the topics that they are interested in?
Can their interest be implemented into your content efforts?
Which social channels do they go to for such topics?
What challenges are they presently facing that you can help with?
What concerns do they have that you can answer?
What motivates them in making purchases?
What discourages them from making purchases?
If you have had current content that you’ve published, you might already have a target persona. Depending on your content or on your business, your buyer personas might have changed. Pro tip: talking to your current customer base alerts you on whether you should be revising your audience parameters.
STEP 4: THE FINAL QUESTIONS (10 Questions)
Finally, the few last questions. This is where your content strategy ideation framework comes alive.
Are the contents meant to help them decide to buy? Or bring awareness to the problem? Or give them an alternative to a choice that is already out in the market?
What are the respective percentage of contents with different purposes?
Planning your content topics hinged on your buyer personas actions’ or trail of thoughts allows you to a far more accurately target content strategy.
What format do your audiences prefer? Ebooks, blogs, infographics or videos?
There are a variety of options out there for content you can create. Most importantly, it has to be pertaining to the preferences of your audiences. Going through your current efforts and checking for audiences’ actions (downloads, opening of emails, watched, shared etc.) should let you in on the information you need to know.
What keywords do your target audiences search for?
What questions are they asking?
Tools like Google Keyword Planner finds k
Do your target audiences frequent Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram or Linkedin?
Which of the few social channels are you planning to engage with your consumers?
What kind of content format will they be more interested in when they are on their usual social media platforms?
How often will you publish the contents?
eywords and long-tail keywords which helps you plan your content topics.
How often will you create and publish these contents?
Here’s where your buyer personas comes into great use — knowing where they hang out at determines your content promotion behavior.
After documenting (we hoped you did!) the above questions, the ball is in your court.
Whether you’re have an existing content strategy or not, it never hurts to revisit your content strategy plan once in awhile. Layer in those answers to make adjustments. If you have more time and resources, you can factor in a lot more, like research, stakeholder interviews etc.
Ultimately, you don’t want to be calcified in characterless methods that brings no results, do you? Look at things from a fresh perspectives, see new content opportunities and shake up your thinking!
When you ask the right questions, ideas diversify. And that holds great significance for your content strategy. Sometimes your content strategy might seem like a method to your madness, but if you’ve built your content strategy rooted from the above 48 questions, you probably got it.