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9 Best Practices for Successful Content Strategists

This article originally appeared on MarketingProfs and is republished here with permission.

Good content strategists know how to create content that converts. Great content strategists push themselves beyond individual content pieces to create a strategy that keeps the user at the forefront of every decision and interaction. If you aspire to be a successful content strategist, here are nine things you need to learn.

1. User Experience Is An Important Part of Your Job

Yes, there are professionals who are paid solely to think about the user experience and how it can be made as seamless as possible. But that doesn’t mean you can sit back and forget about it. In fact, you need to think about how the user will experience, consume, and act on each content piece before you publish it.

The end user should be a central consideration of your content strategy. If your content isn’t helpful for the user, it isn’t helpful for your site, either.

2. You Are Not Your Target Audience

As a content strategist, you need to understand that you are not creating content for yourself—and most likely not for people like you, either. Great content strategists should repeat the following phrases often:

  • “I am not a typical Internet user.”
  • “My expectations of the content I consume are different from those of others.”
  • “My intent when consuming this content is not the same as a user’s.”

Instead of acting on how you think a piece of content should be, always keep in mind the user’s needs and how they differ from your own.

3. You Must Create Content for Audience Intent

The importance of creating content for user intent should be obvious, but it actually happens less than you might think. Understanding user intent goes beyond simply knowing who your target audience is. You must know where your users are in the marketing funnel as well. If your users aren’t ready to buy a product, don’t shove a sales piece down their throat.

For example, Reviews.org designs content to audience intent better than most sites that aim to educate the consumer. With any given search, readers are shown content that matches their intent, whether that is informational, investigative, or transactional. By doing this, Reviews.org can target users who may be in different stages of the purchase funnel, all while continuing to gain readers trust.

To determine intent, use your audience personas to figure out their challenges and goals, then create content around that intent.

4. A Good CMS Has a Content Strategist’s Mind behind It

Content management systems (CMS) were created for those who produce and manage content. Successful content strategists work collaboratively with those in charge of creating the CMS to ensure it as effective as possible for managing their content.

Successful content strategists work collaboratively with those in charge of creating the CMS to ensure it as effective as possible for managing their content

Developers are vital to the creation of a CMS; unless they are responsible for managing the content on a site, however, they may miss crucial elements for the actual users of the system. Our job as content strategists is to work closely with developers to ensure the CMS meets development, production, and execution needs.

If you are using an open source CMS such as WordPress or Drupal, challenge your developers to build plug-ins that can enhance the content production process. In the long run, such collaboration will make your site more efficient and successful.

5. It Takes Only One Great Piece of Content

Content quality versus quantity is a common debate among content marketers. Although finding a healthy balance between the two is crucial, it’s also important to realize that sometimes just one piece of content can make all the difference.

Consider SafeWise’s Safest Cities in America, which analyzed FBI crime stats to highlight the cities across the country deemed the safest. Within a few days, the study was featured on CNBC, Fox, and NBC New York. Now, the study has been viewed over 250,000 times—making it one of the site’s most successful pieces of outreach content.

The company took advantage of keyword volume and subject-matter relevance to create a kick-ass piece of content that uses both creativity and SEO.

6. You and Your SEO Specialist Are a Dynamic Duo

Throw the egos out the window because once a content strategist and an SEO specialist find the right balance, magic is bound to happen. Content should not be created to simply hit SEO metrics, but it should also not be created just for the sake of quantity. Once content strategy and SEO are on the same page, a whole new world opens up.

Throw the egos out the window because once a content strategist and an SEO specialist find the right balance, magic is bound to happen

Just ask Cory Pease, who credits focused collaboration between his SEO specialist and content strategist with HighSpeedInternet.com’s 2,800% blog growth in 2018. “By working closely together to identify and prioritize opportunities, we’ve seen amazing results year over year,” said Pease.

Content is created to solve a problem for users, in turn answering an industry need—and making it more likely to be shared. The result: great content with ROI tied to it.

7. Revenue Isn’t the Only Form of ROI

If a content piece that you created results in $10K in revenue, you deserve a round of applause. However, that doesn’t mean revenue is the only return you should measure or celebrate. Knowing what you hope to accomplish with each piece is key to helping you determine how and what you should measure. Content pieces may be created for a variety of ROI metrics:

  • Brand awareness
  • Email sign-ups
  • Social presence
  • Brand-advocate input
  • Website exposure

Being able to create pieces that focus on different types of ROI can help differentiate you from your competitors because, believe it or not, users do get sick of sales-centric content when that is all they are offered.

8. You Can’t Be Afraid to Stand Up to Stakeholders

Telling senior-level executives that money isn’t everything is easier said than done. Having a website that generates revenue is certainly the goal, but to get to that point, you have to have the guts to convince stakeholders that other ROI measures are also important.

To show how valuable other metrics can be, learn to speak in terms your stakeholders use and understand. Remember that content development is usually slow to achieve success. If you can prove that an investment in SEO, brand awareness, and social campaigns will lead to monetary returns in the long run, you will get more buy-in and better results.

9. For Best Results, Wash, Rinse, and Repeat

What makes content strategy so amazing is the ability to play with new ideas, without huge revenue losses, until you hit on the one thing that works well. It may take some time to find something that works, but when you find that thing, stick with it. There is no sense in reinventing the wheel each time. Instead, try tweaking your approach a little bit each time to continue improving your process and your results.

The role of content strategist will differ from company to company, but keeping these nine best practices in mind will help you better adapt to and thrive in all types of situations—and create a more intelligent customer experience for your users.

Micah Pratt

Micah Pratt spends her days developing and executing on strategy for new sites for Consumer Brands as a marketing manager. When she isn’t obsessing over SEO, content strategy, or financials, you can find her in her tiny home with her mildly needy cat Nora.

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