4 secrets of a successful digital content strategy

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Digital marketers aim to discover what's captivating about good content, then bottle it up for a wash, rinse, repeat. I'm here to let you in on a little secret: The magic isn't in the content itself. It's in the content strategy.

Behind every purposeful turn of phrase, hilarious video, or tear-jerking slideshow, is a great content strategy, based on a set of core principles that drive decisions from content medium to priority and placement. This is even truer in the digital space, where attention spans wane and motivations run amok.

4 secrets of a successful digital content strategy

Truth is, there are no hard and fast rules to what makes content great, but everyone in your organization who touches content, even tangentially, should be thinking like a content strategist. Here I've laid out a series of principles, which, when applied throughout your organization, will drive content and results in tandem. Rely on these principles to drive your web content, as well as the sites and social spaces it lives in, and you will reap the rewards. Take advantage of the quick application tips to get a strategic approach to content started in your organization right away.

Principle No. 1: Everything is content

This is the most challenging shift from traditional to digital marketing: Every piece of your production is content, from the posts on your blog to the tweets that promote them, to the steps in a shopping cart and call-to-action buttons. When you start treating every element of a digital experience as though it carries as much weight as the words on the page, you'll be a leg up from most marketers. Good content strategy must be brought to life in good information architecture, user experience, design and optimization -- before it even matters if the writing is good.

When it comes to what we typically think of content -- words and pictures on a page -- a great content strategy helps define what media are the best to drive audience response. For example, on Facebook, posts with photos generate over 53 percent more "likes" than text-only updates. According to a recent Pew study, 41 percent of adult internet users curate video and photo content. Combining the right media and the right placement will improve your content.

Specifics to consider: 

  • Champion the "everything is content" philosophy.
  • Socialize the stats above to set the stage for your internal stakeholders. Get everyone within your company to understand the basics of content strategy and the role they play. Simply hearing the words will help drive the concept internally.
  • Start your next website project by identifying all the aspects of each page and how it qualifies as content.