What it is
Delivering a consistently high-quality service to your users through the content they consume is all down to your content strategy.
Content strategies are different from marketing or communications strategies. Communication strategies promote your organisation’s messages across many channels, and marketing strategies focus on using behavioural insights to effectively sell products or services.
But content strategies have a much broader scope. They guide how you plan, create and maintain all content created by your organisation.
Why it’s important
A good content strategy will provide better outcomes for users by:
- providing the right information at the right time
- creating services that are inclusive and accessible
- making sure information is consistent, accurate and trustworthy
Having a strategy means everyone’s clear about their roles and responsibilities, and how they fit into the wider content production and management process.
Your users will find what they want quickly because content will be up-to-date and tailored to their needs. It also means you know what you’re producing, how, why and where (so your content is presented in the most effective format and channel).
Importantly, you’ll meet legal requirements and avoid publishing unnecessary content or creating duplication.
If your content strategy is implemented successfully, you’ll be able to show cost-savings through efficient content management and publishing practices.
How you do it
What your strategy looks like will depend on the scale or size of your project or the problem you’re trying to solve.
Generally though, you should cover:
Have a clear idea of what your organisation or service is trying to achieve, and show how good content practices can help create the best possible user experiences.
Ways of working
It’s just as important to describe how you’ll deliver the work, so include delivery principles that will help teams work together.
Consider all the people and processes that have an impact on your content through all stages of its life - from planning to archiving.
Think about what your content needs to do and how your information architecture will support this. Mapping your content onto the different parts of your organisation may not necessarily be the best way. Users may not be familiar with how your organisation’s set up, or it may not reflect their thought processes about what they’re trying to do.
Outline the workflow you expect those responsible for content to follow to make sure decisions are based on evidence. Be specific about:
- who is responsible for certain tasks
- the processes for planning, creating, reviewing and archiving content
- which systems and tools should be used
You should agree on a governance structure which clearly states:
- how the main decisions about content are made
- who makes certain types of decision, such as factual accuracy, style or sign-off
- how changes will be communicated
- any standards you are working to and where they can find the guidance
It’s important that everyone understands the impact of your strategy on their work. Stakeholder mapping is a good way to work out who your strategy affects, what influence these people have and their level of involvement.
Leading workshops will help explain what you’re asking people to do and the benefits of having a strategy.
A content strategy doesn’t need to be complicated and should be continually reviewed and updated. Regular demonstrations of how you are implementing your strategy will help show progress and highlight good work.
- The content strategist’s reading list