[Step-By-Step] Optimize your 2021 content strategy

A simple, 5-step process to solve challenges and obstacles in your 2021 content strategy

You already have a content strategy in place. Whether fully documented or executed on a more ad-hoc basis, your brand already produces and distributes content.

It is present on social networks and has built an audience over time.

(If your brand does not produce content or is not present on social networks, download our content strategy workbook to build a well-defined framework on how your brand can stand out in the marketplace by leveraging content marketing).

However, do you feel that there are different elements of this strategy that could be improved?

Many of the clients we work with already had a working process, an approach in place in terms of strategy, production and distribution of content when they called us to optimize their content strategy.

The key is to define which improvement and optimization projects should be implemented.

In his book Principles, Ray Dalio presents his 5-step process to achieve the desired results in every aspect of life, in a philosophy of continuous improvement. It may sound a little esoteric to say it like that, but it is such a simple and powerful method that it can be applied to all aspects of our daily lives, including your content strategy.

Basically, the process can be summarized into 5 key steps:

  1. Have clear objectives
  2. Identify problems or obstacles
  3. Diagnose problems and their root causes
  4. Build a plan
  5. Execute the plan

This is exactly the right sequence of thinking to follow when you want to improve and optimize your content strategy.

 

 

You can download our 2021 content strategy optimization template to help you.

Download your Excel template on content strategy optimization

 

 

1. Have clear objectives for 2021

The first step in any plan is to know the destination, the objective. Be able to know why we do what we do.

Does your content strategy have clear objectives?

The first step to improve it is to make an inventory and list of these objectives. What are they? Are they measurable and quantifiable? Are they S.M.A.R.T.?

The first chapter of our content strategy workbook is entirely dedicated to developing objectives and performance indicators for your content strategy.

If your current strategy does not have well-defined objectives, now is the time to do so. These are the objectives that will allow you to know if your actions and initiatives really serve your brand.

If you are already working with objectives and performance indicators, list them and ask yourself the question, for each one, whether they are still relevant, whether they should be eliminated, or whether they should be replaced by a new objective.

Your business, your brand is constantly evolving, and so should your objectives.

 

2. Identify problems or obstacles in your current strategy

At this stage, the aim is to build a list of problems and barriers in your content strategy.

With an up-to-date list of objectives, you are thus able to evaluate what prevents you from achieving them and to have a 100% effective content strategy.

You can build your list in 4 steps:

  1. First, list all the content initiatives you do each week, each month, etc. You should be able to associate each initiative with one of your objectives. If not, mark this initiative as problematic and add it to the list of problems and barriers. It does not serve your strategy, because it does not bring anything to the destination you want to reach.
  2. Next, review your list of objectives and evaluate those for which you do not have any specific initiatives that contribute to the achievement of this objective. Again, record these situations (if you have any) in the list of problems and obstacles.
  3. Then, for each objective with associated initiatives, assess whether you believe it is possible to achieve the objective using the tactics listed, if not, add this objective to the list of problems and obstacles, noting that the efforts made do not seem sufficient.
  4. Finally, note in your list any issues you have identified in the current execution of your content strategy. These can be at the organizational level (lack of resources for example), at the process level (too long delays, approval complexity, quality issues, etc.) or even at the creative level (lack of ideas, for example).

At the end of these 4 steps of analysis, you will find yourself with a list of problems, obstacles to solve, entirely based on your core objectives.

 

3. Diagnose problems and their root causes

With a list of problems, it can often be very tempting to find an immediate solution and start executing as quickly as possible.

However, it is necessary to take a short pause and for each problem or brake identified in the previous step, analyze its cause, its root, its actual source.

One problem can often hide another and solving an issue too quickly could in fact only be a band-aid to a deeper problem.

So at this stage, for each item on your list, note the real cause of the issue, the problem, the obstacle.

In many cases, this will be quite obvious, but in some others, you may find that the root cause of many problems is the same cause to be addressed.

 

4. Building a plan for 2021

Now that you know each issue in your content strategy, it is possible to create a plan to address it.

Will you have to publish on new channels in order to reach new audiences?

Will you have to work on new content in order to support your consumers in a stage of the user journey that was not considered by your content strategy until now?

Will you incorporate a new performance indicator into your monthly reports to better measure the impact of content initiatives that have a significant impact on the company’s five-year plan?

You should be able to have a fairly clear idea of what needs to be done to improve and optimize your content strategy. It is time to define what will be different in the coming weeks and months in your daily life.

 

5. Execute the plan

In some cases, your plan will be quite large and will include many projects to be implemented.

Not everything can be done on Day 1, it’s very often almost too obvious.

It is time to set priorities and place each element of the plan in a time frame.

We have worked with clients where there were so many improvements to be made that it could have been scary and seemed like an insurmountable mountain of tasks to implement. But by prioritizing and accepting that not everything will be resolved by the end of next quarter, everything seems feasible.

 

Conclusion

This continuous improvement loop, you should always keep it close to you and go through its steps again and again on a regular basis. The more often you use it, the less steps you need to take to improve and optimize your content strategy.

Download our Excel template on optimizing your content strategy today:

 

Download your Excel template on content strategy optimization

 

And if you want to go even further or need inspiration, download our content strategy workbook!

Happy optimization!

 

When and how to convert your content into an eBook

Publishing content on your blog or content hub is a good thing. But what about leveraging even more value and revenue from it?

You’ve seen it, websites and publishers that invite you to leave your email address to download a whitepaper or case study in PDF.

We very often see this in the B2B space.

Do you use this technique to gather data on your leads and prospects? Have you even ever thought about selling your eBook on Amazon?

Ryan Biddulph, from Blogging Tips, has published an interesting article on the subject and I wanted to dive a little deeper on the actual value creation this can have.

There are two avenues that we need to cover.

  1. Publishing a downloadable PDF on your website, gated by a form asking for some information.
  2. Publishing your eBook on Amazon or other self-publishing platform.

In the first case, publishing a downloadable version of your content on your website is an extremely effective way to build your audience, gather data and email addresses (which, I keep repeating, is THE most valuable asset you can have on a person, surely beats a Facebook follower!).

By offering premium content in exchange of some information, you are qualifying potential clients, customers or ambassadors, depending on your industry.

You can even convert existing content and package it as a downloadable PDF, some people prefer printing a document and reading it offline.

You can also offer this content as an upgrade to existing content, with a checklist or Excel template.

But offering longer-form content as a printable asset is a very efficient way to attract and retain an audience.

If you want to potentially generate actual revenue from this downloadable content, you can even go with option 2 above and sell it on Amazon.

There are some guidelines you need to respect, but a 5,000- to 10,000-word document means a 30 to 45 minutes read, which is a great length for any person wanting to dive deeper into a niche subject.

There are many ways to build a loyal audience, and creating premium eBook content is a great way to do so.

Interesting in creating a premium eBook for your brand let us know and schedule a consultation with our experts at Toast today.

Content pruning: how to delete your old content without fear

Help search engines make sense of what you’re all about and direct people to the right place.

When someone does a Google search in your industry, your site might well be considered. At that point, the algorithm needs to decide which page to include in the results.

This means that if you have 7 articles spread over the past 5 years that talk about the exact same widget or subject matter, which should Google show in its results?

You might end up lower in the results because of that.

And what if, in your content, write not only about interior design, but also about mortgages and home maintenance, is your site really the best source of information on the latest trends in bathroom design?

This is where content pruning comes in.

“Content pruning is the process of running a content audit and removing, updating, consolidating, and/or redirecting the low-value pages on your site.” (source: Hubspot)

This should be regular hygiene that is included in your content program. Making sure you have the best content possible available and making sure you are making it very clear what you are to the algorithms that now populate our world.

Aja Frost, from Hubspot, wrote a great and extensive guide on how to go about going all Marie Kondo on your website.

She explains which tools you can use to find which content assets are not generating real value and could be deleted or combined with other content to form a longer-form piece (for example).

The process also allows you to see which pages do generate traffic but might be dated (thus might not be bringing the most value it could to your audience). This is where you might go in and update the content with a couple additional paragraphs or updating its vocabulary or any other element that will bring up to today’s standards.

The goal behind this is to make sure your content is not only optimized on a per-asset basis, but also as a whole so that Google and others can really have a clear view on when and where to send visitors.

So, when is your next content pruning initiative planned for? Let us know and schedule a consultation with our experts at Toast today.