A step-by-step outline of content strategy development

I wanted to show my work and demonstrate the thought process that goes into content strategy. Here is simple content strategy “story” of one project I’m working on right now.

This project is ultimately a list-building whitepaper project. The client wants to build their list of newsletter subscribers and they intend to do that by asking site visitors to leave their email address in exchange for a whitepaper (which automatically subscribes them to the newsletter). So, we start by charting out a really basic project outline from start to finish.

We start by deciding on the lead generation method, which is Google AdWords. The AdWords are actually written and ready to go, created for the client by another vendor…

Pretty simple and straightforward so far. There might be other traffic generating opportunities in the future but AdWords is a nice, measurable, highly-controllable tools.

By clicking the Google AdWords, the visitors will get to a website. It’s here that we reach our first “unknown”. The client already had web copy written but isn’t sure which site to post the content at. We could do a A/B split test but they aren’t decided yet and are considering one of two domains as options. One of their domains is brand new and would be dedicated to this project; the other domain has pre-existing content and this would be added as a new page to that site…

The plan here is for a long-form sales copy with a clear call to action at the end. The call to action would be something along the lines of “download your whitepaper here” with a place to insert their email address.

Next, we talk about what action they want their site visitors to take. No matter which of the 2 domain options they want their site to eventually reside at, the audience will ultimately be prompted to give their email address in exchange for a whitepaper…

The whitepaper would be emailed to them in a PDF file or text file and although it would be positioned as a whitepaper, the reality is that it is the first in a series of newsletters. You’ll note the text to the right of the whitepaper “box” that asks if the whitepaper should be accessible as a registered or unregistered asset. We’ve just decided to make it registered but may measure response and consider making it unregistered. By making it registered, we may reduce the number of people who are willing to give up their email to read it; by making it unregistered, we can increase the number of readers but reduce the number of people who will subscribe the newsletter after reading the whitepaper. It’s not an easy choice.

By providing their email for the opportunity to download the whitepaper, the audience is automatically subscribed to the newsletter, which has already been written…

In this case, newsletters would be spaced 2 weeks apart and would provide content that supports the content found in the whitepaper.

And it’s here that another big question has been raised: What’s next? The client initially wanted to send out a newsletter and assumed that was the last step. I disagreed and recommended a clearer “back-end” sales strategy. What products or services do they plan to sell? What action do they want their subscribers to take? And so we end up with…

This orange box is another “placeholder” to highlight a critical decision that must be made before we can move forward. Just having a growing list of subscribers isn’t good enough. You need to have a plan after. It might be that you want to present products and services to them or you want to increase web traffic or you want to increase calls to your office or you want them to click through to special offers from advertisers that you periodically send out.

Whatever is decided, this can inspire the newsletters to be revised to more appropriately present whatever the monetization action needs to be.

From here we have a very strong direction to bring the project to a successful completion. We know exactly what decisions still need to be made, and we see the full process so we can make sure that all the content lines up exactly the way it is supposed to, to compel people to go from one step to the next.

Published by Aaron Hoos

Aaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He is the author of The Sales Funnel Bible and other books.

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