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Content Strategy Template & How To Use It

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Content Strategy Template & How To Use It

Content is the backbone of marketing.

Whether it’s a blog post filled with keywords designed to help you climb search engine rankings, or a radio commercial intended to attract new leads, content is the touchpoint between your audience and your business.

To build your brand, establish trust, and ultimately generate conversions, you need high-quality collateral that accomplishes a specific goal.

But this is easier said than done, especially when you consider your overall branding and the need to keep consistency throughout all your marketing materials.

Maximizing your impact calls for a detailed blueprint of content that works toward achieving your short- and long-term goals.

In other words, you need a content strategy.

What Is A Content Strategy?

A content strategy is a tangible plan outlining how you will use content to achieve your business goals. It should include tactics to target your audience at every stage of the marketing funnel, from awareness to loyalty.

By ensuring you’re not just aimlessly creating content for its own sake, it lets you create more effective work that drives action.

For more information on how to analyze your existing content and build a strong content strategy, be sure to check out this content strategy webinar from Copypress.

After you’ve familiarized yourself with the elements of a successful content strategy, it’s time to get to work creating your own.

You could create one from scratch, but there’s no need to.

To save you time, we’ve created a downloadable template you can use. Available as both a spreadsheet and Word doc, it has everything you need to make your own unique content plan.

Download it now in your choice of format and let’s get to work filling it out.

How To Customize This Content Strategy

1. Define Your Core Strategy

Your marketing should tell a story about your brand.

Your content strategy is a roadmap of the plot. Before you dive into creating new marketing pieces, it’s important to define a few key features to ensure everyone, both internally and externally, has the same understanding of your brand.

Begin by listing your brand’s reputation and unique value propositions.

You should also research your competition and examine the type of content they’re using. If they’re having success with whitepapers, there’s a good chance that should be part of your strategy, too.

Once you have done all of this, you should describe the central themes your content will address. These could include:

  • Inspiration.
  • Tips, tricks, and how-tos.
  • Thought leadership.
  • Technology.

You’ll use this information to build the skeleton around which your strategy will take shape.

2. Identify Your Target Audience

Your content shouldn’t just promote your products and services – it should address a need in your audience. It should take their problems into account and explain why you offer the right solution.

But before you can do that, you need to know who you’re targeting. Customize your content strategy by adding information about your primary and secondary audiences.

You should include:

  • Demographics – Age range, job title, preferred platforms, etc.
  • Psychographics – Interests, hobbies, values, etc.
  • Challenges – Pain points, fears, and anything else you can help them with.

You may find it helpful to develop customer personas that describe archetypes for various segments of your target audience.

3. Outline Specific Objectives

The next step in customizing this content strategy template is defining explicit goals and how your content will help you realize them.

These can include both SMART goals and stretch goals – both of which should be as detailed as possible.

SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

These could include getting specific content featured in other publications, generating a certain number of leads within a set time, or producing a set number of new pieces of flagship content.

Stretch goals, on the other hand, are more ambitious. They are often quarterly or annual targets intended to push your team to achieve loftier goals.

In general, your SMART goals will contribute to your stretch goals.

For example, if your stretch goal is to increase web visitors by 150% in the next year, you would want to create a series of SMART goals to break it up into manageable tasks. You might create specific goals for identifying new keyword opportunities, updating existing pages, creating a certain amount of new content, and A/B testing social and ad copy, all using the SMART format.

Make sure to keep your marketing funnel in mind and set goals for each stage.

4. Identify Topics To Cover

Every piece of content you create and share should have value for your target audience. In this step, you should list everything you intend to cover.

Each piece should align with one of the themes you identified in step one.

This list of topics can be as high-level or as detailed as you like, just be aware that doing the work upfront can often save you on the back end.

5. Outline Your Content Mix

And just like no two businesses are alike, no two organizations will use the same content mix. Depending on your unique needs, you may employ formats like:

  • Blog posts.
  • Case studies.
  • Videos.
  • Podcasts.
  • Infographics.
  • Social media.
  • User-generated content (UGC).
  • Traditional media.
  • Direct mailers.

This is far from an exhaustive list of various types of content you can use to help you reach your marketing goals.

You may choose to use many different formats, or just a few. It’s up to you to determine what will work best for you and your needs.

6. Identify Distribution Channels

After you have decided which types of content you’ll be employing, it’s time to figure out where it will go.

Because the best content in the world won’t do you a bit of good if no one sees it, your content strategy will help you avoid this problem by defining which marketing channels you’ll be using – and which type of content goes where.

This helps target the right audience, and by finding the most important places in which your audience engages with your brand, you’ll be able to find new opportunities.

The content you release on each channel should align with one of the goals you listed in the previous section.

7. Determine Posting Cadence

To keep your brand top of mind and maximize your position in search engine results, you’ll want to regularly release new content.

Again, there’s no right answer to this.

Depending on your industry and the competition therein, you may find publishing one blog post per week is enough. On the other hand, you may find you get the best results by posting to social media three times per day.

Depending on your audience’s needs and desires, you may have one channel on which you post regularly, with another that is less frequent.

It’s important to walk the line between reminding customers you exist and annoying them by over-posting.

If you post too little your audience will forget about you. If you release content too frequently, you risk becoming an irritant, which will lead to unfollows on social media and unsubscribes on email lists.

8. Gather Feedback And Adjust As Needed

Everyone has blind spots and biases, which makes it incredibly important to get the opinions of others on your strategy.

Once you have completed filling out this template, send it to key stakeholders for feedback. If you work with a sales team, be sure to get their input.

Ask them if there are any key areas you missed or initiatives from other departments you can latch on to.

Even if you’re a one-person business, your content doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Ask the opinion of a trusted friend who knows your industry.

Obviously, you don’t want to share this too widely – this would allow your competition to undercut you – but it never hurts to have a second opinion.

9. Distribute And Measure Your Content

Okay, this step isn’t actually part of customizing your content strategy, but it’s the most important part of content marketing.

Once you have released your content across various channels, you can start looking into key performance indicators (KPIs) and different metrics to see how it’s performing.

There are four main types of content marketing metrics: consumption, sharing, leads, and sales.

Which metrics you use will depend on which channel a specific piece of content uses and what the call to action (CTA) was.

For example, the success of an outdoor display with a prominent phone number can be tracked using call tracking, whereas a display ad can be analyzed with clickthroughs.

Some of the most common KPIs used in content marketing include:

  • Organic traffic.
  • Return on ad spend (ROAS).
  • Qualified leads (QLs).
  • Cost per lead (CPL).
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA).
  • Social media return on investment (ROI).

Use the information you gather from these metrics to help you determine where your content strategy has been successful and where it has fallen short.

Wrapping Up

By now, you should have a good and coherent content strategy developed.

But there are a few more things to remember before you go on your way, namely:

Don’t Forget About Search Engine Optimization

Digital will most likely be a key part of most of your marketing initiatives, which means it’s important to keep SEO at the heart of your content plan.

Obviously, this will not apply to strictly offline content, but if any piece of content is going to appear on the internet, it should work with your SEO strategy.

Find content and keyword gaps and plan content based on them. Follow best practices in regard to linking, tags, and site structure.

Reuse Your Winners

If you have a piece of content that performed particularly well, you should get as much mileage out of it as possible.

Look for opportunities to change the format of a piece and republish it on another channel.

For example, you could add some graphics and release your most popular podcast on YouTube, or share your most-viewed blog post across your social platforms. This will help you amplify its reach.

Remember Your Content Strategy Is A Work In Progress

A content marketer’s work is never done, but that’s okay.

What you learn today will benefit you tomorrow.

Don’t be afraid to go off-script if the situation demands it.

With that said, you should stick to your content strategy as much as possible.

Using what you’ve created here will benefit you in the long run.

More resources:


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5 Questions Answered About The OpenAI Search Engine

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5 Questions Answered About The OpenAI Search Engine

It was reported that OpenAI is working on a search engine that would directly challenge Google. But details missing from the report raise questions about whether OpenAI is creating a standalone search engine or if there’s another reason for the announcement.

OpenAI Web Search Report

The report published on The Information relates that OpenAI is developing a Web Search product that will directly compete with Google. A key detail of the report is that it will be partly powered by Bing, Microsoft’s search engine. Apart from that there are no other details, including whether it will be a standalone search engine or be integrated within ChatGPT.

All reports note that it will be a direct challenge to Google so let’s start there.

1. Is OpenAI Mounting A Challenge To Google?

OpenAI is said to be using Bing search as part of the rumored search engine, a combination of a GPT-4 with Bing Search, plus something in the middle to coordinate between the two .

In that scenario, what OpenAI is not doing is developing its own search indexing technology, it’s using Bing.

What’s left then for OpenAI to do in order to create a search engine is to devise how the search interface interacts with GPT-4 and Bing.

And that’s a problem that Bing has already solved by using what it Microsoft calls an orchestration layer. Bing Chat uses retrieval-augmented generation (RAG) to improve answers by adding web search data to use as context for the answers that GPT-4 creates. For more information on how orchestration and RAG works watch the keynote at Microsoft Build 2023 event by Kevin Scott, Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft, at the 31:45 minute mark here).

If OpenAI is creating a challenge to Google Search, what exactly is left for OpenAI to do that Microsoft isn’t already doing with Bing Chat? Bing is an experienced and mature search technology, an expertise that OpenAI does not have.

Is OpenAI challenging Google? A more plausible answer is that Bing is challenging Google through OpenAI as a proxy.

2. Does OpenAI Have The Momentum To Challenge Google?

ChatGPT is the fastest growing app of all time, currently with about 180 million users, achieving in two months what took years for Facebook and Twitter.

Yet despite that head start Google’s lead is a steep hill for OpenAI to climb.  Consider that Google has approximately 3 to 4 billion users worldwide, absolutely dwarfing OpenAI’s 180 million.

Assuming that all 180 million OpenAI users performed an average of 4 searches per day, the daily number of searches could reach 720 million searches per day.

Statista estimates that there are 6.3 million searches on Google per minute which equals over 9 billion searches per day.

If OpenAI is to compete they’re going to have to offer a useful product with a compelling reason to use it. For example, Google and Apple have a captive audience on mobile device ecosystem that embeds them into the daily lives of their users, both at work and at home. It’s fairly apparent that it’s not enough to create a search engine to compete.

Realistically, how can OpenAI achieve that level of ubiquity and usefulness?

OpenAI is facing an uphill battle against not just Google but Microsoft and Apple, too. If we count Internet of Things apps and appliances then add Amazon to that list of competitors that already have a presence in billions of users daily lives.

OpenAI does not have the momentum to launch a search engine to compete against Google because it doesn’t have the ecosystem to support integration into users lives.

3. OpenAI Lacks Information Retrieval Expertise

Search is formally referred to as Information Retrieval (IR) in research papers and patents. No amount of searching in the Arxiv.org repository of research papers will surface papers authored by OpenAI researchers related to information retrieval. The same can be said for searching for information retrieval (IR) related patents. OpenAI’s list of research papers also lacks IR related studies.

It’s not that OpenAI is being secretive. OpenAI has a long history of publishing research papers about the technologies they’re developing. The research into IR does not exist. So if OpenAI is indeed planning on launching a challenge to Google, where is the smoke from that fire?

It’s a fair guess that search is not something OpenAI is developing right now. There are no signs that it is even flirting with building a search engine, there’s nothing there.

4. Is The OpenAI Search Engine A Microsoft Project?

There is substantial evidence that Microsoft is furiously researching how to use LLMs as a part of a search engine.

All of the following research papers are classified as belonging to the fields of Information Retrieval (aka search), Artificial Intelligence, and Natural Language Computing.

Here are few research papers just from 2024:

Enhancing human annotation: Leveraging large language models and efficient batch processing
This is about using AI for classifying search queries.

Structured Entity Extraction Using Large Language Models
This research paper discovers a way to extracting structured information from unstructured text (like webpages). It’s like turning a webpage (unstructured data) into a machine understandable format (structured data).

Improving Text Embeddings with Large Language Models (PDF version here)
This research paper discusses a way to get high-quality text embeddings that can be used for information retrieval (IR). Text embeddings is a reference to creating a representation of text in a way that can be used by algorithms to understand the semantic meanings and relationships between the words.

The above research paper explains the use:

“Text embeddings are vector representations of natural language that encode its semantic information. They are widely used in various natural language processing (NLP) tasks, such as information retrieval (IR), question answering…etc. In the field of IR, the first-stage retrieval often relies on text embeddings to efficiently recall a small set of candidate documents from a large-scale corpus using approximate nearest neighbor search techniques.”

There’s more research by Microsoft that relates to search, but these are the ones that are specifically related to search together with large language models (like GPT-4.5).

Following the trail of breadcrumbs leads directly to Microsoft as the technology powering any search engine that OpenAI is supposed to be planning… if that rumor is true.

5. Is Rumor Meant To Steal Spotlight From Gemini?

The rumor that OpenAI is launching a competing search engine was published on February 14th. The next day on February 15th Google announced the launch of Gemini 1.5, after announcing Gemini Advanced on February 8th.

Is it a coincidence that OpenAI’s announcement completely overshadowed the Gemini announcement the next day? The timing is incredible.

At this point the OpenAI search engine is just a rumor.

Featured Image by Shutterstock/rafapress

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Warning: Unpopular SEO writing opinion

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Warning: Unpopular SEO writing opinion

Unpopular opinion alert: Adding new blog posts may not help your site.

(No matter what that content marketing company told you.) 🙄

So many of my new clients — especially subject matter experts — don’t need new content (immediately).

They HAVE content — scads of it scattered across various platforms.

(Maybe that sounds familiar.)

What they DO need is someone to review their content and customer persona, pinpoint opportunities, and develop a baby-step approach to leveraging those older content assets.

Because there are always opportunities. 🔥

Before writing another word, ask…

  • Are you repurposing the content you have? Or are you writing it once and forgetting about it (which is so common)?
  • Is your customer/reader persona still accurate, or has your target audience changed post-COVID?
  • Do your sales pages showcase your benefits and speak to your customers’ pain points? Or are they flat and dull?
  • Does your content sound like YOU with a point of view? Or is there a massive disconnect between how you talk to clients and the words you use on your site?
  • When did you last take a peek at your old sales emails and email welcome sequences? Could updating those assets make you more money?
  • Isn’t it time to save time (and budget) and leverage your existing content?

If you need help untangling your content and messaging, let me know. I love creating content order out of chaos.

After all…

 

Warning Unpopular SEO writing opinion

 

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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Google Bans Impersonation In Ads

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Google Bans Impersonation In Ads

Google bans impersonation and false affiliation in ads, enforcing policy changes in March.

  • Google bans impersonation and false affiliation in ads.
  • Policy enforcement starts in March.
  • Violators will be banned from Google Ads.

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