How to Ensure Your Content Strategy is Effective
Your content strategy is a living document that should be adjusted and optimized on a regular basis. Creating a well-thought-out content strategy, tracking meaningful KPIs, and analyzing how it’s performing can help your organization optimize your website. Let’s break down how measurement planning and an agile approach to managing and assessing your content allows you to optimize and track the effectiveness of your content strategy.
Why you need a measurement plan
As you created your content strategy—defining the purpose of each page, bringing together your audience needs and organization’s goals—you outlined the metrics you need to track and analyze to determine whether or not your content marketing efforts are yielding consistent results. Keeping track of those metrics, and making sure they are meaningful, can be difficult. This is where a measurement plan is useful. A measurement plan allows you to organize your metrics, set targets and goals, create processes to collect them, assign accountability to different individuals or teams, and create a schedule and expectations for analyzing and adjusting what you’re measuring. Your measurement plan provides the structure for how you will implement strategies and measure results.
Creating and implementing a measurement plan
There are many ways you can collect data and use third party tools to report on and adjust your content strategy. What you measure, how you measure it, and how you will implement it is unique to your organization and your goals. However, there are key guidelines and components of a measurement plan that can help you establish a useful plan for your organization. Whether you’re just getting started with your content strategy or are looking to improve it, you can benefit from a measurement plan.
Set clear goals, tactics, and KPIs
The goals and metrics outlined in your content strategy should be reflected in your measurement plan. Then go one step further and really parse out the different tactics you will use to reach those goals and assign the KPIs that will most effectively convey whether or not those tactics are working. Your goals, tactics, and KPIs should create a clear vision for how you will prove the value of your content and show how the content will further your organization’s overall mission. If you don’t track these, then you won’t know the effectiveness of your content.
Deciding how often to pull data
An important part of optimizing your data collection is deciding the frequency of your data collection so that you can identify trends, patterns, and issues that impact whether you will achieve your goals and targets.
Handling dynamic targets
Not all KPI’s will follow the same data collection timeline. Some KPIs will have weekly, monthly, or yearly targets. Your measurement plan can help you organize this information and create different processes to collect them—especially because your targets will fluctuate based on time of year, holidays, campaigns, and current events. The structure of and processes for reporting on targets will remain consistent, even as you adjust for the information coming in.
Make your content strategy agile
As you implement your measurement plan and content strategy, you’ll start to see what’s working and what isn’t. It may be a tactic not getting the results you want, a KPI that you realize isn’t the best choice, or a piece of content or page that is underperforming compared to your others. You should have a process for updating your content and measurement plan to counteract these elements that may negatively affect your ability to reach your goals and targets.
You want to be as agile as possible and remain able to act quickly to correct, change, or improve what you have. A flexible, agile approach helps you adapt to and overcome any challenges that arise. This will allow you to balance quick turnaround changes and quarterly deep dive assessments of your strategy with your regularly scheduled content creation.
Adapting the agile approach to fit content management
Rapid iteration and constant improvement are the cornerstones of an agile approach, making it an attractive option for managing your content strategy. Approaching your content strategy iteratively allows you to use data and audience insights to inform what you do next. The focus is on measuring how each piece performs based on the KPIs that align with your organization’s goals. Your work, whether you need to adjust current content and tactics or create new content, is based on those insights.
Steps to create an agile approach:
- Create a project board to track tasks, status of work, timelines, and importance
- Prioritize tasks
- Document workflows
- Gather feedback
- Schedule regular check ins and quarterly assessments
Quarterly assessment of your content strategy
Reviewing your content strategy once a quarter ensures your goals are still relevant, efforts are paying off, best practices are up to date, and your content creation is on track. Your goal for this quarterly meeting is to review your performance, assess your measurement plan, and create an action plan to make any adjustments. In your quarterly assessment you can lay out an overarching strategy and timeline to address and make edits, and decide how to prioritize them against your regular content creation.
Questions to guide your quarterly assessment:
- What tactics and content are performing well and hitting their targets?
- What tactics and content are not hitting their targets or not on track to?
- Are your targets realistic? Do you need to modify any of them?
- Are there any significant differences in performance compared to your last assessment or historical data?
- What does the content that is performing well look like?
- Are there any similarities/themes to the content that is not performing well?
- What changes do you want to make to your content/tactics/targets?
- Have any of your third-party tools made any updates to how they collect data or released any new features?
Ad hoc content strategy adjustments
There are many occurrences where you may need to quickly change existing content or create new pieces. These may come from external influences or be exposed by the data you collect. You need to have a team in place that has both the authority to prioritize these changes and has the time to implement them. Your project board will help you list, organize, and prioritize competing tasks. It also gives an easy visual to show relevant stakeholders how you are adjusting your work to incorporate the new tasks.
Occasions when you would need to update or improve you content strategy and/or measurement plan:
- New content type
- New section on your website
- New policies that impacts your content
- New organizational goals
- Leadership changes or new strategic directions
- World events that impact your content
- Urgent third party tool updates
Once you implement your measurement plan or make changes to improve your content strategy, it will take time to really tell if it’s working. Some performance may improve immediately and plateau or there may be no immediate impact. It’s important to be patient! Your goal is to create a content strategy that shows if your efforts are driving the needle toward your organization’s mission, uncovers insights to help you determine what direction to go in, and creates documentation on progress to inform future use cases. A flexible, agile approach along with a well-thought-out measurement plan and regular assessment are essential to ensuring your content strategy is effective.
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