Content strategy is not just a buzzword in digital marketing. It’s the very substance that goes deep into your business strategy. Think of it this way. If your website is a restaurant, content strategy is the way you’d operate your business. In a subscription economy, content is everything that responds to all your customer needs.

Food versus Food Experience

Content can be the “food” or the “food experience”, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish with your websites. You can run a restaurant successfully providing great food or awesome food experience.

The Food
For blogs, a platform that ultimately tries to retain visitors and suck them into a black hole of information consumption, Mashable suggests a “sticky” content strategy that mixes the “stock” content with the “flow” content. The “stock” content is the long-form original insightful articles while the “flow” is the short curated excerpts from around the web plus your witty pleasant commentaries. It makes perfect sense for publisher websites, because visitors consume your content mainly for the sake of consumption.

The Food Experience
For business websites that are trying to sell a service or product, however, it’s a whole different story. Content is no longer just about information architecture. It’s the idea architecture. Each idea is a message embodied in all kinds of formats. Everything is content on business-focused website, articles, pictures, audios, videos, etc. With more and more add-ons and plugins proliferating on website builders, content strategy is constantly evolving, and becomes more integrated into user experience strategy, the kind of experience that impacts your bottom line.

Websites give business a voice. Before you say anything, you want to know “for what” and “to whom” you’re talking. Therefore, decide what content you want to create, and ask yourself what business purpose the content serves and who are they targeted at. To collect emails and solicit contacts, to promote authority and credibility of the company, or simply to sell? Have a well-defined business goal and specific target audience profile in mind makes your content strategy more meaningful and easy to operate in the long run.

Steaks versus Burgers
Now that you know what you want to do with the content, you want to know how your visitors like it to be. Fulfilling your communication goals and satisfying users’ needs is a balanced recipe that decides how you’d select your food and make the best use of it. Stuffing visitors with classy streaks when they’re looking for cheap burgers is such a waste.

Understanding your visitors’ expectation of the content and their preference for the format goes a long way. You already decide the guiding strategy, let your audience help with the execution. Do a little bit of survey before assigning anyone a dreadful task such as an 500-word article on community history. Your visitors might be more delighted to see a video or an interactive map. Same message, completely different effects.

A user-centric content strategy plans everything to upgrade the user’s web experience, the themes, topics, messages, editorial tone, format, style, etc. Paying attention to audience expectation saves a lot of work on the creative execution of content strategy. If possible, find out the path your audience takes to get to your website.

If they bump into you through search, figure out the keywords. If they hear about you through social media, find out the referral source. Or maybe they hear about you from a tradeshow or a display ad? Facebook or Linkedin carry completely different referential weight. The event that triggers the serendipitous journey to your website set the base of expectation that you desperately want to meet and exceed. Present the content in a way easy for visitors to spread also helps promotion of your website across different media. Bundling your content in a social-friendly way helps pave the way for subsequent marketing of the website and content syndication.