Interviewing your stakeholders can be done at any point during the development of a content strategy, but I recommend to follow this framework and to organize the interviews at the beginning.
By doing so, you’ll get the full picture sooner in the process and it will be easier to manage expectations, narrow down the scope, and identify the focus areas for the yearly content roadmap.
If you’re already familiar with the process and want to skip the reading, you can find the sample questions here: Stakeholder questions for content strategy development.
The purpose of this activity is to understand what are the current processes and roles involved in content creation, how production and distribution take place (central vs. local), as well as what are the goals and expectations of stakeholders.
During this phase you’re also looking to understand where content lies within the organization and how much non-digitized content exists, so you will also ask questions typical for a content inventory and audit.
Then, you will want to look at workflows, to understand where the current grey areas are, and you’ll get familiar with competitors and the current gaps.
Finally, you’ll want to know the stakeholders’ opinions on the user content experience, and you’ll ask questions regarding the tagging, tracking, and current performance of content.
So let’s look at some questions for each focus area!
What is the purpose of the content we create?
What are our content goals & expectations?
Who do we want to reach?
Why does this audience need content?
What problems are they trying to solve?
How do we measure the success of our content?
Is this success related to business objectives? If yes, which business objectives?
Which channels are we using for distribution? Which channels should we use?
What are the particularities of these channels?
What works/doesn’t work at the moment?
See more examples in the template: Stakeholder interviews for content strategy development
At this point, you are not performing the actual content inventory, but you want to understand what content your organization owns. So you can ask questions like:
What is the volume of content that we own, per department/region/business unit?
Where is this content stored?
What formats of content are we producing? Who owns these formats?
What digital assets do we own? Where are they stored?
Who manages and maintains the digital assets?
Who is responsible for creating and publishing content?
Who is responsible for maintaining (updating, optimizing, deleting) it?
What is the content creation & publishing frequency?
Do you have an overview of all the websites and micro-websites owned?
Do you have a current sitemap on your website?
Have you performed any content inventory in the past, that we can use as a starting point?
Again, you’re not performing the actual audit at this moment, but you want to see how your stakeholders perceive the quality of the content produced, and how they think users perceive it too.
Questions to ask:
What is the quality of our content? How is this measured?
How is our content performing? What makes the content perform well / poorly?
How do you choose topics? Who is responsible for this?
How do we decide what content to optimize, update, and what to archive?
Do you optimize pictures and page structure? Do you optimize text content?
How do we track the results of content optimization?
How is the content evaluation done?
What key insights would you like to receive regarding the content performance?
This is probably the area where you’ll ask the most questions, as in bigger companies and enterprises this tends to be the most painful one. I will only list a few of the questions here, but you can find all of them in the template.
Questions to ask:
Who is involved in content creation? What are their responsibilities?
Who is involved in content distribution? What are their responsibilities?
Does everyone have the right skills?
Are these roles well documented and understood?
What processes exist in the content lifecycle?
Current problems, obstacles, and gaps in the content workflows?
What works well?
Are we using content standards and guidelines? If yes, who creates these guidelines?
Who approves the publication of content in channels?
Who decides the topics to write on? Who reviews/approves them?
Do you use a content calendar for creation and distribution?
Do you curate content? If yes, who is responsible?
Do you syndicate content? If yes, who is responsible?
You can see an example of content workflows here: Managing the Content Lifecycle Across Teams: Workflows & Roles
You can ask questions like:
Who are your competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
What are we missing in terms of content, compared to our competitors?
Do you have insights into your competitors’ content and SEO strategy?
Do you use supplier content? From which suppliers?
Who coordinates content curation from suppliers?
Do you have a list of all current and future campaigns?
What content formats are we missing?
What topics should we address in our content, and we aren’t?
What do you want to be found, online?
Do you have personas in place?
What are the customer journeys that you consider for content creation?
What types of content do you produce for each touchpoint?
What type of search engine marketing are you performing?
Which channels are you using for organic / paid content distribution?
What are your current challenges with omnichannel content distribution?
Do you include mobile, tablet, and future devices in your content strategy?
Do you work with format-free content?
Do you use adaptive or responsive content? Do you understand the difference?
For this focus area, you may want to interview multiple stakeholders, as it’s a bit more specialized.
Questions to ask:
What analytics tools do you use? How often do you evaluate your content performance? Who is responsible for that?
What are you missing from content reports?
Do you have a content dashboard? Are results shared with stakeholders? If yes, how often?
What are your key content metrics? How/who decides what metrics to focus on?
How do you manage the tracking of content? What tools are you using? Who is responsible for this?
Do you use A/B testing or multivariate testing for content? Who is responsible for that?
Do you use a taxonomy or controlled vocabulary for internally-facing content?
Do you use a taxonomy or controlled vocabulary for customer-facing content?
Who owns the taxonomies and controlled vocabularies?
Do you use any tool for maintaining or analyzing metadata?
How do you currently categorize, label, and identify content?
Is there content that shouldn’t be indexed? Who owns and maintains it?
Do you optimize content? Who is responsible for content optimization?
How do you decide what to optimize? Do you use an optimization framework?
For this topic, it may also be useful to involve a more technical stakeholder. Some sample questions you can ask:
Do you use a content style guide? Do you have guidelines for the tone of voice?
Do you have clear goals for each piece of content you create?
Do you use content briefs?
What content opportunities are we missing? Personalization, cross-sell, up-sell, social media integration, interactive content?
What are the strengths of competitors when it comes to content experience?
Do you use any segmentation for content?
Do you use modular content? If yes, how?
Who owns the internal search function?
Do you create content based on internal search?
How is the user feedback incorporated into the content experience?
These are definitely not the only questions you can ask your stakeholders, and you can skip those which are not relevant for your organization, or for which you already know the answer.
Although this process is quite time consuming, it is a useful step when developing a content strategy, as it really helps you and the stakeholders get a feeling of your content big picture.
The stakeholder interview phase is part of our Content Strategy development service. If you need help with it, get in touch with our team.