What Should Be Included in a Content Strategy Document

When the content strategy doesn’t cover the big picture, sooner or later things get stuck.

Andreea Macoveiciuc

Written on 12th May, 2020 |

5 min read

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Everyone agrees that the goal of content strategy is to facilitate the creation and distribution of content in a way that ensures that business goals are met. Yet, if you ask what areas should a content strategy cover, you might hear very different opinions.

In traditional setups where offline and online marketing falls under different teams, but also in digital marketing teams where everyone has an opinion about content, you will probably hear that the content strategy should only be concerned with web marketing content.

Companies with this mindset will rarely see great results from content activities, or — in the best-case scenarios — they’ll get good results with great expenses.

When the content strategy doesn’t cover the big picture, sooner or later things get stuck, either because the CMS isn’t properly set up, or because the processes and workflows are inefficient.

NOTE: If you're searching for a content marketing strategy plan, download the template here:

One-year content marketing strategy - template

What should be included in the content strategy scope

Information architecture

In the case of a new website, a redesign, or an optimization project, the content strategy should consider the information architecture. This includes the site structure and content hierarchy, navigation, content structure, and discovery.

For School of Content, for example, the main topics that we cover form our main navigation: content strategy, content audit, content campaigns and content marketing. Since these are the services we offer, we don't create content about topics that are somehow related, but not fully relevant.

Also, our blog articles always refer back to the main service pages, and our pricing plans reflect these four pillars as well.

Content model with templates, components, and logic

For content to scale up, it requires structure and a model that covers the content types, templates, components, and logic between them.

The content strategy document or action plan should cover all these, although it doesn’t have to go extremely in-depth in describing the behavior of components. The relationship between templates though should be detailed, as they give the business logic.

I’ve detailed the topic here:

Content Personalization Prerequisites: The Content Model

As an example, for School of Content we use Contentful as CMS, and we have different models defined for blog articles, case studies, service pages, authors and so on. The front end of the website is build with Gatsby, so we only use the CMS to define the content models and relationships, and to store the content.

The content is delivered from the content management system to the front end layer, but the experience of managing the content, drafting, reviewing, publishing and distributing it is different than when using a coupled CMS like Wordpress for example.

Metadata model and management plan

Metadata helps in structuring content and in improving its discovery and reuse. A useful metadata model maps the needed metadata fields to all the individual page templates or, in case of component-level metadata, to all the building blocks.

The model can cover some or all these metadata types: administrative metadata, descriptive metadata, including targeting and delivery metadata, structural and technical metadata, tracking, and rights metadata.

I’ve detailed the topic here:

The Role of Metadata in a Content Strategy

Content classification and taxonomy

The metadata model tells you what information you need to have about each page, for example, the page ID, template ID, the page title, description, author name, or bio.

Such metadata fields are usually filled in by content authors or by the system and don’t require a controlled vocabulary. However, other fields, such as the target industry, the category or product, the benefit that the page talks about, the target audience, or the journey stage are easier to manage with taxonomy in place.

A taxonomy is a controlled vocabulary or a list of allowed values for each of the metadata fields. For example, the target industry key may only allow values such as “Food industry”, “Tech industry” and so on.

Having a taxonomy in place ensures that you keep content to the point, that you maintain consistency in tagging, and that you make content easy to discover by both users and search engines.

For example, for School of Content, our taxonomy uses the four content pillars mentioned above: audit, strategy, campaigns and marketing. For each of these we have a list of topics that we want to cover, and that we stick to. This ensures a good coverage of our focus areas and prevents us from writing content that's not related to our services.

Digital Asset Management (DAM)

All digital assets such as media files, graphics, style sheets, need to be properly organized and managed. Your content strategy document should, therefore, include DAM workflows, tagging options, naming conventions, formats, reusable branded templates, and so on.

Even if you’re using a separate DAM system instead of storing all assets in your CMS, how you plan to manage the assets should still be part of the content strategy.

For example, for our agency, we use a series of templates for case studies, example documents and trainings. This makes it easier to scale content production as you don't need to think every time about the look and feel of your content or the structure of a training material.

Content governance, workflows, and user roles

Content governance defines the guidelines, processes, and roles that determine how content is governed — how it gets created, published, and maintained within an organization.

Your content strategy document should include the governance model that fits your organization the best — centralized, decentralized, hybrid, as well as the roles involved.

You can read more about this topic in the article below:

Content Governance Models for Global Marketing Teams

Content workflows are influenced by company structure and business processes. A content strategy document should detail and help implement workflows for content gathering, authoring, editing, approving, publishing, and localization.

I’ve detailed the topic here:

Managing the Content Lifecycle Across Teams: Workflows & Roles

Omni-channel distribution and required integrations

This includes the rendering of content on various devices or making the content format-free, but also the integrations needed for pushing content in multiple channels from a single source of truth.

If you plan to publish in social media or to distribute content in e-mail newsletters, your CMS needs to support such integrations, so these should be detailed in the content strategy document.

In the same way, you should include here the integrations with your CRM or with publishing tools like InDesign if you’re creating print publications as well.

If you need help in identifying your ideal distribution channels, get in touch with our team. We'll analyze your offer, competitors and target audience and create a content campaign proposal for quick experimentation.

For School of Content, we use tools like Airtable and HubSpot to manage some of our content workflows and to automate processes. Our content marketing stack is rather simple, but our team is small so we don't need to overcomplicate things.

SEO, CRO, and analytics

Your content strategy needs to incorporate your SEO strategy at least in terms of on-page optimization frameworks and tools used. Ideally, the management of SEO metadata that goes in the head of the website should also be mentioned or detailed.

As for analytics, your content strategy should cover the tagging for tracking purposes and the content grouping plan. Your CMS should support integrations with analytics and CRO tools, to enable you to easily perform tests and optimize your content performance in a data-driven manner.

For our agency, for example, we choose to create our SEO strategy starting from our taxonomy, as it reflects the topics we want to be known for. We have a short list of publications that we want to target for guest posts, a couple of events where we want to be present

Sourcing and curation approach

If you’re doing content curation, or if you’re sourcing content from third parties — vendors, influencers, these need to be mentioned in your content strategy document.

Along with the workflows, you should also think about the tone of voice and prepare agreement templates, to avoid misunderstandings with the sourced content.

Editorial and distribution calendar

In an ideal world, your CMS would be integrated with your editorial and distribution calendar tool. But even if it isn’t, your content strategy should still detail these topics.

Next to the tools used, publication channels and frequencies, this part of your content strategy document should detail the workflows and the roles involved in each step. Please note that this should be based on the previously mentioned workflows throughout the content lifecycle.

Personas, user journeys, and content mapping

Not all content that you produce will be part of a user journey that should lead to a conversion, but your content strategy should clarify what your main goals are, what’s your target audience and what pieces of content cover the entire journey.

For example, the product purchase journey requires a discovery channel with specific content, a product page on your e-commerce website, a purchasing flow, and a post-sale automation flow. These should be clarified in the content strategy document.

About content mapping, I wrote more in the article below: Mapping Content to the User Journey: A Practical Example

You can download a sample content strategy plan here: Content Strategy Document - Template. Feel free to get in touch if you need help!

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