The Building Blocks of an Effective Content Strategy

Creating a content marketing strategy for the first time? It can be hard to know where to start. The strongest strategies balance data and intuition: you need some hard metrics to inform your audience, know what’s effective and know which channels are working the hardest for you, but you also need a nuanced understanding of your industry, marketing best practices and — yeah, you still have go to with your gut a little bit.

Here are some of the primary places we look when we begin to build content strategies.

Data, Data and More Data

We’ll take all the data, please. Analytics on your site, marketing channels, surveys, market research — pile it all up and sift through it all. It’s important to go beyond surface level and ask questions; digging further into your data can uncover information you didn’t know was there, like who who your audience truly is and what content is already performing.

Start a Conversation

Data’s great, but so are in-person conversations with your stakeholders or industry bigwigs. You’d be surprised how easy it is to get a “yes” to a request for someone’s input and insights. We find that some of the best insights come from these conversations, and sometimes those insights end up being a big part of the strategy. Talking to someone face to face gives you a chance to have a more natural conversation, ask more questions and push ideas further.

Customer Personas

If you don’t have marketing personas yet, we can’t recommend them enough. Personas push your knowledge of your audience beyond numbers and statistics and turns them into someone you could meet in your daily life. Personas make it much easier to plan your editorial calendar and ensure your content is connecting with your different audiences. Plus, writing with a human – and not just a bunch of statistics – in mind is a lost easier.


Data drives a lot of decisions, but your gut is part of the process, too, especially if you’re starting from scratch. The beauty of modern marketing is that you can experiment. Maybe some of the research shows newsletters are a popular channel for your audience , but you know the market is already saturated in newsletters. Push yourself to think outside of the channels that your competitors may be using, to find a new way to connect with people. Be willing to go out on a limb in your strategy and content calendar – if it doesn’t work, you can always try something else next time – and you’ll have the data from that failed test to learn from.

These are just first steps – there’s a lot more to put into your content strategy, like frequency, CTAs, timing, authors … the list goes on. But these initial building blocks can get you started on the right path to a solid strategy.

Did we miss anything? What other methods do you think are essential to building an effective content strategy? Drop us a line at @nativedigital_ on Twitter.

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