The content strategy team strives to create a rich and meaningful student experience across all of Coursera’s learning experiences. We do that by creating and managing the design, content, and data for each of our courses, certificates, specializations and programs.
Build a system for managing content on Coursera’s sites and apps that supports the production of world-class content, moves fast but ensures quality, builds better relationships with creators, helps faculty develop content and see how their students are learning, and scales to accommodate our growing business.
What is a content strategy?
Content strategy is the high-level planning, execution, promotion, and on-going management of the content lifecycle to support key business initiatives. Essentially, it’s your brand’s game plan for driving traffic, leads, engagement, sales, and other business outcomes through content.
When executed well, content strategy is one of the most important components of your marketing strategy.
But, it takes time and money to create great content. So whether you outsource blog posts or develop videos in-house, it’s critical to have a well-organized plan to get the outcomes you want.
Your strategy is a playbook that drives action and insight. And like a playbook, it covers a lot.
Content strategy vs. content marketing strategy
What’s the difference between content strategy and content marketing?
Content strategy is a higher-level business activity than content marketing. Content strategy is the roadmap that guides your content marketing. It’s the decision making that underlies whom your content will impact, how your content will cut through all the noise, and the desired outcomes. In addition, it involves defining content success.
On the other hand, content marketing is the process of organizing, scheduling, creating, publishing, and promoting content pieces. Content marketing is the tactics that follow from the content strategy.
Your content strategy defines:
- What you’re trying to accomplish
- Who you’re trying to reach
- What types of content you’ll publish
- How your content will support the brand
- The ways in which your content will be differentiated
- How you will promote and amplify your content
- The metrics that define success
You wouldn’t plan a trip without knowing your destination. Content strategy ensures that your content marketing efforts point you in the right direction. Without a well-defined strategy, you may waste a lot of time writing content that doesn’t get the audience impact nor the business results you want.
Set Your Mission and Your Goals
A good starting point for your content strategy plan is to set out a content marketing mission statement. This is a brief statement that makes it easier to focus on what’s important – and what’s not – in creating your content so your content marketing strategy stays on track.
A content marketing mission statement outlines:
- Your target audience
- The content you’ll use to reach them
- The benefit they’ll get
Here’s an example from CIO.com’s about page.
It defines the audience (CIOs and business technology executives). It highlights the benefit (insights on career development). And it gives examples of what its content covers (certification, digital transformation, skills development, and hiring practices).
To create a mission for your own business, try this formula:
We provide [target audience] with [type of content] to help them [business goals].
While the mission statement covers what your audience will get from your content marketing strategy, you also need to think about what your business will get from it. That’s where your business goals come in.
Typical goals include:
- Improving revenue as a result of your content marketing strategy
- Making more sales and getting more high-quality leads, which will help you meet your revenue goals.
- Getting more traffic to your site, as the more traffic there is, the greater the possibilities for meeting your other goals.
- Improving the perception of your business, so you gain influence and authority and are seen as a thought leader.
- SEO success, which leads to more traffic.
- Reduced marketing costs, as your content becomes more effective.
- Social media engagement, which can help with both traffic and authority.
Once you know your goals, it’s time to move to the next step.
Establish Your KPIs
The best way to achieve goals is to make them specific and measurable. That means setting key performance indicators (KPIs) for your content marketing strategy.
The KPIs will help you know when you have achieved your goals by providing milestones you can check off. They’ll include what you plan to achieve in terms of revenue, sales, traffic, SEO, traffic and different aspects of digital marketing like email marketing and social media metrics.
Typically, these will have specific numbers attached to them. For example, you might want to:
- Hit a certain revenue target within the month, quarter, or year.
- Get more signups for your lead magnet as a sign that you’re getting more high-quality leads
- Get a certain number of new email subscribers
- See an increase in site traffic and in engagement with your onsite content
- Improve the search ranking of some of your key pages to help boost traffic
- Get a certain number of mentions, shares, and comments for your pillar content
- Be invited to participate in certain key industry events
You’ll also want to pay attention to marketing expenditure, tracking your spend on different campaigns, and keeping an eye on the cost of acquiring leads and making sales.
Know Your Audience
As mentioned earlier, for a successful content marketing strategy, you’ll need to be clear about who your audience is so you can create the right content to reach them. There are three actions you need to take.
Collect Demographic Data
The first step is to collect demographics on your visitors, email subscribers, and social media followers.
Web analytics, social media analytics, and email subscriber analytics will give you the data you need on your audience’s:
You’ll also get insight into their key interests. To find this information in Google Analytics, go to Audience » Interests » Overview. You’ll see the market segments your web visitors fit into.
Learn more about using Google Analytics in our in-depth guide.
And if you use MonsterInsights, you can view all of this data in easy-to-understand reports right from your WordPress dashboard.
Here’s a tutorial on how to add Google Analytics to WordPress.
Social media sites offer similar data. For example, you can get demographic information on your Facebook fans via Facebook Page Insights:
And you can use Twitter analytics to get demographic data on your Twitter followers:
Get Customer Feedback
To learn even more about your target audience, try collecting feedback from your current customers. That’ll give you insights into:
- How they feel about the content you’re currently producing
- What their most urgent needs are
- How you can address their problems with your content
Getting the right customer feedback can help you:
- Understand your readers’ and subscribers’ priorities
- Decide on the best places to reach your customers (see step 9)
- Flesh out your buyer personas, which we’ll talk about next
To easily collect customer feedback, you can create a survey with WPForms.
WPForms offers a drag and drop builder that makes customizing your survey super simple.
Plus, you can take advantage of other powerful features like interactive survey reports, smart survey fields, NPS surveys, real-time polls, instant notifications, and more.
Here’s our guide to collecting feedback from your customers on your site.
Create Buyer Personas
When you have demographic data and customer feedback, you can create or flesh out buyer personas. Buyer personas, also known as customer avatars, describe your ideal readers and customers so that you can target content better.
The best customer avatars include information on your customers’ pain points, challenges, sources of information, and behavioral motivators.
When you know all this, you’ll have a better understanding of:
- The kind of content your audience will respond to
- How it will help them
- What will make them care about it
Learn more about customer avatars in our guide to creating buyer personas. It includes templates like this one from Digital Marketer:
Assess Your Current Position
Many businesses already have content out there. This will include content that’s on your blog, as well as social media content, podcasts, videos, and so on.
That’s why the next step is to figure out whether that content is helping you to meet your goals.
(If you’re just getting started and have zero content, you can skip to Step 5 – Figure Out the Best Content Channels.)
To do that, you’ll need to carry out a content audit. That means:
- Logging all the pieces of content, such as blog posts, guest posts, and so on
- Assessing their usefulness or success
- Identifying the gaps
You may also want to look at how your content compares with that of your competitors, and see how any new content will fit in the market.
Let’s look at one example of how this would work for your content marketing strategy.
How to Log Your Content
If you want to log all your site or blog content, Screaming Frog is an excellent starting point. It’s a URL crawler that will:
- List URLs
- Analyze page titles and descriptions
- Find duplicate pages
- Create sitemaps.
The free version crawls up to 500 URLs. SEER Interactive has an excellent, in-depth guide to Screaming Frog. As a bonus, you can also use this tool for competitive research, carrying out the same kind of analysis on your competitors’ content.
You can also log your content with the Content Audit tool from SEMRush. To do this, set up a project and select the section of your site you want to audit, such as your blog. Once you select the URLs, press the Start Content Audit button.
You’ll get a complete analysis of your content, including:
- Content titles and descriptions
- Content length
- Social shares
Export the data to create a simple spreadsheet that contains all the URLs.
See How Your Content is Working
Next, it’s time to assess the usefulness of the content. You’ll be looking for metrics like:
- Whether there are a lot of inbound links to the content
- What the search engine ranking is for keywords associated with that piece of content
- If the content is widely shared
You’ll get some of this information from the SEMRush report above but can also find more by using other SEMRush tools, such as the site audit and position tracking tools.
This’ll tell you:
- Which pieces of content are so effective that you don’t need to change them
- Which ones need some improvement or updating to meet your goals
- Which ones need to be removed or replaced
Identify Content Gaps
Finally, work out where there are gaps you can exploit. These might include:
- Keywords related to your niche that you’re not targeting with your content
- Questions your target audience is asking that you’re not answering
- Content that’s starting to rank well but could be improved, say to target Google’s answer boxes. These are the boxes that appear above search results and provide the answers to a specific question.
You can use Ahrefs to carry out a content gap analysis.
To do this, go to Organic search » Content gap. Add the domains for your main competitors under Show keywords that the following rank for. Add your own domain under But the following target does not rank for. Press Show keywords.
You’ll see a list of competitor keywords you can target with your own new content.
You can carry out a similar analysis in SEMRush.
Content Strategy is a set of principles and methodologies that provide guidance to help you understand what your site or app’s content needs to accomplish, and make strategic decisions about it.