Jill is the head of the marketing department for a mid-sized e-commerce retailer. She is responsible for developing a strategy for marketing campaigns.
In developing that strategy, she will need to complete a number of very specific tasks. Once she has completed all of this groundwork, she will develop a content strategy that will meet the goals and related activities she has identified.
Bill is a content writer. He creates engaging and compelling content that will appeal to the brand’s audience.
Jill will provide key data and information, and he will use that to craft his content for a variety of marketing avenues.
Each of these individuals has a separate job if the organization is large enough. Sometimes, especially with small startups or companies in their early stages, the strategy developer and the writer may be one and the same person.
This does not mean, however, that the two functions are meshed. The strategy must be fully developed before one piece of content is written.
The Development of Content Strategy
First of all, content strategy is designing and managing any content that a company publishes. This can be through its website design, its blog, on social media channels, and any other marketing or advertising materials, either digital or in print.
Every content strategy begins with the goal of planning, mapping, and having published content that relates to messaging that will achieve specific outcomes.
Such as, spreading brand awareness, SEO, achieving certain conversions, moving potential customers through a sales funnel, after-sale communication and retainment, etc.
It’s a big job. And it requires very definite steps:
1. Identifying and Researching the Audience
Content strategy begins with identifying the audience and conducting deep research. What does the demographic “look like?” Age, gender? Socio-economic status? Typical jobs, careers? And where does this demographic hang out online?
Understanding the needs and pain points of the audience is critical. If you don’t understand these, there is no way you can develop a strategy that will demonstrate the value of your product or service to that audience.
Consider Dollar Shave Club as an example. The founders are millennials who identified a problem/pain point for themselves and their peers – the issue of having a supply of clean disposable razors.
The problems lay with running out of that supply, having to stop on the way home to buy more or, worse, forgetting to do so and then having to use dirty, dull razors the next morning.
They realized the problem could be solved through a subscription service by which razors would be delivered to a customer’s door once a month.
The end result? Dollar Shave became a multi-million-dollar business in short order by providing value to its millennial male audience.
There is a number of ways to conduct research on an audience, through some great online tools that will collect and sort data.
You should also look at your competitors’ content strategies – who are their audiences and how are they promoting the value that solves problems and pain points.
2. Evaluating Types of Content That Resonate
Once you understand your audience, it is time to identify the types of content that most resonate.
This can be done in several ways. Some of the most effective are the following:
- Look at your competition or related niches with the same audience and identify the content that is the most popular – not topics necessarily, but the kinds of content. What are the language, style, and tone? What types of visuals and media appeal most?
- Review websites of brands related to your niche that have the same audience – they are marketing tools that contain content of all types. And design, colors, words and visuals all provide a user experience that must be engaging. Reviewing these other websites will assist in developing that part of a content strategy, and it will help in aligning content with UX.
- Look at blogs, social media posts, advertising, etc. – again, how do they appeal to your same audience?
3. Identify the Platforms
Audiences choose different social media platforms.
Although Facebook is still hugely popular, specific demographics choose other channels – Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.
Any content strategy must take into account the use of those channels and plan accordingly.
And the tone and voice of each selected channel may be very different – that must be taken into account as well.
4. Selection of Topics and Content Scheduling
The final part of content strategy development is the decisions regarding what, when, and how content will be created and delivered.
This is an ongoing responsibility, as new topics and scheduling move forward.
Now, we are ready to turn to the actual content writing. This is accomplished by writers with a variety of backgrounds – journalism, marketing, English, PR, advertising, etc.
While the content strategist does all of the planning and development, the writers must take those plans and translate them into highly engaging content for each of the numerous channels – website, blog, social media, e-books, white papers, video scripts, direct advertising, and more.
Sometimes, as mentioned above, the content strategist must also be responsible for the actual content creation. This can be a true challenge because the skillsets for strategic planning and content writing are very different.
And so, the content strategist will often contract out the actual writing to freelancers.
Such as those on sites like Upwork or Elance; to creative writing departments of writing agencies, like Trust My Paper; to non-fiction authors who have a successful history of creating e-books and white papers; to videographers and scriptwriters; to photographers, if needed.
Defining UX Writing
Many define UX writing as small amounts of words that may occur on the packaging, CTA buttons, product descriptions, or in emails, however, a broader definition is absolutely necessary.
The content consists of words, graphics, visuals, media – anything that a user may access and read/view that provides experience with a brand.
UX writers are charged with taking content strategy and translating it into engaging and compelling experiences on all venues and platforms.
Whether that is as simple as a photo caption on Instagram to a Facebook post, to blog content, to amazing stories and videos, UX writing is what the consumer sees, not the planning that goes on behind the scenes.
While tasked very differently, the content strategist and the UX writer are both critical to providing positive consumer experiences.
The Bottom Line
Content strategy and UX writing are two closely related. However, they have completely separate functions in the creation and development and realization of a marketing plan.
While they both have the same goal, their tasks and responsibilities are completely different.
Hopefully, this article helped you separate the two and learn what each of the two processes encompasses.