Content marketing strategy questions

Key Content Strategy Questions Every Functional Medicine Professional Should Ask

Before developing online content for a Functional Medicine practice, a content strategy document should be prepared to ensure the content properly focuses on the practice’s ultimate goal. The following essay covers several questions that content developers should ask—and answer—to develop an effective content strategy for a Functional Medicine practice. 

What is a Content Strategy?

In her book 2009 book, Content Strategy for the Web, Kristina Halvorson defines a content strategy as follows:

The ongoing practice of planning for creating, delivering, and governance of useful, usable, and effective content about a particular topic or set of topics. 

A content strategy should specify the target audience and how the content will meet the users’ needs—whether they are looking for information or ready to purchase a product or service. It should also specify who creates, evaluates, and maintains the content.

Why do content creators need a Content Strategy?

The purpose of a content strategy is to ensure that the content produced for the user audience serves a specific, designated purpose. It is centered around knowing:

  • Who is the ideal audience for the content being developed? and
  • What is the ultimate goal of the content being produced for this audience?

Organizations that ignore the importance of developing a well-thought-out content strategy risk wasting money and resources with content that does not serve the user or benefit the organizations producing the content. A well-developed content strategy guides and educates the content consumer on what task can be achieved using the content. This may be gaining information or guiding the consumer toward what product or service they might be looking for.

Developing an effective content strategy for a Functional Medicine practice requires asking—and answering – critical questions that will help guide the creation and maintenance of information. These questions deal with four main areas of the Content Strategy:

  • Planning of the content strategy
  • Creation of the strategy document
  • Maintenance of the content strategy, and
  • Removing or unpublishing  content at the end of its useful life

Here are some key questions to ask and answer to develop a content strategy that can guide your digital content development for your Functional Medicine practice.

Contract Strategy Planning Questions

Two questions are paramount in the planning stages of a Content Strategy document:

  • What content currently exists? And
  • Is the content working as intended for your users and organization?  

An inventory of existing content should list the pieces of digital content, the topic of each piece, and details about the content.

A content audit is needed to evaluate the quality of the content.

The audit should be conducted for the purpose of:

  1. Finding content that needs updating,
  2. Identifying gaps or unclear text in the content presentation, and
  3. Identifying any content that is no longer relevant and should be removed.

Content Strategy Creation Questions

When a comprehensive evaluation of the quantity and quality of the existing content has been completed, Content creators can shift from the planning to the creation phase of the content strategy. Questions to be asked at this phase need to address the creation of content and its design and include the following issues:

How should you organize the content?

There are two primary tools in a content strategy document to identify content to be created and organize the content presentation:

  • Content frames, and
  • Asset maps

How do Content Frames help develop the content?

Content frames help identify topics to be covered and put them in a logical hierarchy. Each page of online content will have a content frame describing its characteristics. Content frames are developed using the following steps:

  1. State the page’s name and the goal its creation is intended to achieve. Specify what the page will do and the desired outcomes for the user.
  2. Identify what users will need in the content. What questions will the content answer?
  3. List the topics hierarchically, with the most important topics first.
  4. Develop brief descriptions of the page’s subject matter. Each topic should address a user need or task they will be trying to achieve.

How do Asset Maps help organize the content?

When the various topics have been identified using the content frames, the flow of information from frame to frame needs to be mapped out. This mapping is done with a tool known as an asset map. The asset map ensures the user can navigate the online information as efficiently as possible.

Asset maps are tools for analyzing whether the information users experience as they move from screen to screen is consistent and useful to their goal. They do this by providing a chronological display of the screen and elements that the user will encounter during their workflow.

The goal of developing the asset map is to create a consistent user experience. The user should have a consistent look and feel when interacting with the information across various pages.

Is a style guideline needed for a content strategy?

In a word – yes! “Front-end style guides” are part of a content strategy document and ensure consistency in branding and user interface e.g., buttons, icons, navigation menus, etc. The style guide should collect the product-interface specifications and present a consistent visual design across the website.

How does Usability testing fit into a Content Strategy?

Usability testing can verify whether the content strategy decisions are consistent with what users need to navigate the online content. Performing user testing in the content strategy document’s planning and creation stages is advisable.

Usability testing is performed to determine how effective a piece of content is in helping a user achieve a desired task.

Usability testing starts with developing a profile of the ideal user and then identifying the most important tasks for which the user would use the content.

When the user profile and important tasks that the user might be addressing are developed, a moderated study can be performed with a facilitator. The facilitator presents questions/tasks for the user to perform and then asks whether the information is clear or needs addressing to be effective for the task(s) being tested.

Results from the testing can identify data gaps and areas where the content presentation is unclear. These can be addressed during the content strategy document’s planning and/or creation.

What metrics should you use to measure the effectiveness of the content strategy?

Whatever metric(s) are chosen to measure the Content Strategy’s effectiveness will depend on first answering the question:

What is the ultimate goal of your organization?

Once the ultimate goal is identified, key performance indicators (KPIs) can be developed. They may be blog views, click-throughs, social engagement, or other measurable issues.

If your goal is to grow your practice and bring in new clients/patients, then your KPIs may center around metrics such as new contacts, the number of resources downloaded when they visit your website, the time spent on the website after landing, or the number of pages visited when they land on the site.

Content Strategy Maintenance Questions

A website is a dynamic entity that needs to be monitored and maintained to evaluate whether the content periodically being added works as intended. The specifications for maintenance are presented in the Content Strategy document.

Questions regarding  content maintenance include:

  • Who will be responsible for maintaining content?
  • How often will new content be added?
  • What criteria will be used to decide whether content is performing as intended?

These criteria should be used to evaluate user satisfaction.

When should website material be unpublished or removed?

If content is not performing as intended, it may be time to remove (unpublish) the content. Questions regarding the unpublishing of content include:

  • Who makes the final decision on removing content?
  • How will links be redirected from the content that is removed?

Summary: Well written Content Strategy: a win-win for all concerned

A well-written content strategy can greatly enhance the user experience on a website and be a tremendous asset in helping an organization achieve its marketing and sales goals. When done effectively, it creates a seamless flow of information for the user considering purchasing Functional Medicine products or services.

References: