Content strategy is the planning, creation, maintenance, and reporting of content in a way that aligns with business goals and reaches your target audience.

An effective content strategy does more than flood your channels with engaging storytelling. By bolstering brand awareness, educating potential customers, and showcasing your differentiation with thought leadership, thoughtful content strategy drives real business results and can impact your bottom line. 

Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to refresh your existing strategy, these seven steps (plus our content calendar templates) will help break the process down into manageable tasks. 

3 best practices for scaling content production

What is content strategy?

At its core, content strategy is the process of planning, creating, maintaining, and reporting on the types of content that supports your business objectives. This is different to a more tactical content plan, which captures the day-to-day details of content creation and promotion.

An effective content strategy drives action from your readers, reaches your audience where they are in the funnel, and builds trust and authority in your brand.


Phases of a content strategy

A successful content strategy is not a one-and-done task, but rather a continuous process that’s broken into several phases (sometimes called a lifecycle.) The four phases of a content strategy include:

  • Planning phase: Map your goals; create (or revisit) personas; and audit existing content.

  • Creation phase: Brainstorm; decide on deliverables and formats; and begin content creation. 

  • Maintenance phase: Schedule, update, and publish content. This phase also involves unpublishing outdated pieces where necessary. 

  • Reporting phase: Measure your published work, and report on pre-determined metrics. Your progress (or not) to goals should inform future strategy.


How to create a content strategy in 8 steps 

We’ve broken down these four phases into eight simple steps—your pathway to creating a compelling, effective content strategy. These steps keep your content team focused and inspired, eliminating common questions like, “Why are we writing this, again?” or “Is anyone even reading this?” 

Follow these eight steps to create a strategy that actually works.

1. Map out your goals 

You should know why you’re doing something before you start doing it. That’s why outlining your content goals is a good starting point for your overall content strategy. 

Example content strategy goals include:

  • Drive traffic to a certain landing page

  • Increase email subscriptions

  • Generate email leads, as readers download premium 

  • Increase organic website traffic

  • Bolster authority in your niche

  • Boost demo sign-ups


2. Identify your personas

Before you create content that aligns with your goals, you have to know your audience. If you don’t deeply understand your audience’s needs, preferences, and pain points, how are you going to create content that intrigues them or solves their problems?

To familiarize yourself with your audience, try identifying specific personas. An example persona could be a 25-30 year-old female who lives in San Diego in the U.S., makes $70,000 a year, and is interested in health and wellness. 

Start by conducting market research (or exploring market research that’s already out there) to identify key demographic information like age, gender, income, and location. Then, conduct surveys, interviews, or focus groups to gather insights about your audience’s behaviors, goals, and challenges.

You can use this information to create detailed profiles of your ideal customers that are rooted in data. Referencing these personas throughout your strategy ensures you’re creating content that speaks to the needs and aspirations of your audience—this type of targeted content is more likely to drive results. 

3. Audit existing content

Before you jump into creating new content, review what you already have. When auditing content, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What’s already going well? Look for trends in the content that has performed well in the past. Perhaps you can replicate those results by focusing on similar topics or leveraging high-performing formats. 

  • What content could be updated? If you have a post that might be successful with a few minor edits, it may be worth adding content refreshes to your plan.

  • What content should be deleted? While it might hurt to hit that delete button, you should unpublish content that isn’t relevant anymore, or pages that aren’t performing well, to improve SEO and drive readers to your higher-quality pieces.

3 best practices for scaling content production

4. Decide on content formats

It can be easy to bite off more than you can chew when it comes to formats. After all, who doesn’t want their own podcast? But if you’re already creating blogs, ebooks, and videos, you might have enough on your plate. Evaluate formats with your audience in mind; choose formats and channels that appeal to them the most.

Different types of content formats achieve different goals: 

  • Blogs: Provide valuable information on a regular basis and increase website traffic.

  • Ebooks: Generate leads with in-depth education that’s designed to be downloaded.

  • White papers: Present authoritative and detailed information about a specific topic or industry.

  • Podcasts: Engage your audience with educational audio that can be consumed on the go.

  • Videos: Demonstrate products or services with tutorials, how-to guides, or engaging social media.

  • Webinars: Offer live, interactive, and educational presentations to a specific audience.

  • Landing pages: Direct traffic to a specific action, like downloading an ebook or signing up for a demo.

  • Infographics: Break down complex information in a visual and digestible format.

  • Print: Create physical collateral such as brochures or business cards to be distributed at events or other in-person meetings.

5. Brainstorm ideas

Taking the time to brainstorm ideas before diving into content creation helps you identify potential roadblocks (including resource restraints) early in the process. Brainstorms are also a valuable tool for unlocking creativity, promoting collaboration, and ensuring you meet the needs and expectations of your audience. 

Here are some brainstorming tactics to try:

  • Keyword research: This tactic uncovers popular search terms, which you can use to ideate relevant topics and identify gaps in your existing content. Look for keywords that you could realistically rank for in search engines, and be sure to reference (and build upon) the current top results as you write your content. 

  • Look at competitors: It’s never a bad idea to check out your competitors’ content. If there’s a topic they’ve covered that you haven’t (or that you could cover better), it’s worth exploring different ways to approach the subject. 

  • Analyze trends: Pay attention to what topics are driving buzz and engagement among your target audience on social media and in community forums. Then, consider how you might offer a unique perspective or provide additional insights. 

  • Answer your audience’s common questions: If you know your audience well, you should know what questions they have about your product or service. It’s a good idea to interview your customer success team, sit in on sales calls, and monitor community forums to uncover the most-asked questions. Then, answer those questions with your content!

  • Ask team members for ideas: Gather ideas and feedback from fellow team members. This ensures you capture a variety of diverse perspectives, and your content will be stronger and more creative for it!

6. Execute content

After brainstorming, it’s time to bring your ideas to life through the collaborative efforts of writers, designers, content creators, and editors. Effective execution requires clear ownership over every part of the content creation process. And cross-functional workflows should be connected from the outset to avoid mistakes and smooth handoffs and approvals. 

Here are ways to make execution as painless as possible: 

  • Source creative help: Determine whether you’ll use internal resources like in-house writers and designers, or if you need to hire freelancers or an agency. 

  • Follow a standard operating procedure (SOP): For consistency, you should create a SOP that outlines your SEO and editorial guidelines and processes. You can standardize this further with custom workflows and automations that streamline tasks like content handoffs and notifications. That way, it’s never unclear where content needs to go next. 

  • Develop a feedback process: To ensure you hit your goals, you should establish a feedback process that loops in key stakeholders and editors. 

7. Schedule content

No successful strategy comes to life without a content calendar. The right content or editorial calendar gives your team an organized method to schedule, manage, and delegate upcoming content. Tools like Airtable can even automate tasks like scheduling and publishing within your marketing campaign calendar, which means fewer mistakes and faster publishing.

Check out the Airtable content calendar templates like the blog editorial calendar to get started with scheduling. This template serves as a source of truth for everyone that works on your blogs. Brainstorm ideas, track feedback, adjust deadlines, analyze metrics, and align on plans all in one place. The time you save can go into creating even more stellar content.


8. Measure content

You don’t create and publish content in a void. Once it’s been a month or longer since you’ve hit publish, it’s time to report on performance. By analyzing performance, you can figure out what content is doing well (and dig into the formats and topics that aren’t performing the way you expected). All this is helpful information to fuel your next planning cycle. 

It’s best to reference the goals you laid out in step 1 when it comes to figuring out what metrics to report and what benchmarks to target. Here are some types of metrics you might consider tracking

  • Brand awareness: You should know how many people are familiar with your brand by tracking impressions and which content pieces are driving the most traffic. 

  • Engagement: Metrics like time spent on a page, bounce rate, CTR, and social media shares reveal how people interact with your content. 

  • SEO: To improve your visibility and rankings in search engine results pages, you should become familiar with metrics like keyword rankings and backlinks. 

  • Lead generation: To understand how well you’re generating leads, you need to track metrics like form fills, email sign-ups, and CTA clicks.

  • Revenue impact: Mapping sales back to lead generation and conversions can help show you what is effectively driving revenue.

Content strategy template + example

Need a visual of what a content strategy looks like in practice? Here’s an example for an imaginary B2B tech company, plus a template to get you started.


Content strategy template


Increase website traffic by 25% by the end of 2023 and generate 100 new leads per month.


  • Name: Sarah

  • Occupation: Marketing manager

  • Age: 35

  • Gender: Female

  • Income: $85,000 per year

  • Location: San Francisco, CA

  • Behavior: Sarah is a busy marketing manager for a mid-sized tech company. She spends her days overseeing the company’s marketing campaigns, managing a team of marketers, and working closely with sales and product teams to achieve company goals. She’s highly organized, efficient, and is always looking for ways to improve her team’s performance and processes. 

  • Goals: Sarah’s primary goal is to increase revenue and growth for her company with effective marketing campaigns

  • Challenges: Sarah struggles to stay up to date on the latest marketing trends and best practices. She also has limited resources and budget constraints, which makes it challenging to execute all the marketing initiatives she’d like to pursue. 

Content audit

Our audit found we have 19 pieces published on product features, but very little on industry trends and best practices. We also found that interviews with SMEs in the company perform well, especially when paired with a video format.

Content formats

To better engage our audience, we’ll prioritize formats that previously performed well including: 

  • Podcasts

  • Videos

  • Blog posts

  • Ebooks

Content topic ideas

Our first brainstorm resulted in the following ideas to fill gaps in our strategy: 

  • Best practices for B2B technology marketing

  • Case studies of successful B2B technology marketing campaigns

  • Tips for optimizing B2B technology sales funnels

  • How-to guides for using our product in B2B technology marketing

Content schedule 

We’ll publish one blog post per week, two podcasts per month, two videos per month, and one ebook per quarter. 


To measure the success of our strategy, we’ll track the following metrics:

  • Website traffic

  • Time on page

  • Bounce rate

  • Lead generation

  • Sales

  • Email sign-ups

  • CTA clicks

  • Keyword rankings

  • Backlinks

Content strategy FAQ

Have a few more questions before you dive into building out a content strategy? Check out these answers to common questions. 

Why is content strategy important?

Content strategy is important because it ensures your creation and distribution efforts will be worthwhile. Without a solid strategy in place, you may not reach your target audience or your content might fail to generate leads or conversions. 

What’s the difference between a content strategy and a content plan?

While “content strategy” and “content plan” are often used interchangeably, they actually refer to distinct elements of a larger marketing effort. Content strategy is the high-level strategy that outlines your overall approach, while a content plan is a realistic breakdown of how your strategy will be executed with details like ownership, CTAs, and distribution channels.

What is a content strategy framework?

A content strategy framework outlines key components like keywords, audience details, publishing frequency, and delegated team members. 

How can you ensure your content drives action?

Including strategic CTAs, planning for different stages of the marketing funnel, and linking out to relevant pieces are all ways you can inspire your readers to take action. 

With the right content calendar software, your strategy process can run even smoother. Airtable enables cross-team visibility into all the steps of the content strategy process, as well as the flexibility to make that process work for you. With customizable fields and views, as well as automation and collaboration features, you can create your strategy without any limits in Airtable.

The future of measuring content's business impact

About the author

Airtable's Marketing Teamseeks to inspire, guide, and support builders at every stage of their journey.

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