Have you ever been caught in an infinite consumer loop?

You know the kind I mean, a never-ending series of repetitive clicks created by a company with no discernible end point. Like the hero’s journey, but without any worthwhile character development.

Here’s what this can look like: You are drawn in by a snippet of an intriguing post by a brand you follow on Facebook, you click it and are taken to the long form article on their blog which you read - and really enjoy. Then as you finish this compelling piece of writing it ends with a strong invitation to follow the brand… on Facebook.

[face, meet palm]

What, may I ask, was the purpose of this journey? What was the intended destination? For that matter, where was the intended beginning?

Too often brands who are capable of creating some really amazing content, fail simply because they don’t know what to do with it. So instead they throw it out into the digital ether in hopes that the consumer will figure it out. It’s an unfortunate waste of creative energy.

It’s become common in digital marketing to advocate for great content as what is needed to rise above the noise; however, what is less shared is that even mediocre content with a plan behind it is more effective than great content with absolutely no purpose to its existence. Regrettably, so many talented content creators seem unaware of this. As Erin Kissane so pointedly remarks, “Few people set out to produce content that bores, confuses, and irritates users, yet the web is filled with fluffy, purposeless, and annoying content. This sort of content isn’t neutral, either: it actively wastes time and money and works against user and business goals.”

What truly sets great content apart is not only the quality of the content itself, but the intentionality of the purpose behind it.

Content exists in order to take a potential customer on a journey with a clear and helpful endpoint. It requires a goal that builds off of where it came from and towards something actionable and useful. This is the essence of effective content strategy - having a plan for the content you create.

An easy question to ask yourself when crafting any piece of content is: what do you want people to do with with this interaction? Do you want them to sign up for a mailing list? Like a page? Attend an event? Buy your product? Each piece of content becomes a unique opportunity to help potential customers move towards the end goal of your content strategy by providing them with a single, clear, call to action.

It turns out that knowing where you want to end is often the best place to start when it comes to content strategy.