In our recent webinar with TechSmith’s Learning and Video Ambassador, Matt Smith and Skilljar’s Head of Product Marketing, Linda Schwaber-Cohen, we discussed what makes up a content strategy, why it’s important to have one, and how to handle some common challenges associated with content development and optimization. Before diving into the nitty-gritty of strategy, Matt and Linda kicked off the webinar with a fundamental definition:  

Content strategy is the process of planning, creating, distributing, and measuring your content and its effectiveness. 

As Matt and Linda explained, the majority of training teams likely have some sort of a strategy in place, but it’s often lacking documentation and a formalized structure. Unfortunately, this lack of structure can greatly hinder the success of a content program, fundamentally affecting your company’s ability to deliver valuable, accessible content to your customers. 

Why You Need a Content Strategy

There are three primary reasons why having a documented content strategy is especially important:

  1. To ensure alignment across the company (with designers, marketing, etc.)
  2. To understand how a resource fits into the bigger goals and initiatives of your company
  3. To serve as a planning guide for future content and to make that future content easier to develop

With these purposes in mind, Matt and Linda delved into the how of content strategy.

The Role of Your Audience

As you develop your content strategy, one of the most critical considerations is who your target audience is. This is especially important to define if you have multiple audiences or groups in need of training. Think about the following questions: 

  1. Who will be learning? In other words, what sector of your audience will be engaging with a particular piece of content? 
  2. What do those individuals/teams do (job function)?
  3. How and when do those individuals/teams prefer to access content?

By identifying the answers to these questions before you start crafting the content, you ensure that your resources will truly be beneficial for that audience, rather than based on an assumption or inkling that a piece of content is needed. 

To learn more about an audience-first approach to content strategy, check out our recent blog post on the topic. 

What Content Should You Create?

Once your audience is defined, how do you go about establishing what content to actually create? While there are innumerable factors to consider, Linda and Matt pared that process down to 6 key questions to ask to determine the best content to create: 

  1. What questions are you trying to answer/what problems are you trying to solve?
  2. What format of content will answer this question/solve this problem best?
  3. How will viewers find the information?
  4. Where are students in their knowledge lifecycle?
  5. How much do these students need to know (in terms of content length)?
  6. How tech-savvy is your audience?

As Linda noted, creating a checklist of these questions before creating a new asset (or updating an older one) is a great way to make sure your audience’s needs are met. 

Advice for Handling Change

One of the most common concerns around content creation and optimization, especially in light of COVID-19 and the accompanying need for rapid resource development, is how to deal with change. This applies to changes within your environment and society, change within your product, and/or changes with your audiences and their needs. So how do you make content-related decisions when you know things are going to change frequently? Matt shared a few tips: 

  1. Reduce the quality of your content – especially when there is a need to rapidly develop and launch content, aim for an MVP (minimum viable product) instead of perfection
  2. Think about simplifying your interface – consider using less detailed and/or more templated visuals
  3. Weigh the option of ignoring a change – if it’s a small detail that only affects 5 seconds of one video, consider de-prioritizing that change in lieu of ones that will have a broader impact

As Matt further clarified: 

“We have this fear about quality, that if it’s not the highest quality it doesn’t work … [but] if I’m a customer, and I find an answer to a problem, I’m really not put off by a little bit lower quality or that it’s not as scripted or off the cuff … frankly, sometimes people just want answers, and if you’re the authority and the definitive voice on being an answer, that is way better than having nothing.”     

For more tips around common digital training challenges, we encourage you to visit our course on Skilljar Academy: Common Challenges and Solutions for Digital Training. If you are interested in viewing the full webinar on-demand, you can find it here