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Want to Supercharge Project ROI? Engage a Fractional Content Strategist

Fractional content strategists can help you deliver exceptional content experiences without breaking the bank. Learn when and how to leverage this game-changing approach.

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In today’s competitive digital landscape, businesses are under constant pressure to deliver exceptional content experiences while keeping costs in check. This is especially true for agencies and small businesses, where every dollar counts and maximizing project ROI is crucial for success.

Content Strategy plays a vital role in driving business results. Effective content strategies have been proven to decrease churn, increase signups, and improve customer retention – all revenue-positive outcomes. Well-designed content experiences can significantly boost engagement, conversions, and overall user satisfaction.

The Changing Landscape of Content Strategy

Recent shifts in design system maturity and industry trends have many companies and agencies rethinking their approach to content strategy. Even tech giants like Google, known for leading trends in design org hiring, are reevaluating their design organizations and cutting back on full-time content strategy and content designer roles.

This shift is understandable. Many businesses are realizing that foundational content strategy work, such as establishing information architecture, content models, taxonomy, and style guides, is often a one-time investment:

  • Once these critical systems are in place and the core site content is created, most organizations don’t require a dedicated full-time content strategist to continually reinvent their UX content strategy.
  • A well-executed content strategy should include clear systems and processes for handling future changes, such as adding new categories or page templates.
  • Do you really need to reimagine your information architecture on an ongoing basis? (I hope not.)

However, the field of content strategy and user experience design is becoming increasingly complex. New trends and technologies are constantly emerging, forcing businesses to adapt their content strategies to meet the evolving expectations of their audiences.

The Solution: Fractional Content Strategy

So, how can agencies and small businesses deliver best-in-class UX content experiences without breaking the bank?

The answer lies in fractional content strategy. By engaging a fractional content strategist, businesses can access top-tier expertise on a project basis, ensuring high-impact results without the long-term commitment and overhead of a full-time hire. This cost-effective approach allows organizations to supercharge their project ROI while still delivering exceptional content experiences that drive business success.

Fractional content strategy provides the flexibility and expertise needed to navigate the ever-changing digital landscape, helping agencies and small businesses stay ahead of the curve and deliver content experiences that resonate with their target audiences.

Defining Fractional Content Strategist

Similar to a fractional CMO, a fractional content strategist works with organizations for a fixed amount of time. Typically this means a limited engagement – from a matter of months to a year – on a limited basis. And instead of being engaged full-time, a fractional content strategist could be engaged part-time.

This content strategist still provides the essential content and UX design tasks the organization needs. Here are some of the ways a full-time hire would be different from a fractional CS:

Traditional FT RoleFractional Content Strategist
As a permanent role, requires an extensive recruiting, hiring, and onboarding process.Typically treated as a vendor relationship and can begin almost immediately without traditional onboarding.
Receives benefits and perks given to every employee.Typically doesn’t receive benefits outside of negotiated pay package.
Senior-level talent requires higher salary plus benefits. (A senior content design strategist role can cost up to $276,600 a year depending on the company, experience, and location.)Lower cost due to the part-time status of the engagement.
Comprehensive, ongoing impactTargeted, high-impact interventions that lay the foundation for future work
Scalability tired to company lifecycle stage, revenue, and growthScalability adapts to current needs and can be scaled up and down
Ideal for larger companies with complex, ongoing experiments and new product/site launchesIdeal for smaller companies or those with focused, limited needs
High risk especially as the importance of the work grows due to greater impact on the organizationLower risk where fractional CS does not define company-wide culture and can have the engagement changed or ended

Let’s dive into each of these and explore what a fractional content strategist does for performance-focused organizations.

What a Fractional Content Strategist Does

A fractional content strategist provides the same comprehensive services as a full-time content strategist but on a more flexible and cost-effective basis. This approach focuses on delivering high-impact results and maximizing ROI for organizations with limited resources. Key areas of expertise include:

  1. Information Architecture and Content Models: Develop clear, intuitive, and scalable information architectures, taxonomies, and content models to ensure content is organized, discoverable, and maintainable across various channels and platforms.
  2. User Research and Analytics: Conduct user research and analyze data to understand target audiences, identify areas for improvement, and inform content strategy decisions.
  3. Cross-Channel Content Strategy: Develop comprehensive content strategies that span multiple channels, ensuring consistency and alignment to deliver a seamless user experience.
  4. User Journey Mapping and Personas: Create user journey maps and personas to visualize user paths and represent different user segments, ensuring content meets their unique needs and preferences.
  5. Stakeholder Collaboration and Presentations: Collaborate with cross-functional teams and present content strategy recommendations and deliverables to stakeholders, ensuring alignment and successful implementation.
  6. Content Audits and Migration Planning: Conduct content audits and ROT analyses to identify content that needs updating, consolidating, or removing, and plan content migrations to new platforms or content management systems.
  7. Strategic Guidance and Optimization: Provide ongoing strategic guidance and optimization recommendations to improve content performance, user experience, and overall effectiveness.

By engaging a fractional content strategist, organizations can access specialized expertise and strategic guidance without the long-term commitment and overhead of a full-time hire. This approach allows companies to focus their resources on high-impact initiatives that drive business results and improve the user experience.

Benefits of Hiring a Fractional Content Strategist

The main benefits of using a fractional content strategist vs a traditional full-time hire typically fall into three categories:

  1. Cost Efficiency: Comparing costs of fractional vs. full-time hire.
  2. Flexibility: How fractional hires can adapt to varying project needs and timelines.
  3. Expertise: Access to seasoned professionals who bring diverse experiences from various industries.
  4. Scalability: Ease of scaling up or down based on company needs without the commitment to a full-time salary.

When to Consider Hiring a Fractional Content Strategist

So is a content strategist right for you? It depends. Here are some indicators your company might need a content strategist on a fractional basis.

Agency subcontracting

Whether you’re a small agency trying to land a new project and need additional skills, or you’re a big agency that needs a few more helping hands, a fractional content strategist can fill in the gaps.

  1. Managing Overflow: When your current team is overwhelmed with projects, a fractional content strategist can handle excess work without the long-term commitment.
  2. Specialized Expertise: They bring specialized knowledge and fresh perspectives that might be missing in-house or in a generalist agency setup.
  3. Cost Efficiency: Opt for a fractional hire to strategically manage costs while still obtaining high-quality strategic input for key projects.

Website redesign

A fractional content strategist ensures that your new site serves each of your user segments and that your new content templates are well-documented for designers and developers.

  1. Strategic Direction: A content strategist ensures that your new site meets business goals, focusing on user experience and journey optimization.
  2. Content Alignment: They can audit existing content and strategize new content that aligns with your brand and redesign goals.
  3. SEO and User Engagement: Expertise in balancing SEO best practices with engaging, valuable content to boost traffic and retain visitors.

Launching a new product

Leverage the expertise of a fractional content strategist to ensure your new digital product reaches the right audience and delivers an exceptional experience.

  1. Messaging and Positioning: Develop clear and impactful messaging that resonates with your target audience.
  2. Cross-Channel Strategy: Plan and execute a coherent content strategy across all platforms to maximize reach and impact.
  3. Launch Content Creation: Coordinate the creation of all content needed for the launch, from landing pages to promotional materials and social media posts.

Optimizing your customer onboarding

One of the most overlooked areas of conversion rate optimization, ensuring your pre-sales, onboarding, and retention content delivers a data-driven experience can dramatically improve revenue.

  1. Engagement Strategies: Create content strategies that increase customer engagement and satisfaction, directly impacting retention rates.
  2. Feedback Loop Integration: Use content to gather customer feedback and implement changes that improve the user experience and product offering.
  3. Educational Content: Develop tutorials, guides, and FAQs that help customers derive maximum value from your product, reducing frustration and churn.

Migrating a CMS

Ensure your content is properly mapped and optimized for your new CMS, as well as prepared for future content scalability and sustainability.

  1. Content Auditing: Oversee the audit of current content to determine what to keep, revise, or discard during the CMS migration.
  2. Structure and Scalability: Plan the content architecture for the new CMS to improve scalability and manageability.
  3. Seamless Transition: Ensure that content migration is smooth, with minimal impact on SEO and user experience, while maintaining link integrity and metadata consistency.

When to Consider a Full-Time Hire Instead

While working with a fractional content strategist can be a great fit for your project, there are times when a traditional hire makes more sense. Here are a few of those times:

  • Your contract requires a full-time commitment from every team member (such as in the case of some government contracts).
  • Your organization has a large, complex content ecosystem that requires ongoing management and optimization. A full-time content strategist can provide the dedicated attention needed to keep your content strategy aligned with your business goals.
  • You have a rapidly growing business with frequent product launches or updates. An in-house content strategist can ensure that your content strategy scales alongside your business, maintaining consistency and quality across all touchpoints.
  • You have a large, diverse team of content creators and need someone to provide ongoing guidance, training, and quality assurance. An in-house content strategist can establish and maintain content standards, ensuring that all team members are aligned and producing high-quality work.

It’s important to note that these situations don’t automatically rule out the possibility of working with a fractional content strategist. Depending on the scope and duration of your needs, a fractional content strategist may still be a viable option. However, if you find that your content strategy needs are ongoing, complex, and deeply intertwined with your business operations, a full-time hire may be the better choice in the long run.

Notice I didn’t mention anything about security. Any organization with decent cybersecurity will have policies and procedures in place to keep sensitive data safe. An experienced content strategist will follow those procedures and policies. (At Common People, we try to stay away from having any client data in our hands if we can avoid it. We prefer to store everything on secure servers owned by the client if possible.)

How to Work Effectively with a Fractional Content Strategist

Working effectively with a fractional content strategist means leveraging their expertise and flexibility to seamlessly integrate them into your existing workflows. Here’s how you can ensure a fruitful collaboration:

  • Clear Goals and Objectives: Define clear goals and objectives for the engagement from the outset. This clarity helps the strategist understand their role and the impact they’re expected to deliver, aligning their efforts with your business needs.
  • Adaptability with Tools: Whether your team uses Agile, Jira, or simpler tools like Asana, a fractional content strategist can adeptly navigate these. They’re also comfortable with various communication tools like Slack or Teams, ensuring smooth collaboration.
  • Regular Communication: Establish a routine for regular updates and feedback sessions using your preferred communication methods. This keeps the collaboration on track and responsive to evolving project requirements.
  • Leverage Remote Work Flexibility: Utilize the advantages of remote work to integrate the strategist with distributed teams. Digital tools for project management and real-time communication can help maintain alignment and productivity across different locations.

Interested in Learning More?

Working with a fractional content strategist can offer your team a range of benefits. From the ability to seamlessly integrate with your existing tech stack, to the flexibility in adapting how your engage with your own stakeholders, the specialized expertise a fractional content strategist brings can make your next project more efficient and organized. And having someone with an external perspective can give your team fresh insights, helping innovate and refine your own work with their experience working with teams like yours.

This type of fractional content strategy engagement is our speciality at Common People. We’ve worked with teams around the world to provide the specific, highly specialized skills we bring as fractional content strategists. If you want to learn more, don’t hesitate to reach out and schedule a free consult. We’ll discuss your project needs, goals, and concerns to ensure we’re the right fit to unlock the full potential of your content initiatives. Let’s connect and discuss how an expert content strategist could be the right fit for your goals and budget.

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