Youth marketing

5 steps to optimize your Gen Z content marketing strategy

A diverse group of young people standing together, each engrossed in their phones.
Written by
Izzy Hall
Published on
July 3, 2024
Last updated
July 3, 2024

What this article covers

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Welcome to your toolkit to engaging Gen Z. 

When it comes to marketing, content is always king. And what does Gen Z 
want from the content they consume? Authenticity, of course!  

This blog will walk you through the key steps to audit, plan, and optimize your Gen Z content marketing strategy. It’s packed full of top tips to make sure the content your brand puts out really resonates with young people. 

We’ll be focusing on five key areas: SWOT analysis, creating buyer personas, developing  a content calendar, getting creative, and coming up with that all-important action plan. Not only that, but it also includes standout takeaways, templates to get you started, and stats from Pion. 

We hope you find this useful and can’t wait to see where you take your Gen Z 
content strategy next.

Step 1: Auditing your content

Running an audit is one of the most effective ways to identify how your current content is performing 
and help you to supercharge future content strategies. A systematic analysis of what’s already available to your audience is an efficient way to review the strengths and weaknesses of your content and workflows - something that’s particularly valuable if you’re running on a smaller content team (or, as in some cases, a non-existent one!).  

We’ve separated this into two simple steps: auditing your content and completing a SWOT analysis.

Auditing your content 

So you have a website packed with blogs, an archive of downloadable assets bursting at the seams, and Instagram posts galore. But how can you assess what’s working and what’s not? 

Start with clear objectives 

What do you want to achieve from this audit and how do you want it to impact your content/marketing strategy? Aiming to achieve a SMART goal, focusing on ‘specific’, ‘measurable’, ‘achievable’ ‘relevant’, and ‘time-bound’ objectives, is key to really getting to the heart of what needs refining. 

From improving SEO to increasing audience engagement or growing lead numbers, whatever it is, keep it SMART!

Create an inventory 

Pull together an inventory of your content URLs 
and catalog the content on a spreadsheet. 

 It’s extremely useful to take note of the:

  • Content type (blog post, downloadable e-guide, report, template, etc)
  • Content format (text-only, video, PDF, etc)
  • Buyer’s journey stage (top of funnel, middle of funnel, bottom of funnel)
  • Number of words
  • Publication and last review dates
  • Author

Let the analysis begin 

Quick warning: this can be a lengthy process.

But it’s worth it!

This step will help you to understand how content is performing and inspire you to take action. Pull out data from your website’s Google Analytics or SEO tool to note how many views that page has had over the last six to 12 months, what the bounce rate is like, and where your referral traffic is coming from.

Looking to the future 

Now’s the time to revisit those objectives and create an action plan. Based on your analysis of the above, do you want to reuse, refresh, or remove any content? If it needs refreshing, what do you need to do (think updated imagery, metadata, adding in SEO keywords, and CTAs)? 

This groundwork will help you now and set you up for the future. Just don’t forget to keep revisiting your analysis and running SWOTs... the world of Gen Z is constantly evolving!

SWOT analysis 

What is a SWOT? 

A SWOT analysis is a technique that helps you understand how your business is performing and how you can refine future strategies. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats

Why use a SWOT analysis? 

It’s a visual way of clearly assessing 
your content output, encouraging critical thinking, and giving you the space to be objective. It’ll also help you out in the future when you want
 to see how you’ve progressed. 

How to conduct a good SWOT analysis 

Here are a few tips to help you pull together your SWOT analysis:

  • Identify your objective. What content are you analyzing and why? Is it your blog output? Maybe your social strategy? Whatever it is, make sure you’re specific and stick to your objective - SWOTs are rabbit holes and you can get lost in analysis!
  • Have a clear structure. A SWOT analysis works best when divided into a table form. But don’t worry - here’s a handy template, ready to populate! 
  • Strengths. This is a chance to note down what you’re doing well, and what content is performing best. Don’t forget to include where/how you’re ahead of your competitors… Weaknesses. Don’t hold back, be brutal! Think about what’s holding you back from achieving your goals, and what’s the least successful. From too little resource to a 
failed campaign, note it all down.
  • Opportunities. This is your space to dream big. Once you’ve filled in the Weaknesses section, this should be easy to populate. Where do you want to see your content in six months?
  • Threats. What are your competitors doing that you need to be aware of? What’s stopping you from reaching those goals? Make sure you pay special attention to the wider industry. 

Step 2: Understand your audience 

Understanding your target audience is non-negotiable when it comes to perfecting your content strategy. Taking the time to understand your consumers, the challenges they’re facing, and their decision-making processes will help you to develop the most pertinent solutions. You can be their knight in shining armor! 

So, who is Gen Z? And how can you perfect your messaging and content strategy so that it reaches and resonates with them every. single. time?

Who is Gen Z? 

  • Born between 1997 - 2010 
  • Can either be students, apprentices, graduates, interns or employed 
  • Main interests: the environment, sustainability, LGTBQ+ issues, diversity and inclusion, fashion and retail, technology, health & wellness 
  • Have a spending power of $44 billion (this increases to $600  billion when you consider the influence they have on their parents!) 

Get to know Gen Z: 5 key personality traits 

  1. Digital natives. Gen Z doesn’t know life before the internet and uses social media to learn, be entertained, and discover new products/ brands. They don’t Google, they TikTok. 
  2. Savvy. This generation is focused on their long-term choices (#lifegoals) and is financially savvy - something that’s particularly important to them given the rising cost of living. 
  3. Liberal. Thanks to the internet, Gen Z is open-minded and understanding of different cultures and lifestyles. They’re passionate about the issues that matter to them and favor brands that do the same. 
  4. Authentic. From the creators they engage with to their purchasing decisions, authenticity is Gen Z’s number one driver. Accountability and transparency from brands are important to young consumers.  
  5. Morally conscious. Gen Z’s ethics underpin everything they do, and they want to see these causes supported by the brands they love.


What do they want from brands? 

  1. Digital natives. As digital natives, they want brands to be available at the touch of a button. Platform your discounts and deals where they can see them.  
  2. Savvy. With everything you know about Gen Z, make sure the tone, look, and vibe of your brand align with what they love. Want to know more about what makes this generation tick? We're the OG experts - check out Pion's FREE resources and blog to keep on top of what's new with Gen Z.   
  3. Liberal. Gen Z wants bang for their buck - they’re willing to invest money, but only if it’s worth it and you’re trustworthy

Create your Gen Z buyer personas 

Now you know a little about who Gen Z is, it’s time to turn that knowledge into buyer personas!  

Buyer personas are detailed descriptions of an ideal customer within your target market. The personas will typically be based upon market research to create a series of semi-fictional profiles highlighting key characteristics of a person who will (hopefully!) 
be buying your products. 

Creating a handful of buyer personas paints a vivid picture of the motivations, drivers, and goals of your target audience - helping you to ensure your content marketing is perfectly aligned with their needs.

Our five steps to creating faultless Gen Z buyer personas are:

  • Decide what information you want to include. Determine exactly what qualities you need and want to know about your target audience to be able to create content that really resonates with them. For example, is it useful to know what kind of income background they come from to understand their potential purchasing power? Or is your brand all about connecting on a much more personal level?
  • Speak to your target audience. There’s nothing more useful than hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth! Talk to or survey your recent customers to understand exactly who they are and what motivated them to buy from you. Don’t forget to speak with people who don’t currently shop with you to understand what’s putting them off your brand.
  • Identify their goals and pain points. Understand what challenges they’re facing in their day-to-day lives. For example, if they’re students are they struggling to budget their cash? And what motivates them - for example, are they passionate about wearing the latest fashion trends, or more excited by sustainable clothing that will last the test of time?
  • Highlight their purchase drivers. It’s important to know what’s going to encourage your target audience to buy from you - or your competitors. For example, do they prefer shopping in-store? Or online? Are they more inclined to buy online if they’re offered free delivery and free returns? Do they get excited by thinking they’re getting a discount? Does that discount drive them to spend more?
  • Create your buyer persona! Pull together all the information you’ve gathered and start mapping out a small selection of buyer personas for your Gen Z audience. 

Step 3: Develop a content calendar

Creating a content calendar is invaluable. By pulling together
 a central resource to help you plan and organize all upcoming content, you’ll have one source that can be used by your entire content and marketing team. 

What is a content calendar? 

It’s a calendar of your planned content that can be organized in a weekly, monthly, or quarterly format, depending on your needs and output. It can include different forms of content, including blog posts, campaigns, webinars, and social media content. 

Don’t forget to account for reactive content in your calendar too - you’ll want to be able to respond to the latest TikTok trends or burning news stories to show you’ve got your finger on the pulse of everything Gen Z.

Why is a content calendar important? 

Putting in the time now to organize and streamline your future content will save you hours in the long run, reduce the risk of mistakes (or duplicating work), and boost creativity amongst the team. It’ll also supercharge efficiency and productivity!

What makes a successful editorial content calendar? 

  1. Collaborate in the early creation stages to understand the needs of each team. Include competitor research in this - where are they lacking and how can you do better?!
  2. Keyword research. Whether working with an SEO expert or an online tool, this will help you understand what topics and keywords are trending in the industry right now. Top tip: keep checking in on this - it will change regularly! 
  3. Arrange content thematically to align with campaigns, seasons, and hot topics. This will ensure that everything is streamlined.
  4. Identify what type of content you’re adding to the calendar. This will also help you to identify any gaps or over-saturation.
  5. Add deadlines to make sure the relevant stakeholders have eyes on the content at the appropriate time. This may include briefs, kick-off calls, drafts, and project delivery dates. Don’t forget to include clear processes, from who’s responsible for each step to who’s informed.

Want to get the most from your content? 

  • Don’t get too bogged down in seasonal or trend-focused content - it’s important, but will only have a lifespan of a few days/weeks. 
  • Create evergreen content - resharing and repurposing work is efficient and time-effective. 
  • Have some flexibility - trends come and go, and the world of Gen Z constantly evolves. Be prepared to change things up!
  • Use an accessible, clear, and easy-to-understand platform to host your calendar. We recommend Asana, Google Sheets, Trello, and Excel. 

Step 4: Get creative

Think about the most memorable bits of content you can remember. Were they visually dull? Of course not – because creativity is key. This creativity doesn’t come organically, however. Great content requires a lot of planning.  

In this section, we’ll discuss the importance of creativity in your content marketing strategy, walking you through exactly what content creation is, how to come up with creative content ideas, and how to build out your content framework and brief.  

Let’s get into it…

What exactly is content creation? 

Content creation is the process behind creating a truly outstanding piece of consumable content (think blogs, e-guides, videos, you name it!) – and it’s made up typically of the following steps:

  1. Start with the idea. Every great piece of content starts with the initial idea phase. This could be an abstract plan, a topic, or part of achieving a company-wide goal. Kick off this planning phase with brainstorming, keyword research, or by looking into what your competitors are doing. 
  2. Set your objectives. Who are you looking to reach? What is the direction you’re looking to go in? Ensure you’re setting a cohesive tone of voice so that the direction of your content is clear to the audience. To reach Gen Z consumers, it’s important to remember they’re less likely to be receptive to anything too serious. Leave the formal tone and jargon at the door!
  3. Set measurable goals. We know that reaching Gen Z is your ultimate goal, but achieving this is nothing without purposeful metrics. We’ve circled back to our SMART goal-setting! Your targets might be around increasing engagement through social shares or page views. Or, you might be looking to enhance brand awareness by measuring the number of users visiting your page, or through your unique page views. 
  4. Decide on your format. The beauty in content is in its diversity! Great content can take any form: blog posts, infographics, interactive videos, case studies, podcasts, and more. There’s no specific right answer for the format, so get creative and trial and test the different options to see what works for your audience. 
  5. Ensure you’re standing out from the crowd. Did you know that 84% of B2C marketers who always or frequently differentiate their content said they do so by producing better quality content than their competitors? 

We live in a world that offers an endless supply of content, so standing out from the crowd is more important than ever. By creating content that is both engaging and valuable, you’re able to demonstrate to your Gen Z audience that you’re the go-to source for information in your field. 

So you’ve planned and produced your awesome content then hit publish – great!

You’d be mistaken to think the work ends here, however. Once your content is published, brands need to set time aside to analyze the data they have available, constantly improving and optimizing to make the content go even further. This can be done in a few ways:

  1. Analyze, analyze, analyze. Assess the engagement rate of your page. Does it look promising? Consider how you can better this by adding in additional calls to action (CTAs) throughout the content, linking other pieces of content, adding a ‘share to social’ button and ensuring your meta title and description are correct. 

Top tip: Don’t forget to add each new piece of content to the content audit template you created earlier! This will help ensure you’re reviewing its success every six months to ensure nothing falls by the wayside.

  1. Repurpose your content. Look through your content inventory and identify where the opportunities are to repurpose it. 

Held a great webinar recently? Why not consider splitting the best clips into shorter, digestible pieces of content for your social media? 

Wrote a great blog series? Why not turn it into a downloadable 

These quick wins are a fantastic way to keep your content fresh. 

  1. Not all content has to stay around forever. Contrary to the previous point, sometimes knowing when a piece of content is no longer relevant is important. Audit your past content, and if it can’t be repurposed, use it as an opportunity to de-clutter.

Step 5: Action plan

A great youth marketer once said if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail (ok – maybe not a youth marketer specifically, but the phrase still stands!).  

You’ve gone through the audit phase, analyzed your buyer personas, developed a content calendar, got creative with the content strategy, finally pressed publish, and have a plan to regularly audit your content. What’s next? 

Well, creating great content on its own is rarely enough to make it go the distance. The strategizing doesn’t end here – brands must be ready to execute a solid content promotion plan in the time after. 

In this final section, we’ll discuss some of the best methods of promotion to make your content go that extra mile.

Social media

Over 3.6 billion people around the world use social media 
 – and a big chunk of that is made up of Gen Z, the digitally native generation.  

The power of social media platforms shouldn’t be underestimated. Whilst social media is primarily a tool for interpersonal communication, it also allows brands to build intimate connections with their audiences. You might want to consider the role of paid 
media opportunities here in addition to leveraging organic content channels. 

Whilst well-crafted organic content can have as much of a positive impact as paid media, it doesn’t always ensure that brands reach their target audience. Paid media will allow you 
to target specific users based on their demographics and data. It can also be more beneficial for promoting long-form content (such as podcasts and videos over five mins).

Collaborate with influencers 

There’s no doubt about it – creators and influencers are a huge part of the Gen Z ecosystem. 

Consider making your content go further by partnering with a creator to share, present, or promote your content. Leveraging a creator partnership could do wonders for your distribution strategy, with many young consumers turning to 
creators for the latest trends and information.

Want to know more? We’re experts in creator content. Check out our Pion Creators: content for Gen Z, by Gen Z. 

PR campaigns 

As we know, getting your content in front of the right audience can be tricky. A solid content marketing strategy should include PR activities as well. PR outreach helps brands to promote their content to relevant journalists and publications. 

PR also allows you to nurture mutually beneficial relationships, which can be a powerful force for your content marketing! It can be the stepping stone for working with influencers and allow you to scale your efforts. 

Finally, PR is a great way to showcase your brand as a thought leader in your space because it brings credibility.



Newsletters might seem like one of the more traditional ways to disseminate content, but their power shouldn’t be underestimated! When deployed correctly, newsletters are a powerful tool to gather and engage an audience - favored by 68% of B2C marketers to share fresh content. 

This is for a few reasons. Firstly, your audience knows exactly when your content is coming (and already takes an active interest in it!), and secondly, they know the type of content they’ll be receiving. 

Newsletters also carry an air of exclusivity about them, so capitalize on this to give your audience first-come first-serve access to your hottest pieces of content. 

Email campaigns 

Did you know that 61% of B2C marketers use email to distribute their content? If used correctly, email campaigns and content marketing can be a dream combo! Segment your email subscriber list to ensure your audience receives the content most likely to resonate with them. You can do this by sending email surveys around the preferences of your database, and asking new subscribers what kind of content they want to receive. 

Remember that email marketing produces such strong results because subscribers have voluntarily given you their email address – they want to hear from you, so ensure you’re tailoring your content and communicating with transparency. 

Key takeaways

  1. Don’t be scared to trim the fat. You might already have an abundance of content – but is it all relevant? Running an audit is your perfect starting point. Don’t be afraid to be brutal – if the content isn’t serving you, get rid of it. 
  2. Understanding your audience is essential for success. Research your audience and remember that reaching Gen Z effectively is not just about understanding this digitally native, money-savvy group of consumers – it’s about knowing them. 
  3. Have a post-content action plan. You might have followed all the steps in this guide, but as is usually the case, the final one is the most important. Consider all the ways you can make your content truly go the extra mile for both you and your audience.

Ready, set, go! 

Content is (and will always be) king – but taking the time 
 to plan and execute a strategy is your key to making it a success. Now that you’ve got the resources and planning phases, it’s time to get started. On your marks… 

Download our 5 Steps to optimize your Gen z content marketing strategy report here to access your free templates for conducting a SWOT analysis, creating Gen Z buyer personas, and completing a content audit. 

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