Wake interactions between wind turbines in wind farms lead to reduced energy extraction in downstream rows. In recent work, optimization and large-eddy simulation were combined with the optimal dynamic induction control of wind farms to study the mitigation of these effects, showing potential power gains of up to 20 % (Munters and Meyers, 2017, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A, 375, 20160100, https://doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2016.010). However, the computational cost associated with these optimal control simulations impedes the practical implementation of this approach. Furthermore, the resulting control signals optimally react to the specific instantaneous turbulent flow realizations in the simulations so that they cannot be simply used in general. The current work focuses on the detailed analysis of the optimization results of Munters and Meyers, with the aim to identify simplified control strategies that mimic the optimal control results and can be used in practice. The analysis shows that wind-farm controls are optimized in a parabolic manner with little upstream propagation of information. Moreover, turbines can be classified into first-row, intermediate-row, and last-row turbines based on their optimal control dynamics. At the moment, the control mechanisms for intermediate-row turbines remain unclear, but for first-row turbines we find that the optimal controls increase wake mixing through the periodic shedding of vortex rings. This behavior can be mimicked with a simple sinusoidal thrust control strategy for first-row turbines, resulting in robust power gains for turbines in the entrance region of the farm.