Content strategy ties it altogether
“You need words, articles, substance, keywords, verbiage. I wince whenever I have to say it, because it’s so cliche, but it’s true: Content is king.” The words of Neil Patel.
Every business encounters the content challenge – even if you are just migrating content from an old site to a new one. No matter how big or small your project is – it’s going to require some (and ideally fresh) content around a topic. Customers and users interact with your brand through everything they see and read. So, you need content to be clear, consistent, on-brand experiences.
Content is often a problem that everyone knows very well but no one talks about it because it’s a big responsibility and there are risks attached. With multiple channels and strong digital content distribution capabilities it is more important than ever to have a consistent message and tone across all communications. However, if you are planning on rolling out your first content strategy take the first baby steps before developing your website. A sustainable content strategy will help you scale your content solutions on a solid foundation. In relation to content solutions we previously looked at the perfect toolkit for writing for the web.
Sustainable content strategy
Content is how you get in front of today’s customers, but it needs a carefully considered strategy. Content strategy is the planning that goes into the creation, aggregation, delivery and governance of useful and usable content in an experience. It will help you capture key stakeholder requirements early on so the process of building a new website goes better.
A good strategy requires that your company should answer questions about your customers, users and your internal stakeholders.
What is it that makes your content relevant, distinct and attractive to the audience? What problems do you solve for the recipient using your content? How does the content support your overall business objectives?
Where to start?
I would recommend compiling a digital content inventory for your organisation. Once you have that carry out a content audit. A content audit is a document that captures all the key pages and the levels they sit on your website. In the audit you can assess the quality of the content and identity weak areas. I would recommend engaging with subject matter experts and key internal stakeholders to help you identify content gaps. The most common content gaps include a lack of thoroughness, freshness and usability. Engaging internal stakeholders at this stage ensures that there is a value placed on the content developed and establishes alignment in your organisation.
Some organisations have multiple content owners for different sections of their websites. To help manage expectations as a business or site owner I find that adopting the MoSCoW technique to prioritise content for your website works well. The letters in MoSCoW stand for: Must Have; Should Have; Could Have; Won't Have.
The MoSCoW analysis as it is also known as is a popular prioritisation technique for managing requirements and is commonly used to help key stakeholders understand the significance of content in a website. Using the MoSCoW technique can help you prioritise content for an entire website, a key landing page and even a go live or a future cycle of work. It helps manage expectations when this is all mapped out in a workshop and the team is clear on what can be done in the short, medium and long term.
Content creation is no one-time event. Bringing it all together in the form of a content delivery plan and editorial calendar with one consistent editor will help a great deal.
Putting in place a functioning workflow and editorial calendar will ensure that nothing falls between the cracks. A functioning workflow is vital in order to succeed with content creation, ongoing management and evaluation of its effectiveness. All processes should be documented and made available within the business. It is important that everyone involved knows what to do.
An editorial calendar can help you a great deal in setting out the agenda for the week, months and year ahead. It gathers information about which type of content is to be produced and who is responsible for the content, as well as when it is published.
The calendar provides an overview of the production and ensures that nothing falls between the cracks. It gives you the chance to plan your content types (e.g. whitepapers, how-to guides, videos) for your target audiences. Building an internal community of content contributors will help you scale your content solutions on a solid foundation, addressing both your business challenges and customer needs.
Integrate content and website planning
Content is part of the user experience and needs to be developed quickly at times when your company is developing in cycles. It’s important in cycle planning that content and platform development processes are tightly integrated. If the content isn’t developed as the website or product is developed, you can end up with broken experiences.
In preparation for a fresh look and feel on a redesigned website, your content strategy can guide you in taking a step ahead and particularly in agile content delivery.
Some companies will use external content resources. The value of having a content partner is that they can evaluate your content, production, provide direction, train your teams and implement systems to give you the power you need.
There is great value in having a design system with a content first approach. Without content your nicely design components (e.g. button, hero banners, header, menus) are just abstract. The foundation of a design system are the components and working with a content strategist during your website’s development makes the end product better. The components you choose to use in your future website will be determined by your organisation’s content needs.
If you are developing something new or refreshing content you already have in stock - content optimisation is crucial. The content optimisation process makes sure your content is written in a way that it can reach the largest possible target audience. The process of optimising content should include making sure associated keywords are present, adding meta and title tags, and relevant links. After all what good is your content if it can’t be found?
Measure the impact
It’s important to measure the impact of your investment in content strategy and delivery. But it is equally important that you measure the right things and not waste time on figures of no importance.
To measure the return on investment you’ll need to find who did what, what benefit new content had, and what needs to be done to improve results. You could set key metrics for return on investment such as consumption, sharing, and lead generation metrics. Whatever metrics you choose to go with such as traffic, click-through-rates, backlinks or social shares, you will need to interpret the data gathered by your analytics platform. A simple insight report spelt out in plain English for diverse internal stakeholders will help you to present the findings. It will ultimately help your case when looking for a content budget and help instil a continuous improvement culture in your organisation.
Do you need help with your content strategy? Are you working on a new site? Contact us today.