Every so often, there’s a marketer who mistakenly believes that design is the be-all and end-all for drawing customers’ attention to a company and leading them through a conversion funnel. However, it is not design alone that will accomplish turning prospects into customers. Design must be accompanied by useful content in order to deliver a user experience that has people returning for more, whether it be information, products, or services. If a website is architecturally pleasing but contains poor content, it will not reach desirable results. Don’t misunderstand, aesthetics are important, but visual factors must be met along with relevant content!
Content is undoubtedly gaining greater importance as shopping and research progress further online, with every consumer having hundreds or thousands of choices at their fingertips. Content attracts prospects not by utilizing the basic techniques of push ads, but rather organically. Your content should demonstrate your expertise and knowledge in the field and about topics the target audience cares about. It needs to add value to build trust. It’s basically the interview for a business – it may be ‘dressed’ in a fancy ‘suit’ (design), but it’s the personality (content) and experience that will persuade someone to do business with you.
What is Content Strategy?
Content, whether it be on a website, a blog, or on social media, should be apposite and appropriate for the medium and target audience, in addition to having a cohesive flow. It is not solely words, but the images and media being used, too! How do you guarantee all of these elements are factored in and aligned with one another when creating content? This, and so much more, is achieved by implementing a content strategy.
Content Strategy is the art of planning how content will be created and then the process of creating that content. It is the management of the content creation that grows a business and the opportunity to persuade prospects to choose one firm over another. Developing a strategic content plan achieves business goals and objectives by using content as a means to accomplish said goals. If the content doesn’t agree with the business objectives, it is simply content, not strategy, and then you encounter the risk of a higher bounce rate, losing prospects, and diminishing their trust in your business.
Building a Strategy
To get a better idea of what it means to have a content strategy, think back to grade school when we learned the five Ws + one H. Consider the questions below as the starting point of determining the goals your content strategy needs to fulfill.
- Who is the target audience that you want to attract? (Buyer Persona)
- What type of content will you be posting? Informative, practical, entertaining – maybe a mix. Will it be a picture, a graph, an ebook, a podcast, or a blog article?
- Where will this content be shared? Which medium(s)?
- When will it be shared? Are there niche holidays your target audience might be interested in? (eg. You own a bakery and it is National Cupcake Day!)
- Why is this content important to a consumer? Why should they select your business over the competition? What makes your brand unique?
- How will you manage all of your content? [eg. Content Management System (CMS)]
After answering the questions above, you should be able to define your larger content strategy goals, then begin to form and execute a game plan.
Additionally, defining your buyer persona is another important aspect of laying out and creating a strategy. You can’t expect to be effective or useful to an audience you know little or nothing about. Understand that the right content in the wrong place, at the wrong time, or to the incorrect people with an improper purpose, will not give the quality results desired of a content strategy.
Moreover, in the last several years, emphasis has been put on search engine optimization (SEO) by web developers and content creators. While policies and regulations periodically change regarding SEO, artificial intelligence and search engines continue to improve their abilities to search for relevant information in the meantime. It’s not simply about inserting keywords anymore into code or content. It is about context.
People will search. That’s a fact. The more concepts content discusses, the higher chance there is of it appearing in search results. Create conversations around questions someone might have of the industry. If content is unrelated, you jeopardize the user of not having the desired experience because the content is irrelevant to your business and the trustworthiness of the source is then called into question. It’s a balancing act between creating enough relevant content while still being appropriate to the industry, and not just noise on a webpage or confusing to navigate as a user. Content strategy, along with SEO, creates new avenues for people to enter a conversion funnel – use it wisely.
To avoid falling behind, a proper strategy has a lifecycle that takes discipline. In brief, a strategy begins by defining goals and planning. Execute it with small group trials and then publish the content once it’s aligned with the goal(s). Afterwards, audit said content by checking the results and adding the necessary changes back into the strategy. Rinse and repeat.
Why does Content Strategy Matter?
Content Strategy is pertinent to every department of a company. As an example, pay attention to the post-purchase content, or customer service strategy. Creating self-serve content to support customers can reduce support tickets and allow the customer service teams to concentrate on more substantial affairs. Furthermore, you can create content for the sales team, considering questions or criticisms they often encounter on the job, smoothing out that operation. Continuously optimizing your content strategy benefits the company as a whole because employees will have the proper materials to create a better user experience for prospects and customers. When you have established several pieces of content that show continuous promise, those will be your evergreen content, which will allow more time for brainstorming new content ideas to reach new people.
Utilizing a strategy and optimizing it ensures content aligns with the brand’s voice, goals, and audience(s). It is important to provide a congruent experience by remembering content ties into the conversion funnel, not as a stand alone feature. Keep in mind what goals you are driving users towards and create germane content accompanied with design, in order to grow your outreach to consumers and ultimately your business.
Want to learn more about Content Strategy? Check out these references!