Content strategy is King, not content.
When you write persuasive, interesting and well-written content, it helps convert web traffic into paying customers and ensures your organisation comes across as both professional and credible.
But that’s not enough. Its just the beginning.
These days, its not just about web design and good copy; powerful, action-oriented content is an essential part of every successful marketing strategy.
And as you know already, continually producing remarkable content worthy of links and generating leads is not easy. It takes a lot of time and resources, management support, long-term vision, copy-writing talent, internal expertise and often a willingness to share knowledge you once would have kept to yourself.
Not only do you have to become a highly effective copy-writer, week-in and week-out, to generate content which both engages audiences and motivates them to take action but, as the economic, political, and global landscape is changing so rapidly, you must also develop a content strategy, to constantly draw people in and keep them interested.
What is an effective content strategy?
At the heart of inbound marketing is content strategy. Let’s take a look at the seven core elements for developing an effective content strategy to help you win new customers, more donors, supporters and fans.
Rather than give you a rigid framework, which may or may not apply in your case, make sure your content strategy follows these guidelines.
It has to be strategic
This bit is tricky. Web content has to appeal to the audience and at the same time connect with business goals and brand messaging. This requires talented writers who understand both content strategy and how to deliver compelling copy which integrates across web, social and search.
It also has to be brand-centric
Some call it a brand; some an “image”. Whatever you call it, a brand is the sum of audience experiences and perceptions. As soon as someone hears your business name, or sees your logo, it’s what comes to mind.
When they visit your website do you immediately try and sell them something or is it inviting, informative and creates a memorable experience? How about the last interaction with a salesperson or a customer-service representative; was it a haphazard experience, or one carefully crafted?
Whether we like it or not, more than ever, words, images and actions define your brand every day and, with selective attention, websites and web content often serve as the first ~ and possibly only opportunity ~ to make a memorable first impression.
So copy-writing, design, layout, and calls-to-action must convey core brand messages, tell your story, *AND* create positive perceptions that motivate a customer to act.
It must be customer focused
Hopefully, this comes as no surprise, but you, the seller, are not in control anymore. The buyer is in control.
They will decide, often without your knowledge, whether you will get their business/support/contribution, or not. Your web content therefore must connect with readers. Your content strategy needs to speak directly to buyer personas, address their pain-points and bring real value.
The hard part is ~ this is a continual process. It’s not just a clever web design which allows you into the game, like it might have done five years ago. It’s about continually creating content that is SEO optimised, and recognised by Google, to where it ranks well, has authority and is easily found.
Whether internal or outsourced, copy-writers must follow your content strategy, have clear direction and understanding of each of your target audiences, know how to engage them, plus all the tactics around your on, and off-site, SEO.
It needs high-value content optimised for search engines
Web content must tell a story but it must also be optimised for search engines.
Google, which controls about 70% of the search market, is telling companies in very plain terms that duplicate, low-value content is bad, and original, high-value content is good. If you want to know how this relates to you, step into Google’s mindset and answer the 23 questions they are asking about what counts as a high quality website.
This means there are no shortcuts. If you think your content strategy can get by with a few SEO tricks and average content, you’ve already lost out to your competitors.
In short, SEO is an evolving art and science and requires talented SEO specialists and top-class copywriters to work together, who are continually measuring and refining content that can be found and produce measurable results.
It has to be creative
Web content involves a creative team that is talented and provides expertise around strategy, content creation and editing, project management, sales process, information technology, web design, video, mobile, graphic, SEO, process management, thought-leadership, automation and marketing.
Phew! Almost as difficult to say as it is to get your head around.
Take a look at your website. No, really look at it.
You have to bring real talent to bear. That impossible to SEO “tree hugger” web design ~ your fearless leader’s son created in his gap year ~ just doesn’t cut it. And probably, like most community ventures, Third Sector, green business and more-than-profit company sites I see, neither does 85% of the content.
It must be technically sound
Technically sound copy is concise and powerful. It uses proper grammar and is written at the appropriate reading level. It is also consistent in person, voice, tone, and format. Copy-writers need strong technical writing skills and the ability to apply these skills whatever the task, medium, or subject matter.
And of course, it has to be results-driven
Content needs to be closely tied to the organisation’s objectives.
It should play a key role in the organisation’s sales process and deliver measurable results which includes generating leads, educating customers and determining customer intentions.
This is achieved by tracking the content’s success through metrics and reporting of page-views, calls-to-action, content downloads, social media reach and leads for the sales team. This involves constantly revising content strategy based on past performance and promotes the incorporation of new ideas and topics that drive traffic and capture audiences.
The greater the value of your content, the greater the return on your investment.
It’s not the regular brochure and sales-letter kind of copy-writing you might be used to. So if your website’s not doing as well as you’d hoped, you have to ask yourself ~ is it what you’re writing about, that’s not capturing those hearts and minds, or the way you’re writing about it?
Frankly, most of the writing and content production I do for my clients is because they simply don’t have time or the desire to learn how to become professional writers and develop a content strategy.
Its more cost-effective to have me to do it for them, because then they can get on with what they are good at, and care about. The result is a website full of powerful, action-oriented content ~ they don’t have to lose sleep over ~ plus consistent, high quality links and leads.
No doubt their high ROI web design has something to do with that too.