Content Strategy: be useful for a customer
Right now you are reading our content. When we were planning our content strategy we were thinking about you and your needs.
Probably you are a founder of a company. Or you are going to become one and your goal is to find out how to create a high-quality content strategy that will help you to increase site visitors and convert them into customers. Also, you can be a manager, a designer or a marketer. In all those suggested situations your goal is to learn more about content strategy and how to be really useful for a customer. It is because we planned it. And you should do the same.
Goal of your content strategy
Content can solve a lot of problems and can be really helpful in many situations of your startup or business life of a company. But first, you should figure out what is your content strategy goal.
It can be promoting one of your products or services. But in general, every piece of content is promoting your values and communicates with your customer.
When you are creating a content, ask yourself first:
- will your customer understand it easily?
- is content useful for a customer?
- what decision will be made after reading
- what ideas this content will give to your customer?
Planning a content strategy: substance, structure, and workflow
The goal of content strategy is to create, manage and deliver the useful and usable content. It is a big deal so we need to divide the whole process into many small tasks. There are: quality of content, content architecture and content creators and managers. Let's check each of parts.
The substance of content determines which content will contribute to the successful implementation of the core strategy, including the level of message architecture, potential audience, voice and tone of the content. It is very important and cognitive aspect of content strategy. How can we transmit the message with the maximum impact on the audience? It depends on what kind of content do we need: topics, types of messages, sources. If we will define type and kind of content we will find out how to speak to our audience. (1) And here it is - a tremendous aspect of all our content strategy plot - target audience.
Let`s make an example of two websites. Each of them is selling shoes. But one site's target audience are people from business - they are 40-55 years old. Another site is selling shoes for young people from 16 to 25 years old. How do you think content will differentiate at those sites? And the answer is so simple like a bell: number of words and content priority.
In the first case, content manager will achieve a long-read content about the quality of shoes, professionalism of old Italian masters and their passion while creating shoes. And this content will absolutely fit main goals of the target audience because people from the business are busy and want to look solid and want to feel comfortable in new shoes. The quality of shoes is the priority.
In the second case, content manager will draw all customer's attention to the fashionable look and will use extra short article and a lot of call-to-action content. Young people are interested in fashion and cool-looking shapes and colors. They do not care about quality but they care about brand and offers. So you can imagine how it will look like. As you see there is a big difference.
Structure of content has the same relation to the target audience and user research as a substance of content. The structure is a way of organizing all content data according to your goals and goals of your user. What info is most important on every page of your site? What should we pay attention to? This is data modeling and prioritization of all pieces. To understand how to organize everything we should answer few questions:
- Why is it important to pass this message? (need)
- Where should the message appear on the site? (context)
- Who is the target audience? (accuracy of notification)
- What does the customer want to say? To do? (clarity)
Workflow explains how people manage and maintain content on a daily basis, including roles, tasks, and tools needed throughout the content lifecycle. It goes about human resources, processes, and tools that are required for content initiatives and for successful launching with ongoing quality. Everything should be controlled but first of all, workflow should be arranged according to your business goals. And management describes policies, standards, and gadgets that need to be addressed to the content.
After you have prepared all these components you should define some criteria that will help you to control a level or progress of goal achieving. It can be a visitor counting or some actions that they do after reading a content. Your success metrics for content can be: traffic, engagement metrics (time on page, number of pages visited) and social shares. (2)
It is impossible to create a good user experience with a bad content. So you can check yourself with these 7 signs of good content. Also with those signs, you can check your competitor and make a business analysis of content.
7 signs of good content
- The content should fit both the user and the business. The relevant content is the one that helps you to achieve your goals. User experience is all that your customer feels when he is using your website or service. Check your content and be confident that every word drives your user to proper solutions. Make sure that content meets the customer's request and is relevant to products you offer.
- Convenient - for each part of the content, you need to define your clear goals and evaluate the content in terms of these goals. It does not matter how big this content is - one page, 20 pages or maybe short notification with two words - it should be done according to a goal. In fact, a well-formulated goal statement will give you all description of your future content. So we recommend to work with ideas and goals harder before creating a content.
- User-centric content assumes that it is based on an understanding of mental models and user needs. User experience research can tell you a lot which info is most interesting for your user and where to put this info as well.
- Understandable - good content speaks to users in their language and is formulated in easy-to-find laconic form.
- Consistent - consistent use of terminology, stylistics, tone, and voice create a sense of the content integrity.
- Brief - more content - does not mean better. The website should not consist of rubbish and “bullshit-info”. Replace amount with a quality.
- 7Updated - The Internet is a living organism that is constantly updated, so content in the intranet should always be relevant and updated according to needs of a customer. Everything is changing. Do not be sorry for your old content, create new and you will see how it can change the situation around.
Next article will go about sketching and prototyping stage in a design process.
Kristina Halvorson,Melissa Rach.Content Strategy for the Web.
Beginners quide to content strategy. Chapter two:Content Strategy. More info here: https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-content-marketing/content-strategy