Why do I need a content strategy?
- Understand what kinds of content your target audience is looking for.
- Define how you’re going to use content to meet your goals and satisfy your customer at the same time.
- Align your efforts across your communication and marketing channels.
- Guide decisions about content throughout its lifestyle, from conception to deletion.
- Set a benchmark by which you can measure the effectiveness of your content.
- Cut costs by setting boundaries on what content should and should not be produced.
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If there’s one that makes content great; that would be how appropriate the content is. Your content should be appropriate to your business, to your target audience and to the ways it is being delivered.
When content helps you achieve the goals you have set for your business it can be considered great content. Merely explaining to target audiences who you are and what you do will not necessarily accomplish any business goals. However great content that is appropriate to your business will help you generate leads, make sales, rank well with search engines, train, market to and care for your target audience – it will make your business better.
While I doubt anyone sets out with the purpose of generating content for their website that is boring, confusing, irritating and generally useless – any content that is not created with very specific goals in mind is exactly that. Even that fluffy “About Us”, “Our History” and “Who We Are” stuff that most of us have been or even are still feeding our audiences may seem neutral, the fact is it is wasting our target audiences time and money and getting in the way of fulfill their needs. Content that is useless to your target audience is useless to your business.
You already know who your target audience is, they’re the people who need your services, products and/or information. You’ve probably spent time and money researching who they are, what they do, where they live, what they earn and most importantly what it is they need. Understanding your target audience’s real human desires and then fulfilling them requires user-centered content. It doesn’t require your business to be listed in Fortune 500, it doesn’t require a ‘million dollar budget’ and it certainly doesn’t require self-absorbed information that alienates people.
Great content is clear when it does what it sets out to, leaving no room for confusion. It is organized in such a way that it is easy to use and speaks to its target audience in a language that they understand. Sounds simple enough right?
But when most website projects rely on a variety of specialists to produce and revise content independently the lack of a website content strategy that can ensure that each piece of content is clear can mean disaster.
The voice and tone of the words that make up website content are to language as the layouts and colours are the corporate identity. The way a gaming website speaks would be wildly different from the way an insurance website would. Style guides are developed which provide consistent methods that govern all content.
In some cases two or three styles are employed in a single website, particularly when dealing with different groups of target audiences at the same time. But without a consistent approach to the voice and tone, the content will become confusing and a hurdle to your audiences goals.
The web is overflowing with information. Some it is useful and most of it is not. So many businesses still follow the age old narcissistic approach to creating content for their websites that in the end the only useful content becomes the close button on the browser.
The secret here is rather than publish everything we can, we should be publishing everything we’ve learned our target audience really needs.
Factual content must be updated when new information becomes relevant and removed when obsolete, user-generated content must be curated; and news must be – um – new.
The thing is that you’re busy managing your business and your employees are already overworked doing their “real jobs” that managing and supporting your website content becomes the last thing on everyone’s mind.
Everyone except those who use it of course, and the resulting negative impression unsupported content can leave on your target audience is not why you built a website in the first place.
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