In this, the third of a six part column contributed by Precedent to PSMG magazine, considers why content is indeed king.
As a content specialist, I often meet communications teams who are really scratching their heads about their content strategy. Why is it so hard to get new content up on our website in a timely fashion? Why do we struggle to agree on what we should publish in the first place? Essentially, it’s because we’re all more than a little bit self-centred when it comes to our websites.
I spent one (particularly painful) writing for the web training session banging my head against the desk as my client insisted that every page must begin within a brand positioning statement. I’m all for being distinctive, but if your customer is looking to find out about your services or simply looking for contact information, they really don’t care that you’re a ‘friendly group of professionals with a flexible approach and a reputation for results’. Your customers are driven online to seek out information or to complete a task and while messaging should guide and be reassuring, your content must put their needs first.
Put simply, there are three things to focus on to overcome this:
1) What do your audiences really need?
Don’t be afraid to be brutal. Content has to justify its place on your website: there’s zero room for filler copy here. Apply the 80/20 rule – 80% of traffic will travel through just 20% of your site. Think about your user journeys: what are the critical pathways to, through and off your website? Are your calls to action delivering? Success hinges on your ability to minimise clutter; use your content to drive simple, intuitive and useful user journeys.
2) What’s the process?
It’s time to abandon the silos and politics of the usual office environment. Identify the stars and hidden gems within your business – the people that write extremely well, or know the business inside out , and bring them together. Define their role within the process (knowledge owner / writer / editor / creative), and explain how they all fit together. Above all, make sure you fill these roles with the right people; not the people you need to appease or the ones who have time.
3) How do we keep it going?
Ultimately, the cornerstone of a successful content strategy is facilitation: ensuring your internal staff produce the best, most useful and insightful communications they can, in the most timely and efficient manner – and not just enabling, but making your audiences want to consume, interact and share your content online. Creating insightful, original and engaging copy, which can easily be shared should be a priority. Figure out where the next step is for your users’ journeys, and start facilitating.
If you still find yourself scratching your head or mediating arguments about ‘who gets the bigger button on the homepage’ then by all means, give me a call.