It’s not enough to build a new website—organizations need to create meaningful, cohesive, and sustainable content to attract and engage audiences. How do you achieve this? With a well-thought-out content strategy. Content strategy is more than just your content: it’s how it helps you achieve your goals, where it lives, how it is digested, and how often it is updated.
The purpose of a content strategy is to map out the goals for your website and the content that will help achieve the messaging for each section. Your content strategy should be used to inform content creation and migration planning, wireframing, and placement of content in the design and development stages. Your end goal is to continuously get the right content to the right audience at the right time—without a substantial burden on your organization.
What your content strategy is—and is not
Your content strategy is a living document, a map that you and your colleagues can use to decide where your content goes on your site and how you will use it to deliberately create intentional ongoing engagement with your organization. Your content strategy is not all your content or a laundry list of things people want you to post.
Your content strategy should include overarching site information like your website goals, what messages you are trying to convey, who you are talking to, what actions you are hoping users will take, and the content you need to be successful. You can also include resources such as your sitemap, content types, writing best practices, and SEO keywords for specific content or pages. You will want to note the status of your content as well, and how often it should be updated.
Benefits of a content strategy
A content strategy helps you get more out of your content by helping you define and reach high-level goals. By mapping your business goals to your audience needs and seeing how your content can connect the two, you can craft an integrated, seamless experience for your audiences on your site.
Streamlined workflow for easier content creation
Creating quality content is rarely a one-person job and thus, producing large volumes of content requires effective workflows. A streamlined process and standards for process creation lead to more successful content creation. Everyone producing content will know what they’re creating, how they’re doing it, and why it matters. This empowers your team to take ownership of their work, contribute better ideas, and generate successful content—saving time for other tasks while ensuring that your content is useful, audience-centric, and goal-driven.
A content strategy can help make sure that all your key stakeholders are on the same page about your strategic direction. Getting approval on the overall plan and workflows means roles and processes are clearly defined. A content strategy can also help you justify your decisions down the road, as it provides a framework for what you’re doing and why.
Uniform content creation
A well-planned and well-documented content strategy will guide your content producers, giving them a shared understanding of the website, expectations for the content, and insight into how the content all fits together. Within your content strategy, your style guide helps you create consistent content that looks and feels like it came from the same person, even if there are a number of authors. A comprehensive style guide ensures new content is uniform, of high quality, and on-brand, without the need to micromanage. Another benefit of a well-thought-out content strategy and style guide is that it makes it possible for others on your team to pick up the work where it left off.
What does success look like to you, your team, and your organization? If these answers are not aligned, it can cause confusion and frustration. Your content strategy brings together your organization’s goals and audience needs and creates a unique opportunity to map out what metrics are essential to capture. Since you will define the purpose for each page, a strong content strategy should outline the metrics you will track and analyze to constantly determine whether or not your content marketing efforts are yielding results. Your KPIs may differ depending on the content type, and your strategy can help you keep track of that.
A well-rounded and cohesive experience for your audience
The internal benefit of uniform content creation has a major positive impact on your external audiences. Your strategy allows you to create a cohesive picture of the organization across your whole site. From your “About Us” page to your latest resource, your audience will know who you are and what you’re about. With a structure that allows for consistent and unified messaging, a website can create a compelling, immersive experience.
We worked with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) to shape a full-circle user experience based on the knowledge we gained that policymakers and government officials come to CSIS to get a nuanced, thoughtful perspective on critical global issues. We then began crafting the entire site, from articles to program pages, to support that experience.
Simplified—and effective— user experience
A content strategy helps you map out your site content and develop clear, engaging, and useful user journeys for a better experience. Since you’re thinking through how content will be organized and structured across the site, you put yourself in the user’s shoes to see how they will be led through the content. The easier your site is to use—and the better the content—the more likely a user will stay, find value, and take action.
One instance where a content strategy is particularly helpful is if your organization deals with very technical information for a niche audience, but also provides information for a more general audience. This was the case for the California Air Resources Board (CARB), who had complex regulatory content to help both general audiences and specialized audience groups. Forum One helped simplify the site’s content strategy and taxonomy to focus on new Topics and Programs pages that centralize related resources, simplifying the experience of navigating to help both groups quickly and easily find the information they need.
As part of crafting a content strategy, you will define who your audience is, their motivations and goals, and the problems that your content can help solve. This means that your content is tailored to the specific audience that needs it and includes the messaging that most resonates with them. Audiences get content that they need, while you position yourself as a credible expert on the topic. In a content strategy, each page has a clear intent, making it easy for a user to take your desired action and for you to measure success. Improving your calls-to-action helps you better serve your audience by facilitating engagement.
The good news is that a content strategy doesn’t have to be a heavy lift! If you aren’t planning on creating a new website, you can go page by page as you updated content and define how you can better reach your audiences and achieve your goals through content. Over time, you will have a well-laid plan for how to regularly engage your audiences and update your content.
Get in touch. We would love to talk with you about your content strategy and how we can help drive your users to a clearly defined action.