You may have heard of it before. You may have cringed at the sound of it. You may have buried it under the rug, putting it off to “clean up” later…when the time is right.
The good news it doesn’t have to be that scary. You don’t have to have nightmares about it. And if done right, it can actually make your life easier!
In fact, content strategy is often over-complicated. In many cases this is done by content strategists so they sell you on the idea that you need their services.
I am by no means saying that you don’t. Hiring a content strategist can actually be a great idea for your business. My point is that it doesn’t have to be over-complicated with technicalities and big vocabulary to try and confuse the client, and any business can afford to have a strategy (read: can’t afford not to have one).
But first thing first…
Content is the information you convey to your visitors on your website.
It can come in several formats: audio, video, image or text. But the bottom line is that it is sending a message to the reader/visitor.
In my opinion, content is everything. Things like design and structure transmit information and signals to your website’s visitors as well. However, when people talk about content, they are talking about informational or informative content.
Without content, a website is an empty structure waiting to be filled.
Properly created content (and successfully implement content strategy) can accomplish a few things for your business…
Tell a story: People love stories. People can relate to stories. People can visualize stories. And visualization is that much closer to making something real.
Imagine the power behind a story of one of your customers whose life has been drastically improved because of your product or service.
Answer Questions: Chances are your potential customers may have some questions before committing to a purchase.
By answering possible inquiries from the get-go, you are greatly improving your customer service (something that people take note of) and decreasing the lead-to-customer conversion process (you spend less time answering questions because the customers can find them themselves).
Drive Decision Making: Content can convince someone sitting on the fence to make a decision. Really good content can convince someone who hasn’t even approached the fence yet make a decision.
Attract: If a customer can’t find your website, they can’t really begin a relationship with you. Content can make you more findable. Properly created content can also make you more attractive.
Manage Expectations: Being clear about what the customer should expect provides for a much happier customer. Under-promising and over-delivering is always better than not meeting a customer’s expectations.
Define Your Brand: Your content can clarify your brand and establish your identity. Style, formats and word usage all combine to create an identity for your company through your website.
Build (or Break) Trust: Good content helps you connect with potential customers and build trust. For example, publishing content answering criticisms can show your side of the story, and show why the criticisms aren’t necessarily all that bad or even invalid.
However, a badly structured response to criticisms can actually break trust and leave people with a bad taste in their mouth.
Builds Connection: If you cater your content to your customers you can create connections on a more personal level by speaking directly to them.
Establish Yourself as an Expert: Providing valuable content to your target audience can display your expertise and prove that you known what you are talking about. Even if you give away trade secrets, people are often lazy and would rather pay you, as an expert, to perform the actions rather than doing the work themselves.
Provide Social Proof: Co-authoring content or performing interviews with big names in the industry creates social proof – authority by association.
So now we know what we can accomplish, but what formats does content come in online? Go on to read about 16 popular and effective content formats, and check out the Content Strategy 101 series in its entirety.