Content for your website is no longer a blog post every other week written haphazardly by an intern. Now, content needs to be clearly thought out, with objectives and goals, KPIs, and long term management plans.
That’s content strategy, and now is the time to invest in it.
Why content is important
There are many reasons why content is important, but let’s review the basics.
First, from a customer's perspective, content is useful. And the more useful a company is, the more likely a customer will buy something from them.
In other words, content helps build your company brand and positions you as a useful business.
Second, content helps your position in Google search results. More content means more keywords, especially long tail ones. This will help drive better qualified traffic to your site.
Finally, with the ad-blocker debate raging, it’s possible that display advertising as we know it is not long for this world. Content is one way to drive traffic to your site without display ads.
Even if you don’t rely on display advertising, the ad-blocker debate neatly illustrates the changing nature of advertising online.
So content is important. However, for the most part, businesses know this already. The disconnect occurs around content strategy – a cohesive idea of what the content needs to do, how you’re going to make that happen, and what success looks like.
Content strategy is the process of looking at your content and using it as a business asset to drive sales.
Lots of companies, both big and small, have jumped on the content marketing bandwagon without a clear idea of what they want their content to do for them, instead focusing on just pouring out stuff. And that stuff is usually pretty expensive to produce.
Predictably, their digital marketing objectives are not met, and suddenly that content is growing stale and not doing much of anything for the business.
Enter content strategy. The goal of content strategy is to:
- Build a clear idea of what you want your content to do
- Outline how it’s going to get done
- Unify how your content is structured
- Build clear protocols and processes for your content
For some, it’s enough to just say ‘ok, here’s what we want our content to do, let’s go do it.’ But in reality, that rarely works.
Without the infrastructure, it’s all too easy for content to languish while the production machine grinds on. And all of a sudden, you have loads of content doing… nothing.
To actually receive some ROI from your hard-produced words, videos, infographics, guides and ebooks, you need a plan. Without a clear content strategy, you’re likely to hit four main problems.
1. No idea what content is good or bad.
Say a blog post receives 1,000 shares on Facebook, and a video has 10,000 views on YouTube. Which one is better?
The video has more immediate views, but the potential power of the blog post might be bigger. Without metrics in place to measure success, you can never advance your content to grow your business.
2. Too much or too little content.
Content can be a significant cost for a business, which makes producing either too much or too little a big problem.
If you have too much, then each piece isn’t maximizing its potential. On the other hand, if you don’t budget enough and you have too little, the total aggregate value of your content will be lower.
3. Content is mismanaged on a day-to-day basis.
With so many content management systems out there, there’s not really an excuse for this to happen. But it does. All the time.
Blog posts aren’t linked correctly to various platforms, different channels are saying different things – there are all sorts of problems that can crop up.
Content strategy provides a unified objective, as well as how each piece of content is going to work towards it.
4. Content is off-brand.
Finally, content without a strategy is prone to wandering off brand. For larger companies producing dozens of pieces of content every day, potentially through different divisions, and running multiple campaigns on each platform, this can be a particular problem.
Without obvious guidelines and protocols, it’s easy for your content to drift off message and away from what your company is.
That’s why we think that content strategy is so important – without it, the value of content is far lower, and oftentimes refuses to pay for itself.
Why it’s time to invest in content strategy
The cold hard truth is that the time to invest in content strategy was years ago.
The problem faced by many businesses today is that they have content on hand and continue to produce more – but the process lacks clear direction and the infrastructure to properly support it.
For example, a company might run a weekly blog but not recycle posts or tune content direction based on success metrics (e.g. this converted well, this didn’t). A successful enterprise content strategy requires a business to work to improve their conversions and hone what they produce.
Without all of that, the blog has little value.
Yes, it is useful for the reader. But that’s not enough anymore.
Content is a business asset, and it needs to be treated like one.
Fortunately, this problem can be fixed. Bringing in even a little strategy around your content lifecycle will help you achieve a stronger ROI for each piece.
If your content isn’t seeing the returns you envisioned, then content strategy is a good solution for you, and the time to invest is now.
Content without strategy is very unlikely to get the return that you would want, and in many cases represents a net loss rather than a net gain.
Further, it’s likely that content is going to represent a bigger percentage of your marketing efforts going forward.
That’s why it’s going to be critical that companies begin establishing procedures and a cohesive strategy now, so that their marketing channels are at least partially future-proofed.