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The Key Digital Strategy Companies Often Forget

Posted @ 10:17 am by Robert Balmaseda | Category: Digital Marketing, Strategy | 0 Comments

This is part one of a three-part series on the keys to content strategy. First we look at crafting a digital content strategy, then we’ll dive into executing that strategy and selecting the right CMS, then we’ll look at disseminating and promoting content via other channels, such as social media and content syndication.

You know you need a new website. It’s still rocking a Flash intro and your animated gifs are of the 1.0 variety. You need something that looks great and tells everyone who visits that yours is a modern, cutting-edge company.

Great. Just don’t forget about the content that shiny new container is going to hold. Just making a site prettier doesn’t necessarily make it more successful. So often, we see companies throwing all their time, energy, and budget into a new look and feel for their website, only to have that website fail to deliver on any sort of brand promise. Why? Because they just haven’t thought about the content piece.

The key here is to remember both parts of the content puzzle—not just a content strategy, but also a content management strategy. This post is focused on the former, but we’ll get into the nuts and bolts of CMS next week.

On the content strategy front, companies need to remember that a successful homepage needs to immediately get across who you are, what you do, and who you do it for. There are three simple questions companies need to ask themselves and their agencies to ensure that their content strategy is living up to their design vision.

1. What exactly do you want people to do on your site?

The tendency here is to immediately answer “everything,” but think about it: Are you going to lose talented job seekers because there’s not an obvious “jobs” link on your homepage? No. They will find your listings because that’s why they’re on your site. Ditto analysts and journalists looking for your latest news and media contacts. If they’ve made it as far as your site, they’ll find the press release they’re looking for.

Companies need to think about the key value proposition of their brand, and how they are messaging that value on their homepage. What is the messaging architecture and what is the site trying to say? If a company doesn’t understand the value proposition of both their brand and their site, that’s a problem. Oftentimes marketing staff will say something along the lines of, “Our brand values are x, y, z.” But from the perspective of a site visitor, so what? Companies need to take it  a step further and think about what their audience needs to learn from a site.

2. What role does your site play in your business, and in your relationship to your customers or clients?

Companies really need to spend some time thinking about the role of their websites. Is the website the first experience people have with the company or brand? Is it validation—in other words, they’ve seen the company, product or brand somewhere else and are doing research on the website? How are people getting to the site—through search, an ad, a direct marketing campaign? Usually it’s all of those channels, so then you need to think about the goal of each campaign, and how the site plays into those goals. When someone clicks through to the site from each of these channels, what will they want to do, and what will the company want them to do?

3. Who is the audience of your homepage?

Every company’s homepage really needs to be targeted. Companies need to think about the particular audience they want, as well as the audience they tend to attract, which are not always the same thing. Companies also need to think about how the homepage is going to function both at launch and several months or years down the road. Websites are not like other marketing projects or programs, in that there’s a launch and then that’s it. They need to be built with the idea that they will be updated often to keep people engaged and coming back. Companies need to make sure they’re building their sites with this in mind so that they have the tools available to them to grow and evolve the site over time and don’t have to hire developers every time they want to make a change (more on that when we dive into CMS in the next post).

 

Author: Robert Balmaseda, Senior Vice President at SolutionSet, leads strategic planning of digital projects with an emphasis on solving our clients marketing and communications challenges through integrated brand and technology solutions.

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