In most organisations, no single person, department or division owns all the content. Consequently the quality, message, tone and voice of the communications differ from web page to web page, article to article, paper to paper, tender submission to … you get the drift.
A content strategist is expert at working with all the organisation’s stakeholders to help them wrangle this problem content, which can only become worse if left untended. With more and more content being added to our websites every day, it’s time to stop and take a good hard look, fix the current content, then plan how content will be managed into the future.
A content strategy untangles the mess of current content – identifying what is good, what is ‘evergreen’, and what is fixable with well-informed editing. A content strategy also identifies content that is redundant, contradictory and out of date. Because content seldom disappears from a website – it’s more likely to be forgotten than replaced – this superseded content can pose a huge risk.
A content strategy clearly defines your audiences, which in turn helps you make clear decisions on messaging, tone and voice which may have proved difficult for all to agree on in the past. It also helps identify gaping holes in content where important audience needs have been forgotten or poorly served.
A content strategy uses research –not opinion – to understand how content is being used. We research site analytics and search logs. We talk to real users about how they interact with the organisation and how the website helps or hinders them in doing that.
A content strategy doesn’t just leave it there. It plans for the future. We devise a new information architecture to access the content in the most intuitive way. We develop a content plan for new content to be written incrementally. We produce a style guide to help all authors in writing for the website and other organisational communications. We train authors in writing well for the web, for search engine optimisation (SEO) and especially for accessibility.
A content strategy must be sustainable. We develop a governance document to ensure website authors can maintain clear, organised, and easy access to the website’s content over the long term, and sustain the quality and currency of that content.
The outcomes of content strategy include:
- A consistent organisational voice across all content channels and types
- A findability approach that puts the right content in front of the right audiences at the right time
- Structured content modelling that maximises the flexibility and re-usability of content and future-proofs it for new distribution methods
- A monetisation strategy that plots the optimal customer progression from free to premium content
- A governance and review policy that ensures content will be effectively managed, developed and kept relevant over the long term
Case study: Content strategy in action