7 steps to more powerful content

7 steps to more powerful content

You want a rodent as a pet? Fine. I guess hamsters can be cute. But you do not want the virtual equivalent of a hamster’s nest when it comes to your company’s content. If you did an audit of all of the owned content (the stuff your company produces) people currently can access, would you discover the sum total looks more like a haphazard pile of chewed-up paper (and whatever else hamsters chew) than a coherent story?

If the answer is yes, your content probably isn’t as effective — or cost-effective — as you’d hoped it would be. It might be time to step back and look at your company’s content as a whole. After all, your customers don’t care which department is writing about best practices in your industry.

But they do care if they find conflicting information or inconsistent branding. Content strategy is not about the quantity of content produced. Instead, content strategy has everything to do with how content helps your organization achieve its business goals.

Here are seven key areas to address when reviewing your existing content to make it more powerful and effective.

1.  Ownership and duplication of efforts. If your company is structured in silos, it might be a good idea to convene a cross-departmental working group to get a full view of what’s being produced and decide how teams could better work together to find efficiencies and improve ROI. Chances are, at a larger organization, some content-creation effort is being duplicated. Everyone’s life will be better if you can identify where this is happening and find a solution to consolidate or streamline it in a way that satisfies all parties. No one likes working harder than they have to to achieve the same results and everyone likes saving money. Going through this process really can be a win-win if you position it right.

2.  Organization. Is the content on your website easy to find and navigate through? If you have a content-rich site, is there a way to “surface the gems” by highlighting the most customer-relevant or useful pieces on the home page rather than trying to eliminate extraneous materials (which can be a political mess)? Also look at how your online and offline content is integrated. If it’s not, should it be? For example, should your marketing brochures be available for download on your website, or should you instead integrate the content into a mobile-friendly web page? How are you promoting your company spokesperson’s seminar at your conference booth versus on social media?

3.  Relevance. Most of the time, once materials are released into the wild (published), there’s no longer someone to take responsibility for them. But often content has a defined lifespan and needs to be updated, reworked completely or thrown out. So when reviewing content, it’s important to evaluate if it’s still accurate and if it’s relevant to a specific customer audience. Are you talking about customers and solutions to their problems (yes!), or primarily about yourself (no-no)? This is where customer personas come into play. It’s a good idea to develop them and to keep them updated as your customer base changes.

4.  Shareable. Is your content compelling enough for your target audiences to share with others? Do you make it easy to share? Add social share buttons where it makes sense and track what gets shared and what doesn’t to help guide future content choices.

5.  Content type and channel. Is this content most compelling as a fact sheet, video or infographic? You may have a lot of useful information for customers that goes unnoticed because it’s not presented to its best advantage. And, how does your content look on mobile devices in addition to the desktop? Delivering a lot of content in PDF format is not mobile-friendly. If you’re doing a website redesign, consider responsive design and create content with mobile devices in mind – first and foremost. Today, about half of all Internet traffic comes through mobile devices! And the majority of email is checked via mobile devices.

6.  Actionable. All of your content should have a specific purpose. Is it clear what each piece of content is supposed to do or what readers should do with it? Why does it exist? Think about adding simple calls-to-action, from “share with a friend” to “call us.”

7.  Readable. Grammar still matters because you don’t want people to have to work too hard to understand you. Is your content concise, clear and easy to comprehend? If it looks like a 6-year-old wrote it, you’ve got a problem. Not only will you lose eyeballs fast, readers likely will get the impression that your company is unprofessional or just doesn’t care. Not great for business.

These tips are a first foray into cleaning up the content you already have and making it work harder for your company. Once you have a better handle on what you do have, in addition to improving existing materials, you’ll be able to identify what you don’t have — those content gaps in the customer experience. Then you can make plans to develop that content as well.

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