Friday, March 30, 2012
Website Content Strategy
A web site is only as good as the content it contains. If you spend all your web site development resources on building the technology that contains your message and don't clearly think through the message you want to convey, your site will not be effective.
Part of your web strategy and design planning requires that you think through the type of content that would be the most appropriate, who your audience is, and how you will create that content and keep it fresh and interesting.
Understand what your site content can do for you. Content is the main reason that people visit your site. You are writing content to attract and keep visitors on your site, to get them to return to your site again, and to sell your products. Your content generates page views. The more page views your site serves up and the more traffic it generates, the more money you can charge advertisers to place banner ads on your site.
Sticky content refers to content published on a web site, which has the purpose of getting a user to return to that particular web site or hold their attention and get them to spend longer periods of time at that site. Webmasters use this method to build up a community of returning visitors to this site. Examples of sticky content include chat room, online forum, webmail, games, weather, news, horoscopes, etc. Sticky content is also sometimes called sticky tools or sticky gear. Web sites featuring sticky content are often referred to as sticky sites.
Tailor your content to your target audience. Who are your customers? What kind of content do they expect to find on your site? Keep in mind the purpose of your site: is it an online sales brochure, a newsletter or magazine site, or a tool to sell your products? The answer will help determine what content you should include in it.
Examples of the types of content you could include are contact information for the company, company history, profiles of key people, frequently asked questions, press releases, customer testimonials, product features and dimensions, product comparisons, case studies and articles about your products or services in action, and helpful tips.
You could post articles that spotlight your knowledge and expertise in certain area. Such copy can extend your reach and invite inquiries from people interested in hiring your services. The same can be true for a product that requires considerable aftermarket servicing. You can use your Web site to build trust in your products and expertise. Once you complete your research, make a list of the content you will feature on your site.
Like your other marketing pieces, you need to decide on the tone of your content. For example, consider whether you want a friendly or folksy tone or a more factual style. Consider what kind of image would best reflect your company's style.
Establish your content budget. Within the context of your overall budget, come up with a range of how much you want to spend to put content on your site, and then to maintain it and keep it current. It usually costs more to commission content than it does to refresh it or check it periodically for accuracy. Don't forget to consider the costs of taking people away from their primary responsibilities to create content.
You could generate your own text and graphical content by drawing on your existing in-house talent or by hiring outside content creators. Creating your own content gives you a greater level of control over the information that is featured on your site. You will need to evaluate your current resources and decide whether the alternative of hiring people to create your content is feasible.
You can acquire both text and graphical content from outside sources through syndicated companies that share their content. Obviously this content will likely have a broad appeal, and if your company fills a niche market, you may not find content that is appropriate.
Your web site is your only face to many of your customers. If you post your original content and forget about it, they will be able to tell. You need to keep refreshing your features to make sure your site is up to date and keep the interest of your customers.
The only way you will know whether your site is meeting your customers' needs and how it might need to be changed is to keep monitoring it after it is built. You can use a number of methods to make sure your content is right for your audience: log analysis tools to track traffic patterns on your site, keyword tracking, and surveying your customers can all help you to make sure that you don't waste your resources on content that no one is reading or that turns your customers away. There are also web analytics tools such as Omniture, WebTrends, CoreMetrics, SiteCatalyst.
High quality web site can greatly help your business.