How to Plan Your Website Content Strategy

Designers and marketing experts recommend a website redesign when your site no longer meets your business objectives. But if you don’t have a strong content strategy, all that money you spend on your website could be a waste.

According to inbound marketing company Hubspot, which studied the results of 7,000 of its customers, companies that blog 15 or more times per month get five times more traffic than companies that don’t blog. And according to UK-based marketing agency ContentPlus, sites with blogs have 434 percent more pages indexed with search engines, making it more likely that customers will find them online.

Whether you’re hoping to launch a company blog or simply freshen up the content on your landing pages, consider these tips for developing your content strategy:

1. Your website should be optimized for mobile. Your website’s design is the first piece of the content marketing puzzle. If it’s not user-friendly, visitors will never make it past the homepage to all the great content you’ve created.

In addition to their desktop computer, visitors should be able to access your website from their smartphone or tablet. Mobile makes up 25 percent of all web usage, according to Mary Meeker’s 2014 Internet Trends report, and mobile advertising increased 47 percent this year.

The bottom line is this: If you’re promoting your content on Facebook and Twitter but it’s not mobile-friendly, many of your users won’t be able to access it. This disconnect may cause you to loose authority with your audience.

“Social is mobile and mobile is the web,” Colleen Callinan, a sales director at Buzzfeed, said at the 2014 Social Media Masters Summit in Chicago.

2. Shareable content involves positive emotion. Humor, nostalgia and good feelings are BuzzFeed’s social posting aims, Callinan said. These emotions drive sharing on social media and keep readers coming back, reversing news stereotypes that “if it bleeds, it leads”—i.e., that consumers prefer violent, fear-based programming.

Psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania studied the New York Times “most e-mailed” list for months and discovered that exciting or happy stories were shared the most and that readers preferred good news to bad.

You don’t have to share cat photos or funny memes if those don’t match your company voice, but writers should still maintain a professional and upbeat tone throughout a post.

3. Identify your niche audience. By identifying your niche audience, you can write content that will appeal particularly to a certain taste and resonate with that group. Consider writing about specific challenges your company has faced and how you solved them. A niche audience will appreciate the specific example and solution.

For example, Andrew Angus is the CEO of a video production company called Switch Video. He contributed to a blog post on the 11 qualities a brand writer must have. Hiring is pertinent to every business and hiring writers happened to fall in Angus’ realm of expertise. By sharing your knowledge about a specific topic, your content will appeal to a niche audience, one that is more likely to be loyal to your brand. Insofar as it is possible, write about issues that affect your audience.

4. Practical beats luxury. According to Callinan, if you’re hoping to appeal to millenials, focus on the practical rather than the over-the-top. For example, if you’re writing about real estate, luxury homes may not be your best bet. Millenials are debt-laden and struggling to make it work in a rough economy. Instead of photos of castles they can’t afford, generation “Y” is looking for life-hacks and cheap tricks for painting their room or organizing the kitchen.

5. Visuals must be a priority. Both Pinterest and Tumblr have driven more traffic than Twitter in the first 6 months of 2014, reports a recent survey from StatCounter. While Facebook is still leading referrals, the study emphasizes the recent growth of visual-driven search. Twitter and Facebook have both added “cover photos” as a main element of the profile platform, and Instagram is one of the most popular apps of 2013.

High quality images make a strong first impression. At the conference, Megan West, a digital CRM manager with ConAgra Foods, explained that good visuals don’t have to be expensive. You don’t need a $7,000 camera to make a good photo. Instead, West advised using photo editing software to brush up your images.  For example, cropping in on a photo of lasagna can emphasize the cheese and make for a mouthwatering post.

For interesting and attractive photos, look for colors that pop out and interesting angles. Photographers often say that you should “zoom with your feet” because getting as close as possible to your target will always give you a better shot than using the digital zoom.

A website content strategy is just as important as your design, and can be a huge lead generator. If you don’t have a strong content strategy, you could be missing out on hundreds of potential visitors—and customers.

Camille Izlar is a web producer at Think Glink Media and manages a number of client social media accounts.

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