Content matters more than you think. With most consumers admitting to judging the credibility of a business by its website, being purposeful about content is no longer a choice – it’s a necessity. Time and time again, we’ve seen intentional website content strategy lead to fantastic results. Because, in addition to offering a good picture of who you are and what you stand for, website copy guides visitors down the sales funnel and turns landing pages into lead generation machines! Sounds pretty grand, doesn’t it?
We know it does, but it’s not quite that simple. There’s more to compelling, quality website copy than putting together product descriptions, adding a catchy intro, and throwing in a random call-to-action (CTA) here and there. Factors such as website architecture, content hierarchy, brand voice, and messaging play a big part in how your audience perceives your company and in how your website converts.
Even if you nail all of the above, you have to ask yourself the tougher questions: what role does messaging play in your marketing strategy? What are your long-term business goals, and how can the content you generate bring you closer to achieving them?
If you’re feeling a little bit overwhelmed right now, that’s ok – we get it.
Good content doesn’t come easy. It takes research, time, and commitment. But we assure you this is time well spent, and we’re here to help you understand the golden rules of website content strategy and development. You’ll learn why you need to bother with intentionality when it comes to content and how to use copy strategically to get your message across and earn your audience’s trust. Let’s dive in.
Why Website Content Strategy Matters for Your Business: A Question of Trust
Content strategy governs your content marketing endeavors, as well as your website’s overall architecture (number of pages, page content, how they are structured, and how they are grouped together). It has a heavy user experience (UX) component and it should not be confused with copywriting, even though most content strategists are experienced copywriters.
Your content strategy will dictate how to use content to get your message across, meet your audience’s needs, and reach your business goals.
As a branding agency, we’ve had the opportunity to work with hundreds of companies and organizations through the years, and if we were to take everything we learned and condense it into one key, fundamental precept, it would be this: your brand is not for you, it’s for them.
User-centricity needs to translate into all your decisions. From product development to pricing models to your online presence, it should all revolve around your audience’s needs and expectations. Content is no exception, and the best way to ensure that you’re mindful of your reader is to ask yourself why you write – or, as we like to say, figure out the why behind the what.
Otherwise, you may be tempted to excessively use “we” focused language (we do this, we do that) or aggressively emphasize your differentiators without being intentional about nuance or reader perception. And nobody wants that! We’ll provide some useful tips about writing for your audience below, but until then, let’s focus on what nailing your content game can do for you.
Brand Recognition and Awareness
Strong brand messaging, emphasized by a purposeful visual hierarchy, bolsters impact and makes your brand instantly stand out from the crowd. The strategic use of headings and key positioning statements, coupled with smart, consistent copy that stays true to your brand identity, can and will lead to improved brand recognition. People will recognize your brand, relate to it, and eventually trust what you have to say.
While brand awareness results from long-term marketing campaigns that can include anything from content to event marketing, your website will be both the starting point and the final destination of your audience’s journey. A message that is consistent across all mediums will cement your brand’s authority and pave the road towards mainstream success.
Take our friends from Five Points Pizza, whom we’ve helped with their brand strategy, website development, and brand messaging. They cater to a youthful, local audience and have tailored their website accordingly. Bold, dynamic, and fun, their content and visuals reflect their brand personality and have directly contributed to the impressive social media following they’ve gathered.
Thought leadership is basically a form of in-depth influencing, and it’s one of the surest ways to grow your network and reach new potential customers. As a pillar of inbound marketing, thought leadership is what fuels most companies’ content marketing efforts, and for good reason – according to Linkedin, close to 60% of decision-makers indicated thought leadership content as a key factor that led them to select a business partner.
This particular objective is primarily linked to your marketing strategy – specifically on how you go about guest articles, lead magnets, and blog posts. However, having your website landing pages also reflect your willingness to educate (welcoming tone, simple language, user-centricity, and purposeful interlinking) will nurture trust and long-term results.
Lead Generation and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
Whether you want visitors to download an ebook, fill in a contact form, or take a survey, being intentional about what you say and how you say it can move prospects along the sales funnel from awareness to consideration and, finally, to conversion.
However, convincing website visitors to do something of their own accord without seeming pushy or desperate requires a tactful combination of language, visual cues, and CTAs. You wouldn’t want to jeopardize your hard-earned trust through inconsistent or poorly written content, now, would you?
HubSpot does this exceptionally well. Their business model revolves around visitors signing up to use their software. Their marketing strategy, however, is based on educating the audience. To this extent, they invest heavily in lead magnets, but still leave lots of information freely available so that visitors don’t feel pressured into downloading content and only engage with their brand when they feel ready. Now, wouldn’t you place more trust in a provider that doesn’t force anything on you and is genuinely helpful? Chapeau, Hubspot, chapeau.
Website Traffic and SEO
With 93% of online experiences beginning with search engines, reaching Google’s top page should be one of your core website objectives. The single most important thing you can do to make that happen is to invest in the quality of your copy. Search engines value unique, resourceful content that is built around user intent. Having SEO dictate your website content strategy – particularly if you’ve just started your business – can help you get a much-needed boost in traffic, reach new prospects, and grow your client base.
The Golden Rules of Content Strategy
Now that we covered why content strategy for a website is important for business, it’s time to look at some of the practices that can help you capitalize on your story and generate more leads.
Write for Your Audience
“Of course I write for my audience!” is what we imagine your first reaction would be after reading this. Clearly, we trust that you are trying to properly connect with your prospects. And you may be doing a great job at it, but it’s still worth taking a step back and reflecting on your use of language and on how you appeal to your reader’s emotions.
As we mentioned earlier, your website content should be centered around your visitor. You should aim to build trust and authority without seeming overzealous in your attempt to present your company as a worthy solution provider. You need to realize that visitors will first and foremost have an emotional response to your website. If your copy abounds in information that has nothing to do with them (is excessively company-centric), they will likely lose interest.
An excellent way to ensure that you are writing for your audience is to create marketing personas. A persona is a fictitious entity that incorporates your target audience’s main qualities and is used as a reference for your marketing endeavors. It’s usually based on a questionnaire that you send to clients (existing and past) and prospects. Your sales team can also have instrumental input here, particularly regarding the opportunities that slipped between the cracks.
The key to putting together a truly relevant and useful persona questionnaire is to focus on the personal as well as the professional. What motives your audience? What intrigues them? What unsettles them? Remember, emotion plays a significant role in conversion. You can then correlate your findings with your product offering and put together highly relevant, personalized copy.
For example, once you establish key demographic information, you could ask them questions such as:
- What are your biggest pain points when it comes to your business? What struggles have you encountered that, once resolved, allowed you to sleep better at night?
- Considering the business sector you are working in, what would make you invest in __ services? What would tip the scale in your decision-making process?
- What kind of information do you usually read about online? What topics interest you and are most valuable to your business?
- What are the key aspects that influence your purchasing decision?
Research Your Competitors
How well do you know your competitors? Some business owners may be quite avoidant when it comes to competitor analysis. While they know who their competitors are, they find it uncomfortable to continually analyze and compare product offers and achievements, so they skip this process altogether. From a marketing standpoint, however, this is a mistake.
A thorough competitor analysis can inform both your brand messaging and your marketing strategy. Reviewing competitor websites will allow you to identify their marketing communications strong points, as well as their weaknesses, and help you position your company accordingly. For example, you may notice that your biggest competitor has a nice chat feature on their website, or that their copy is redundant and doesn’t get their message across. You can take these observations, discuss them with your team, and incorporate the learnings into your website content strategy.
Even if you are perfectly in tune with the business landscape, note that this step is essential for the creative team developing your website and the marketers in charge of your lead generation efforts.
Emphasize Your Unique Selling Points
Now that you have a better understanding of who you’re talking to and of who you’re up against, emphasizing your unique selling points and differentiators should be a piece of cake. Make sure that your copy reflects what makes you stand out in a way that is clear, concise, and simple enough to understand by someone who is not particularly familiar with what you do. You may be tempted to be exhaustive with the details you provide. Please reconsider, as this may overwhelm the visitor or – even worse – bore them.
For example, instead of listing all product features and specifications out in the open, consider adding click-to-expand/accordion features that reserve this information for visitors who show some extra interest. Also, the View More button should be your best friend, so don’t shy away from using it whenever you have the chance.
We were extra-mindful with information display when working with Enriched Schools. We wanted to keep the website clean, inspiring, and uplifting, while also highlighting what makes Enriched educators special. The result was light in copy, but heavy in meaning. We couldn’t be prouder of how things developed and evolved into the action-forward language that has led the organization to sustained growth through the years.
You know what you want your visitors to do on your website, but the real question is – do they? As we mentioned in our article about UI and UX design, website visitors need to both understand what you want them to do and clearly see how to do it. For that to happen, however, you need to ensure that each page has a purpose.
There are two aspects of content strategy that shine bright: sitemaps and CTAs. Firstly, you should ensure that your website doesn’t include any unnecessary pages and that page placement makes sense from a UX perspective (i.e., it accommodates a specific user flow). Secondly, you need to strategically use CTAs in a way that makes desired user behavior abundantly clear to your visitors.
“We spend a long time (too long, usually) trying to understand what users are looking for, and how to create a positive outcome for them. The call to action condenses all that research into a single click that either makes or breaks a campaign.” – Dave Wilkinson, Digital Strategist @ Proof
Your content strategist should be able to guide you through this process, so don’t stress and trust their input.
Set Relevant KPIs
In addition to being intentional about your website’s architecture and CTAs, you should always ask yourself what you want to achieve with your content. Is it more traffic, more inquiries, more sales, more downloads? Once you figure out what purpose drives your website, you can set goals and track the metrics that reveal how close you are to the finish line.
Much like with everything else in marketing, trial and error play a big role in how you go about content strategy for a website. You can experiment with page structure, CTA placement, and text to see how well your pages convert, or how good they rank with your search engine of choice. Don’t be afraid to try new things, but always measure results and base your decisions on data. There’s only so much you can achieve with intuition alone.
You probably heard it a thousand times, but we’ll say it again just to be sure: consistency is key. People like predictability and are slightly averse to change. You’d be surprised at how strongly they can react to it, so it’s essential that the language you use on your website abides by a set of predefined rules, such as brand messaging guidelines or (at least) a style guide of choice.
One critical aspect that you should be mindful of is voice. While tone can change depending on context, your brand voice should stay consistent across all mediums, beginning with your website. Think of it this way – if your company was a person, how would they communicate? The answer will help you identify the overarching characteristics of your brand’s messaging, allowing you to sound like the same person when talking to your audience.
“Authentic may feel like an overused buzzword these days, but that’s exactly what your brand needs to be. Relating to your audience and ‘speaking the same language’ is more important than ever. Talk with your audience, not at them.” – Matt Cheuvront, Owner/CEO @ Proof
Good Things Come to Those Who Write
Through developing a deep understanding of your audience, clearly defining and outlining the goals you have for your website, and being intentional about what you say, how you say it, and what you desire for your website users to learn, see, and do – you’ll be well-equipped with a website that’s not only the best reflection of your brand, but that instills trust, builds confidence, and inspires action.
So get to writing! Put your website content strategy to good use. Your prospects, clients, and customers will thank you for it.