Why make content strategy part of your organization? Of course, it’s the right thing to do for your users or customers but, just as importantly, you’ll enjoy a host of benefits. To encourage your organization to adopt content strategy, I’m sharing the top three benefits of content strategy I’ve seen over the past four years.
I’m sharing these benefits not in order of priority but in the order your company or organization likely would experience them. Content strategy is like aging fine cheese or excellent wine. As it matures, it gets even better than you hoped.
The most immediate benefit, you’ll experience
Faster buy-in from executives and stakeholders around a project, such as a website redesign, because they are aligned around the content strategy.
More efficient use of your resources as you clarify workflows and processes, rather than lengthy meetings and deliberations or last-minute panic modes.
More efficient content creation and maintenance, as you focus on creating the right content rather than lots of content (or, in many cases, duplicate content).
More consistent content structure and messaging thanks to better coordination across business units and silos.
Reduced risk of investing in publishing and maintaining content that doesn’t work or in paying for redundant content efforts.
Reduced risk of not having the right content when you need it and causing confusion that interferes with a sale or causes customer service or support inquiries.
More cost effective sales lead generation or recruitment and increased adoption of customer self-service.
As you progress in implementing your content strategy, your content will have an impact on what your customers or users think and what they do. Without having such an impact, no company or organization can succeed. Sales, donations, adopting healthy behaviors—whatever your organization wants to achieve—will not happen without influencing your customers or users. More specifically, the benefits include…
Reputation or brand is critical to any organization’s success. Your web content and communications forge that reputation for many people. When you provide quality content, you become a trusted, responsive expert or advisor. When you provide moments of fun, entertainment, or delight through content, you enhance a likable brand personality.
If you know how to offer the right content for people deciding whether to convert, more people will decide in your favor.
Keep up that reputation and you’ll earn users’ trust. That trust is critical when you’re asking them to buy your product, consider your opinion or act on your recommendation. It also makes handling small mistakes during a long customer relationship much easier. This benefit is even more valuable when you consider that loyalty programs have proven ineffective.
Regularly plan for influential content, and you’ll be at least hours ahead in communication when crisis strikes. A crisis is stressful enough without having to muddle through new content approaches, too.
As your customers or users share your influential content, they attract more customers or users like them to it. Your content such as reviews, case studies, quotes, and comments helps people identify with existing customers or users and, ultimately, see your relevance. You attract not only more people, but the right ones—the ones who match your organizational or business goals.
Many sites aim to help people choose what is best for them and their loved ones. Influential content will help you gently direct people in those choices.
This next category of benefits from content strategy is the most strategic. McKinsey’s report Measuring the Full Impact of Digital Capital argues that digital capabilities should be viewed as assets, not expenses. I see content (including the content itself, the customer or user data related to it, and your capacity to use that content and data strategically) as such, which I explained in this post. What does this content capability gain you?
An organization that has the agility to provide customers with the right content in the right place at the right time will have a serious advantage over competitors that don’t. When the majority of sales research, for example, happens online, you will be in trouble if you don’t offer informative, influential content.
When you understand who is using your content and how, you have insights that can inform ideas for new products or services (content based or not). I have no doubt, for example, that insights American Express gained from their Open Forum (essentially a digital magazine for small businesses) informed their products and services for small businesses.
So, content strategy offers a bounty of benefits. Some advantages happen immediately, while others take time to evolve and bring you a full reward. Regardless of which benefits interest you most, the sooner your organization develops and starts to implement content strategy, the sooner you will enjoy them.
Originally published on the now-archived Content Science blog in May 2014.
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