Have you read the content on your website lately? Maybe taken a trip down memory lane by visiting a few random pages? If the answer is no, could it be because you are afraid of what you might find? Inconsistent messaging, lack of focus on specific audiences, and content that needs to be updated to reflect your current products and services are enough to cause brand confusion and reduced time on your website. It’s time to embrace the importance of good content. If you aren’t speaking to clients or prospective clients directly, the only thing that is doing the selling for you is your content; to ignore this fact is unwise. What is wise, is to start from the ground up and approach it from all sides with a keyword brainstorming session, messaging architecture, and a content audit.
Good messaging starts with a few very specific keywords that accurately define your organization. The best way to discover these keywords is through a keyword brainstorming session with about 6-8 people who are representative of the organization. This exercise requires team members to answer a questionnaire in advance of an in-person activity and then, during the moderator-guided session, participants brainstorm words that best describe the organization as a whole. The keywords are ranked on a scale of 1-4 and the top words from that list are voted on again until about 4 to 6 remain. The word with the most votes is identified as the main keyword and the remaining words serve as runners-up. This exercise not only builds the foundation for the messaging architecture, but it also encourages group discussion for the purpose of getting to a consensus.
Got a messaging architecture? Not many organizations do, which is unfortunate because it can save you loads of time in developing content. The messaging architecture serves as a priority list of what messages you want to convey and to which audiences you want to convey them to. Creating a messaging architecture means identifying key audiences and writing short phrases that speak to each. For example, if you work in the membership department for an association, you may have three audiences that you are selling to, 1) prospective members [acquisition], 2) current members [retention], and 3) former members who you want to come back [win back]. That’s a lot of copy to keep track of across platforms. Imagine how easy it would be to pull some core copy from the messaging architecture and write content around it. Not only is it easy, but it ensures consistency as well.
Think of a content audit as spring cleaning for your website. Throwing out the old, reorganizing the existing, and bringing in new content will transform your site. With a keyword session behind you and a messaging architecture completed, the audit will enable you to identify what is working within the new architecture and what needs to be revised. You might be tempted to complete a content audit before working on messaging, but at that stage there is no content roadmap, so to speak, to guide the audit. Because auditors typically run into questions such as, Who are the audiences? What are we trying to convey? and What is our value proposition? All of these questions will have been answered through the keyword brainstorming session and the messaging architecture, so it becomes a relatively simple plug and play task.
Committing to good content requires you to brainstorm it, build it, and audit it. These three exercises are an excellent way to get your content in order for not only your website, but for all of your internal and external messaging. When you think about how hard your content works and you take steps to enhance it, you will be way ahead of your competition. And, it will position your organization for success and set a clear path forward.