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Back to Basics: Getting the Content Essentials Right

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It’s all too easy for organisations to get caught up in the shinier, glitzier realms of the content world – viral campaigns, social media outreach, custom publishing, slick video production, and more. So many ideas! So many opportunities!

But what about the basics? How about a strategic approach that focuses on getting the fundamentals right before embarking on complex creative campaigns?

Positioning content strategy and planning solely as a marketing function can lead to misplaced priorities, allowing certain fundamentals to slip through the cracks and cause trouble later on. The pressure on the customer support team keeps rising, and internal workflow breaks down… and no-one can quite figure out why.

In this session we consider what we might be neglecting in our rush to be exciting and trendy. We explore the content essentials, and look at how an organisation can manage and plan for them.

I presented this as a webinar for Data Conversion Laboratory on 10 December 2014 (http://www.dclab.com/webinars/back-to-basics-getting-the-content-essentials-right).

Please get in touch if you'd like me to give this or a similar talk in-house at your organisation.

Published in: Marketing

Back to Basics: Getting the Content Essentials Right

  1. Back to Basics Getting the Content Essentials Right Kerry-Anne Gilowey Independent Content Strategy Consultant @kerry_anne
  2. Why has content strategy suddenly become so important in the last few years?
  3. Mostly because of this
  4. Image credit: www.flickr.com/photos/seantubridy/
  5. Organisations are feeling the pain. Image credit: www.flickr.com/photos/seantubridy/
  6. Organisations are feeling the pain. “Why hasn’t SEO fixed our problems?” Image credit: www.flickr.com/photos/seantubridy/
  7. Organisations are feeling the pain. “Why hasn’t SEO fixed our problems?” “Why haven’t our users generated all our content for us?” Image credit: www.flickr.com/photos/seantubridy/
  8. “We need a blog!”
  9. “We need a blog!” “We need a Facebook page!”
  10. “We need a blog!” “We need a Facebook page!” “We need to write articles!”
  11. “We need a blog!” “We need a Facebook page!” “We need an iPad app!” “We need to write articles!”
  12. But what are we neglecting?
  13. 1. Audience needs
  14. Hi! I’m Elizabeth. I use your product. Uh... hi! Can anyone hear me? IS THIS THING ON?
  15. ? What information do they need?
  16. What’s their context?
  17. How do you fit into their world?
  18. Crouching customer, hidden needs.
  19. 2. Findability
  20. Site search is broken
  21. I searched for macbook air ethernet adaptor. On page 1:
  22. I searched for macbook air ethernet adaptor. On page 5:
  23. Navigation is broken
  24. Navigation is broken
  25. 3. Voice and tone
  26. Discover your voice
  27. What type of language does your audience relate to?
  28. What type of language does your audience relate to? I like a really comfy, schnuggly-wuggly blankie.
  29. I have a preference for deep pile microfleece bedding material. What type of language does your audience relate to?
  30. 4. Basic user experience
  31. Confirmation screens Oh please don’t make me choose!
  32. Error messages
  33. Cross-channel consistency
  34. File names
  35. URL structure
  36. Digital document design Did they charge me twice? I (actually really) can’t tell.
  37. So what should we be focusing on first?
  38. Focus area #1 GETTING CLEAR ABOUT YOUR CORE CONTENT STRATEGY
  39. Sara Wachter-Boettcher Content Strategy Consultant Editor in Chief at A List Apart
  40. How does this feed into our overall business and content strategy? Image credit: www.flickr.com/photos/tambako
  41. Messaging
  42. Focus area #2 THE WAY YOU THINK ABOUT AND POSITION CONTENT
  43. Content used to belong exclusively to the Marketing department.
  44. (Copywriting, like movies, used to be even worse.)
  45. CONTENT
  46. Marketing copy Forms Interface copy Intranet content Terms of service Call centre scripts
  47. But let’s move out a few paces.
  48. This is not your grandfather’s website.
  49. Point of sale Outdoor club Legal contract Customer care platform Financial management portal Advice column Travel agency
  50. Image credit: www.flickr.com/photos/padday/
  51. It’s no longer about the structure of your organisation. It’s about your customer’s cross-channel journey. Image credit: www.flickr.com/photos/padday/
  52. The end product isn’t great content; it’s a great THING. Erika Hall Co-founder of Mule Design Author of “Just Enough Research”
  53. Focus area #3 USER RESEARCH
  54. I want a faster horse, please.
  55. What words do they prefer? blanket vs blankie warm vs snug mail vs post shipping vs delivery
  56. Make use of... One-on-one interviews Site search logs Call centre logs Web analytics Content testing
  57. Focus area #4 THE EFFICIENCY OF YOUR CONTENT WORKFLOWS
  58. The content creation process Someone&has&a& fabulous&crea0ve& idea,&right&on&cue& Magic&dust&is& sprinkled& Words&pop&out&and& form&themselves&into& orderly&sentences& The&unicorns&dance& in&a&circle& CONTENT!!!&
  59. Paging Trevor...
  60. Why I didn’t study in 2011
  61. ?
  62. Workflow questions What are your processes and tools? What’s working, and what’s not? What does your team look like? What other teams and departments do you work with? Where are the bottlenecks? What are your challenges?
  63. Authorship Where should the authors sit? ------ A central team? Within departments? Who oversees them?
  64. Collaboration How can changes best be communicated across departments? ------ How should information be shared?
  65. Focus area #5 MANAGING AND STRUCTURING YOUR CONTENT ASSETS
  66. Content management is the systematic planning, development, organisation, distribution, evaluation, and preservation of all information within an organisation. Erik M. Hartman @erikmhartman
  67. “Nimble content can travel freely, retain context and meaning, and create new products.” – Rachel Lovinger
  68. A new model COPE = Create Once, Publish Everywhere
  69. Structured content
  70. Content models
  71. From guardiantruncationteam.tumblr.com
  72. Focus area #6 PROPER CONTENT GOVERNANCE
  73. Rick Allen @epublishmedia
  74. What’s it about? Who? Content governance What? When? How?
  75. Who... ...has authoring and editing rights? ...owns this piece of content? ...has to review this document? ...has final sign-off? ...is responsible? ...needs to be notified of changes? ...else needs to be involved? ...measures effectiveness?
  76. What... ...content lives on the home page? ...types of content do we NOT publish? ...languages do we create content in? ...metadata needs to be captured? ...are our highest priorities? ...resources should authors consult? ...changes can be made without going through the full review cycle?
  77. When... ...should content be updated? ...should content be archived? ...should content be reviewed? ...should new content be created?
  78. How... ...do content items get named? ...do we store our content? ...do we speak to various audiences? ...do we talk about ourselves and our industry? ...should content additions or changes be requested?
  79. Politics Who has the final say when a disagreement or conflict of interests arises?
  80. Everyone ready for a recap?
  81. Don’t neglect...
  82. Don’t neglect... Your core content strategy
  83. Don’t neglect... Your core content strategy The needs of your audience
  84. Don’t neglect... Your core content strategy The needs of your audience Voice and tone
  85. Don’t neglect... Your core content strategy The needs of your audience Voice and tone Proper content structure, both visible and invisible
  86. Don’t neglect... Your core content strategy The needs of your audience Voice and tone Proper content structure, both visible and invisible All the small things that make for a good user experience
  87. Don’t neglect... Your core content strategy The needs of your audience Voice and tone Proper content structure, both visible and invisible All the small things that make for a good user experience Workflow and process
  88. Don’t neglect... Your core content strategy The needs of your audience Voice and tone Proper content structure, both visible and invisible All the small things that make for a good user experience Workflow and process Governance
  89. Thanks for listening! Kerry-Anne Gilowey Independent Content Strategy Consultant kerryanne@augustsun.co.za http://augustsun.co.za http://about.me/kerryanne @kerry_anne

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