Websites are the largest piece of owned content under a brand’s full control, but website content as a whole is seldom given the strategic design consideration that content marketers give to individual content assets like infographics, video or whitepapers. One telltale sign is that investment in website redesigns most often is justified by things unrelated to overall content and messaging, from mergers and acquisitions to the implementation of a new CMS to visual rebrandings and responsive design. Content is often an afterthought.
Websites seem to be the last bastion where brands remain comfortable talking about themselves over helping their customers. Target audiences are forgotten in the effort to appeal to as broad an audience as possible across multiple stakeholders. Brand positioning appears to give license to fall back into the comfortable position of focusing on the company and how it organizes itself. Website messaging reverts to a concentration on what the product is and what it does, overshadowing the purpose it was built for and what matters most to the customer.
This passive approach to website content should be replaced instead with a more active approach to website content marketing. What is website content marketing? It’s applying the principles of content marketing to every piece of content on your website. The Content Marketing Institute offers the following definition of content marketing:
Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
In website content marketing, “less is more” as the litmus test for justifying the inclusion of content is the usefulness and direct value of the content to your customers. It is less about actively selling and/or self-promotion and more about actively meeting customer needs. It sees content from your customer’s perspective — it meets needs, establishes authority, inspires curiosity, answers questions. Product pages are not the hero, but the supporting characters to helping customers solve problems. Case studies are not templated facts but compelling narratives that are updated on an ongoing basis to maintain relevancy.
How well is your website content meeting the principles of effective content marketing? A good place to start is with an audit of your existing content. See “How to Scope, Plan and Execute a Content Audit.” Too often, companies launch websites without considering a larger content strategy, but without a defined plan websites can become passive repositories rather than actively evolving with both the company and the customer. For help with developing a content marketing strategy that serves both customer needs and measurable business outcomes, see “4 Steps to a Results-Driven Content Marketing Strategy.”