Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on June 9th, 2010

Why Content Strategy Matters to Your Website’s Success

By now you’ve heard the digital cliche: “Content is King”. It may mean something to you or it may not. But chances are you are either here to be converted, or to sing with the choir. Shalom.

When websites seek business from online consumers, there is no better feeling than landing on the front page of Google. But when consumers find your site there and make that ever-so-satisfying click-through, what are kind of content are they going to find? Videos? Flash animation? Images and copy? What does it say about you as a company?

When you offer a product or service that fills a need for someone, you are also addressing a pain. Take a look at your homepage. Does the content stoke the fire of their pain or does the content soothe their ills?

Choosing Their Own Adventure

Do you remember those books growing up called “Choose Your Own Adventure”? At the end of every chapter, you could choose what the main characters did at a critical point in the story. Depending upon which decision you made for the character(s), you were directed to a new page number to begin reading again. By doing so, you were choosing your own adventure through the book. There were only a set number of possible story lines that you could follow, the example below has 40 possible endings. Check out this cover to one of my all-time favorites: The Cave of Time by Edward Packard:

Your website is very similar. When your traffic clicks onto your website, they are stars and all the content should address them. There are also a variety of different endings to your site. The ideal ending would be a conversion of some kind – newsletter signup, download, or purchase.

Here are a few questions to help gage your site:

What are the different possible endings for your site?

How easy is it to follow the different possible stories on your site?

Is your target audience the star of your site, or are you the star of your site

If you couldn’t answer any of these questions quickly and concisely, it may be time to talk to a content strategist.

Voice, Tone, and Vision

Websites are no longer the ugly duckling for businesses. In certain (to most) cases, they are actually the life blood of a company’s success. Too many companies spend oodles of money on design to sell, Sell, SELL and forget to about the conversation the customer wants to have. It happens all too often that the decision makers just want to see results, so putting 10 boxes for sell on their homepage to help solve financial problems will bring a flood of dollars. Are they addressing the pain? What kind of tone is that setting with the visitor? “We know you are in financial trouble, so check out all these products on our homepage that also cost money.”

When you are being a good friend (which I know you are), you listen to the problems of a buddy, co-worker, or family member first. You acknowledge their pain and relate, to show that they aren’t alone and you are compassionate. You don’t try and sell them a solution within the first five seconds of the conversation. It may work for 4% of your visitors, which is great.. but is also a 96% failed rate.

Does your site sound like this?

I know it's Latin, but hopefully you get the point. You need to establish the correct voice, tone and vision throughout your website - let your visitors know that you feel their pain, you are listening, and then provide solutions. If your website provides the right adventure, your products will be flying off the shelf.

While search engine optimization helps your site rank well in Google, a well-implemented content strategy can drive customers through your conversion process once they are on your site. Make sure your website speaks to your target audience, and isn’t just talking about yourself. Too many sites have an inner dialogue and don’t even engage potential customers. Their perspective of valuable content is telling people how good they are at what they do. Don’t get me wrong, it is important to establish some credibility. But if companies are talking about themselves on their websites too much, do you think that reflect the way they do business?

Thank You For Reading!

Help me go viral! Please repost, retweet, or redistribute to any of the social sites of your choice, and please subscribe to our RSS feed to receive daily fodder. For every RSS subscription Volacci gets, a kitten earns its whiskers. You like kittens, don’t you? Do the right thing, then. Subscribe.