What would it do for your business if your website was actually an intriguing and enjoyable experience for users? What if your content made consumers want to not only buy your product, but actually come back to your site again and again?
Well, the right Content Strategy can deliver increased traffic, increased search ranking and increased leads and sales from your website. But it can't do any of that if you're not sure what it actually is or how to do it.
Content Strategy has been a major buzzword in the last several years. Before we go any further, let's define it.
Content Strategy means writing your website content in a way that helps you reach your overall business goals while understanding the life cycle of your content and how to keep it from going stale.
Is your goal to grow sales? Grow market share? Be recognized for your groundbreaking technology? Break into the Millennial Market? Great. Content Strategy can help with all of those.
Your company's content strategy will be a combination of several important factors: what you want your website to do, who is coming and who you want to come to your site, who your competitors are, where you rank in your industry, how you want your brand to be perceived and lots of other nitty gritty details.
Creating the perfect content strategy is a very complex process, and certainly not something that can be adequately covered in just one blog post.
I will be talking a lot about content strategy for building materials companies this year, but for now let's start with 3 simple steps that will help you get started thinking about your content in a new way.
1. Get to know your audience
Don't operate under assumption of who buys your product, why they buy your product or who comes to your website. If you haven't conducted a thorough consumer research survey within the last 4 years, you must do that before you do anything else.
Even if you are targeting contractors, their clients are coming to your site to find out more about your products. So it's important to offer both the technical information contractors and builders will want as well as educating the homeowners about your company and giving them the information they want.
Consumers have changed the way they research and purchase products more in the last 5 years than they have in the last 15. So if your website says the same thing it did 6 years ago, you're losing business.
You can't create a proper content strategy until you know what your users (users are people who visit your website) want to know from you.
If your website says the same thing it did 6 years ago, you're losing business.
2. Don’t Lead With Your Product
In my experience, building materials companies are mostly using their websites as a digital showroom for their products. The website is stuffed with product pictures and technical specs, but nothing of substance for users to take in and think about.
Bring website users into your story. Before you hit them with your products, get them excited about the finished project - and that takes more than glamour shots on the home page. Get them feeling comfortable with your brand.
You need to start building their trust before you ask them to consider purchasing from you.
Take a look at IKO Roofing's home page. They have quality products, but are falling prey to some common content errors.
Does this look familiar?
A user comes to your site and Bam! They are faced with a product choice when they don't know the first thing about choosing a roofing product.
Even if you're only targeting the professionals in the building materials industry, leading with your product weakens your positioning from the start because you're not showing them who you are, you're just offering what you have, and that's not going to build loyalty.
Too many building materials websites are lacking content about the process of using your products, what really differentiates your products from the competition or what they should look for in a quality product from your specific corner of the industry.
Your sales team knows that purchasing is ultimately an emotional decision, not a practical one. What emotions is your website content invoking?
Even if you're only targeting the professionals in the building materials industry, leading with your product weakens your positioning from the start.
3. Don’t Let Subject Matter Experts Write Your Web Content
Whether your company has designated engineers and product experts, or the real experts are the employees who have been there from the start, the content that your experts write is not going to properly engage your average website visitor.
Don't get me wrong, you can't do it without them, but you can't include what they write as they would write it.
Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) should be the first phase of writing. Then their writing should be passed on to an experienced web copywriter who can turn the SMEs technical expertise into digestible content that your average user will be able to easily understand.
Granted this is only two steps in a multi-step content writing process, but it's a crucial one that is often overlooked. If your website copy was written by the person who knows the very most about the product, chances are it's not written in a way that will keep a user's interest.
If your website copy was written by the person who knows the very most about the product, chances are it's not written in a way that will keep a user's interest.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by the idea of having to redo all the content on your website, don't. Change can seem scary, but a website that makes consumers fall in love with your product and become loyal to your brand is worth all the effort.
Start with small steps. Consider having a friend (who doesn't work at your company) read through your website content. Ask for their initial reactions. What questions are left unanswered for them? What impression do they have about your company and your products?
Even if the person that reads your site isn't your target audience, having fresh eyes gives you their first impressions about your site, and that can give you a place to start. Take your results to your marketing team and start having pointed conversations about what you need to do to get your website content where it needs to be.