Website Content Strategy – Planning Critical Website Content
Content is one of the most important elements of creating a successful industrial B2B marketing website. Content strategy is defined as the ongoing process of translating business objectives and goals into a plan that uses content as a primary means of achieving those goals.
Within the context of shoring up or redesigning a B2B marketing website that’s aimed at a technical audience, content strategy means planning out the most important content that will attract, engage and convert your niche audience(s).
Given its importance, it’s pretty remarkable that content is also the number-one reason that we see projects stalling out or being delayed as the launch date draws near. This is particularly true when—as is usually the case—the content is being written internally by the marketing team and/or other website project stakeholders (vs. an outside copywriter).
If you don’t have a clear plan and priorities that you can execute with discipline, content is a bottleneck. To give you a leg up on planning and prioritization so you avoid getting caught in that bottleneck, let’s go over some of the critical aspects of B2B website content strategy.
Key elements of website content strategy
A simple way to look at content strategy is to ask yourself: “Do we provide the right information and user experience to convince our ideal prospects that we can solve their problem, and that it’s worth their while to talk to our sales department?“
Before working on a website content strategy, think through your positioning & SEO, personas, user paths and necessary features for your website. During this process, start a list of what content is needed to guide prospects and visitors through their journey, as they learn who you are and what you do, become convinced that you can solve their problem, and feel ready to talk to sales.
Prioritizing your list of needed content types
When we talk about content, we mean both the content visible on each web page and content that requires an additional step to uncover, whether it’s a simple download from a resource library or content that is gated and available only by providing contact information.
Here’s a general starting list of critical content for most B2B, technical and industrial marketing websites:
- Overview of what you do (homepage)
- An overview and detailed information page for each product or service
- Case studies
- Market, industry, vertical or application pages
- Information about the company and its history (About Us)
- An easy way to make contact (CTAs and contact page for SQLs)
- A reason to exchange contact information before a need to buy is imminent (gated content, gated tools or resources, etc., for MQLs)
- Resource library/articles/videos or other instructional materials
Think through the path of your key audiences, particularly the path of the technically focused buyer/researcher or engineer who is often the one spending the most time on your website. What information do they need to answer the question on their minds: “Can this company help me solve my problem?” There may be additional types of content that are critical for your unique niche audience.
If you don’t have a content calendar of topics, start one. This means developing an ongoing cadence of creating relevant content that fits with the needs and questions of your audience and personas, your positioning as a company, and the SEO terms that are most important to you.
Time-saving tip: With articles in particular, aim to write them in a way that is “evergreen,” meaning that they will continue to be relevant a year or more into the future, to save yourself the sometimes arduous task of cleaning up outdated information.
Creating a plan and accountabilities to jump-start content development
Now you have a list of content that’s needed, and you’re looking at it, and it’s long and daunting, and you feel like doing anything else but this! Luckily, you’re probably not starting from scratch. If you already have a live website, you have some content already, albeit potentially outdated. Think through what you already have:
- What content is already in existence online and just needs to be updated?
- Is there better, more relevant content in sales materials or brochures that you can use as a start for a webpage?
- What content is already online and ready to go?
- What content will need to be created from scratch?
- What could you create quickly and easily, working primarily from what is already partially formed?
- What content pieces could others on your team create, at least in first-draft form?
It’s never too early to start working on content, and really, right now—before any website redesign initiative is even started—is the best time to create a prioritized list of needed content types so you can jump-start content development.
Even if your website launch goal is months away and it seems like you have a lot of time, don’t wait to get started. Set milestone deadlines. Have someone else hold you (and others who are writing drafts) accountable to meeting weekly deadlines, so that progress gets made on time.
Create a content plan document in a spreadsheet format, and assign an owner who’s in charge of holding all contributors accountable. Every individual piece of content should also have an owner who’s accountable for it, as well as deadlines for initial draft, review/edits and publishing (or being ready to publish).
Be realistic about timelines—given all your responsibilities, an article that you think will take about eight hours to write isn’t actually likely to get done in a day or two. It might take eight hours—but that will most likely be spread out over a week or two, or longer.
Work in batches as much as possible, and set weekly milestones that are discussed in regular meetings to keep everything on track. Any progress, even slow progress on achievable deadlines, is better than no progress on a seemingly overwhelming task. By turning content creation into a habit, this process also gives you the opportunity to transition seamlessly into writing ongoing article content for your email marketing list or other purposes once your most important website priorities are taken care of.
The overlooked secret of content
Here’s the secret that everyone overlooks when it comes to content — it’s the easiest thing to change later.
Sure, marketers want their website to launch with the best possible content — and they should. Quality content is one of the most important pieces of the site, as it pertains to messaging, positioning, engagement, SEO and the information itself that you’re getting out into the world. However, it’s also important to realize that you have some amount of content, live, on your website right now, and (assuming your website has any traffic at all) people are reading it. Your customers, your prospects, all of your most important audiences, are reading the content that is currently live, and that content is probably not up to par with what you’d like it to be.
Sounds terrible, right? But there’s tremendous freedom in accepting this — if your website launches with content that is improved on even one or two key pages, you’re better off than you are today.
Don’t get bogged down in trying to make every single page perfect before launching a new site. Just launch the site, and keep yourself to a steady habit of improving the content little by little over time — before, during, and after a website project.
The bottom line: don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good. Content can be a big undertaking, and it’s daunting to many marketers, but don’t let it delay progress on updating a new website (if you’re in the process of a website redesign project), and make a commitment to review, update and improve content continuously.
Including SEO keywords in your content and pages
Last but not least: don’t overlook the value of SEO as you map out your website content strategy.
It’s generally advised to create the overarching UX and sitemap for users first, and then, based on your keyword research, begin to map out a keyword focus for each page on the site. Write for users first, Google second. Setting up your primary and secondary keywords for each page ahead of starting the writing process can help an author be aware of that aspect of the page, but the content has to be readable by human beings.
Write the page’s initial draft for your key personas, based on what they need to know and what you need them to know about your company, products, services, capabilities, etc. Then, go back through the draft and see where you can organically, without it feeling forced, weave in instances of your keywords. Before your pages go live, you’ll want to have a fully developed mapping of keywords appearing in page titles, meta descriptions and headings, in addition to the body copy. Careful attention to SEO will help ensure that actual visitors see the content that you’ve worked so hard on, but users can be turned off when keywords seem artificially forced into place.
A couple of other quick tips:
- Write all content so that it can be both easily scanned and read carefully. Most users want to scan first, and will dig into the details later if they’re interested.
- Likewise, use a “skim and dive” approach to how content is spread across multiple pages. Provide a meaningful overview of any set of products, services, articles, case studies, etc., on an overview page, allowing easy links to navigate to a detail page for greater depth.
Remember, content is the easiest thing on your website to change. Progress is more important than perfection. And with just a small amount of work toward planning, preparation, scheduling and making a commitment to keep to your milestones, any website content strategy and plan is achievable.
Looking for a deeper understanding of when, why and how to redesign your B2B website? Check out a webinar, or learn more about our upcoming on-demand virtual course, B2B Website Strategy for Lead Generation.