Welcome back to our CogBlog web strategy series. In this edition, we unravel how to best use content and data as the building blocks of your site.
If you have read 5 steps to defining a strategic vision for your brand website, you should be able to articulate a vision for your site. This article will help you understand the building blocks you have in your website toolbox to sculpture that vision.
These building blocks can be grouped into two categories: content and data. Your content is the physical experience, your data is the tool that enables you to shape that experience and get it right.
Using content to drive your strategic outcomes
We think about content from four different angles. Depending on your strategic vision (educate, convert or collect), one particular perspective may be more important than others. However, you should never overlook the others; make sure you plan in each area.
What content should you use?
Content for your site may be part of a wider multichannel campaign or web specific (e.g. your blog). For all content on your site, you should ask, “how does this content help me achieve my goals?” Your brand content strategy will be created without a set channel in mind, so you must ensure that content is successfully optimised for your web strategy.
Top tip: If your content is from a multichannel campaign it may not be optimised for web, for best performance it is crucial that you ensure it is (e.g. SEO).
How should you present your content?
When we refer to building blocks, we mean specific functionalities on your site. Functionalities can come in all different shapes and sizes. Typically the elements users interact with on your site are known as ‘modules’. Modules are a collection of smaller components which, when combined, create a more immersive overall experience.
Modules can vary in use, some may be static blocks of rich text with an image used to display simple content, whereas others may be more dynamic and interactive e.g. a video carousel.
Different modules will drive a different customer experience and a different outcome. So think hard about the desired outcome before assembling a page. If your purpose is primarily focused on first party data collection, you may want to include a form (eg. email sign up). If your purpose is education based, you may want to think how you can use modules to create more immersive and engaging pages. For instance, bringing a rich text list of product instructions to life with an image carousel or video.
Top tip: Overpopulating a page with dynamic experience modules can also lead negative outcomes. You should seek a balance that enables you to include the information you need in a compelling and engaging manner.
Where should you use your content?
Once you understand the modules you have in your armoury, it is important to think about where you place specific content.
Different areas on your site will lend themselves to different outcomes. For example, product pages may be particularly important in driving customers to your sales channels (e-retailer or physical store) to drive conversion; whereas your blog may be particularly important in educating your customers around specific products.
We refer to areas where users have a higher propensity to complete desired outcomes as high value areas. You should pinpoint these high value areas on your site according to your strategy and look to invest in high quality content for these areas to drive your desired outcomes.
Top tip: Just because particular areas of your site are more important for your specific strategy does not mean you should only focus on them. Think about your secondary and tertiary goals; which areas are important for those?
When should you use your content?
At which point along your customer journey (both on and offline) should specific content be served to drive your strategic outcome?
If your strategy is conversion-focused and relies on directing customers to 3rd party retailers or physical stores, the high value actions may be late on in the customer journey. Whereas, if you want to educate your consumer to aid product decision making, you will want to deploy relevant content earlier in the journey.
Top tip: Don’t only think about your digital customer journey.Your website is versatile and can act as a bridge between both offline and online worlds. Make sure you leverage it to this effect, thinking about your full end-to-end customer engagement. This will help you blend online and offline content, leading to a richer customer experience.
When looked at holistically, you should think about what content you need to serve, how you are going to present it, where you are going to use it and when it is the most important for your strategy, if you can ensure that all 4 of these key pieces are accounted for, then you will be on the way to achieving your goals.
Using data to measure and improve
You should now understand how to create engaging content, designed to achieve your goals. But how do you know what works? What doesn’t work? Or what you need to do next? The answer is data. There is a reason that it’s often referred to as the new oil,but how should you use it?
Data plays a crucial role on your site. It enables you to measure the effectiveness of your content and provides the opportunity for you to better understand your audience (thus allowing you to make better, more informed strategic decisions). When you defined your North Star, you will have set your performance metrics. You can now use these to help you define your high value areas.
Depending on your purpose, here are some metrics which could highlight areas of high value and inform you if they are working for you:
- Education: Blog – low bounce rate / high time on page
- Conversion: Product page – high number of first entrants
- Data collection: Campaign landing pages – high number of clicks throughs to product pages
Using data to identify ‘blind spots’
On the flipside of the coin are ‘blind spots’. These are site areas which may result in negative outcomes, such as users regularly leaving your site. If you can use your data, aligned to your KPIs, to find these blind spots you can implement changes which may mitigate negative outcomes.
Blind spot metrics to monitor might include:
- Bounce rate on particular pages – the percentage of visitors which visit one page and exit your site straight after… (why are they leaving straight away?)
- Exit rate on pages – on which pages do a high number of users exit… (have you missed an opportunity?)
Once identified, you can make changes to reverse the negative impacts and drive positive outcomes. When making changes ensure you reflect back to your strategic goal and how you use the content ‘compass’ to create the right content.
Using data to make informed changes to your strategy
While data is essential for uncovering the positive and negative extremes of your website, what if you want to make slight changes to your strategy as you’re not quite yielding the outcomes you would like?
Test and learn
Make small changes to your content and see if there are any changes to the data (positive and negative). You may be able to do A/B tests, but if you don’t have this functionality, don’t worry. The ability to be able to quickly author new content on pages (e.g. adding certain content types or functionalities whilst carefully monitoring results) can also generate very useful insights and in turn help you make changes to your strategy in order to drive your desired outcomes.
As your organisation matures digitally, you will be able to apply the same rules to segment audiences and develop a personalisation strategy to serve up timely, relevant and contextualised experiences.
Now you know how to create your strategic North Star or vision, and you understand how to use data and content to build a web experience that drives your desired outcomes. The final pieces of the jigsaw are your operational capabilities. Check back next month when we focus on how you can you leverage these to successfully implement your strategy.
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