Here at Irish Titan, we describe ourselves as being a “full-service agency specializing in ecommerce and strategic digital experiences.”
Because we are focused on providing people with the best digital experience, we have a very holistic approach to all of our projects. When a client signs on to work with us, we don’t just see another website to build or a brand to restructure -- we see an opportunity to create a better, more enriching, and more unique experience for every user in a seemingly oversaturated marketplace.
Sure, we get excited about design and we love watching our developers make something from nothing in a matter of minutes (it amazes us every time), but our focus has always been, and will always be “Business First. Online Second.”TM. And when we get past the coat of paint and the newfangled menu bar our UX team has come up with, what really matters is the content your business is putting into the world to captivate, and eventually convert, your audience.
One of the many services we provide to our clients, if they should need it, is strategic content writing. Because, quite honestly, what good is a shiny new, user friendly and optimized website if the content that fills it is not just as strategic? And to ensure a consistently strategic approach, we’ve defined our 6 steps to tackle content:
1. Know Your Why
2. Know Your Audience
3. Content Mapping
5. Draft, Review, Rinse, Repeat
In this blog, we will focus on our best practices and steps for writing strategic, brand-centered content for your website to help your company put its best digital foot forward.
STEP ONE: Know Your “Why”
You have probably seen this in almost every one of our “best practice” type blog posts. The reason we repeat this so often is because we truly believe it should be the forefront of everything your company does. WHY are you wanting to reach your audience? WHY should a client come to you instead of another company? WHY are you the experts at what you do? WHY do you need to update your content? Understanding the WHY of your business, or your unique value proposition, can help you understand the “why” of what you are trying to communicate to your clientele.
STEP TWO: Know Your Audience
Part of our Discovery Workshop focuses solely on their audience. Who is your average user? What’s their purpose for coming to your website? What do they need to hear? What makes them feel cared for? What will have them running for the hills?
We always say this is the “fluffy” part of marketing, but the reality is that connections make conversions. “Connecting” through nothing more than words and images on a screen is one of the most difficult aspects of communicating in a digital age, so let’s not make it harder on ourselves by not understanding WHO we are trying to reach.
The best way we do this is by creating personas for users. The goal of creating personas is to take the abstract idea of a person and formulate it down to a real personality we are talking to and writing content for. For example, we are not just writing for USER14567, we are writing for Jim.
Jim is a young entrepreneur looking to create a new cleaning system and is looking for a new water pump. He is needing an expert than can guide him in his new endeavor and is overwhelmed with the amount of options out there. How do we help guide him to our product and educate him on its different applications? How do we help Jim feel like we are in his corner and on his team?
When you take the time to understand your audience, connecting with them on a personal through content becomes a lot easier than writing for the abstract.
STEP THREE: Content Mapping and SEO analysis
Once we have our WHY figured out and WHO we are writing for, it’s all about content mapping. We walk through our determined sitemap and map what content is going to go on every page. Our Digital Strategy team then takes that content map and optimizes it for SEO.
We analyze and determine any keywords that are to be included in each page, heading, meta data, content paragraphs, etc. Documenting this information is key so that when it comes time for writing, we are able to keep the content organized and write in conjunction with our SEO analysis. If you have already found a program that you are comfortable with to keep you organized, great! We use Google Excel Sheets for this process which keeps things simple and allows us to easily collaborate with clients if we are writing content for them.
STEP FOUR: Outline
While we claim to be the experts in digital experiences, we are not, however, experts on all products everywhere. So, when writing content for our clients, the best way we can make sure we have all our bases covered is by outlining content sections.
When diving into writing content for an entire website, it is easy to feel very overwhelmed very quickly. To keep ourselves from running away with our tails between our legs, we take a pass at the content map and make bullet points or rough outlines of topics we want to cover in each section.
Outlining is especially helpful when writing for clients because a.) it helps us know exactly what they want (and we really do like giving our clients exactly what they want) and b.) it lets us know keywords to search for if we have to do any research on the particular topic.
For easy collaboration, we use a program called GatherContent. This program allows us to take the annotated designs our clients have signed off on and create content fields for each section. Our clients are then able to log on and add content, bullet points, titles, or images to each labeled section.
STEP FIVE: Draft, Review, Rinse, Repeat
So we know our WHY, we know our audience, we’ve done our SEO analysis and have mapped our content, and now...we write.
While there isn’t really a RIGHT way to go about writing, our Titans stick with GatherContent for the duration of our writing projects. The program allows us to mark things as “in progress” or “ready for review”, making it a very easy and useful tool when collaborating with our own team or with our clients. Our clients feel a sense of inclusion in being able to make suggestions or edit their own content in real time. It also allows us to collaborate with fewer steps and less downtime.
At this point in your writing project, the name of the game is all about reviewing and editing, editing and reviewing. We will review any content internally with our project managers and strategy team before sending it over to a client or marking it “ready for review.” This allows our entire team to have a sense of what we are sending to our clients in case any questions arise, as well as gives us a chance to find anything we may have missed or would like to restrategize.
STEP SIX: Finalize and Add to Your Website
After we have internally reviewed the content, we send it to our clients or mark it as “ready for review” in GatherContent. Once the client reviews and signs off on the content, it is added to and made live on their new website.
Just to be safe, it is a good idea to back up any content to a cloud drive or external hard drive. We use Google Docs as a back up, but again, just make sure you have a backup stored in the event you redo your website again and need to migrate all of that content or should ever need it in the future.
While filling an entire website with strategic content can seem like a grueling task, remember that your website is working for you 24/7. When your team has gone home for the evening, when your office is closed, when there is ten feet of snow in Minnesota and a prospective client doesn’t want to leave their home -- your website is there to provide an extension of service.
So when you are budgeting out your new web build or updating your current site, keep in mind that an investment in your new site only goes as far as the investment in its content as well.