Why you need a content marketing strategy before you rebuild your website
Rebuilding a website is a significant undertaking. Whether you’re a small business or a big corporate, a website rebuild can be a long, difficult and stressful process. But content marketing can help. By creating a content marketing strategy before you even decide if a rebuild is necessary you can save yourself time, money and effort. Here’s how:
First up, you might not need to rebuild your site at all. There are lots of reasons to tear your site down and start again. But sometimes what look like fatal, irreparable flaws can be fixed or worked around once you put your content marketing hat on.
Secondly, once you’ve decided to go ahead with a rebuild, starting with a content marketing strategy ensures you have your priorities straight. Rather than just something expensive and beautiful, you’ll get a new site that provides relevant, helpful and valuable content to your users and pushes them to take useful actions.
When you don’t really need to rebuild your website
Websites matter. If your site is ugly, difficult to navigate and offers little or no value to users it won’t rank in search and anyone unlucky enough to find it will bounce straight off to a competitor. And they might not come back. According to a study by EY, 40 per cent of consumers would walk away from a brand for good if it failed to give them a high quality digital experience.
But you can provide a high quality (or at least better) digital experience without building a whole new website. In fact, if you’re a small business, with a limited budget and your site is already on an open-source platform, such as WordPress, it’s almost always better to work with what you’ve got. Here are some good places to start:
- Invest in some high quality images. Cheap and nasty stock photos, especially if they’re not properly formatted for your pages, kill the look and feel of your site. A service like Shutterstock or Twenty20 won’t break the bank, even if you have to pay for some high-res or premium content and the difference it will make to your site is huge;
- Even good quality images can fail to hit the mark if you make bad choices. Try to be consistent with the style of images you choose and avoid the worst of cliches (man writing “teamwork” on a whiteboard, central-casting boss smiling at the camera etc). You can use a tool like Canva to put your own brand treatment on stock images and make them unique to your site;
- WordPress and other open-source website platforms have premium themes you can use to change the look and feel of your site. There are drawbacks to using premium themes, but they are often the quickest way to give your site a facelift without stretching to a full rebuild. Sites like themeforest can help you find what you’re looking for.
Look and feel is important, but websites should prioritise two things above everything else: Users and Goals. What value can you offer users and what goals do you want them to complete? A content marketing strategy can help you meet those needs without a new site. Here are a couple of examples:
Hosted Landing Pages: if adding new landing pages to your site is tricky, for whatever reason, putting some pages on a sub-domain (pages.your-domain.com.au, for example) could be a good solution. These pages will be no good for SEO, but for other acquisition tactics, such as Google AdWords, Facebook ads or email you can offer users a much better experience and dramatically increase your chances of converting them into leads or customers;
Sub-domain Blog: ideally, your blog would always be in a sub-folder rather than on a sub-domain because it’s better for search. But if you have a choice between a terrible blog on a weak domain and a clean, professional, easy-to-navigate blog on a sub-domain you might decide to compromise. If you can’t add landing pages to your site, your blog can do all the heavy-lifting in organic search. Check out the online yoga site Glo, which has 6,000 archived blog posts mining all their long-tail search queries.
When you absolutely do need to rebuild your site
If you have the budget and resources maybe you don’t have to compromise. Rather than making cosmetic tweaks and finding bolt-on content marketing solutions you can bite the bullet and go for a full-scale website rebuild.
Before you do that, create a content marketing strategy. There are a lot of misconceptions about content marketing and as a result a lot of brands only get to it after spending months working on a new website. Content marketing isn’t just a blog or copy for your landing pages. Content marketing is about getting results and for it to work effectively you should build your new site around it.
Here are 5 elements of a good content marketing strategy that will help you get a better return on the money you sink into your new website:
Goals: a content marketing strategy should start by establishing goals. These are the actions you want users to take on your site. There is no shortage of beautiful websites that fail to make it clear to users what they’re offering and what they want them to do. If you have a content marketing strategy before you start, your new site won’t be one of them;
User Personas: a good content marketing strategy will have goals and content aimed at different types of users and users at different stages of the sales funnel. Do this bit before the rebuild and you’ll offer value and drive useful actions for a much bigger audience;
Blog: your blog can be the engine room of your content marketing strategy, but how it’s built is just as important as what you publish on it. If you’ve decided who you’re targeting and what actions you want them to take before the rebuild, your blog can live up to its full potential;
Landing Pages: your content marketing strategy will set out what landing pages you need and how to optimise those pages for conversion. Do this first and you can avoid having to redo your nav bar to find room for extra top-level pages or redesigning your templates to better promote your goals;
Downloads: putting whitepapers or eBooks behind download forms is a great way to target users at an earlier stage of the decision-making process. Your content marketing strategy will set out what downloads you’re going to offer and how you’re going to promote them on your landing pages and on your blog.
So, if you’re about to embark on a website rebuild or you’re not sure if you need to rebuild your site, your next move should be to start scoping out a content marketing strategy for your business. If you need some help with that, you know where we are.