The Vanguard View: Insight for Association Websites

The 5 Essentials of Association Website Content Strategy

Posted by Chris Bonney on Mon, May 09, 2016



Back in the good old days of the internet, “create and they will come” was an excellent content strategy. There were fewer websites fighting for attention, and the simple act of creating content was a sure-fire way to get people interested in you.  But things have changed. 

Virtually everyone is creating content now. Some of it is well written; some, not so much. Some articles add value to people’s lives while others just ramble with little sense of what they are intended for.

Having a well-defined content strategy is a huge help in the content creation process. Unfortunately, content begins and ends with publishing for most people. They ignore the organization’s goals, the brand’s message, or the audience’s needs. And that’s a recipe for failure.

Content strategy is a relatively new niche, and many are confused or overwhelmed by it. What makes a great strategy? How does it fit with your association website’s goals? Here are five essential things you need to know before jumping on the content marketing bandwagon.

1. Create a Solid Strategy with Web Governance

Content strategy is defined as the process that ensures content is created, published, edited, repurposed, and archived at the right times. It also ensures that content is planned and personalized for each channel.

Things look rather simple, in theory. You’ve planned your content for the coming month to every detail. You’re going to run some great campaigns, reach out to a new audience segment, explore a new social media channel, and so on. But then, reality kicks in. You find out that you need to feature a membership drive, an advocacy campaign and an event registration on your site’s home page, the web design team wants to change some features, and so on.

What do you do?

Web governance is a process that allows for detailed management of content delivery, editing, style, and so on. Web governance helps you create a consistent content strategy by establishing priorities and providing detailed guidelines on how content should look.

2. Consider Both Workflows and Web Governance Factors

The main objective of a successful content strategy is to satisfy the audience’s needs and meet business goals. Therefore, an efficient strategy doesn’t focus only on the actual content, but on the people that create it, as well. By considering both the workflows and web governance factors when developing a content strategy, you can create more valuable content to your audience while meeting your objectives.

3. Map Your Content’s Journey

Producing valuable, evergreen content means that you need to understand and respect the content journey:

  • Audit – Content audits can take many forms, from content evaluation and competitor analysis to interviews; 
  • Strategy – Determine workflows, taxonomies, editorial guidelines, budget constraints, and tone of voice; 
  • Plan – This step involves CMS personalization, communication plans, staffing and recommendations; 
  • Create – Write the actual content; 
  • Monitor – Track content’s performance and plan for regular audits;

4. Use Frameworks

Imagine having to create a new page design every time you need to add a news item to your association website. It would be ineffective, not to mention extremely frustrating. Content strategists can work with web designers to create frameworks that suit various types of content. For instance, you can utilize your CMS’ new module with a short description of the service, and image, and a call to action and save the template to ensure consistency.

5. Undertand the Best Practices for Creating Valuable Content

Here’s the cold truth: your audience isn’t really interested in what you have to say. They don’t want to read your sales pitches or your marketing messages. They simply want to know how you can solve the day-to-day problems they face in their industry.  

So, if you want to stand out and fulfill your business objectives, it’s time to take off the sales hat and create value-added content.  How can you make sure your content is helpful and compelling? Here’s a short checklist:

  • Voice and Tone Matter

Voice and tone are two powerful weapons in a content strategist’s arsenal. The voice reflects the brand’s personality and identity and should be consistent across all channels. Tone, on the other hand, should adapt according to the context.

  • Embrace Web Standards

Follow SEO best practices, make your web design responsive, and create and structure your content based on your audience needs. 

  • Be Consistent

People need and expect consistency. Discrepancies create a state of dissonance. That’s why it’s important to follow a style guide, both in style and design, to help people understand and get used to your voice.

In Closing

If you want to achieve the ultimate goals for your association website, you need to consider these 5 essentials of content strategy. Take time to develop and implement a content strategy that will make your vision become a reality.

Topics: content management system, content strategy, content

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