Though the field of content strategy has been around for some time, it has been getting more and more attention lately. Is this just a fad, or is it something that you should seriously consider? We would say it’s about as much of a fad as web design – not at all. To see be successful on the web, you need to understand what it is and what it can do for you.

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As the term implies, content strategy is a detailed plan for conveying information to your audience. Sounds clear enough, but keep in mind that “content” does not just refer to words on your website – it also includes images, social media posts, and any other form of information you may want to disseminate. In her book The Elements of Content Strategy, Erin Kissane provides a long list of deliverables for which a content strategist might be responsible, including “accessibility guidelines, benchmarks, channel strategy, CMS requirements, communication plans, community and social strategy, community moderation policies, competitive analyses, content style guides, content templates, editorial calendars, metadata recommendations, qualitative content audit and findings, quantitative content audit and findings, search-engine optimization reviews, success metrics, taxonomies, traffic analysis, usability tests, user personas, user research findings, user research plans, user scenarios, visual presentation recommendations, wireframes, [and] workflow recommendations.”

The above list may sound complicated or daunting – who needs all that? While the vast majority of website owners will not need ALL of the above, virtually all will need a sound content strategy. Even on small sites, clear communication can decide whether or not a visitor becomes a customer. The more complicated the web presence – a large website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, a blog, etc. – the more critical the strategy becomes. Getting specific, here are four great reasons to have a content strategy:

  1. Compelling Content. Taking into account your audience’s situation and emotional state allows you to write content that is tailored to them.
  2. Stronger Branding. Just as establishing a memorable brand requires consistent colors and textures, it also requires a consistent and identifiable written tone.
  3. More conversions. Clear and consistent communication can decide whether or not a visitor to your site becomes a customer or simply leaves.
  4. Leveraged effort. With good planning you can write content that can be published across multiple channels with minimal tweaking.

Don’t worry if it all seems daunting. You don’t need to be an expert, but you if you are looking for a new website or a redesign make sure you work with a company that understands content strategy.