When it comes to buzzwords in our industry, few have grown in popularity as much as ‘content strategy’ or ‘content marketing’ have in the last little while. The reason being that the role of content is either misunderstood or comes as an afterthought in the early stages of product development. Often, the individuals responsible for content aren't directly involved in the process, where it's either handed off to a separate marketing team or a freelance copywriter.
But, the right product owners know that content strategy is the nugget to be cracked to ensure the overall product experience is seamless and enjoyable.
Whether it’s understanding the content needs, usage behaviour, and consumption patterns of prospective users before a product is in their hands, or figuring out how content can be used to engage, entertain, and educate them once they’re holding it, content plays a pivotal role when trying to create the best possible user experience.
There are two important moments in your product and business roadmap where content needs to be a priority:
Before you start building your product, what we call the ‘research and strategy’ phase of our process, in the form of content strategy.
Post-launch (alpha, beta, and every time you iterate) in the form of content marketing.
During the production process, content strategy revolves around helping users find, access, and consume the many different types of content that are to be made available. A lot of this work is primarily done upfront through a content audit, evaluating content needs, assigning content creators, and deciding on what makes the cut and what doesn’t in the form of content maps (in the IA phase) which help our designers make informed decisions based on user needs. This requires putting yourself in the user’s shoes and considering the content that matters most to them, as well as other factors like when are they most likely to consume it and which device are they most likely to access it from.
For example, one of the biggest challenges facing the retail industry is a trend referred to as ‘showrooming’, where prospective customers walk into their store to browse their wares but then end up making the purchase online, most typically from a competitor. Foresee’s latest Mobile Satisfaction Index reveals that 70 percent of shoppers used their mobile phone inside a retail store, with 62 percent browsing the website or app of the store they are in, and 37 percent browsing those of competitors. Why is this a content strategy problem? Because if a user can find, evaluate, and check-out faster on a competitor’s mobile site, you’ve got a serious problem.
However, after you’ve launched and deployed your product or service out to the world, you’re going to have to rely on content to not only engage and relate with current users, but hopefully continue to attract new ones. This comes in the form of content marketing, where depending on whether it’s a B2C or B2B context, you use different forms of content to execute your user acquisition strategy. For great examples of how small businesses have used content marketing to fuel their success, check out this post by Spokal.
Content In Focus
Now depending on the size of a startup or organization content strategists and content marketers could come in the form of dedicated resources themselves or the responsibility of such roles could fall on the shoulders of a product manager, copywriter, digital strategist, or any number of other job titles that fall somewhere on the spectrum. The fact of the matter is that at the end of the day content is something that everyone on the product development team should have a firm stake in, even if the definitions and responsibilities aren’t crystal clear from the offset.
Having the opportunity to explore the intersections between content strategy, user experience, and product development is one of the things that brings me to Jet Cooper. As a marketer who’s diving into the world of brand journalism and content strategy for startups, my hope is to frame the right content questions that continue to contribute to building the best products for end users.
I look forward to posting my thoughts and insights on this blog! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to chat.