The seven levers of online content strategy

In the online world as much as in the ‘old’ world, marketing best practice tells us that we need to define our target audience and how we want to change what they think, feel and do in order to move them along a buying cycle. So if a company that sells anti-virus software is setting up (or refreshing) its website, it needs to be clear about the fact that the objective for the site is (for example) to persuade small business owners or managers to order its product directly from the site.

What are the ‘4Ps’ of online content strategy?

At this point we’d switch from our customer focus to look at what we can directly control in order to influence our defined audience in the way we want.

The traditional marketing strategy framework for doing this is the good old 4Ps: ‘product’, ‘price’, ‘place’, ‘promotion’. So we asked ourselves: if we’re developing an online strategy aimed at getting our audience to arrive (at our site or other online presence), engage (with us or our content) and then act, what’s the equivalent of the 4Ps? What are the relevant ‘levers’ we can control in the online world that create a complete high-level content strategy?

The seven online content levers

We think there are seven content levers we can pull to ensure that we meet our objectives for online marketing. Not as snappy as ‘the 4Ps’, we admit; do tell us if you’ve got any ideas for turning these into a memorable acronym—or if you think there are different levers to consider:

AccessibilityHow do we help our targets to discover, find, arrive at our site/ online content? Includes: traffic generation; SEO; on-page strategy; site optimisation for mobile devices.
Messaging and toneHow do we address our targets (content and style) to make them feel and act in the appropriate way?
NavigationHow do we give our targets a clear path to where they want (and we want them) to go? Bearing in mind that they may arrive at different places.
Content refreshHow often does this content (and this and this…) need to be updated to keep the experience fresh and relevant for our targets?
Look and feelWhat design principles will attract our targets and how do we ensure that design and navigation/usability work together?
ShareabilityHow do we encourage and facilitate visitors to share our content (or share their own or other content with other visitors, as appropriate)?
Interactivity How do we encourage and facilitate targets to interact with our content, other visitors and us?

Context is king

As with the 4Ps, clearly these need to be considered together and applied to meet a well-articulated objective. Not ‘what should our site’s navigation do?’ as an isolated question but—if we go back to our software company example—’how can we organise the navigation so that it presents small business managers with a clear, relevant path through their buying cycle to the placement of an order for our product?’

Of course determining the right answers—or answers that work (there’s no one right answer)—might be very challenging. And complicated by the fact that in practice you’re likely to have multiple target audiences and multiple objectives. But that’s always the challenge for marketing—in this respect online is no different from offline.

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