Export website content strategy
An Estonian version of this article can be found on the Aktiva website:
Kodulehekülje sisu strateegia
There is not much point in attracting potential buyers and partners to your website if:
1. It is too complicated to use for the average person
2. There is not enough content to interest them to engage further
3. The best content is buried somewhere in the site but not easily found
A successful commercial website is simple to understand, easy to use and has a well thought out content strategy
Of course every company has different target audiences and unique products ad services but nonetheless, there are some common themes that successful websites share:
Essentially a website should contain topical, relevant and useful content that satisfies the needs and desires of the primary target audiences.
To be sure what content should be included in your website you should, ideally, ask your target audiences. Speak to your partners, clients, suppliers, investors, employees and other stakeholders and find out what they want and then give it to them. It is easy to assume you know what they want; but if ask them, it will save you changing the site later and it will make you stand out from your competitors too!
Bear in mind too that your website will be visited by potential partners and buyers who are not familiar with the internet and so wherever you can, try to keep the presentation and features as simple as possible.
Making sure your website site is easy to use really is very important. Simplicity is beautiful but actually enormously difficult to achieve, even for most web professionals.
It is advisable to seek professional advice when planning your website content strategy but if you want to do it yourself then consider the following list as a guide. In this I use the example of a Light Machinery Exporter targeting the European market (especially Germany).
Development plan for website content strategy
(thanks again to Alison Clark for inspiring this article many moons ago. This is/was essentially her thinking and something which I have adopted and personalised.)
Visitor characterisation (who are your targets?)
Focus on overall visitor requirements and preferences.
Characterise each type of visitor
e.g. German, male, machine buyer aged about 50, internet savvy but uses modem and old PC, speaks some English
Usage development (what so they want from your site?)
Understanding of key stages and needs of visitors.
e.g. The German buyer: Needs price comparisons with the competition, specifications of equipment in easy-to-print format and live currency conversions.
He would also like to see testimonials, guarantees and know more about Estonian business culture, because he has never bought from an Estonian company before.
Takeout statements (what do you want them to think, feel and do AFTER they have left your site?)
Specific communication objectives for each type of visitor.
e.g. You would like him to leave the website thinking: “ this company is professional, have good prices and speak German. I will put them on my tender list and also contact them for further information”
Identify information vehicles(What content do you need to get the response you want?)
Identify and prioritise content and features that support visitor needs and desires.
e.g. German language version, pdf printouts of specification sheets, a live currency converter, a testimonials/reference page or ‘guest book’, logos displaying awards and memberships of trade associations etc etc). A section ‘about Estonia’ would be helpful too, possibly that identifies and stresses the German connection (Hansa etc)
Branding personalisation (What sort of personality does your company want to project?)
Clarification of style and tone to be used.
e.g. Our German, middle-aged buyer is quite conservative so the tone should be formal. In his business, precision and efficiency are important so a clean and uncluttered design would be best. Friendly, welcoming language should be used.
The list above provides a simple snapshot for just one audience. You will need to repeat the same exercise for every target group.
Unnecessary duplication of content needs to be eliminated and simple navigation system should be developed to hold the content together and to ensure the target users can easily and quickly find the content and features they need.
The content strategy development process outlined above should discover and prioritise the content and features your website requires to meet your company goals.
If your website satisfies the needs of clients, partners and other stakeholders then it will satisfy you too.