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5 Signs You Need Content Strategy

Has your content strategy put your team on the right course? Or is it time for a new direction? Check out these signs your content strategy may be off track.

But first: What exactly is content strategy? We like this definition from content strategy pioneer Kristina Halvorson: “Content strategy guides your plans for the creation, delivery, and governance of content.” It’s a way, she says, to make smart, informed decisions about content.

That’s why a solid, up-to-date content strategy is at the foundation of every good website. Read on for some signs that you need to refresh, revamp, or enhance your organization’s content strategy.

1. You’re not sure what content lives your digital properties.

Your digital content is a valuable asset. Just like your physical assets, it can create revenue and deliver ongoing value to your organization. Do you track your digital assets with the same care that you track your physical assets? Do you know what content you own, where it lives, and what it’s about?

If not, you may inadvertently waste time and resources creating duplicate content. Duplicate content is bad for both SEO and user experience. Even more concerning, if you’re not sure what content lives on your site, you may be sharing outdated or inaccurate information with your target audiences.

Depending on your situation, a variety of content strategy tools can help. You’ll likely need to start by taking inventory of your content. Next steps may include a content audit or a content maintenance checklist and log.

2. You struggle to get internal buy-in and alignment regarding website content, or it’s unclear who gets to make decisions around content.

Maybe you work in a culture where everyone wants a say in your website – and everyone has a different idea of what’s best. Who is your primary audience? What is the main goal of your website? How will you achieve that goal? What content is highest priority? And when two or more stakeholders disagree about the best direction or approach, who gets to make the final call?

When these common questions aren’t settled, updating content may become a lengthy, unpleasant process. Or you may end up with an inconsistent, confusing user experience on your website or across your digital properties.

Here’s where a content governance strategy makes your life easier. Content governance includes tools such as:

  • Content strategy statements
  • Project role and responsibility exercises
  • Workflow documentation
  • Content maintenance calendar

An objective third party (like your agency) can use these tactics to help your team and stakeholders get on the same page. That means your work will be more peaceful, productive, and efficient.

3. Too many visitors use site search.

On sites like Google and Amazon, search rules. Healthcare websites are different. Your users generally prefer to use your website navigation. It’s faster and easier to recognize and click on a word than it is to think of a search query, enter it (with correct spelling), and then evaluate the results. (Bear in mind: Only 12% of adults have proficient health literacy.)

If more than 4% of visits include site search, that’s a red flag. It means your users are having trouble finding content by clicking through your navigation. Maybe you have content gaps. Or maybe your website isn’t organized and labeled in a way that makes sense to your site visitors. Either way, it’s time for some content strategy sleuthing.

4. Your content categories read like your organizational chart.

Your intranet is for your organization. Your website is for your consumers. Have you built them that way?

On an intranet, it’s natural to organize information based on internal, departmental structure. It may make sense to use branded terms and medical jargon.

Your website, however, is for external audiences. It should categorize and label information in way that’s accessible to people with little to no experience with healthcare – or your organization. This helps them better understand and use your website.

It can be hard to put yourself in the shoes of an external audience when you’re so steeped in the culture of your organization. Content strategists and digital marketing specialists can help you better understand the preferences, goals, and perspectives of the people you’re trying to reach through user research and testing. Then, they can apply those findings to a content strategy that resonates with your audiences while also helping you reach your goals.

5. Analytics reveal a high bounce rate.

Your bounce rate shows the number of people who land on a page on your website, and then leave without another interaction with your site.

Defining a “good” or “bad” bounce rate gets tricky and requires understanding of how each page fits in the user journey.

On some page types, a high bounce rate can indicate that your content has done its job. For example, it’s not unusual for location pages to have a high bounce rate. That’s likely because users came to the page seeking an address or phone number, got what they needed, and left.

On other pages, a high bounce rate is less desirable. It’s not a good sign, for example, to see a high bounce rate in a bariatric surgery section intended to educate patients about their options and guide them toward registering for an online or in-person seminar.

When bounce rates for your foundational content exceed 65%, it’s time to take a close look at your content and overall user experience. You may discover opportunities to improve content, calls to action, meta data, your mobile experience, or other specific elements of your site.

Sometimes It’s Best to Start Outside Your Organization

If any of these scenarios sound familiar, you may need content strategy. But getting started internally can be hard, especially if your organization lacks clarity about who gets to make decisions about digital content. Sometimes an outside agency can help. If you’re ready to get a process around your content, our experts would love to help.

Anne Kapler

Principal Content Strategist & Writer

5 Signs You Need Content Strategy