In part one of our Marketing for Nonprofits series, we walked our readers through the process of creating a solid roadmap for their digital marketing efforts by identifying relevant strengths and weaknesses as well as defining what success and failure look like for them in order to set SMART goals. Now, we will begin to build off of that groundwork by placing website content as the cornerstone for your marketing efforts.
We recognize that nonprofits often operate within tight budgetary and resource constraints; you’re often trying to do more with less and it can be challenging to figure out what’s a priority and what can wait. That’s why strong content is so valuable for your organization. Good content is a resource that, once created, will work alongside you to expand your marketing efforts rather than cause a drain on your time and energy.
Managing Your Content
It’s important to remember that the point of any content is to add value to your viewer. Therefore an important first step in content management is to consider your users’ goals and objectives when visiting your site. By taking this approach to your website’s content you will not only better engage your audience by providing them with the information they are looking for, but you will also demonstrate to Google and other search engines that your site is an authority within your field of expertise. This, in turn, will help you rank higher in search engine results related to your area of interest.
Use Pillar Pages to Organize Your Content
Content management involves organizing the content on your site to better help your visitor to find the resources and information they are looking for. One common way to do this is through pillar pages. Pillar pages act as a central hub for a broad topic. Users can visit the pillar page to find pages containing related sub-topics. For example, a sporting goods store may have a pillar page about camping. That pillar page would connect to related content about hiking gear, first aid tips, how to choose a camping site, etc. Arranging related content around a pillar page with a cohesive theme makes it easier for users to find the information they are looking for as well as information about related topics.
Optimizing your visuals
Images and videos are content too! Have you ever tried to explain to someone how to get to someplace they’ve never been to? Or, perhaps you’ve tried to describe the process of assembling a piece of furniture. Often the best way to explain something is to show it.
But beyond that, humans are visual creatures. We are intrigued by visuals and we have evolved to be able to quickly comprehend visual stimuli and store it in our memories. People can get a sense of a visual scene in as quickly as 1/10 of a second. Studies even indicate that we remember up to 80% of what we see as opposed to only 20% of what we read.
However, images and videos also have a huge impact on performance and user experience. You should carefully consider how your user will be accessing your site. Images and videos, in particular, require a large amount of data and bandwidth. One way to deal with this is to compress your images before adding them to your site. There are excellent free tools such as TinyPNG and TinyJPG that can help you optimize your images or you can use plugins such as Optimole and Imagify with WordPress.
Regularly updating your evergreen content
Evergreen content is content that remains relevant over a long period of time. This is content that people will visit time and time again and share with other people. Nevertheless, you will want to regularly update your evergreen content with new information or to connect it to newer closely related content.
Read our blog, “Seven Easy Tricks to Improve Your Blog Posts,” to find additional advice for creating strong content.
Strengthen the Foundation of your Website Content
The Brand Story
One of the keys to creating a successful marketing strategy is to develop a brand identity that people can easily remember and connect with. At Webspec, we have adapted Donald Miller’s popular StoryBrand framework for a more digital-oriented marketplace. At the heart of our framework is identifying how you can help your user succeed at their goals. This has several advantages to traditional marketing methods because it puts your end-user in the driver’s seat. With that as your starting point you can:
- Identify what problems they have and, more importantly, how you can help solve them
- Establish what success and failure look like for the user
- Organize your content and use the correct voice
Think of a sitemap as an outline of the pages, features, and content you plan to have on your site. It is a way to visually map out your site’s organizational structure. It can start out as a sketch on paper, sticky notes, or a whiteboard drawing and later move into a digital format. Miro is a great resource with a small learning curve to help you visually represent your sitemap. Your sitemap will help you create a task list of all the pages and features you need to create and how they will all connect.
Whereas sitemaps provide an overhead view of your site’s organization, a User Journey provides a more concrete viewpoint for how a user might navigate your site. Creating a User Journey is similar to creating a sitemap and uses similar tools such as Miro. In a User Journey, you will map out how you want your users to navigate through your website. This process will help inform your design and page layout choices.
As discussed earlier, visual images are powerful and are a valuable resource for communication regardless of the medium. This is even more true for the internet which is incredibly visually oriented. That’s why it’s important to use high-quality visuals to enhance your content and engage your viewers. High-quality visuals aren’t limited to photos only. They can include:
- Stock photos or personal photography
- Graphics & Icons
- Graphs & charts
By including high-quality images and ensuring they are properly optimized for their specific purposes, you can not only augment your existing written content but often communicate things more effectively and efficiently.
Website Content Audits
It’s important to not only create fresh authoritative content in order to stimulate organic search results but also to evaluate and refresh your existing content. Often the websites that rank the highest will periodically perform a content audit to determine which pages attract and maintain visitors’ attention and which content isn’t performing as well. If your team isn’t regularly performing a content audit, now is a great time to consider doing so.
What’s the benefit?
Google and other search engines love content that is recently updated or “fresh.” This is because these search engines want to provide the most current and relevant information to searchers. Updating the content on your site signals to your visitors as well as Google that your business is still active and engaged in providing the best information available.
We recommend auditing your evergreen content (content that doesn’t usually change) every quarter to make sure it’s still accurate.
How do I organize this?
Use your sitemap to your advantage! This is where some of your hard work earlier pays off. Create a spreadsheet with all of your pages and include notes and dates on when they were last updated.
Keys for a successful content audit
Is your content accurately describing what’s going on in your business? Has a business practice changed due to advancements in technology or new research? Is the content relevant to your market or visitors?
It is always helpful to take a fresh look at your content to ensure clarity, usability, and accessibility. Is your content easy to skim through and understand? Do you use page organization strategies such as different levels of headings and bullet points?
Keywords are the most common words or phrases searchers input into search engines like Google when looking for content related to your industry or website. Does your content contain keywords or key phrases you want to rank for? Do you have enough words per page?
Does your content create a clear path for users to take action on your website? This is commonly known as including a call to action in your content and should be used as a means of pointing your visitors to ways in which you can help them with a problem they may have. Your calls to action shouldn’t feel like sales pitches but rather an opportunity for assistance.
Content Audit Spreadsheet
Using a spreadsheet is a great way to organize your content audit. Here are several ways using a content audit spreadsheet can help you:
- Organize and plan your new content
- Once you have your evergreen pages organized and updated, you can start adding new content to keep visitors engaged
- Create a content calendar
- Content calendars serve as a useful way to organize your upcoming content so you can map out what you have to create and when.
- You can also include your overall marketing goals and a target audience and purpose for each platform in the same doc.
- A useful tool for small teams and a great collaborative tool for sharing work with team members.
Now that you’ve assessed what content you have and will need, you can make a plan to implement your unique digital marketing strategy. Feeling like you need more guidance? Reach out to our content team.