5 ways content strategy adds value to your business

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Last month I began talking about the frustrations of how understanding the value of content can be so elusive for businesses after reading Sarah O’Keef’s white paper ‘Content accounting. Calculating value of content in the enterprise’. She suggests that content assets contribute financially to five business needs:

  1. Revenue growth

  2. Cost avoidance

  3. Competitive advantage

  4. Brand image

  5. Compliance

I will discuss each of these business needs and the contribution content makes in this blog.

Revenue generation

In my experience, digital content contributes to a business’ revenue growth in a couple of ways:

Marketing information

For example, content marketing, digital display and SEM. Its purpose is to inspire people to buy your products or services and lead them into conversion or lead generation funnels. This is where Content Marketing fits into your content picture. But it can include the product information on your website and in other digital channels too.

Product and sales process information

After your marketing content has generated visits to your website, or other digital sales channels, your product and sales process information helps convert the sale. For example, product specifications, pricing, instructions and error messages. This information helps people make informed decisions and complete online purchases.

This is an area where I see missed opportunities for content to contribute to revenue growth. If the content on your web site or digital sales channels is confusing and/or doesn’t match the content marketing experience conversion opportunities will be lost.

Cost avoidance

Avoiding costs is critical for business success and income generation. Most of the work I do as a Content Strategist is in the cost avoidance space. In my experience content cost avoidance occurs in two areas for the business:

Improving content creation processes and tool use

Driving cost out by improving content team processes and tools use can be an untapped opportunity. While cost avoidance doesn’t directly contribute to income it can contribute to increased productivity. Over time productivity gains can result in benefits like headcount reduction, a shift in focus to higher-value tasks and faster response to market demands and changes.

Increased productivity can be achieved by understanding the people, processes and tools used to create content. Start by looking at ways tasks can be simplified, efficiency can begin with software enhancements – content resources can be shared (such as editorial standards and copy) across platforms and teams.

Productivity gains can be calculated in terms of time saved by simplifying a task. This is known as an efficiency dividend. In theory, an efficiency dividend can be applied as a percentage of operational (running) costs.

Improving content that is causing customer dissatisfaction

I often work with businesses that want to improve content that is making people unhappy. Quite often the unhappiness is caused by poor help or self-service information. Unhappy people are not good for business. They can become a cost if they decide to stop being your customer.

When working on a help content improvement project, the Head of Digital and I calculated the cost of losing a customer because of a poor help content experience.

  • We looked at the number of NPS (Net Promoter Scores) below three received on help content

  • We estimated the propensity for customers who give NPS scores of three or less to churn

  • We applied this to the RPU (revenue per user) for the business and lead generation costs

From here we were able to work out how many customers we could lose per year and how much that would cost the business. It was a sobering moment.

These kinds of costs can be avoided by understanding the content friction points and fixing them. And, this is not just a once every few years job. In my experience, continuous monitoring and improvement produces the best results.

Competitive advantage

Content can help provide a competitive advantage in several ways;

  • Excellent Search Engine Optimisation

  • Unique high-value content that people love

  • Localised content

Making the best use of your content to gain competitive advantage can often be missed opportunity.

Understanding and using SEO best practice ensures you show up in search results, for the right search terms, and ahead of your competitors. Good SEO will also help you get the coveted featured snippet and first position in search results for key search terms. If you don’t have an SEO expert in house it’s worth engaging an agency or upskilling yourself or a staff member on the mysterious ways of search engines.

If it fits with your business, create unique and truly useful content for your leads and customers that your competitors don’t provide. To do this you’d need to go the extra mile in understanding what information your leads and customers really want. Then create it for them.

Localising your content for different markets can also help you gain a competitive advantage. Localisation goes way deeper than translating the words – cultural differences may also change the way people interacted with the content, the information people want, and the way digital channels are used. So, it’s good to work with translators that truly understand your market.

Brand image

Your digital copy is part of your overall brand image and user experience. Done right your copy supports and enhances the overall brand image and therefore brand value.

To create high-quality copy that supports your brand image, Digital Copy Guidelines are essential. Without them, your content can become inconsistent and unhelpful.

Your Digital Copy Guidelines should include digital editorial standards, plain English tone of voice guidelines and heuristics/best practice standards. Using these guidelines will also help achieve competitive advantage via good SEO. Digital guidelines should also be used for the images and video used in your digital channels.

Legal, non-misleading and compliance content

Ensuring your content meets legal requirements and doesn’t mislead customers is critical. I often work closely with the legal team to ensure that product information, marketing messages, disclaimers, terms and conditions, return and refund policies etc are accurate and won’t mislead consumers.

If you get this wrong in New Zealand, you could end up with a case against you at the commerce commission which can cost your business a lot of money in fines and lost customers. Avoiding this cost by having clear and accurate content is a cost-saving to the business.

In some industries, businesses may have to provide compliance information in order to operate in a market meaning that information is critical to their business or organisation.

What I’ve learned:

  • It is possible to link content value to your key business needs

  • The contribution content assets make to the five business needs can be calculated as income

  • Content asset income can be represented in accounting terms using Sarah O’Keef’s framework

  • Content assets provide long term benefits to the business

  • The re-usability of content assets will enhance value. A lack of monitoring and maintenance will erode value

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