If your nonprofit website’s content strategy is in dire need of a refresh, you may be experiencing a serious case of analysis paralysis. Given how complex content strategy can be, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed.
Perhaps you feel paralyzed because it takes a variety of skill sets to complete a comprehensive overhaul of your strategy. You need a systems-minded person to focus on information architecture and UX, a persuasive writer to craft compelling stories, and a process expert to connect all the dots.
If you don’t have all these abilities represented in your team, you might be tempted not to do anything until you can obtain resources to outsource the project. However, there are two problems with this logic.
First, you don’t need to fix everything that’s wrong to make real improvements. And second, even if you hire someone to help you with your content strategy in the future, there is groundwork only your team can lay. So you might as well get started on that work right now.
You can do this. Here are 5 tips to level up your content strategy without breaking the bank or overtaxing yourself or your team.
1. Know Your Website’s Goals and Purpose
Content strategy is an umbrella term that can encompass any of the following:
- Information architecture
- User Experience (UX)
- Content creation
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Content governance
- Content structure
The good news is you don’t have to completely revamp every single one of these areas to make meaningful progress. Your very first step in improving your content strategy — whether you’re doing it yourself or engaging an expert — is to know your business goals.
Gather stakeholders from across your organization to discuss questions like:
- Why does our website exist? Is it to raise awareness about the services we offer? Solicit donations? Increase membership? Rally advocates around our cause?
- What are three key actions we want our audience to take? Do we want them to register for an event? Make a gift? Join our mailing list?
- If we only make one improvement to our web content in the next 30 days, what should it be? What are the top five or six things we should change within the next three months?
This exercise should inform every decision you make about your content strategy and free you to focus on the most important areas first. The goal is to identify specific ways your content supports your organization’s overarching business objectives.
2. Define Your Audience Personas and Their User Needs
The goal of content strategy is to create engaging, meaningful, and accessible content that meets your business goals by fulfilling your users’ needs. So stop and consider: Are you sure you know who your audience is? And are you confident you understand their needs?
If your organization has never developed audience personas, now’s the time to do it.
We’re not advocating that you spend thousands of dollars to engage a consultant and write in-depth stories about the personal characteristics of each audience persona. All you really need to do is ask and answer a few simple questions.
Invite colleagues who serve your audience directly to help you develop a succinct document that defines:
- Who your audience personas are (e.g., donors, members, community stakeholders, board members, clients, funding recipients)
- Which specific tasks are essential to each persona’s journey (e.g., registering for an event, making a gift, sign up for services you offer)
- What your personas’ pain points are — the frustrations or challenges you can help them overcome
- Why your organization is best suited to meet each persona’s needs and alleviate their pain points
Spelling out this information will help you tailor your content strategy to meet your audience’s needs and propel each persona forward on their journeys.
3. Conduct a Targeted Content Audit
The next step toward a stronger content strategy is to conduct a content audit and begin making targeted improvements. There’s no need to audit every page on your site if you don’t have the bandwidth right now. Instead, focus on the most relevant pages for each persona and those directly tied to advancing your mission.
- Dig into your Google Analytics to see which pages are visited most and which are visited least. If some of your most important pages don’t get much traffic, that’s a significant clue that something’s wrong.
- Install tools like Hotjar heatmaps so you can see what visitors are looking at on your pages — and which areas they skip.
- Take a look at Google Search Console data to track the specific keywords and phrases users are searching for. Make sure your content delivers easily findable answers to these common queries.
- Use accessibility tools like Siteimprove and CKEditor Accessibility Checker to measure how accessible your content is for differently-abled members of your audience. Making improvements in this area is often beneficial for all your users.
Gathering data can help you hone in on which improvements will have the most impact and prioritize wisely.
4. Optimize Existing Content
Leveling up your content strategy doesn’t necessarily mean embarking on a massive writing extravaganza. You won't need to rewrite every page, every pull quote, and every CTA throughout your entire site. Your site might already be chock full of great information. You might just need to optimize your existing content to help your users find what matters to them.
Wherever possible, make content scannable and skimmable to help users glean the most important points quickly. You can accomplish this by:
- Chopping large walls of text into shorter paragraphs
- Using headers and subheaders frequently (ideally every 200-300 words)
- Converting long series into bulleted lists
It’s also essential to make content readable by:
- Avoiding jargon and insider language
- Keeping sentences short and straightforward
- Choosing active voice instead of passive voice
- Telling compelling stories to capture and keep your audience’s attention
All of these principles also make your content stronger from an SEO perspective. You can further boost searchability by thoughtfully incorporating keywords into headers and paragraphs. But don’t overdo it. Remember you’re writing for humans, not an algorithm.
5. Still Overwhelmed? Set a Goal to Update One Page Per Week
The best way to overcome analysis paralysis is to simply start somewhere. So if you’re still feeling overwhelmed, we encourage you to stop looking at the big picture. Simply pick a page and get to work.
Set a goal to optimize, refresh, or rewrite one page per week. By starting small, keeping at it, and making it a habit to continually level up your content, you’ll make significant progress over time.