Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Managing Content on a Web Content Management System

Organizing content through a web content management system (CMS) is smart for companies because it enables them to manage and organize voluminous web assets, disseminate web-publishing tools to subject matter experts within the organization, and helps companies adhere to their committed web design through the use of templates and taxonomy thereby supporting the brand. In addition, it provides a workflow platform to ensure that appropriate content is reviewed and published. These CMS functions require organizations to identify roles and assignments regarding content development (governance).

Implementing an effective content management system presents a host of hidden challenges. It is not uncommon for senior managers to believe their headaches are over once a CMS is up and running. Often there is not a true appreciation of how confining a CMS tends to be, and it takes a few months of mileage to get a sense of any short comings and functions that need to be adjusted. This CMS development process occurs whether it is a proprietary or off-the-self system.

The biggest misunderstanding about a CMS is who and how many individuals need to support it. An absolute requirement is that individuals possess basic HTML and Internet production skills to maintain and enhance the CMS structure. This is because they will need to find ways to finagle the CMS templates to account for fluctuations in editorial and marketing scenarios.

To have a smooth web site operating on a continuously enhancing CMS system, you will need these basic web professionals:
  • A content manager to set standards of quality and engage SME’s and contributors
  • An editor to write and edit copy so the company's standards and brands are upheld and supported
  • A web developer who can analyze existing content and work with IT staff on enhancements
  • A graphics editor to steward a consistent visual vernacular
  • A key IT project manager to foster good partnerships 
Finally, with the right staff on board the next most important thing to have is a blank template!

Next: Content Migration

Copyright© 2009 Lule Dine All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Signing In for Content

I advocate putting as much information as possible on a web site. It is an excellent way of displaying one’s expertise in a specific area of knowledge or industry. Truthfully if you have it, flaunt it and don’t worry too much about others taking your ideas – you’ll make more – if you’re the real thing. This approach promotes production of useful and relevant content so visitors will make your web site the first place to seek information about a particular subject. In turn it will encourage repeat traffic and thought leadership on informational web sites.

Of course there are proprietary assets and processes that really are part of intellectual property, then it is important to balance how much you share.

There are other times when it makes sense to ask visitors to do a little more to get even deeper detailed data.

From a marketing point of view, when you ask visitors to register on your secure site, take a survey or enter their personal facts make it mutually advantageous for the information seeker as well as provider. This should be content individuals would find worthwhile sharing a little bit of their own personal information for such as a white paper on a pertinent topic, an audit calculator, or customized content.

Be clear about what you are going to do with the collected material. Making visitors sign up for content gratuitously won’t be beneficial for either party and will prompt them to look elsewhere for the content anyway. After all it is the Internet.

Next: Content Management Systems

Copyright© 2009 Lule Dine All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Yin-Yang of Business Objectives

The main objective of your web content is to support your business objectives. The main objective of your web content is to support your customer needs. That’s right “complementary opposites within a greater whole.” Both objectives need to be accomplished and they don’t have to compete, however, the balancing act is where the art lies.

Weighing content on the side of customer needs is more strategic because customer perspectives on your offerings differ from your product managers. Customers:
  • Approach your products depending how and when they use it
  • Seek value
  • Require clarity 
Organize content and support both objectives by:
  • Thinking of your offerings as a continuum and present your content in that way. Be prepared to work across product and service lines. This will provide your business the opportunity to start bundling.
  • Generate content that will improve the customer’s knowledge and increase their value perception. This provides the business the forum to cross-market.
  • Always include customer service information at your top level. Customers will have a fast track to resolving their issues and you show how the business stands behind their products and services.
The biggest challenge will be working with different business partners and product managers. Their goal, and this is how they are compensated, is to sell their discreet product or solution -- yours will be to bring them together in a meaningful way.

Next: Sign-in content

Copyright© 2009 Lule Dine All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Creating an Editorial Calendar

One of the best ways to plan for content in the coming year is to establish a schedule for information you will need to publish or update. This will enable you to:
  • Keep content current and relevant
  • Organize resources based on constituent needs
  • Consolidate requests
  • Coordinate with marketing more efficiently
  • Instill healthy competition among your constituents and internal clients

Often people believe they cannot create an editorial calendar because it’s difficult to predict what requests will arise. The best way to look ahead is to look back and speak with your constituents. Probe around these topics:
  • Does your organization participate or organize trade shows, provide training or seminars, present industry forums or other types of events?
  • Is there a planned product/service/new feature launch?
  • Are there any impending regulatory or industry changes?
  • What key marketing initiatives are planned for the year?
  • Are their awards that your organization recognizes or sponsor?
  • Are you in an industry that is cyclical?

An editorial calendar can actually provide more nimbleness by allowing you to make resource changes and accommodate unplanned projects. You will have a list of content fillers and stretchers to work with. By the end of the year your editorial calendar will be established for the following year and all you need to do is update it.

Next: The yin-yang of business objectives

Copyright© 2009 Lule Dine All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Content Hygiene

There are some straight-forward considerations to keep in mind when developing content. The idea is to provided succinct information and offer a call to action that is always current and relevant. Be clear on the purpose of the content and integrate it with other marketing activity. Each page should be treated as an initial point of entry to your web site.

The practices below should be embedded every time you approach content and then they will become second nature:

    Title: The title sets the expectation of what the visitor will be reading.

    Image: If you include an image have it support your message and what you are trying to convey. 

    Meta tags: If you want the page properly indexed in both internal and external search engines place key word meta tags and a good meta description. Also if you don’t start here you are wasting any money going towards search engine optimization programs.

    Text: Keep it simple, short and professional. Leave clever references to your marketing activities. Do use subheadings and bullets. If the copy requires scrolling please break it up into several pages and allow the user to decide how far they wish to drill down. You can always make the full text available in a .pdf or the printable view.

    Related links: Always include links to relevant information within the site. You will be doing the user a favor by aggregating all the possible dispersed content and cross selling your offerings. Be diligent and provide meaningful and relevant links.

    Call to action: Have a goal of what you expect a user to do. For example, go to the next stage of information along the selling cycle, purchase a product/service or make a call.

Next: Creating an editorial calendar for content.

Copyright© 2009 Lule Dine All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Year-end Content Clean Up

I find the end of year a good time to look back on one’s personal and business activities. It’s a time to regroup and look towards the next year by appreciating your accomplishments and recognizing that some things you didn’t get to -- maybe it was the new photo album series you were going to transfer online or that visionary initiative you knew would yield cost savings for your company.

There is a long list you can fill in the blanks. But one of the to do’s difficult to keep at the top, is reviewing your web site for dated content.

Cleaning up content is so, I’ll get to it later— yet nothing is more effective then telling your visitors and customers you don’t care about your web site when they see old and irrelevant content.

Part of the toil of reviewing sites is that it can be daunting with some times thousands of pages to manage. Here are some areas to screen on your web site:

  • News center: If you have a dynamic system, there is less to worry about. If you don’t, then start by archiving the previous year’s news releases and newsletters. Make sure updated logos and images are available to the media.
  • Calendar: Check holiday schedules, events, locations, seminars and post information about the up coming year. If you don’t have content for the next year state a time for visitors to check back for updated information.
  • Mergers and acquisition notices: It is customary to leave content on the home page regarding a new merger or acquisition up to a year allowing customers ample time to become informed about the changes. After that unless directed by legal it turns into a dusty item taking up valuable space for new content.
  • Copyright line: This needs to change so make sure your web developer has it on his/her list and if it is suppose to change automatically through your content management system, please check on Jan. 2 that it has done so. See Exxon’s footer --
  • Product and service introductions: Read the copy for words like new or introducing. Check to see whether the list of descriptions reflect changes to the product/service offering and be clear which offerings will be focused on in the coming year by your organization.
  • Private policy: Does it include coverage of mergers and acquisition and/or newthird party associations and new customer information policies?
  • Royalty and royalty-free art work: Renew your rights and fees with your agency or image stock house provider.
  • Senior management or key subject matter experts: Check bios, update and remove those that have moved on.
  • Set editorial calendar for next year: Schedule banner placements and content development of upcoming promotions and recurring events.

It is worth the time. Your web sites represent your work and your company’s image.

Next: Content Hygiene

Copyright© 2008 Lule Dine All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Taking Note of Content

In the late 1990's businesses realized they had to launch a web site as part of their calling card. They usually provided the basics:

• A company's goals/mission
• Product/service descriptions
• An explanation of why the company was the best in their field
• General contact information
• Webmaster link for feedback

The way the company was organized was the way they usually structured their content. As the millennium approached and the Y2k problem past, the emphasis turned towards redesigning more sophisticated web sites so ownership moved away from their fore founders and handed to agencies and web managers to improve ease of use. Reflecting intuitive navigation was the goal and there were many conventional and new interactive agencies influencing organizations to present meaningful content from the point of view of their visitors.

Heading towards the end of the first millennium decade businesses recognize their web sites are an essential business channel, and analytics, Web 2.0 technology, emarketing and periodic redesigns are planned and resourced.

Companies are focused on achieving sales and transactions but primarily look to marketing and technologies to seek their goals instead of placing proper attention to their content. The approach of outside looking in is still key and many B2B companies are making mindful assessments towards identifying customer needs but for many organizations presenting relevant and current content remains ambitious and elusive.

Marketing and technology are important for successful web sites to bring visitors in and allow them to transact, but it is solid well thought out content and information that ensures a transaction, encourages return visits and drives customers to try doing more on your site. Sidestepping content deprives you of having a true notion of who will be occupying your space.

Next: Year-end Content Clean Up

Copyright© 2008 Lule Dine All Rights Reserved.