What is Content Strategy?
Content strategy is a sprawling, dynamic phrase that has quite a few meanings, some encompassing many elements of a website’s development process, some narrowing that list down to a select few.
Brad Shorr wrote an article in 2011 that featured a concise yet encapsulating definition:
“Content strategy is an emerging field of practice encompassing every aspect of content, including its design, development, analysis, presentation, measurement, evaluation, production, management, and governance.”
The Copywriter’s Role
Whatever way you choose to slice the cake, one thing is certain: the copywriter plays as much an important role as the designer, developer, social media marketer, UX architect, etc.
Why? Well, all of these roles play on the same key: that is, to create an engaging experience for the visitor in a way that naturally and smoothly guides (not forces, not beguiles, but guides) them towards a specific action or set of actions.
Asking the Right Questions
As copywriter, your job, at it’s bases level, is to tell a story that engages visitors and drives them towards a destination. How do you do that? By asking the right questions.
The first question you should always be asking, the client, yourself and your team is, “what goal am I trying to achieve with this copy?”
In other words, what do you want the user to do when he reads your copy? What do you want him to feel, what kind of reaction do you want him to express, what do you want him to take away?
Is it information about the brand? Another reason to purchase a certain product or service? To amuse him and build trust?
Although realignemnt with key goals is covered in the Conflicts section below, focusing on initial alignment at the beginning of the project and periodic alignment throughout the project greatly reduces the number of conflicts that might arise and creates a more seamless design and development process.
Alignment means everyone understands the purpose of their role as well as mutual goals. For example, your client is a fitness center that wants to expand their local outreach and increase membership volume.
The copywriter will write copy that appeals to the neighborhoods around the gym while guiding readers towards the membership/free trial page. The designer will visually appeal to the desired demographic while creating a visual presentation that points users in the direction the membership/free trial page. And so on.
An initial team meeting focused on alignment will help prevent the scenarios presented below.
This is the phase that has everyone reaching for their switchblade. Conflicts arise. Your team thinks your copy isn’t engaging enough, or they want to curb the creativity and make it sound more generic.
There should really be only be three people with relevant authority over copy changes: a potential user, the client and yourself. Any other individual (besides maybe the project manager) is wasting their time not focusing on their allotted tasks and/or imposing influence upon a sector they are not experienced in, which in turn muddles the process.
If you want team feedback (in the case of a design, copy and/or functionality conflict), don’t ask your co-workers individually. Get your entire group together and let a back-and-forth take place.
If, for example, the copywriter is being too verbose and the designer too minimalistic, a team meeting is helpful (and healthy) to the extend of getting your goals realigned to that ever-important key mentioned above in The Copywriter’s Role.
But remember, ultimately you’re the expert, writing for only two groups of people: the client and his customers.