How to deliver against a digital roadmap through accessible content
We frequently get asked about how content can help digital product owners deliver messaging and news about accessible features and technical functionality faster to a business's clients...
As part of our commitment to our audience, and in a bid to educate the market on how they can make progress with the delivery of business-critical development and functionality, we thought what better place to start than with content – particularly accessible content?
The reason that this is such a prevalent topic is that it is often one of the main ‘blockers’ that businesses face in terms of their digital estate. Content may, at times, not feel like the most technical aspect of a website, but it’s the information that your customers use to inform their decisions – so it’s by far the most important aspect.
Here are the 10 key questions to ask yourself when looking to expand your digital content offering, scale up your comms and improve UX for your customers:
Why is content so important in a digital-first world?
Content is your main tool of communication with your audience and comes in a variety of forms. Brands and businesses need to be able to get their content to market quickly using their chosen content management system (CMS). End users want to be confident that the content they are looking for can be found quickly, easily, securely, and that it fulfils the need they have at a given moment.
From live weather updates, and the status of a delivery/engineer, to news and insights or eCommerce listings – companies need to use their digital platform to communicate effectively. With the added pressures of marketplace competition, time sensitivity and end-user feedback, being first is vital.
How important is creating accessible content?
Not factoring in accessibility when creating content is proven to have a detrimental impact on user experience and as such, should be at the top of any digital agenda.
Increasingly users are expecting to read and navigate websites in a particular way. Whilst user journeys are a good tool for businesses who are building these websites to plan and understand this navigation, there also has to be a break-fix for those who don’t follow traditional routes.
Ultimately brands must make sure that the information and content they are sharing are suitable for users of all ages and with varying degrees of digital maturity.
Content, and the platform it is served on, must be:
- Perceivable. The information on the user interface and content must be presented in a way so that nothing is undetectable or invisible to the user. The user should be able to consume content in another way if they have a disability. For example, while most people access the web visually, those who are blind or partially sighted may need to use touch or audio instead.
- Operable. Users should be able to operate a website with the controls they normally use, even if they're not used by most people. The interactive elements of an interface, such as controls, buttons, and navigation, should be operated physically through multiple forms of interaction, such as voice commands.
- Understandable. Websites should be understandable to every user and not overly complicated. A website should be presented in standard patterns of use and designed so it is not completely unrecognisable from the way a site normally operates. The end user should be able to understand the meaning and purpose of the information presented in the proper context.
- Robust. Content must be equally robust across a wide variety of technologies and platforms, from one browser to the next, from PCs to handheld devices and so on.
How can content help to scale your offering?
Content is the lifeblood of any digital organisation and making sure that you are giving the end user what they want – when they want it, is crucial.
Scalability should be a core business goal for those working in digital, and if you’re not in a position to scale, then that’s where consultancy comes in. People often think of digital content as the words on a page, and whilst that isn’t wrong, there is so much more to consider. Content can include documents, PDFs, files, photos, music, video, and natively digital items like web pages, software programs and social media posts.
Agile principles should be incorporated in your approach and as a product-led business, this is something we have been pushing. The idea is simple. First, you need to conduct small experiments to determine what the “right” content is – this is largely shaped by the data that you collect and your understanding of your audience’s needs. The Institute of content marketing are constantly talking about ‘minimum viable content’ (MVC) - this enables you to learn what your audience is interested in and then use what you’ve learned to create big, high-effort pieces that perform well.
They suggest that the MVC refers to the smallest type of content that teaches you something about your audience and can effectively influence the behaviour of that audience. “Minimum” doesn’t dictate the form of the content. It could be a blog post, an infographic, a video, etc. It also doesn’t mean the size of the content asset. Rather “minimum” refers to the scope of the project phase: It should be big enough to make an impact but small enough to be built quickly, deployed easily, and measured readily.
How important is it for businesses to be able to ramp up content production?
Content should have a regular cadence and should be planned well in advance of delivery. At times, however, there is a need to release ad-hoc updates or make changes to a price, description, or service. If this is the case, then businesses must have the resource to ramp up their production.
Businesses should consider their production process and follow the 4 Ws (Who, What, When, and Where) principle:
- Who: Writers, editors, publishers — key members of your organisation, including relevant stakeholders in other departments, should be aware of who’s in charge of content, and what their specific responsibilities are.
- What: What types of content is your target audience looking for, and what is your team capable of delivering to them? On an individual level, what buyer persona and buying cycle stage will each content asset address? What is the intended goal or call to action for each piece of content? Make sure you define these parameters in advance.
- When: Establish publishing frequency, and work backwards to create intermediary deadlines for internal editing and review. Build in enough time to avoid sloppy work and regulate a steady pipeline of content.
- Where: Your team should have shared access to both the content calendar including working drafts and a good understanding of how your audience will digest the content served to them.
Using the right tools helps with this and if we were to look at digital experience platforms such as Optimizely, it is clear to see that there is the back-end functionality to edit or update content as required.
One area in which a DXP can help is in the form of personalisation. Making sure that your content is trusted and that it reaches the correct audience is vital. In the past, we have worked on projects where large utility companies need to push out updates in the form of content to specific regions or groups of people.
By having the ability to send personalised messages you can assist those most in need of the update and build brand trust and reputation. It also adds to the user/customer experience.
How important is auditing your content process?
Brands and businesses need to be able to see how their content is performing and in truth, there are many different touchpoints when it comes to the data behind published content. Much like you can see the performance of an email marketing campaign, a DXP can help you get behind the date of individual posts, web pages, and listings.
By auditing your content, you are able to update anything that is no longer applicable (to your business or the customer), delete outdated content and push items or services as the demand increases.
Businesses can also use the data pulled from a content audit to inform future decisions. You should always start by mapping existing content to specific personas across the sales cycle, then prioritise content that will fill the gaps.
Which channels should businesses be thinking about when it comes to publishing content?
As part of the auditing process, businesses will be able to highlight the gaps in their content – not just in terms of the actual topics that are covered but, in the channels that they are using. The way end users digest their content has changed greatly over the last few years and with a switch to mobile-first as the default way of interacting with websites there are many considerations to factor in.
Content should always be made for multiple devices and as with the accessibility points should be published in such a way that it reaches everyone. Inclusivity isn’t just about making the content accessible but giving the user the option to access it how they see fit.
For that reason, there are a number of channels that can and should be used.
Some users prefer video or audio content, some prefer long-form posts and some want updates sent to them on social media, via text-based messaging, email or as alerts via an app. It is imperative that you think of all of these touchpoints when developing a content strategy. Again, I go back to the point that you need to reach as wide an audience as possible.
How does content feed into a digital roadmap and align with your overall UX and business ambitions?
As we have previously mentioned, the digital roadmap is the planned route to a certain level of digital activity that will align with your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and that will deliver the best possible UX.
A content plan that fulfils user journeys and understands what the user is looking for and where is far more beneficial than an ad-hoc approach. By being regimental in your approach you are setting yourself up for long-term success and are going to be able to harvest data to keep feeding into a backlog or to shape future roadmaps.
You also need to be able to consider additional audiences who may be using your site and their needs around content consumption.
Why do so many enterprise and mid-market businesses struggle with content production?
When it comes to content production, enterprise and mid-market businesses often face numerous obstacles in creating and delivering the right kind of content to the market.
These are the familiar challenges that these organisations encounter and below we discuss how the elements of the Optimizely (as an example of a market-leading DXP) ecosystem can help alleviate these issues.
- Poor System Choices: The rapid evolution of SAAS/PAAS systems, especially in the CMS/DXPs market, can leave businesses lagging behind.
Organisations should embrace developments in headless, composable, and connected architectures to be agile and customer-focused in content creation and publishing.
Furthermore, leveraging highly configurable systems that align with the organisational and commercial direction of content endeavours is crucial for efficient content production.
- Lack of Technical Knowledge: Implementing a CMS/DXP requires technical expertise, as no two implementations are the same.
Outdated or poorly executed implementations can restrict business growth and efficiency.
Finding the right platform and skilled implementation that harnesses the platform’s powerful features is essential for maximising benefits for both the business and its customers.
- Legacy Processes: Modern DXP platforms come equipped with workflows that streamline content production.
These workflows offer valuable insights into meeting the content needs of the target audience effectively.
- Internal Resourcing: Finding the right balance in internal resourcing can be a challenge.
Having too many or too few resources dedicated to content production can impact its quality and timely delivery. Proper resource allocation and allocation based on priorities is crucial for overcoming this challenge.
- Working Priorities: Creating insightful client case studies can be challenging when client-facing teams are constantly engaged with clients.
Balancing priorities and finding dedicated time for content creation is vital to ensure the production of compelling case studies that highlight the organisation’s value.
- Accessing Usable Data: Many companies face the issue of data silos, making it difficult to access valuable data that could enhance the customer experience. Responsible and efficient data management practices should be implemented to leverage data effectively, regardless of where it is stored or maintained.
- Poor Understanding of User Journeys: A lack of comprehension regarding user journeys can hinder the development of relevant and engaging content.
Understanding how users interact with content throughout their journey is crucial for tailoring content that resonates with their needs and preferences.
- Lack of Clarity in KPIs: Without clear Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), organisations may struggle to measure the success and impact of their content production efforts.
Establishing well-defined KPIs provides clarity and direction, allowing for effective evaluation and optimisation.
Which elements of the Optimizely ecosystem help to alleviate these issues?
Elements of the Optimizely ecosystem addressing these challenges:
- Content Workflows - Content Marketing Platform: Optimizely offers marketing efficiency tools that enable teams to schedule, and project manage the entire content flow.
Collaboration tools facilitate teamwork, transforming vague thoughts into powerful content ideas.
Editorial tooling ensures content quality and streamlines approval processes, compliance, brand consistency, and legal requirements. AI-powered tools can alleviate bottlenecks, from writer’s block to resource and time constraints, while performance insights empower teams to demonstrate results and inform future success.
- Asset Value - Digital Asset Management (DAM): Optimizely stands out from its competitors with its built-in DAM capabilities. Content teams can efficiently manage imagery by organising brand assets and image libraries in a centralised location. Search tools and image tracking features ensure all files are licensed and up to date.
- Harnessing Data: Optimizely’s Data Platform (ODP) empowers organisations to gather powerful insights on content consumption.
These insights enable businesses to present themselves more effectively to their audience by making content recommendations based on recency, previous interests, user profiles, and emerging trends.
Integration with other data sources, such as CRM, CDP, ERP, and analytics, ensures that relevant data points are available where they are needed in the user journey, facilitating insightful personalisation and relationship building.
- Content Availability: Optimizely enables you to deliver content comprehensively via the DXP with access to all the features we’ve covered already. However, some organisations need more content fluidity.
With content required across a multitude of channels, Mobile apps, Kiosks etc. Optimizely also facilitates hybrid content distribution via coupled channels or heedlessly into others.
This allows your team greater control over a single content resource, but far higher distribution ensuring your content is visible however your audience is engaging with you.
- Flexible and Future-Proof: Optimizely is synonymous with a suite of tools for testing and optimising customer interfaces. Its experimentation platform empowers teams to continuously develop, enhance, and optimise interfaces through ongoing experimentation.
Adopting a product mindset and running an experimentation and optimisation program ensures that the platform evolves in line with customer needs and stays ahead of changing interface trends.
How can an agency like Mando help to ensure that your content is rolled out at speed and to the right audience?
Using an agency like Mando to develop your strategy, optimise your online positioning and get behind the data to inform a roadmap could make the difference between success and failure.
Our robust approach to consultancy around digital, the implementation of product-led teams to optimise and develop new features and the trust we have gained in terms of support means that we are well positioned to help.
Content production challenges are common for enterprise and mid-market businesses, but
leveraging the elements of the Optimizely ecosystem and utilising the skill of a digital agency can help alleviate these obstacles.
By adopting modern CMS/DXP platforms, optimising content workflows, harnessing data effectively, managing assets efficiently, ensuring content availability, and embracing a flexible and future-proof approach, organisations can overcome these challenges and deliver impactful content that drives business success.
If you can plan content and have a good understanding of the needs your users have then you are already halfway. The task is to be able to publish it in the right places, formats and in a timely manner. Essentially if you can produce content both in terms of strategy and how you roll it out then you can realise the delivery of items on your digital roadmap quicker.
If you want to get more from your content and be able to deliver comms - both personalised and to the mass market in a more dynamic way, why not get in touch?
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