In this article, I want to share the results of my analysis five month after implementing a content strategy for the website with you. Also, I want to highlight some insights of my analysis and reflection which contributed to this implementation.

It was in November 2016. I had just started my first week in the non-profit organisation Pro Natura, and we were discussing the possibilities to make our non-responsive website mobile-friendly. One option was to “just redesign it”. Luckily though, it was also the starting point of my master in Content Strategy, which soon enabled me to convince my open minded colleagues of another option for improvement. That’s why this article didn’t become the story of a redesign. Instead, this is the story of a content strategy – and its website.

Content Strategy – just for a website?

You might ask yourself, does a content strategy not only make sense if you think about multichannel, including all other relevant channels and not “just” a website? Well, yes of course! But as always, it really makes sense to start with a smaller pilot project, to test your hypothesis first and then come back with first results. Five months after the new website went live, I can back up our strategic decisions with the results from the relevant KPI. This sets the background perfectly for my master thesis, which will elaborate on a content strategy including other channels and touchpoints too.

Target group: Insights from interviews and the benefit of personas

To start with, I wanted to learn more about the target groups of our organisation. I realised that, while the NGO operates in a complex network of stakeholders (from members to donors, but also government and other partners), our main target group is actually the broad public: people of all ages and different backgrounds caring about nature and environment.

My interviews with representatives of our target group showed, that they really care about the specific projects and stories of success of our organisation, as well as looking for ways of how they themselves can contribute to fostering and maintaining nature in their daily lives. In other words: people who like to be part of something big (as being a member of the biggest nature NGO). And to begin with, they would like to participate by doing something small (free cited after a presentation of Philipp Maderthaner).

Analysis of the website: the advantage of inventory and content audit

A content audit and overview on our inventory supported our reflection about the restructuring of our new website. We soon found that while 50% of our pages are stored under themes, these pages only get 10% of traffic. The audit showed that our pages mainly address the target group “Experts in biology”. Unfortunately, the content of these pages are way too complicated for our main target group, which is the broad public people who are passionate about nature, but most likely have no degree in biology. And as you can imagine with a historically grown website, topics were often duplicated and linked to too many subpages. It soon became clear that we do not only need a new site structure, but also a complete rewrite of all pages!

Don’t make me think: What other websites’ site structure teaches me

With these results I analysed approximately 20 other related websites of nonprofit organisations in Switzerland, but also some big international ones such as Rainforest Alliance or in US. I soon learned, that American NGOs tend to structure their content around these three angles:

  • What we do
  • What you can do
  • About us

In Europe, site structures do look differently, with a lot of different entries which seem rather confusing and without a clear message. For example, as an as a unknowing visitor to the site, how can you really tell what the difference is between stories and topics? Where would you go to on a website, if you wanted to know about the NGO’s latest campaign? Or let’s say, you want to change something about your lifestyle: do you click on living sustainable or getting active? Is living sustainable passive? I am sure other web teams have their reasons for how they set up their sites. But for our content, we wanted to offer a straight forwards navigation to our target groups, which we tested by organising usability tests.

Something else I learned from reviewing other sites were the “snackable” content concepts in the form of a “that could also be of interest to you” section. We implemented this too, because we believe it is ideal especially for our related content in terms of topics and projects.

5 months after the webrelaunch: Results and insights

For my master thesis, I was curious to find out how this pilot project performed. Our website went live on 23. December 2017. Now, about five months later, it is time for a first review.

From my previous experiences, I know that a webrelaunch generally results in a breakdown of traffic on the websiteand a massive increase of displaying 404 pages. Our main challenge, as it turned out, was the 2500 PDF files on our pages, which caused a lot of issues, and the whole site left us completely busy with redirecting all old URLs.

However, we were happy to see that, according to the Google Search Console, we did see a slight improvement of our performance in comparison to the last few months of 2017. We increased the number of clicks on our websites although we deleted one third of what was clearly non-relevant content. We also improved how often our website is shown in search results and we gained nearly 3 points on the average position in search results.

Some further deeper insights I would also like to share with you:

Time spent on the website: We increased the time people spend on a website by 30% through offering more relevant and better readable content. For the rewriting we used our newly developed guideline «writing for the web» in order to make our content leaner and therefore easy to digest for our main target group.

  • Page about projects: We decided to put all our “practical” projects on one page. This page got a big attention with over 7000 clicks in the first five months already!
  • Page about volunteering: Before the webrelaunch, this information was scattered over 6 pages. With our new page, introducing all different kind of offers got a lot more attention. After five months, we have already reached the same click-rate as we did in total during 2017 with six pages! From the contact form, we can see that many of our main target group use this site to get in touch with us.
  • Articles from our magazine: On the old website, we uploaded parts of our magazine as a PDF file. To free up this content, we decided to create a new content type called «News». Every time a magazine is published, we promote three articles on our website, especially to make this content accessible especially for social media. The results are striking: while the old way of publishing the PDF files created around 90 klicks per publicaation, the new fomat of our news got up to 600 clicks per page. A lot of traffic comes from social media – a new benefit of our cross channel strategy, which includes not only publishing these news items on the website, but also distributing it on our other channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • More traffic from  to support.pronatura: In Google Analytics, I could identify more traffic from our main website to the page, where users can become members and donate if they wish to support us. The new design has very prominent «call to action (CTA)» features at the top and in the footer. These CTA paid off well: we have seen an increase of 20% of new members over the past five months. While knowing that people who register online do have a significant longer lifetime value compared to people registering on the street, this result made our webteam specially proud.

Furthermore, I also relate the increase of the average time per session by 12% to the fact that we offer more relevant content. We could also see in Google Analytics that people visit slightly less pages per visit. This could very well be a sign of better structure and information per page. People don’t need to randomly click around to find the answers to their questions.

My conclusion: relevant content does pay off. It is therefore well worth the effort of finding new images, rewriting your content and reflection about your content strategy, and I can highly recommend doing it!