This is part one of a two-part series by HubSpot Partner, Smartbug Media. You can read part two and see some quick-win examples of using smart content.

One of the most exciting things about building your website on top of your HubSpot Content Optimization System (COS) is taking advantage of smart content.

I’ve been a part of dozens and dozens of website redesigns and project-managed dozens onto HubSpot’s COS. One of the first things that comes up when working on a new website on the COS is that the marketer wants to get smart content onto his or her website.

So the question we want to address here is: how do you fit smart content into a website design?

The quick answer is: you don’t. It’s not that it’s impossible to do this, it’s just that I don’t feel that it’s the right time during the redesign process. Let’s expand upon that.

Set a Launch Date and Fight to Hit It

When you are looking to launch a website redesign, your first priority is to get the newly designed website up and running as soon as possible. If you are going to spend thousands of dollars (or tens of thousands or possibly even hundreds of thousands, depending on pages and functionality) on a fresh look and feel on your 24/7/365 branded storefront, you want to get a return on your investment as soon as possible. This means you want to get something up and live in weeks, not months.

Smart content means multiple pieces of copy and offers for sections of the website. To do this, you're adding layers of work and confusion. Hopefully, you can see how this can quickly add to the scope of your project exponentially!

This is also why it’s so important to set a reasonable launch date and try to hit it. When you start with a launch date, it forces you to focus on need-to-haves in order to get something up and running and cut the fat on the nice-to-haves. I'm not saying that the smart content and offers aren’t important. I'm saying that doing inbound marketing with smart content is a process, and the website comes first.

Remember that a website isn’t like a print brochure. It’s a living, breathing 24/7 sales machine for your organization. It’s something that you can update and change in real time in a couple of clicks. Your first goal of a website redesign is to get that new framework up and then expand upon it.

So this leads us to our next point: building a minimal viable launch product.

Build for a Minimal Viable Product (MVP)

Have you heard of the concept of growth-driven design or agile web development for a marketing website? If not, I recommend taking a look at the free Growth-Driven Design Certification course. Personally, I believe this approach to website development is just as disruptive to the way digital marketers work as the initial concept of inbound marketing was a decade ago. The main idea here is that the traditional model for building a website is broken.

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For years, companies have dropped tens of thousands on a website redesign every two to five years and have forgotten about it until the painful time to redo that whole process again. This isn’t the way you would build a company, is it?

Think of this MVP as your launchpad website. The new user experience, branding, messaging, and all that have been considered and introduced, but we’re just in the first inning of your website experience.

This leads us to the next roadblock to having smart content: having it ready for a launchpad website.

You Need to Create the Content Offers

As stated above, to truly make smart content work, there are a number of steps that need to happen first:

  1. Have you identified and built buyer personas?
  2. Do you have the buyer’s journeys mapped out for each of these personas?
  3. Have you created content and offers for each stage of the buyer's journey?
  4. Have you built out the workflows tying all of the above together?

As you can see, all of the steps don’t happen overnight. Some of the steps, like buyer personas and buyer's journeys, are an introductory part of any solid website redesign, but you have to take a few extra steps to get all the way there, and it can take some time to create all the content.

Since you are focused on getting a website redesign launched as your top priority today, so this other stuff will just have to wait until after launch.

Takeaway

Where so many people get it wrong is that they try to get everything perfect for launch and then forget about the site for a few years.

Today, you have to think about a website as the forefront of all interactions with your brand. Updating and improving the site is an ongoing task and not something that you can just set and forget. Building and optimizing smart content is best as part of this ongoing piece.

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Originally published Jan 12, 2017 3:12:46 PM, updated November 17 2017