Your content should do more than just take up space. Provide your customers with valuable, timely, and quality information.
Yes, practitioners of Content Marketing, it’s true. As with most things in life, content quality triumphs over quantity. Your website may be papered with blog posts, feature articles, embedded videos and more. But if the material isn’t authoritative, if it doesn’t address the needs of your customers, or if it’s just plain ho-hum, you’re simply filling up web space.
But how do you know if your content is effective? And how do you make it more so? Let’s explore some ways of maximizing its quality, increasing its value for your customers and, ultimately, for your business.
Content, finally, is King
After nearly 20 years of paying lip service to the old phrase, “Content is king,” the web-optimized business world has not only finally put their money where their mouth is, it’s doing it with gusto—even with a frenzy. As fast as fingers can fly across the keyboard, websites are publishing countless “How-to” tips, “Why You Shouldn’t” guides, and “But I Did Anyway” confessionals that –with a little help from a search engine- address almost any question a web surfer in-need could possibly have.
The only problem is: an awful lot of this content is really bad.
Did we say “the only problem?” A lot of otherwise good information is executed poorly.
Let’s go for the trifecta of problems here: Even a lot of the good stuff isn’t as effective as it might be because it’s not being published with a well-thought out strategy behind it.
Let’s address each one of these inbound marketing maladies individually.
Poor Content. Does this really even need explaining? Yes. In an effort to quickly populate their websites with material that not only draws traffic, but encourages visitors’ time spent on the site (new buzz-phrase: “customer stickiness”) and, ultimately, leads to a sale, businesses are throwing random content onto their web pages as fast as they can. As this often occurs without rhyme or reason, it fails resoundingly to tell any kind of linear story that gradually leads potential customers through the discovery, research and purchase cycle that concludes with a sale.
Even worse, if the information you are providing is dated or flawed, it will ensure that visitors do not make your site a “favorite,” and probably guarantee that they’ll never return. Poor content is worse than no content at all.
Good Information, Bad Execution
A majority of people think that they’re good writers. A majority of them are wrong. Just as some people excel at business and leadership, others –with a bit of education and experience- are born to write. If you are not a strong writer –if there’s not a good wordsmith on your staff- hire someone to execute your content for you.
If you are adamant, though, about drafting your own content, write descriptively, sparingly and authoritatively. And that last adjective doesn’t mean “write like you’re a know-it-all.” That’s a big turn-off, too. Provide information targeting your customers’ specific needs and interests, and deliver it in a style that’s good-natured, nurturing and perhaps, when appropriate, with a dash of humor. If you’re really communicating, one-on-one, with your individual visitors, you’ll establish a trusted and valuable bond that keeps them coming back.
Now, if you’re following the first two steps, you’ve already boosted the effectiveness and value of your content. But it’s getting awfully crowded out there on the Internet, and you’ll have to employ some measures that help elevate your profile amidst the crowd.
First of all, Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Pepper your blog posts and articles with references that your prospective customers are likely to put into a Google, Yahoo! or Bing search to find information on solutions or products that they need. Use obvious words, product names and such, but do it organically within the context of what you’re communicating. Nobody likes reading copy that’s simply been loaded with superfluous words to get a higher search ranking.
And now, most importantly, how does your content relate to the products and services you are selling? Just like your favorite serialized TV show (think “Breaking Bad”), a narrative that builds one sequence or chapter at a time becomes a compelling story that draws viewers –or visitors- back time and again.
That’s the ideal format, now create content that provides compelling information that inexorably draws your customer-to-be to an inevitable sale. Time specifically-tailored content to precede new product roll-outs, company offerings, sales, etc.
The Web, social media and email messaging is getting more and more crowded every day, but there’s still time to make yourself one of the stand-out brands in your realm if you consistently provide your customers with valuable, timely and quality information.