It’s tempting to believe that content is content. A writer puts something on your company website, people read it, and new customers are born. Boom - that's an award-winning content marketing strategy, right? If only it were that simple…
Even William Shakespeare of content writing will leave you with meaningless content unless he remembers to include these three simple ingredients:
All the content in the world will make no difference to your company unless people are drawn to it. The goal is to make your content so attractive that people not only read it, but share it with others. You know you’ve hit the nail on the head when traffic is driven to your website simply because the content is so appealing.
Here’s what makes content attractive: high-quality writing that is as interesting as it is usable. Interesting content keeps readers engaged throughout an entire article. Usable content makes them feel appreciated because you shared actionable advice with them. It also inspires them to pass that usable content on to other people.
Visitors to your website are busy. They don’t have the time or inclination to wade through a dissertation to find the information they’re looking for. For that reason, we’ve put together a list of how to keep it short, sweet, and meaningful:
Draw them in. Make it easy for potential visitors to find you by doing a little keyword research. Say you have a law practice that deals with personal injury. You know what you would type into a search engine if you were looking for a personal injury attorney, but it’s impossible to know what others are typing in. There are many keyword research tools available for a fee, but one of the very best is free: Google Keyword Planner. Google even spells out how to use their tool. The point is, your introduction to the world at large begins with a search engine query. Put some time and effort into how that introduction takes place.
Keep it simple. One way to get to the point (offering actionable advice that readers love) is to create articles around a list. For example, an article like 10 Ways to Make Your Home Sell Fast is likely to attract people with a home to sell but little time to invest in wading through facts and figures.
Use infographics. Ask any grade school teacher and she will tell you that there are several different learning styles. Visual learners are drawn to infographics. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Well, draw me a picture.” That’s precisely what visual learners want and need from your website and infographics are the way to do it.
Offer swag. One sure way to make readers feel appreciated is to offer a free downloadable gift. For example, if you’re a moving company, offer a to-do checklist for those in the process of moving. If you're a financial advisor, offer a monthly newsletter regarding interest rates and trends. Offering visitors something they can use is an act of goodwill.
Visitors to your website come because they are looking for specific information. Your content might be interesting but still fail to provide the information visitors seek. Here’s how to ensure your website is both relevant and useful:
Stay on message. It makes no sense for a machine shop to post recipes for holiday cookies. That’s because anyone who specifically clicked on a machine shop website did so in order to learn more about the shop. Provide information visitors need without making them wade through the weeds to look for it.
Make it customer-centric. Your website should be easy to navigate, organized, and great to look at. The content should be spare enough to answer a question without offering a long-winded response. Remember, time is money.
Use conversational English. Although your writer’s grasp of the English language may be impressive, no one wants to feel as though they’re reading his college thesis. Your site should be written simply and clearly.
Things to avoid. Stay away from industry jargon and terminology. It impresses no one and can distract from your message. Omit the heavy-handed sales pitch. Visitors come to your site on their own and would not be there if they weren’t already interested.
Nothing else matters if visitors stop reading mid-blog or their visit does not translate into a conversion. After all, the entire purpose of having a website is to connect with potential customers. Here are a few tips for converting content to conversion:
Make it all about them. You may be tempted to brag about updates to your business or awards the business has won, but unless those things can somehow benefit a visitor to your site, they really do not care. Let visitors know what you can do for them, how you’re different from the competition. Draw them a mental picture of what life will be like for them after partnering with your company.
Offer actionable advice. Say you own an auto repair shop. Why not add a page of frequently asked questions? Anyone looking for information regarding how often to have their oil changed or how long the average set of tires lasts will appreciate the knowledge.
Be a thought leader. No matter what kind of business you have, identify what makes you a leader and develop content around it. It doesn’t have to look like content on any other site. Bring up topics that others may shy away from. Interview people who are influential in your field. In other words, make it clear that you’re at the head of the pack and in the best position to serve your customers.
Blog and blog some more. Keep your own company blog updated with compelling information. Also contribute to high traffic websites and blogs and invite those who run other related websites and blogs to contribute to your company blog. It’s a good way to cross-promote and keep readers engaged.
In a nutshell, great content is about attracting readers, offering them information they can use, and converting them into customers. There's no need to make it more complex than that.
About the author
Tom has worked in digital marketing since he started his career over a decade ago, working across the project and account side of the business.