Content is an increasingly essential component of web marketing – and marketing in general. In a recent poll of top marketing executives, content marketing has surpassed PPC in importance in search marketing.
That’s because search engines index content, such as text and video. So in web marketing, competition between businesses is largely based on content. The company with the largest amount of high-quality content will ultimately win the web marketing battle. To do effective marketing, you need content: lots of it and high quality. Here are some guidelines for creating useful, effective content.
Be the thought leader: Roughly 85% of internet searches are for useful information, as opposed to products or services. So provide useful information – thought leadership – with fresh insights and innovative solutions. Visitors will return to you time and again – and eventually become your customers.
Call to action: When creating or marketing with content, it’s essential to think ahead to the call to action (CTA). What action do you want readers or viewers to take afterwards? A common example is getting visitor contact information, in return for a guide or white paper. Capturing contact information allows you to further engage a potential customer and build a relationship. So have a clear call to action, make it prominent, and repeat it. Create a clear, easy path for your visitor to achieve what you’re asking with your CTA.
Know your customer: Who are your audiences? What industries do they work in? What are their job titles? What’s their education level? Where do they live? To write for your readers, you must know them.
Write globally – Although you might be writing primarily for a US audience, be sure to write globally – more than 95% of the world’s population lives outside the US. So write in proper English and avoid slang. Also try to make references that will appeal globally, such as spending time with family, rather than going to a baseball game.
Write for the customer: It’s best to write for and about the reader, rather than your company. What would a customer rather read: Company Success Stories, or Customer Success Stories? Focus on your visitors and solve their problems. Don’t just write about your company and how great you are. Focus on customer problems – and solutions.
Solve a problem: Let’s pretend you work for a video conferencing company. In this case, customer problems could range from technological challenges, to meeting minutia such as preparing for or running an effectivea video meeting. What are customers’ problems? What are solutions? And bear in mind the problems and solutions can be tangentially – rather than directly – related to your business.
Brainstorming ideas: What problems do customers have? Why might they turn to your company? What problems do they have with competitors’ services? Also look at search engine results. The Google keyword tool is very helpful for discovering what information people are seeking in your industry.
File your ideas – Keep an idea file. Anytime you come across a customer problem, solution or tip, be sure to file your idea. The emails you send and receive are often about products or customers, so they’re a great source of ideas. In your email signature, add a note to yourself: is this content? If it is, cc yourself to a folder for content ideas.
Organization: Make sure your content is well-organized, with a clear and logical flow. Organize an article like an inverted pyramid, with the most important information on top – people often only read part of an article, place your most important points at the beginning and your least important points at the end. For longer pieces such as white papers, have a table of contents. You can repeat the table of contents in the column of every page, making your white paper easy to navigate.
Format for web reading: When people read print, they generally read every word. But on the web, people scan and often skip much of the text. Organize your main points into short “bite-size” chunks of information. Format articles so they’re easy to scan, with generous use of headlines, bullets, numbers, bolding, and more.
Get graphic: People increasingly prefer visual information. Many of the world’s recent success stories in business focused on highly visual products, from Windows to YouTube to Apple. YouTube, furthermore, is the 3rd most popular website in the world: every 24 hours, approximately 23% of internet users visit YouTube. People increasingly prefer visual information, so whenever possible, add images or graphics.