As the partner of a business, marketer inside your company, or the leader of your IT shop, your goal in marketing your brand should be to create great web content that showcases your skills so you can get top notch customers or clients.
The goal of wanting to create content that will move your prospects to fall head over heels for you is the simple part. Executing this goal is hard. Very hard.
Writing web content, that’s both helpful and compelling, takes an incredible amount of time. Content like case studies, blog pieces, and storyboarding videos all takes a dubious amount of effort.
It is extremely difficult to consistently create content your audience will find irresistible (keyword being consistently).
It will take more than sexy headlines or titles that are ultimately click-bait. You will need to fight the urge of forcing your marketing team to create content “that takes you viral” or content that’s low-quality, like many content syndicated providers will offer your business.
The best content is content that’s authentic. The most impactful content is stuff that’s written by you, for you, and not by somebody who also happens to use that similar content for your entire industry, or worse yet, for your competitors.
Your content may appear engaging or loving, but often times will fail to get you the outcome you’re expecting. Great content is content that educates and builds trust with your prospects and buyers. It’s the stuff that’s chalk full of information that’s helpful and romantic, much like a Nicholas Sparks novel that repeats itself every single day.
Loving metaphors aside, content which makes your prospects fall in love with you needs to be useful. It has to be delivered well, and answer questions that are important to your readers.
You’re probably wondering: what are the essential elements of creating web content that’s so awesome your prospects will flip to do business with you. Here it is. A checklist created just for you, the partner, marketer, and business owner who aspire to impress your buyers by crafting purposeful, awe-inspiring, and impactful content.
1. No one likes features and benefits
Your potential buyers are smart. The biggest reason your visitors have come across your website is because they have a problem. That struggle is motivating them to find answers to their questions. When your prospects find you by using a search engine or by typing your company URL into the section of their browser, they’re intentions are to find something they can use that is ultimately going to help them, or influence their buying decision. The last thing they want to know about is you, features or benefits. Company awards, how you helped a helpless old-lady forge a flooding river, are things your prospects and buyers don’t care about. It may make them smile, or give them a nice “feeling” but in the end your potential buyers want to know what you’re going to do for them. Your web-visitors don’t want to hear about the features of your product, rather they desire to know how they can trust you to solve their pain point. They may check your ‘About Us’ page on your site to learn a bit more about you before filling out a web form, but in the end your prospects want to know why they should trust you. The $64,000 dollar question is this: what are you giving them? What value/information are you giving away, for free, that will motivate them to take next steps? Instead of trying to sell them immediately, educate and inform your prospects. Instead of sell, help and give value.
2. Be authentic
In addition to being purposeful, content that your customers will love needs to be authentic. This is your opportunity to really connect with your readers by sharing something others would not. It’s a prime chance to impart wisdom, give away industry knowledge, and truly build a sense of trust through content that inspires. Sharing stories of a similar struggle that you overcame, and how you did it is critical. Don’t be afraid to share with your readers about times where you were uncertain about the outcome, and how your solution helped you figure it all out. Your content also needs to have an influx of fresh ingredients, and a hopeful tone. Your audience or persona will respond when you share personal experiences, because it’s then that they’ll see you being genuine, and not salesy. Lastly, authentic content that’s written by you, has the added benefit of Google not penalizing you for duplicate content, as is the case when you buy someone else’s content and syndicate it.
3. Make it scannable
Your readers want answers to their questions right away. Don’t make them wait for it by writing content that looks like reading a 1,000 page novel on a random webpage. Your audience and persona wants to be able to read helpful content, quickly. Make sure it’s easy to read, easy to scan with the eyes, and digestible in bite-sized chunks. When writing blogs, for instance, use sub-headers in the body of your text because this will break up your paragraphs and make it easier to digest. Use bullet points and smaller paragraphs that highlight all of the key points. Your articles should contain little fluff, if any at all, and your sentences should be concise and crisp. Avoid using words that force your audience to grab a dictionary or thesaurus, and don’t use complex sentences which can be hard for readers to understand.
4. Do not lie or assume
It’s very likely that your posts will be in front of hundreds of potential eyeballs, or perhaps thousands of readers. That said you need to be careful in your content to not make assumptions. Assumptions, like “all of your customers are on social media” will make you look foolish. It will also negatively impact your credibility. Assuming statements like “blogging is dead” or “the CIO position is dead and you shouldn’t hire one” look like lies you’re spewing just to attract readers. It’s tempting to simply hit your audience right between the eyes with assuming statements or click bait-headlines. It’s tempting to try and get their attention through these tactics, but don’t do it. Write with a helpful and humble tone, otherwise you’ll look like a liar, which can permanently ruin your reputation. Make sure your priority is to be high-level when creating your content. Avoid content that’s based on assumptions.
5. The ability to speak with visual aids
Some of your audience will tend to be visual learners. These are personality types that get geeked-up by emotional images, creative meme’s, video, and slide decks. Some of your audience won’t read text all that well, so give them something else to chew on. A picture says a thousand words, and it’s your job to make sure that whatever you’re writing helps the reader stick with you for as long as possible. Consider downloadable marketing collateral, creative checklists, infographics, and e-books as possible types of visuals to create, in order to serve your audience. And try and find a great graphic designer to work with, as well. This person will be an invaluable resource for you in creating eye-catching content that attracts and inspires your consumer.
6. Interesting and persuasive headlines
It doesn’t matter how awesome your content is if you don’t have a good hook that compels your visitors to keep reading or to stay on your website. Headlines and titles are important because of two reasons. One, it’s the first things your readers see. And two, it’s one of the first elements that the search engines see when they crawl your content. If the title or headline doesn’t arrest your audiences’ attention, you’ve already lost the battle for their time. And if your headlines are lame, and aren’t what your prospects are searching for when looking for a solution like yours, then the search engines will crawl something that no one will ever find. There’s no guarantees in anything, and creating magnetic headlines is no different, but headlines and titles that contain words like “Top 10”, “How to”, or even “The Real Truth Behind” seem to be effective. Check out this great resource here, on how to develop headlines that your readers will love.
7. Have a powerful social media presence
Search traffic only accounts for one type of traffic to your site. When your prospect and buyer is searching for your solution on the first couple of pages of a Google search, this is only one way people find you. Traffic to your blog, is great but you should never put all your eggs in one basket. Social media is just another way your buyers potentially find you. And it’s hard, which is why you need to develop a strategy. That doesn’t mean you should open up an account on all social media platforms. Far from it. You should only go where your customers and prospects are. Choose the social media type that’s applicable for promoting your company. For instance, if you are looking for a great ad platform, then try Facebook. If you’re more B2B, then try LinkedIn or Twitter. If your company travels a lot to industry tradeshows, this means you undoubtedly see lots of amazing places. So give Instagram a shot and share images of these amazing places and people you meet. And be visual when on social media, especially Facebook. Facebook is very emotional, which is why family wars often start over political posts, religious articles, and controversial images. Keep what you share out of the light of controversy, but use images and short video clips to engage your persona, as a part of your social strategy.
8. Be consistent
Anything done once is a waste. When launching into your content and writing plan to get your prospects to love you, you need to be creating stuff on a regular basis. If your business can’t commit to this endeavor, then don’t even start. There’s nothing worse than a business blog that started out gangbusters, posting articles every week back in 2014, but has one post since its grand inception. Believe us when we say that your customers will take notice. We get that everyone has crazy schedules and work habits are different, but you should always aspire to post based on some sort of pre-planned schedule. For example, start out with blogging once a week, and then measure this over a six month period. If at the end of six months, your metrics were met, continue. You can always increase or decrease your frequency, based on your calendar. Blogs and websites which are updated regularly easily become the darlings of search engines, as opposed to those which publish new content every now and then. Consistency shows you’re serious about educating your customers, clients or prospects.
9. Measure, measure, measure
A mentor once told us that if you can’t measure it, then don’t do it. And if there’s not some sort of quantifiable involved, then don’t dive in. When measuring the success of the content you create, keep in mind there’s not one perfect way for everyone. It’s very subjective. But there are tools available to help you measure your efforts. Tools like Google Analytics are great at showing you data that pertains to your online content. Google Analytics happens to be free, but there are many other robust software’s to use, as well. Be careful what you do with this data, however. Don’t make rash decisions; rather use the data to make better decisions in terms of where you spend your time and money. For example, data from an analytics tool will reveal to you how your content performed during specific times of the day and week, it will tell you which piece of content gained traction with your audience, and which of your social media accounts got you the most engagement. You can also establish goals inside Google Analytics and even analyze the demographic aspect of your audience. Measure it all, but also understand what the data means, and then take action.
10. SEO of 2016, not 2006
Directory listings, keyword research, and long-tail key phrases used to be all the rage, but now their impact has been diminished because of the ever-changing nature of the search engines. That said, identifying how and why your buyers/prospects find you through search, using keywords and key phrases, is still relevant, but shouldn’t be the sole focus. Ideally, your brand should complete an entire content audit at least twice per year, if not more often. The process of becoming more SEO friendly should begin with your potential buyer. Today, SEO is more about the user-experience, and how not to trick Google. (it amazes us how business leaders still think they can outsmart the search engines) The exercise of a content audit is not a simple one, or a fast one. You need to learn what’s of interest to your prospects, how they search, where they spend time, and what pain points they struggle with, that you ultimately need to write about. Then, it’s about optimizing your landing pages, and business website to ensure your house is in order from a technical perspective. Internal links, influencer links, email campaigns, your calls-to-action, headlines, page titles, image tags all need to be right to be fully optimized for search.
Creating content that will make your audience want to fall in love with you is hard. Bottom line, it’s about them and not you. Don’t make it about you, or brag about you. No one loves a braggart. Make your content concise and actionable. Ensure it is aesthetically appealing, and well researched. And create often, while updating regularly. Do this over time, and you’ll be ready to reap the rewards.
Want to learn more about creating content?
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Or, if you’re ready to take next steps on talking about how to create meaningful content to grow your business, then reach out to use by clicking here.