Are you ready to implement a strategic content marketing plan this year? Or perhaps you have already been using content to market your business online, but have yet to see any tangible results. Either way, you have taken a step in the right direction by incorporating content into your marketing strategy. Now you need to maximize that content to get tangible results from your efforts.
In this article, we will walk through all of the steps to creating better content for brand consumers – your prospects and customers. These steps will help you educate your market about your brand and create relationships that will produce business for your company.
How to Use Content to Generate Business
Congratulations on embracing content marketing, an effective method of sharing your business message and targeting respective consumers.
However, publishing content is only one integral component of the puzzle. The reception of readers is paramount, and sales are contingent on the efficiency of communication.
So how do small businesses effectively use content to communicate to web markets?
A number of general concepts demand focus.
A number of onsite factors comprise and influence a user’s experience on digital property. Let’s begin with page speed.
A number of tips exist, focusing on site speed. Web browsers are fickle, having scores of results to choose from. A slow-loading site makes a negative impression; an impatient browser may bounce from a slow site before a page has time to load.
One method of expediting load time addresses on-page pictures. A number of extraneous information is often left in meta information. A browser, such as Google Chrome, renders a page before the viewers see it, checking on-page elements such as pictures.
Optimizing a picture’s meta information as well as its size, helps increase a site and subsequent pages’ speed. One webmaster ran a series of tests, improving load speed by minding a number of elements.
This image optimizer tool helps webmasters effectively implement pictures.
Web browsers are unlike traditional readers regarding intent. Rather than complete engagement, web browsers enjoy scannable information. Inserting white space into page copy relieves reader anxiety associated to long reads.
Breaks in copy can exist regarding grouped and single thoughts.
There’s a difference between this,
…and something that looks like this.
The latter font is great for a Halloween poster marketed to kids, but would not work well for a didactic piece on web writing. Getting read and resonating with readers has a lot to do with the substance of content, but good reception is dependent on presentation as well, how content looks on the web page.
Style of Message
Another dimension of communication is tone. What words and style are chosen in your message? Is the message optimal for your peers? Workers? Target market?
You want messages to resonate with the targeted audience; a presentation for peers would be composed differently than a how-to guide for customers.
Elements of writing style are diverse; keeping sentences succinct and simple to understand is the mark of good communication. Don’t riddle communication with industry verbiage and technical terms. Keep it simple for readers, relaying information in discernible bits, using common vocabulary.
A survey of more than 7,000 customers found simplicity of message to play a paramount role in sales.
Have you ever read through sales copy related to products and felt like you needed an engineering degree to grasp all the details? Customers want to know the benefits of products and services, not the features.
What exactly the ‘neo 13 flux capacitor’ does will befuddle most, but telling customers that the particular lounge chair component “makes sitting in the chair more comfortable and supportive of the lower back” is much more discernible.
Consider this description of a digital camera:
We’re sure all of those features ARE beneficial; however, the ad copy is lost in translation to a layman. Moreover, the copy is talking about the PRODUCT and not ME, the CUSTOMER. What will a ‘3-inch ultra-high resolution (921,000-dot) clear color display’ do for me?
It would be much more persuasive to allow copy to explore benefits, elements which:
The same philosophy is apropos regarding speaking about one’s company. Make information relatable to the consumer rather than engineer content to serve the brand’s ego.
There is a time and place for PR; PR is great and supports how customers vision a company’s authority, yet most content should focus on the customer rather than efficiency of the company and its executives.
In the beginning…there was a light bulb, which went off in webmaster’s heads, illuminating the road to SER glory paved in chosen keywords or terms, which were germane to respective goods and services.
Link building for these golden terms focused on SER dominance, and all in the land of SEO were happy until big bad Panda blew link-manipulation enterprises down.
However, well before Panda and 2012, good marketers understood SERs (search engine results) placement was part of optimizing engines, but sales and conversions are contingent on human behavior, such as the click-through rate and dwell time.
Conversion Rate Optimization
Ranking well on engines is a means to an end, a sale. Engine optimization is a marketing goal, yet conversion rate optimization is closer to measuring a business’s bottom dollars.
One webmaster conducted an A/B test, seeking to improve conversion rate. Nick Eubanks provides the following:
Nick ends his post with actionable tips for webmasters and business owners:
After webmasters got keyword crazy and ranking for particular terms without incurring penalty became harder, marketers began looking toward latent semantic indexing. This process leverages synonyms and surrounding context, creating more of a word map rather than keywords or terms to be associated to consumer search queries.
Particular tools, such as
help webmasters find words and terms associated to their products/services and (more importantly) what real-time terms are used by consumers.
Hire a Writer
Let’s begin this section with a personal anecdote from our guest contributor, Anthony Pensabene:
When I first started in marketing, I was a writer; however, I worked for one who expressed a need for public relations. I love learning (I’ve been doing it since 1979. Plus, my Italian mother keeps tabs on me, and I do hate disappointing her.)
I took passionately to public relations, reading sites, books, and interviewing professionals on the topic. Soon, I became not only the in-house writer but PR person as well.
The owner noticed my passion for the need, hiring and paying me additionally for the deed. He needed PR, but didn’t know how nor didn’t have the passion to do it himself.
Do YOU feel that way about writing? Then, DON’T do it. Hire a WRITER; they know how to effectively use words to communicate messages.
John Doherty is a great marketer and writer. He observes poor or impassionate writing’s influence on readers.
I appreciate John’s celebration of writing detail and of my skills. He’s right. Readers can tell the difference between one who’s writing with passion and one simply ‘dialing it in.’
Content is about communication. Think of an engaging teacher you had in high school or college. They (not only) were experts in their subject area but effective in translating knowledge, making the content intriguing and learning more fun and commonplace.
Michael Hyatt observes four characteristics of effective communicators:
Can you do this with ease regarding your company’s messages? If not, hire a writer. A wealth of web information is comprised of text; however, communication comes in a variety of formats.
Forms of Communication
As mentioned, written content is often thought of upon the mention of web content; yet, limiting your company to written content is limiting its message and ability to effectively engage customers.
As with English teachers, all lesson plans need to consider speaking, listening, reading, writing, and media manipulation. The core standards involve how students approach information, using their varying levels of preferences and strengths.
For instance, some people prefer listening over reading novels. They are better auditory learners. Some people sit through a day’s worth of discussions, learning nothing. Place them in a setting where they’re ‘doing’ what was otherwise discussed, and they’ll pick it up in less than an hour; they are kinesthetic learners, those who learn by doing.
Consider crafting video content for visual learners; people are searching for multi-dimensional content.
A June 2012 study expresses the following video data.
People are searching for video content. Distilled published a tremendous video marketing resource, filled with tips and video case studies.
Video / Audio
Video not only serves different learners; it also makes a personable impression on consumers. In this piece on evaluating guest-post opportunities, owner James Agate lends visual cues as well as his personable voice.
Let’s consider providing audio content to consumers. Depending on the nature of a sales cycle, audio recordings are useful to those who would like to learn while multitasking, as in listening while driving or working.
Podcasting is one leveraged method of producing audio content. Like written content, it serves a didactic purpose, yet added personality is afforded through a producer’s recorded voice.
One study done on podcasting yields the following observations:
What other varieties of content engage consumers? Take a look at suggestions from a marketing professional.
Here are some live examples:
- Mike King, marketer extraordinaire, created comic, Gary & Cogswell.
- Max Minzer interviews a variety of peers using Google Hangouts
- BlueGlass designs intriguing infographics
Making Memories and Storytelling
How do you want consumers to associate and remember your brand? Remember, your content is creating a legacy, which consumers will later recall.
People remember stories because such are told (usually) in linear fashion with memorable and central characters. Storytelling in marketing is more often leveraged, compelling consumers and producing brand advocates.
Advertisers identify basic types of stories brands relay. What’s your brand’s story? It can be personal, humorous, completely fictional, and so on.
Let’s consider Pepsi Max’s use of NBA star Kyrie Irving aka ‘Uncle Drew.’ This Pepsi piece of suspended-belief fiction is in essence an advertisement, yet it’s entertaining and associated to the interests and traits (athleticism, socializing, young people) of the product’s intended market.
How are you teaching your market about your brand through your marketing content?
Five Points to Success
Creating better content does not have to be something you dread doing. As long as you follow the tips laid out in this post, specifically the five points below, then your content marketing results will improve.
- Web users are fickle, having many choices. Ensure your site loads quickly and content is visibly pleasing and legible.
- Take your brand’s ego out of most consumer-intended messages, reserving self aggrandizement for PR pieces, letting copy address the benefits (and not features) of services and products.
- Optimize content for user reception and conversions rather than rankings and regulations (which fluctuate and change regularly).
- Hire a focused practitioner to deliver brand messages in a passionate way, whether that means hiring a professional writer or finding alternative methods of relaying your brand’s messages.
- Tell a story, minding varying learning styles and approaches. Remember, each piece of content makes an immediate and lasting impression.
Need help creating better content?
Special thanks to Anthony Pensabene, someone who truly understands the craft and importance of great content, for his contributions to this extremely detailed and helpful post on creating better content.