Content is the critical success factor for having an effective website in 2019
Every marketer out there is touting content marketing as a critical - if not the most important - element of a business’ overall marketing strategy.
Indeed, if in previous years content marketing has been gaining more significance, 2019 will be the year it truly becomes the differentiating factor that separates the winners from the rest of the wannabes.
But pushing out content alone is not enough; the content has to be good.
Without quality, all the content that you put out will just be treated as noise, and your brand will suffer from the negative association as a result.
Make sure you are creating quality content
On the internet, hundreds of thousands of pages of content are created every single day. If you don’t have something different or interesting to say, your content is going to drown in an ocean of sameness. Mediocrity simply won’t cut it.
One good way to look at this is to study the kind of content that your competitors are already putting out.
If they are not putting out much content, you have an easier time and therefore should capitalize on the opportunity to quickly build your content and pull ahead from the rest.
If most of your peers are putting out how-to guides, checklists and the usual stuff like that, then avoid those and create something different.
A simple yet effective way - even if it may seem unorthodox - is to create content opposite of what everyone in your industry is doing.
For example, if you are an interior design firm and everyone in your industry is going on and on about the usual consideration factors for choosing an interior designer, you’ll win way more attention from your target audience if you share a piece of content on: “5 Reasons Why You Don’t Need An Interior Design Firm”.
Create good content, and create more
Having a piece of killer content is meaningless if you can’t keep it up and create more of a similar quality at a consistent pace moving forward.
Regardless of the business you’re in, if you have less than 10 webpages of content on your website, not counting the usual “About Us”, “Contact Us”, “Legal Terms” pages, then you definitely do not have enough content to be an authority and dominate the market. If you are serious about crushing it in your market, it’s time to start creating.
If your business is B2B and niche, you probably can have it easier in terms of the critical amount of content required to put you ahead of the competition.
The immediate goal would be to quickly build out 25 to 30 pieces of good quality, long-form content (of about 2,000 words each) on your website, that will serve as the pillar content pool, upon which you can promote aggressively to establish yourself as an authority in your field.
If your competition isn’t quick to catch on, you probably can enjoy leadership in your genre for a good number of years with ease and minimal maintenance to your content creation and update routine.
If you are in the consumer space, more effort is needed because the market is much more competitive. You should expect to commit to creating new pieces of content to publish on your website at least once every week.
The primary considerations in this case are speed and frequency. Publish content fast and furious, so that your content is always at the forefront of your audience’s attention.
Go multimedia with your content
These days, buyers’ attention is so fleeting and easily distracted that you need to not only consider the quality of the content that you’re creating, but also the ways that the content is being presented and communicated to the audience.
Obviously, having good imagery to go with your content pieces is a must, as a picture paints a thousand words. Good, relevant images can help trigger a response from the audience faster than words can, since our human brain process images 60,000 times faster than text.
Visuals such as info graphics are good aids to convey your message better, especially if your content deals with rather dry and technical information. They are also highly shareable, which create more exposure for your content.
Beyond text and images, it is highly beneficial to consider video and audio content whenever possible to augment the effectiveness of your content.
Videos are good at keeping your audience’s attention longer, thereby increasing the affinity between your audience and your brand.
The stronger the affinity, the more your audience likes and trusts you. And people are always more willing to do business with those that they like and trust.
Audio content - typically podcasts - is exceptionally useful if you are targeting an audience who is always on the move and has a thousand other things on their plates.
They won’t have the time to read your textual content or watch your video, but probably could pop in their earphones and listen to your podcast while traversing.
So, what is good quality content?
In short, a piece of good quality content is knowledge that the reader can use to solve a problem.
This is where many business operators and even seasoned marketers falter. Too often the content that they put out serves their own interests more than the reader’s.
To determine if a piece of content is of “good quality”, ask yourself: can the reader act upon whatever is communicated in the content without you being involved?
If the reader can utilise the knowledge shared from the content and create benefits independent of you, then the content has merits and is considered of good quality.
Otherwise, the content is just a thinly-veiled disguise for your sales pitch to sell your audience something.
But wait, you may be asking: isn’t the whole point of creating content to get the target audience to buy?
Yes, exactly. The whole point is to make the target audience buy, without being sold to.
The secret sauce of it is, using content to share insights that helps your target audience so freely that everyone ends up thinking that they will benefit even more if they pay you.
Types of good quality content
Now you know the definition of good quality content, and its purpose, it’s time to start creating!
But where do you start? If just yakking about your products and services is not considered good content, then what can you share?
Fret not, there are some examples to consider. And the good thing is, the source ingredients for good quality content can all be found within your business or your skills/expertise.
1. Case studies
There is usually nothing that we’d recommended more than developing case studies and publishing them on your website.
Case studies - alternatively called “success stories” - are essentially retelling of past work that you have done, from how you diagnosed a problem and devised a solution, to how you executed the solution and the resultant outcome that ensued.
The more precise that you can described what transpired, supported with hard data such as numbers and proof points, the more effective the content will be in boosting your authority on the subject matter.
Case studies are extremely helpful to the audience because the solutioning is real and relatable, not theories or abstract concepts that have not been tried and tested.
Your audience will think that if they follow what is described in the case studies, they too can achieve similar successes.
The best part is, because case studies are essentially your war stories, your involvement is organically and inseparably woven into the content, so it doesn’t feel like a hard sell.
As such, you get to have your cake and eat it too.
Ever seen the classic “Home Alone” movie starring Macaulay Culkin? The mom character (played by Catherine O'Hara) was all over the place trying to account for everything - and everyone - to bring for the holidays.
I bet you if she had made a checklist, she wouldn’t have forgotten about her kid and left him home alone. But then we would not have a great comedy classic to enjoy. :)
The point is, people are always wondering if they got all the steps right, ticked off all the tasks that need to be done, to achieve some end result. And a checklist provides that certainty and clarity.
Also, every time you tick off an item from a checklist, you get a small dose of dopamine released in your brain, which makes you feel good. It makes you feel that you have accomplished something and motivated to do more. That’s why the majority of people loves checklists.
You can make a checklist out of anything, really. For example, if you are an event organiser, you could create something like “The Complete Checklist for Staging A Kickass Corporate Party”. Quite a fair bit of secretaries and administration managers would love you for sharing this.
Or, if you are an insurance agent, you could share something like “Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying An Insurance Policy - The Complete Checklist”.
The best part about checklists is that they are much easier to share and spread. So you’ve got the virality potential built into the content itself due to its functional nature. This helps speed up the pace of exposure for your brand and business.
Sometimes, an idea or concept can be hard to for your target audience to grasp and understand, especially if it’s a technical topic, or something new and innovative that not many people have come across.
In this situation, it is helpful to take a completely unrelated subject - but one that is known commonly to almost everyone - and use its similarities with the original intended subject to explain the latter.
That’s what an analogy is and does.
I’ll give you an example of this actual exchange between me and a client.
I have a client who is elderly and can’t quite get her head around the difference between a one-time website design fee and and a recurring website maintenance charge.
So, what I did was, I gave the analogy of an air-conditioning service, where I compared the website design fee to the cost of procuring and installing a new air conditioner, and the recurring website maintenance charge to that of a regular air-conditioning servicing contract.
She immediately understood from then on.
The great thing about using analogies in your content is that analogies make your content highly relatable. So your readers will go: “hey, this person/brand/business gets me”. And people typically wants to do business with and buy from those who “gets” them.
So now you understand why good quality content is so important to your business success, and the types of content that you should start creating to build up your appeal to your target audience.
In the next article, we look at another easily-neglected element of an effective, high-converting website, and that is the call-to-action.