The 4 pillars of successful content
Great content connects. It speaks to visitors, makes them want to share it, and motivates them to buy.
In a world that spews unending streams of promotional diarrhea, these often overlooked pillars are essential to build relevant and valued content that establishes trust, credibility and authority in any industry.
1. Answer the right questions
If your content strategy is merely ‘build it and they will come’, you’re already missing the mark. When writing content, be sure to identify your desired audiences and what they want. Only then will you be able to answer the right questions.
To determine what your visitors want or need:
- monitor or ask for feedback in blogs and social media;
- send surveys using small gifts for incentives;
- check out networking events or conferences they attend.
FreshBooks does a superb job answering questions because they know their audience’s fundamental concern: to make billing painless. So they touch on these pain points with valuable information about ease of use, work anywhere and save time billing.
2. Help visitors complete tasks
People go online to accomplish specific goals, not to mindlessly gaze at pretty designs while engaging in naval-picking activities. To help visitors complete desired tasks efficiently and effectively your site has to be organized and communicate clearly.
Organizing, writing and labeling information in a customer-centric manner helps visitors:
- Find what they’re looking for. Less is more. So remove irrelevant and distracting information, including unnecessary menus and links, and out-of-date web copy.
- Know what their options are. Be sure to include useful sidebars and links, like ‘see also’ and ‘related products’.
Commission Junction serves up tidy, streamlined content. No mess, no noise. Just a clean intro, two bold call-outs and a ‘What is affiliate marketing’ button for newbies who arrive at their site.
3. Ask for the sale
Here’s a excerpt from a 1944 Sales and Salesmanship guide our content writers have tucked away in our library:
“Impelling to action: You may make a prospect understand and take an interest in your goods or services; you may even make him feel that he needs the goods or services, but unless you urge him to act, the sale is not made.”
We might be working with mind-bending technologies, but the good, old-fashioned ‘ask for the sale’ still applies. Online, the ‘sales close’ is known as a call to action or CTA, which is designed to prompt visitors to call, email, request a quote, subscribe, download a report, or any other desired action.
Amazingly, many websites fail to include a CTA — they rely on visitors to take the initiative to go to the top menu and click ‘Contact Us’. This is a major oversight that slaughters conversions.
Eventbrite does a nice job avoiding bland and generally unhelpful ‘click here’ or ‘learn more’ buttons with a crisp, alluring offer to instantly create a free event. Regrettably, this website drops the ball by not providing prospects helpful content once they click the button (Eventbrite, please refer to point #2).
4. Promote visibility and community
As consumers increasingly research and buy products and services online, SEO and social media are amongst the most important factors in successful marketing and lead generation campaigns.
When you synchronize your content and social marketing with your most important keywords, your prospects will use those words to research your offerings and find you on the top of search engines. They’ll then observe forms of ‘social proof’ via PR articles, social media posts, ratings and more. As they gain familiarity and comfort with your brand, you’ll start to build credibility and trust.
Clear HR Consulting provides an excellent example of how a small business can cleverly compete with much larger players in the HR realm. Building on their optimized website, they tactfully use keywords in their press releases, blog posts and other marketing content. It’s resulted in rankings any business would desire, which generates leads and sales — not to mention national media coverage. When editors and roving reporters turn to Google and search terms like HR experts Vancouver, guess whom they find?
Creating great content is a choice
Once prospects find you, they have the power to explore and stay on your site. On the other hand, if they run out of time, get bored or frustrated, they can shut things down instantly with a single click. Content is often the deciding factor.
Investing the necessary time and resources to produce relevant and valued content goes a long way in building highly prosperous brands.
Do you focus resources on good content generation? Is content still king? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Featured image/thumbnail, promotion image via Shutterstock.