website content - seeds of success

How much do you value the content on your company website?

I mean really value it. Does it have a clearly defined job in securing new leads and customers? Or was it just another item on the list of things to do when the site was created? Perhaps it was a few hundred words you pumped out so you could finally get the site launched.

If that sounds remotely familiar, ask yourself this:

What do you think the purpose of your website content is?

Businesses that understand the power of internet marketing see website content in a different way. For them words and exceptional website content are the seeds of success. They make a difference to the bottom line and help ensure their future success.

If writing the content for a site you’re planning to launch seems like just another task to tick off the list, you might want to see things differently. If you already have a site that doesn’t deliver the results you expected, maybe it’s time to revisit the content.

Here are a few questions and suggestions to help your website work harder at generating good quality leads and sales.

Don’t Think About your Business

Your first instinct when planning the content is naturally to start listing all of the things you sell. You will then probably start grouping these products or services so they are easy to navigate and make sense to your customers.

This is probably your first big missed opportunity!

Make the customers you want to attract your starting point. The site is for them.

Things to think about:

  • For B2B sites, what size of business are you targeting? What expectations are they likely to have in terms of the professionalism of your marketing?
  • For B2C, what does a typical customer look like? What are their interests, likes and aspirations?
  • Are there some defining characteristics for your target customers that will help you choose the right words and focus your content on the appropriate audience? Our target audience is people or businesses who want to…
  • What will be motivating somebody to look for what you sell? Try to list 5 or 6 circumstances that would cause somebody to search for your products or services and would particularly attract them to your business.

Aim to use these ‘themes’ throughout your content. You might find that these themes are a better way to organise your content than providing the standard ‘description of what you do’ approach based around product or service categories.

When you focus on themes and things that really matter to your customers you’ll probably find that many of the things you’d intended to include are insignificant details. They won’t have any influence on whether or not potential customers decide to get in touch – so they can be safely left out.

Content Journeys

When your vision of who you want to sell to is as sharp as a freshly unwrapped razor blade you are ready to create your content map. This should be a simple journey in which visitors see what they’re interested in, go straight to the relevant content and then on to an action.

If you are selling services, try to avoid the easy and convenient content map that groups services under a descriptive title (eg Audit, if you’re an accountant).  Think about what your clients want to achieve by using your services and define and present them in those terms.

This might be harder work for you but it makes it easier for customers. You’re not asking them to work out the relevance of what you offer to their needs.

Content flow should represent a natural customer journey. If the goal is to make an enquiry or a purchase, how does the content guide them there? What questions or objections will they have and what possible obstacles will they face?

Who and When?

The next step for most businesses is to decide which lucky members of the team get to write the content.

Sometimes you’ll find somebody who is keen to do it (which doesn’t guarantee they’ll be any good at it), and sometimes there has to be a bit of arm twisting.

If you are writing your own content (as most SMEs do), who’s going to do it? You? A member of your team? How much ‘spare’ time do they currently have? If they are fully occupied, what are they going to stop doing in order to get the content written?

Why this matters: Any web designer will tell you their biggest frustration and the biggest cause of delay is waiting for content from their client. The record from conversations I’ve had with designers currently stands at 18 months (can anyone beat that?).

I’ll leave you to work out the opportunity cost of waiting months to launch your new site. How effective is the content likely to be anyway if it’s been ‘bashed out’ because the web designer is running out of patience?

Getting web content right takes a lot of time – even when you know what you’re doing. A simple word change can transform the impact of an entire paragraph and make a vital emotional connection with your customers. Finding the right voice for your business is never easy.

Website copywriting is so much more than just writing grammatically correct English.

Emotional Needs

We all like to imagine that we are rational beings – that we go around making carefully considered decisions based on evidence and reason. We aren’t and we don’t.

When it comes to purchases it’s our subconscious and our emotional needs that call the shots. We use the concious, rational parts of our brain to tell ourselves that those decisions and actions were the right ones after all.

What does this mean for web content? Imagine you are selling a B2B product or service: What’s really going to persuade somebody to click your CTA? The thought of saving their company money?  The thought of improving their personal influence and prestige? Avoiding the loss of revenue or profit that they could be held personally responsible for?

How Well do you Understand SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation is increasingly intertwined with content, to the extent that you cannot have an effective optimisation strategy that doesn’t have content at its core.

Once you could buy in SEO as a purely technical service. Knowledge of how to optimise a site, fill it with the right keywords and procure back-links could get almost any site to rank highly in Google.

There’s still an important technical element in SEO but it’s now much more about creating valuable content, rich in context and meaning. It’s also about effective promotion through on-line networks to earn good quality back-links. Trust, authority and reputation are becoming the main levers for improving search ranking. The quality of your content will be critical in earning these attributes.

You should use keyword research to give you insights into what people are really searching for. It helps your visibility when you structure your website content around the questions that people are asking. But it’s more than just shoe-horning the keywords into any old content – you have to give convincing answers to those questions.

Writing intelligent and SEO friendly meta title and description tags is not easy. Integrating keywords into content in the most effective way, while still creating natural and easy-to-read copy, requires skill. Is it reasonable to expect somebody who is taking a break from the day job to get this right?

Why this matters: Is there any point in having a website that nobody can find? Structure, usability and the reader’s experience are as important as selecting the right keywords in getting your site to rank well in Google. There’s no quick fix for this – despite what several emails in your inbox may be claiming.

Can you be Objective about your Business?

Your business may well be one of the big passions in your life. You are bound up in it and you are excited about your capabilities and your opportunities. Will a potential customer have quite the same perspective?

Sure, they want to know that you care about what you do – but they really want to know what you are going to do for them. Standing back and seeing what matters from an outsider’s perspective is difficult.

Why this matters: Content that engages and persuades is the difference between ‘having a website’ and having a website that makes a positive contribution to your business growth. An external resource will see your business differently.

This often makes it easier to identify and emphasize the critical arguments that will attract and persuade your target customers.

How Confident are you?

However you choose to produce the content, your website is a significant investment. It’s not just the money that you pay for design and hosting, it’s also the time that your organisation has to put in to make it happen.

Design matters; but even with the best design in the world your website will stand or fall on how easy it is to find – and how well it engages and persuades your target customers. Creating readable, engaging, persuasive and search-friendly content is quite an undertaking. Are you confident that you have the skills in-house to do all of that?

 

 

Rhussey_slideRichard Hussey, Copywriter, Blogger and Content Marketer

 

IMPROVE YOUR WEBSITE

Half-day course Bridgwater, Somerset, September 20, 2016

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