“My firm spends thousands on content but no one reads them. Nor do my articles appearing at the top of any search query. What am I doing wrong?”
Many articles have been written on making good content ‘great’. It’s almost a national debate on what works and doesn’t, what helps drive Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and what content will the consumer ultimately read, digest and act upon. Considering that almost 30% of marketing budgets are now being diverted towards content creation, it’s high time that we understand which type of content really works.
Why do we even need content?
In today’s day and age, consumers are making maximum decisions only after arming themselves with information off the internet. It has been researched that 56% consumers have already decided their purchases before they have even been pitched a product through a salesman. They have decided based on what they have read off your website, your ratings, blogs and most certainly your product reviews. If your content does not support and influence their decision making process, you are in big trouble…
5 solutions to move from good to great content plus a BONUS!
Let’s face it. If you are re-hashing someone else’s hard work, then Google’s Panda update sees through this. Which means your website ends up with a lower quality score. Avoid it. Understand what your target is constantly questioning about your brand, product or service and address those in your own style. No one understands your business better than you!
2. The Headline
80% of readers decide whether to read further or drop on article based on the headline. Sexy, attractive, persuasive, questioning, the headline must have some punch to it. Another theory is to stick to simplicity and ensure your headline is what people are searching for.
For example, use “How to/do I…” or “What is” or “5 Reasons why” to start your headline.
Examples: ‘5 Best ways to mow your lawn’
‘How do I remove oil stains’
‘What is the best PS4 game in 2015’
An example of a bad webpage headline ‘Our Group Retirement Solutions’
An example of a good webpage headline ‘What are Group Retirement Solutions – how they can help me’
3. Language and tonality
Great content speaks the customer’s language. It is crisp, short, reader friendly and filled with examples. It is not a user-manual written by a technical writer. The reader must believe and feel as though you have taken time to address his problem at his level.
4. Visuals and Illustrations
Reading is one thing. Having an infographic or visual definitely adds to understanding of the topic, makes the article more interesting and generates more views and shares. It is always easier to explain through image than write a hundred words of text.
5. Have a Call to Action
Most articles have us read through it and gather some information or thoughts. The next step – a call to action is mostly missing. Do you not want the reader to do something after reading your article? If you have a solution to his problem, don’t you want to let him know. Always leave a last line, mentioning that you are there for the reader in case he wants to know more.
The most important rule of Content Writing: CONTEXT
It is always been said that ‘Content is King’ and ‘Context is Queen’. The best of articles go waste because the reader is looking for information about space and we are providing him in – depth knowledge about the gutter next to his house! Headlines which talk about one thing and the body copy another, are a recipe for disaster.
Every business needs to identify what are the key pain points a consumer has (what he really wants to know just before he decides) and address those queries specifically with separate content.
As an example: Let’s say you offer Accounting Solutions to Small Business Owners:
First and foremost, understand what are the questions running through the business owner’s mind just before he’s about to commit to buying your solution. You need content to separately address each of his queries:
- Do I understand the Accounting Solution I am buying?
- Do I trust this company selling it to me?
- Why is the solution so expensive? Shouldn’t I look for a cheaper solution?
- Is this product right for my size of business?
- If I buy this accounting package, who will administer this for me? I don’t have so much time.
A particular Ted Talk which helps further reinforce my point on Contextual Content (and Marketing as well) is by Amy Lockwood – Deputy Director of Stanford’s Center for Innovation in Global Health
This particular Ted Talk by Amy brings out the most fundamental buying behavior insight which many companies keep missing out on – what we, the consumer are thinking just before we buy any product or service. All content should be centered around that single thought. That should be central to your article.
Highlighting the number of awards you’ve won, how innovative your product is or number of customers you have only reinforces your brand, they must never be the main content proposition unless that’s the only thing someone is thinking about, right before purchasing.