If you’ve been spending time creating content for your company’s website, it’s time for a check-in.
Savvy business owners have heard an adage that has been beaten to death in the marketing world: “content is king.” However, I’ve found that while it’s often understood that content is important for success in digital marketing, many don’t understand the nuts and bolts of why this is or how to create content that is actually effective.
Maybe you have a blog, but all of your posts are sales pitches for your company. Perhaps you share personal stories that are completely unrelated to your business. Or, maybe you only share photos of networking events your sales team goes to. If this sounds like you, then you need to rethink your content strategy.
If you’re creating content just to check a box off of your marketing to-do list, you aren’t doing enough. Let’s review the basics for why strategically-created content is an effective marketing tactic, and how you can make sure your output is worth your time.
Why are you developing content in the first place?
In general, you should be blogging for one or more of the following reasons:
- To improve your search ranking
- To educate and/or delight your readers
- To increase the likelihood of a visitor converting
Creating content – especially by way of regularly updating a blog – is a great way to help increase your likelihood of being found in search results. However, if you don’t have a solid content strategy in place, the time spent writing posts will not be time be well spent.
I often find that people either aren’t aware of how to make effective content (more on that in a moment) or just don’t really care and phone it in when writing content. Some think that it doesn’t really matter what it is they post about, as long as they do it. This mindset will destroy any potential for your content to have a positive impact on your business.
Why? You need to be sure that what you write about is actually of interest to your target audience. No one wants to read an article about something they already know, is totally unrelated to your business or is just a sales pitch. If you do any of these things, you’re better off not blogging at all.
That’s why we recommend spending time creating content you know your target audience will give a damn about, based on data you’ve collected from Google Analytics and actual customer feedback.
How to create content that assists in these goals
How can you create content that helps you be found in search, educate or delight visitors, and increase the likelihood of a visitor converting?
You need to assess the content topics you’re creating and how they can help move your visitors through the buyer’s journey.
Create specific content that’s relevant to your target audience
Your topics should be specific and be chosen for a reason. General, high-level blog posts are usually not very helpful to visitors who have a specific question they need answered, and it will be really difficult to actually have such a post show up in search results. If you’re sharing on content via email or social (which I encourage!), you still need to have a topic that entices people to click the link to read more.
When considering your topics, think about real questions your customers have that are related to your product or service, what problems they are looking to solve, your organization’s expertise and what search terms are currently driving people to your website. If you want to learn more about developing effective blog topics, head here to walk through our simple guide to blog topic brainstorming.
So what does relevant content look like?
If you write about a topic that people are already searching for and is relevant to your organization, your article (and thus, website) could be a result that a searcher clicks on. It could also be a link that a person scrolling through Twitter or reading an email sees and chooses to click.
The key to knowing if your content is good is to see not only how many people click on the link to read it and how long they stay on the page, but what actions are taken after reading it.
Let’s say I’ve turned to Google to search for something like, “why doesn’t my cat like wearing clothes” (this is a real and serious problem for a cat owner!). If you had written a blog post titled, “Why your cat doesn’t enjoy wearing clothes,” I’ll want to click on your listing in Google to see if you have an answer for my question. I may not have known about your company before, but now I’m on your website and getting great advice from you!
If your article is useful to me – that is, if it answers the question I was researching – I’ll be more likely to trust you as a resource; maybe I’ll even share the link to your post with a friend. Not only have I now found your company, but I have a positive impression of it, as well.
And if I really liked what I read, I’ll likely dig around your website to see what else you have to offer. If I find out your company sells cat clothes, I may even want to make a purchase! New customer = acquired.
Keep the buyer’s journey in mind
Writing about a specific topic that is likely to answer a question and be found in search or capture the interest of person reading an email or social media is only half the battle.
To really encourage conversions, you’ll want to consider the stage of the buyer’s journey that is most suited for your content.
The buyer’s journey, as HubSpot explains, is “the process buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a new product or service. The journey is a three-step process.”
The buyer’s journey is helpful when developing content because you can better tailor your information to speak to their current education and engagement level in their journey.
Let’s look at what the buyer’s journey might like with our cat clothing example.
Awareness stage: I realized I have a problem: my cat doesn’t like wearing clothes. I take to Google to figure out why that is.
Consideration stage: I’ve figured out that my cat might not like wearing clothing that covers his head. Now I want to see what cat clothes are available that don’t include head coverings.
Decision stage: I’ve found a couple different cat outfits that my cat might like. Now I just need to choose which online retailer to buy for.
When you create content, you should consider writing for all of these stages. Our earlier blog topic example, “Why your cat doesn’t enjoy wearing clothes,” would be perfect for the awareness stage, when I’m still trying to define my problem. A consideration stage topic may be, “Cat clothing that won’t cover your cat’s ears.” A final decision stage topic could be, “How our company creates comfortable cat clothing that your pet will love wearing.”
Did you know? This photo would be appropriate for content in any stage of the buyer’s journey and would surely delight at least one reader (it’s me, I’m the reader who would enjoy this photo).
I’ve talked a lot about blogging here, but my advice holds true for any other content you could create, whether it be a video, white paper or downloadable guide. You should always consider your audience’s needs and pain points as you brainstorm topics, and then prepare to create content to use throughout the three stages of the buyer’s journey.
A simple litmus test can help keep you honest and on-track when considering what topics would be effective for your goals. If your answer to the question, “would this content actually help me if I was doing research on this topic?” is “no,” it’s time to go back to the drawing board.