By Lisa Barone, from Search Engine Watch – Latest –

More and more clients are beginning to understand the benefits of content marketing. Sitting at the table, I’ve found I’m having a far easier time “selling” clients on the importance of creating that culture video, putting together that marketing ebook or using animation to tell stories in unique ways. Clients are riding the content marketing bandwagon, and they get it. It’s great.

But as that respect for flashier content grows, the respect for the rest of the words on their site — their home pages, their product pages, their About pages, their calls to action — hasn’t grown in suit. Six-figure websites are still being sold without an ounce of budget going to traditional content creation.

Instead, we hear the client’s niece will write the content.

Or, an intern they just hired.

Or, a guy they just met on the street who seems really, really capable.

It’s enough to make a grown content person cry. How can you help your clients understand the benefit of true content creation? Or, if you are a client or brand, why is this something you need to invest in? After all, anyone can write.


Content is branding.

Sure, part of the content creation process is an informational transaction. It is about getting across the important, relevant, needed information about your products and/or services. But it’s also more than that. It’s about how you convey this information. It’s about how you position your brand, how you message it, the voice you create and the experience you’re laying out.

There are a lot of great writers here at Search Engine Watch. But my bet is that you have a favorite or two. And that you can identify your favorite author just by reading the first line of his or her posts. It just sounds like them. It feels like them. Similarly, I bet you can recognize your favorite television show by the first note of its opening jingle. Or your favorite brand of coffee by its smell.

It’s emotional DNA and every brand has it. Good content is filled with the stuff and it’s what makes you instantly recognizable from your competitors. Anyone can write the 5Ws of who you are. But a skilled content writer can make sure you are visible, from start to finish, on every page of your website to make you recognizable in the dark to your target audience.

Content is user experience (partly).

There are plenty of designers, and even content people, who may disagree, but I believe it’s a content person’s job to guide the user experience process. Even if this role falls mostly inside your design department, as a content person it’s our job to:

  • Consider how the words we’re putting on the page affect a user’s path through the site.
  • Understand how the site’s information architecture conveys the company’s business goals and purpose.
  • Think about how the site functions, as a whole, and how it’s helpful to user and brand.
  • Evaluate how the site works on different platforms, the goals of different user types and whether they’re being met.

To me, and at Overit, this is all part of the content process. It’s not traditional “content creation” where we write up your products and list your service, but it’s a content person’s user- and brand-focused eye that makes sure your site is set up to achieve your business goals. When you leave out that process, disastrous things can happen. Like, designing a beautiful website that doesn’t actually convert or lead anyone to do anything.

Content is a sales/upselling tool.

Good content does more than simply inform; it educates and sells.

The content on your website educates your customer on what they’re interested in right now. It allows you to go over, in great detail, how to use that product, how to hack it, how to accomplish current goals and the capabilities of the product or service in question. This saves your support and customer service teams valuable time having to answer these questions on the phone, writing up lengthy email responses to questions (over and over again) and also gives them somewhere to point customers to help them find their answers. In this way, by writing great content you give yourself a powerful customer retention tool.

For your sales team, content helps to upsell current customers when the time comes, again giving them something to reference and giving you an ability to show how products complement one another, how a bigger need is solved and how customers can achieve more. You make your case before ever picking up the phone or engaging in an official sales call. The upselling process becomes a natural part of the site’s conversion process and your customer’s experience.

Content helps conversions.

Content fuels your conversion process. It does so not only in your ability to describe your products and services, but in the calls to action and other conversion areas on your site. To not invest in content, is to not invest in the profitability in your business. (See how silly that sounds when you put it in print? I know, but businesses do it every day.)

Content isn’t just about the words on your page, content is about the action those words are meant to inspire. By investing in content, you set your site up for success by writing stronger, emotion-backed calls to action; by removing conversion roadblocks like excess links or images that distract; by naming buttons, tabs and fields appropriately; by building customer confidence with clear benefit statements and value propositions and by removing friction from the conversion process.

Can your intern do that? Are you really going to bet the profitability of your business on it? I wouldn’t.

As a content person, I love seeing the excitement our clients have for larger content marketing efforts like video, animation and long-form content. But don’t let that excitement blind you against the other uses content has on your site — to build your brand, to increase conversion, to set up a proper framework and to sell to customers. Without them, you have the best designed, best developed website that doesn’t push anybody to do anything.

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