Educational content, outside of your product or service details, can attract potential customers to your website and keep them there longer. Articles, profiles, worksheets, interactive tools and other types of “content” can create a window of opportunity for your company to communicate its expertise, make a sale or deepen customer relationships.
In order to attain these business goals through content on your site, the information must be well crafted and carefully presented. Use the following tips to connect with customers through content on your site.
Determine your website’s primary goals. Do you want to establish your company as a trusted advisor in your industry or to help visitors make a buying decision? The goals you set will shape your content. For example, create a worksheet explaining how your products or services will help customers in certain situations. If you want to use content to become a trusted advisor, how-to articles on business management topics (related to your area of expertise) would be a better choice.
Identify your audience
The interests, habits and sophistication levels of your audience will shape the content you create. Understand who you are creating content for by making a list of your audience’s concerns as a starting point to building a profile of these readers. Is there one age group in particular that your product appeals to? What about a particular industry or market? By identifying the audience, you can not only craft your message but decide how to display your content.
Vary the formats
Many options exist today for easily creating content. A variety of formats will add interest to your site. These include video, Flash, blogs, podcasts, interactive elements, worksheets and social media. The key to choosing the best formats is to make sure your choices are driven by reader needs, not simply your interests or a chance to use the latest technologies. Make a list of your targets’ needs, their online habits and their technology of choice. For example, if you know that many customers use iPods or other MP3 players, you may choose podcasts. If they are more likely to want to read on your site, a worksheet or article may suffice.
Update content frequently
Many small companies build Web pages, post content and then move on to the next project. Three months later, the same content is still there. You need to keep the content fresh to avoid making your site look stale. Set a schedule based on how often visitors come to your site, what your budget allows and what your content goals are. Minimize the work by creating items that are “evergreen” — meaning that they do not reference current events, time of year or other subject matter that will cause them to look dated quickly.
Provide educational content
While the primary goal for your website is to advertise your business, you don’t always need a flashy format to get your target’s attention. Sometimes all you need is good educational content offering a perspective on the industry without always trying to sell a product. At other times, let the content show why your service is important to a prospect. For example, a company specializing in software security packages could post alerts about new codes used by hackers to steal information over the Internet.
Highlight your products and services
Visitors to your site will benefit from articles and other content that provide information beyond what you sell, but they also want (and expect) to find plenty of details about what they can buy from you. Don’t shy away from fully spelling out how your products or services can help each site visitor. Connect this information to the value-added content where possible.
Make sure people can find your content
Since you went to the trouble of creating all this content, make sure it’s optimized so you get more traffic when people search the Internet. Choose targeted and relevant keywords and keyword phrases so your Web pages are more easily accessible to search engine spiders. This is called search engine optimization, or SEO, which attempts to place your Web pages higher within the “natural” listings on search engines, as opposed to paid search ads. That way, your website may appear on the first page of a prospect’s search instead of the sixth or seventh page.