So you own and manage a website. Whether you’re a big business, a small business or a solo entrepreneur, if you want to be engaging and interesting, your site needs content. That content can come in the forms of blogging-style copy, images, video or something else entirely. You can even create content in the form of product pages and promotions by turning your site into an online storefront.
But surely there’s a foundation to all this. Here’s how to get started with content of your own.
When designing or revamping an existing website, there are various individual components that are non-negotiable if you want to “make” your brand’s “case.”
An “About Us” page is an excellent example. Every business site should have one because it’s a place to share your company’s history in a brief and appealing way. It’s also where you can state your company mission and morals and even show off a bit of personality. That’s what makes it a great example of vital or cornerstone web content.
Now that we’ve established that you need content, and that there are vital components of any site, let’s get to talking about them.
If you’re selling something online or collecting personal information from your audience — which includes just about every business out there — then you’ll want to be transparent about your security and protection methods.
Do you use one of the many security platforms such as VeriSign, TrustE, Entrust or GeoTrust? If so, include the company logo and certification somewhere on your site. This tells your audience that you can be trusted and that any and all information they provide is secured.
Furthermore, deploy SSL encryption site for any site that needs additional protection. If you’re dealing with credit card and financial information, Social Security numbers, personal addresses or similar data, then encryption is definitely warranted.
Today, you cannot get by without some form of social media integration. Whether that means including quick access buttons to share content or products or integrating social network use directly onto your site, “sociability” is a necessary component.
At the very least, you should promote your social channels or accounts on your website. The most common form can be seen on Walmart’s website where their social buttons are located in the footer (or header) to link directly to their connected accounts.
Many of us can agree that some memes are obnoxious — even those of us who use them regularly. But that doesn’t change the fact that they are often hilarious and a lot of fun. More importantly, they’re part of a social movement that you can leverage for publicity if you know what you’re doing.
Remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that swept the internet? Maybe you’ve been Rickrolled at some point? Whatever the case, these highly popular and viral trends shed light on one particular concept: remaining relevant in the current landscape.
You’d be forgiven for thinking this stuff can only be integrated when the site is finished and active. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. You can deliver memes even at the foundation of a portal. Consider implementing quotes or sayings into your 404 and error pages. Deliver pop-ups or promotional content that is structured around popular memes. It’s possible and incredibly effective.
By 2019, 80 percent of internet traffic will involve browsing through video content alone. That probably explains why networks like Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and even Snapchat are so incredibly popular. People love to view and browse visual-oriented content.
Naturally, you can expect to spruce up a design or site using visual content appropriately. This will become even more important for text-heavy sites, as users will want a visual treat to go along with all that reading. Think about deploying a background video or GIF that plays as soon as a user navigates to a page. Sure, when done wrong it can be abysmal. However, if deployed appropriately, it can really give a site’s design the personality and uniqueness it needs.
Look at these amazing aerial videos shot by Real Estate Exposures. Add a video like this to your landing page. Just imagine it: Beautiful, responsive and downright mesmerizing! What more could you ask from a modern and stunning design?
Guys and gals, it’s 2018. Mobile is the primary platform you should be designing for, with desktop as a close second. More people now use mobile devices to browse online than any other platform. If you don’t have a responsive or mobile-optimized site design, you’re missing out.
This applies to not just the foundational elements and overall layout, but the content as well. Images must be of high quality, but also scalable for smaller displays. The same is true of text-based and conventional content. No matter what you’re talking about, it needs to properly scale to fit on a handheld and adhere to an optimized user experience. Scrolling up or down a page is completely acceptable, for instance. Scrolling left or right, on the other hand, is not.
Customers are savvier about marketing and promotional strategies now, which puts an emphasis on subtlety for those involved. Don’t get us wrong — a call to action is still necessary and effective — but you need to do more than simply bold a headline urging customers to buy a product or take action. It all starts with the design and user experience of a site and ends with the message laid on top.
Buttons and contextual elements are important. Colors, images and icons also play a role. Even the placement of said items and their visual ranking on a page matter. Check out how Netflix carefully placed their CTA and in the color red. It’s simple, effective and clearly states what the user should know.
The deployment of related elements starts at the design and development stage and follows all the way through, like it or not.
You could have the most beautiful and captivating site ever created, but if it isn’t functional you’re still going to have a lot of users leaving, resulting in high bounce rates. Crucial to successful design is the idea of a convenient or useful user experience. You must also create a flow to your site and design that is conducive to proper function. Normally, you structure this using something called a sitemap.
In short, it involves mapping out how you want a site or design to work and flow. Is it logical? Is it easy to understand and navigate? Can someone who’s brand-new to the site have the same experience as someone who’s been there since day one?
This is so important that Google’s search crawlers factor user experience into the search ranking of a given website.
We are way past the days of including a simple “contact” or information-based page that lists ways customers and audiences can get in touch. Thanks to the emergence of mobile use, customers don’t just want a convenient experience — they also want a fast one. This calls for deploying contact channels directly on your site or into your design.
It starts with something like an email contact form that allows customers to send support messages right from your site. More advanced forms of this include inline messaging systems, even those mainly run and operated by a chatbot. See Woebot for an example — it’s the Facebook Messenger AI chatbot for treating depression.
As we’ve already pointed out — and you no doubt know — it’s 2018. There’s really no room for clowning around anymore when it comes to deploying, updating and maintaining your website. Customers demand a lot more out of an experience these days and you stand to gain quite a lot by giving it to them.
Just follow the tips discussed here and you’ll be well on your way toward creating a convenient, content-heavy site that works to capture audiences rather than frustrating or scaring them off.
Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She loves researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.
The next endeavor that you should focus your energy on relating to content marketing is in making a direct one-on-one comparison between you and your competition.
How can you be sure that this is a good idea? If you put yourself in your future client’s shoes and analyze their point of view, you will observe that before choosing either your or your competition’s services, the first thing that they do intuitively is to make a comparison of those offering the same services as you do.
According to a study carried out by GE Capital Retail Bank, 60% of consumers begin their research using a search engine before going to the final page where they will make their purchase.
It is in this context that even the organic predictive results from Google itself suggest creating content based on what others have previously searched for. One example to consider is by comparing different software solutions for customer service:
At the end of the day, it is the potential client that is interested in this comparison and there is nobody better than you who can provide it for them.
Without going too far, in case you don’t do it, a third party like Software Advice (who has been in business for over 10 years) will redact this content in order to generate leads and then sell them to you, or even worse, to your competitor:
But what is the correct manner for creating this content, even when you must also talk about your competition?
The starting point is in putting together a comparison that is accurate, even if it means you are not the winner in all of the categories.
If you reveal some facts about your competition and they are not correct, the user comparing the data before making a decision will realize this and it will end up being a negative strategy for your investment in content marketing instead of being a positive one.
The wisest thing to do is show a simple chart comparing yourself with 2 or 3 of the most well-known competitors in your sector:
Even though the most didactic way of doing a comparison is by using a chart, it does not always have to end there.
Before the user sees the comparison, you can share with them the things that differentiate you from the competition and explain to them why they should choose you:
Following the example which we began with, where we compared different services for customer service, one that I would like you to notice in detail because of its excellency in development is that which Intercom did with a special landing page.
Anyone can say they are better than their competition in “being the most user-friendly,” “fastest,” “having the best technology,” or even “with customized service 24 hours a day” but the goal is that you show them how you do this. And the best way to do this is with visual examples, images.
And why not even use a video, as the people at HelpScout did in order to compare their tool with Zendesk:
This strategy for content marketing should end with a call to action in order to close the sale.
Try doing this with a free trial period in order to avoid any objections the client may have and so that they can start using your service right away.
If you can make it so that the user can use your software before that of your competition you will have the advantage in the fact that they will dedicate more time in figuring out how your service works, adapting to your procedures.
When we did A/B trials for finding out which content worked best in our company while comparing us with the competition, we realized that the greatest conversions were achieved when we highlighted what our clients said (reviews).
This idea came about when we saw the survey that BrightLocal carried out, which showed that 88% of clients said they trust online reviews just as if they were personal recommendations.
An example is what FreshBooks does with their content which compares themselves to QuickBooks (the leader in the market for accounting software) specifically utilizing reviews from people who left the competition behind and united with them:
Lastly, don’t forget to answer the most common questions that these potential clients may have at the moment of making a decision to hire your services or those of your competition.
If you can answer their doubts before any other, definitely the possibilities of gaining the user will be more in your favor:
Handling this strategy for content marketing as a sales landing page is the most recommended method. The comparison chart should be the base upon which the content is written, accompanied by a sales call to action, images, comments, and frequently asked questions. This is the method I suggest that you follow.
Another option for this type of content is to use more general content such as: “What are the 5 best accounting tools for a business?” And there you could include your company in the list instead of a side-by-side comparison that we saw previously. But always follow the concepts we just went over.
The most important thing to consider is that now it is in your hands and not those of a third party to offer a comparison between your services and those of your competition. It is your duty to show the advantages that differentiate you and thus be able to successfully close the sale at the time the user is making a final decision.
The source of this knowledge and its redaction was shared by Cristian Rennella, Computer Engineer and Professor of the Catholic University of Argentina. Director of Marketing at MejorTrato for Mexico. His passion in the past few years has been centered around the developing entrepreneurship in South America.
Today the majority of people completing Google searches are not looking for a splattering of information on a variety of topics. They are typically looking for something that answers a specific question, something that is clear and concise, something visually stimulating. Site visitors want a positive user experience.
And of course, they should get what they want. Nothing is more frustrating for potential customers than entering a website with the hopes of answering a question or receiving a service and only finding low quality content.
Roughly 78% of chief marketing executives believe custom content is the future of marketing. Specific, informative, useful information is the name of the game. Here are a few tips to improving your website’s content to increase both visitor satisfaction and the likelihood of them returning a second or third time.
Having a firm idea of the types of people that are likely to come to your site in the first place may seem obvious, but it is an overlooked objective surprisingly often. Who are the main groups of people that stop in to check things out? Create content that is relevant to them and will hold their interest. If you’re marketing high end fashion accessories to women, chances are they are not going to be impressed with off-kilter blog posts about microbreweries.
Also consider what else this audience is likely to be interested in. Would these women be the type to visit ‘mommy blogs?’ Discovering additional locations on the web where your target audience is likely to visit is a huge advantage that can open a lot of doors for publishing your content.
Some web designers think of content as ‘any old thing’ you can place on a website quickly with little time put into making it worthwhile. The content you create should be something you’re proud of. Put effort into it and make it interesting enough that consumers to want to see where it came from. For instance, if you want to create content in the form of an ebook, spend time to work out the coding process so it is more than a PDF link. Great pieces of content such as this can be self-published on Amazon for profit.
Another exceptional way to create great content for your site is through the development of in-depth, well coded material such as infographics or interactive infographics. These pieces of content-filled glory provide great visuals to accompany the topic you’re describing in an informative, bite-sized manner. Highly interactive infographics, like Truckpocalypse, are likely to be shared out, which creates more opportunities for site traffic and places your site as an authority on the information provided.
Publishing your content outside of your website is exactly what you should be doing. Having relevant information on your website is great, but if nobody knows about it then you have wasted your time. Many blog owners are willing to allow you to publish useful content on their website where all of their viewers can see it. If your contribution is good, it’ll spread through social media quickly and likely increase your website traffic.
Chances are, if your competitors are publishing their content in a specific location then you can be too. There are some really incredible software tools out there, such as Moz, that enable you to identify where competitors are already. Determining this can give you ideas as to different markets you can try in order to get your name out there.
Furthermore, using social media websites can also make it easy to determine where your competitors have an edge. Follow them and take note of the things they are tweeting to see if you can take advantage.
Implementing these strategies can greatly improve the quality of content on your website and make visitors feel satisfied with their experience. Additionally, using your great content to reach out can greatly increase the amount of traffic that your site sees and help you to avoid big marketing flops.
2014 is a pretty big year for the internet marketing world, because marketing is finally becoming noticeably web-literate. A year or two ago marketing blogs and advice columns were still largely filled with ineffective, largely spam-based marketing techniques that were basically just electronic versions of older pre-internet marketing tactics. In the past few years, truly effective content marketing was limited mostly to the viral kind like this safety announcement by Metro Trains Melbourne. Now, finally, it’s branching out and what used to be relatively terrible alternatives are being refined and improved. So, how do we hop on the content marketing train?
Content marketing has been preached as the future of marketing for a long time, but the answers to what makes content marketing good (and effective) have not been particularly forthcoming. It’s really a very broad idea; you’re basically giving away something for free in exchange for attention (and, ideally, sales). If we step back from the internet, those free samples at the supermarket are essentially the physical version of content marketing. What businesses didn’t understand until recently is that the return for this kind of marketing is going to be proportional to the value that their content has to the user.
The first thing that most businesses did, and often still do, think of when introduced to the idea of content marketing is “Great! I can make a video/write an article/design an infographic explaining why people should buy my product”. While, technically, you’re producing content, and allowing people to access it, it has no value to the user on its own. It’s basically an expression of the same thought as that guy at the bar that thinks he’s God’s gift to women, and ends up confused when his overt attentions are ill-received. If your content has no purpose other than to sell a product, then it can only interest people who are already interested in buying your product, which defeats the purpose of producing any content at all.
Something that tends to rankle businesses is the idea of giving something away for free, but that’s exactly what needs to happen if you want your content strategy to be successful. Content marketing is about generating interest in your company (rather than your product) and getting attention from your target audience, not closing a sale. Attempting to close a sale through content marketing is effectively flipping your marketing funnel upside down, which will dramatically limit the impact that it’ll have. Here are a few examples of excellent content that gives value to users, raises awareness of a company, and reflects well on a business’s reputation, all while tacitly driving sales.
Skills and Training Materials – Webinars like these help to develop users’ skills for free. We think this is dangerous because it looks like they’re giving potential customers the tools to walk away and do their own work instead of buying their services. What Appnovation has figured out is that explaining some of their work more thoroughly helps potential customers appreciate the work that goes into the services that they buy, and builds their confidence in that company’s competence.
Tools – Some businesses offer free tools that might be related or complementary to their services. New Retirement’s retirement calculator is one of those. Their product is retirement planning, but the hook is the free consultation tools on the site. If you wanted to do it on your own, that’s the place you’d go to for the tools to help you. When the time comes that you decide to get some professional help you’ve already got that site in your head, and you’ve already formed a positive opinion about their services.
Good Infographics – The mediocre, low budget Infographics that cluttered much of the 2012-2013 blogosphere are not what I’m talking about. An effective infographic like this one from Australia’s insurance giant Suncorp is more than just visually appealing, it gives the reader something to take away while reinforcing the authority of the brand. It doesn’t try to sell anything while still generating interest in its product.