How to get website content off the ground

everyone wants an attractive website, but attention (and sales) come from great content

Last month we explored some of the benefits savvy organizations are getting from content marketing, from attracting new customers and building loyalty to improved results in Internet search and the ability to track what gets results. Today we’ll see why a strong website is the core of any successful content marketing plan, and how to avoid some of the biggest stumbling blocks to getting your site up and running.

cutting corners with your online presence can cost you in the long run, the short run, and everything in between

Even though content marketing is a “soft sell” technique, every piece of your marketing effort should work together to turn curious prospects into paying customers. Most of the time your website will be part of that process, whether or not you urge buyers to go there directly. If you use some other response method, there’s a good chance they’ll check out your website first. And no matter how “sold” they may be when they arrive, a site with poor or irrelevant content will drive good buyers away.

What’s more, your website is your billboard. It’s out there working for you 24/7 as people search for products and services like yours. So no matter what else you do to promote your business, your website deserves to be the most important place you invest your marketing budget.

look before you upload

When I work on a new site or a major redesign, the first thing I look for is where an organization is positioned in the marketplace. I also want to know what their competitors are doing, talking about, and promoting. Surprising though it might seem, most people don’t actually think about this part of the process. They mainly ask “what will it look like?”, “how cool it will be?”, and the most common question: “when will it be done?”

But the value of a little advance planning shouldn’t be taken for granted. For example, a web developer once asked us to write content for the redesign of a rehabilitation center’s website. A study of their competitors’ sites, many of which were blatantly over-using keywords, made it easy to identify the markets they were chasing. This allowed the developer to more effectively distinguish the client from their competitors and take advantage of potentially valuable, yet untapped search opportunities.

copy isn’t the icing—it’s the CAKE

Many people focus on their site’s visual impact. That’s important, but the fact is this: if your content is poor, no one will care—or even know—how good it looks.

An effective website requires more than just a hip designer who builds an attractive shell with spaces for you to fill with content. That route looks deceptively cost-effective at first, but you’ll pay for it quickly because consumers will visit once and never return…if they find you at all.

But here’s what’s going to happen long before you get to that point.Your designer will deliver a great-looking container and say “okay, send me the content.” At that point the project will come to a dead stop. Months will go by and no progress will be made on the website.

Why? Because you have all your regular work to do. Most organizations simply can’t stop doing business while they take the time to do a website right. You can solve this problem two ways:

  1. Copy and paste a bunch of existing material that isn’t going to do the job, or
  2. Get someone who can take the time to write great content from an analytical perspective, whether you assign an in-house writer to the project or call for outside help.

breaking the content barrier

An effective site needs to be more than just “brochureware.” It’s not the same as writing an annual report or a letter to your shareholders. It’s a much, much bigger task and the content will be seen by a significant majority of your potential buyers. That’s why your site deserves a dedicated writer or staff.

Many organizations balk at producing a website this way, but it’s a huge mistake to undervalue the conversion value of good content. Resistance has been especially strong in the last five years, which have seen a lot of doubling up of roles in corporate America. People in other jobs who happen to have a bit of experience in writing are being tapped to build entire corporate identities. That might fill space on the page, but it won’t attract buyers.

What’s more, by the time you squeeze a full website of content out of someone who’s writing it as a secondary or even tertiary task, the cost can easily exceed what you would pay a professional to produce better results in far less time. On the flip side, simply duplicating your print copy will ensure thatyou’ll miss out on big interactive opportunities the web offers, from the ability to generate instant sales to leveraging efforts that get results andtrack what works in real time.

the site is up at last—what now?

You’re not done when you get all your content together and take it live. Having a website is a lot like having a pet—you don’t just bring one home and forget about it. It’s a living thing that needs to be fed, groomed, and cared for on a regular basis. Next month we’ll talk about how to keep a site fresh and keep buyers coming back for more.

need help getting started? we’re here for you.

Whole Brain Creative can help you launch or revive a content-focused website that delivers measurable results. We’ll help you build a site that looks and works great, eliminate content obstacles, and back up the whole process with strategic analysis that will help you get found and stay competitive. Call or email us for a no-obligation consultation: 503.325.4485 or [email protected]

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