Imagine you’re flicking through two car magazines at your local supermarket. You only have enough money for one and you don’t have a brand allegiance to either. Your buying decision is going to be based on the content you find within the pages you skim through. The trouble is, having good features and interesting stories is only half the job – the writing in that magazine needs to pop out at you and directly relate to you to earn its place in your shopping basket.
The same applies to online content. Whether you have a business website or are a blogger, your content MUST stand out from the crowd in order to engage your visitor.
That’s easier said than done though, isn’t it?
Here’s 8 practical and clever ways to achieve the content of dreams.
1. The compelling headline and the strong value proposition
Depending on the type of web page your content is on you are either going to have an article headline or a value proposition. Blog posts with have headlines and static pages will have a value proposition. If you note the headline of this blog post, I’m sure you’ll agree it’s pretty catchy. Now head on over to our services page and you’ll see a value proposition. The difference between the two is simple; a headline aims to get the visitor to read more and the value proposition aims to offer the potential customer an insight in to what they can expect from a company. Ensure that your headlines and value propositions are as concise and strong as possible.
2. Scannable content
We’re big fans of scannable content. Statistically, website visitors are more likely to skim a web page than they are to read a full paragraph of text. They’d rather just scroll down a web page and take in key phrases to get a general idea of what’s going on. Therefore, your content should be as scannable as possible. You can do this by using headings as used in this blog post, making use of bolds, italics, CAPITALS and underlining, and also by using numbers, bullet points and dashes (-). Be sure to ask a friend or even a complete stranger to browse your website and ask for their feedback on whether vital information is easy to decipher.
3. Cut out the fluff
I’m sure you will have come across an article within the past week which was so full of fluff It’d clog the belly buttons of every obese person on this planet. Fluffy content is bad practice as a writer because it’s plain lazy, and it’s bad practice for converting customers as it is never packed with vital information. Your content should be simple, tell your potential customers of the value your products / services can bring to them, and most importantly of all not bore them. You don’t have to write fluff even if you’re a bad writer. Simply start out your content with a point and stick to it.
4. Look, at the end of the day, clichés are lazy
Clichés are bad for website content. They’re overused and often misinterpreted. They can be lost in translation and they can offend people. If you need any other reason, here’s one; there is nothing a cliché can say that you can’t say better. Have faith in yourself and avoid using them.
5. Audio, video and images
The beauty of the internet is that you can communicate with your potential customers in exciting and new ways. Your content could be packed with podcasts which build on your topic, infographics which support your facts, and video (either branded or from an industry expert) to provide further information to visitors. By making use of media, you will open yourself up to a whole host of new customers who would rather visualize and hear content than read it.
6. Author profiles
If you operate a business blog or are a blogger, we can’t stress the importance of having an author profile. You could create the most ingenious article in the world which helps to find the final cure for a fatal disease, but nobody will know it came from you. Author profiles provide a direct human link between reader and writer. At the bottom of this post, and many posts on Content Hero, my author profile is visible. Continue the discussion by providing a Linkedin profile or Twitter link.
7. The opposing argument
People want to know why your products / services are better than others. They will, after finding that out, seek out your competitors products before finalizing their buying decision. If your content did a good job they’ll buy from you. You can help to maximise your chances by providing feature lists of what you can commonly expect from competitors versus your own offering. The same applies to blog posts; if you are arguing for or against something, provide links to blog posts which argue the other way. Not only will this show you did your research, but it will help your visitor by providing further reading and analysis.
8. Tell a story
Stories are awesome. They stand the test of time and can be adapted by anybody to suit a targeted demographic. The most powerful stories are those that are relevant to your audience. Whilst that’s pretty obvious, consider this; if you are trying to build a brand, telling a story that can be transformed by your reader to work for them is one of the single most powerful types of content on the planet. Tell a story by developing quirky tales from your company’s history, by listening to how your products have affected the lives of your customers, or go all out and tell a real life story that directly connects with your readers.