By Steve Lazuka, Zerys for Agencies
People searching online have something in mind. They’re looking for information, or entertainment, or a great price, and your marketing content has to address that. But there’s more to it. We like to think we’re making just-the-facts purchasing choices, but the reality is that shopping is an emotional experience. Successful marketing content addresses that, too.
Have you ever walked into a shop, taken a quick look around, said to yourself “nothing here for me,” and walked out? Of course you have. The shopkeeper had a chance to convert you from a window-shopper to a customer, but they lost you right off the bat. Probably forever.
Maybe they did have something you wanted, but that wasn’t immediately apparent to you. Or their greeting was too pushy. Or non-existent. Or the store looked cluttered instead of inviting. Maybe all the above. It just didn’t seem to offer the right shopping experience.
Your website is your “content store.” The experience matters.
How we feel about where we’re shopping is just as important as what we’re shopping for, whether that’s searching for information online or buying something in a store. Neither superior SEO nor fabulous content will do you any good if your website doesn’t feel like a good fit when prospects get there.
A visually junky site is confusing and off-putting, whereas an inviting presence promotes trust. What kind of user experience are you offering?
These practical tips can help ensure your website is truly friendly:
- Use a personal greeting – “Welcome, Marianne.”
- Graphics and images should support your content, not be pointless or distracting.
- Navigation should be obvious and easy, encouraging for visitors to take the next step to engage further with you
- Include a search bar. If people can’t quickly find what they want, at least they’ll be able to look for it rather than just leaving.
- No mistakes! You can’t project authority with misspellings and incorrect grammar.
- Use internal links so visitors can instantly get more detailed information. Use a new window to open outside links, so visitors don’t leave your site.
Mobify says 27% of searchers are using smartphones or tablets, and some sources indicate mobile will be the number one search mode within another year or so. You simply must provide a hospitable search experience for both smartphones and tablets. Optimize for them so they get incremental content, with quick-touch ability to show more. Use buttons large enough to tap. And 14-pt font large enough to see.
Your “merchandise” – marketing content – has to be user-friendly, too.
Use a consistent voice, one that reflects your company and industry so it feels comfortable. Use action verbs that motivate people to take the next step, and specific calls to action – with an obvious place to click – so they can easily follow up.
Use short paragraphs separated with sub-heads, and bulleted lists, so it’s super-easy for visitors to scan your content. And don’t overdo keyword density. Content that reads like a computer translation destroys credibility instead of building it.
Understand which formats your audience prefers. Would they rather read something, watch a video, peruse some photos? Do they like charts and graphs? That depends on who they are, where they are in their individual buying cycle, and to some extent what it is you do or sell. Don’t forget you have several different types of customers, so you have to direct content to each of your audiences separately. Tailoring assures relevance.
Of course your content has to be relevant, informative, useful or interesting. Sometimes fun is good, too. Timeliness matters, but enduring information has value, too, and you won’t have to refresh it so often. Longer-lasting content can be shared more times over more time, too. In fact, marketing content that’s irresistibly sharable goes the farthest – literally – making it most valuable for you as well as your audience.
Don’t underestimate the value of analytics.
Information is power. In this case, the power to know whether all that marketing content you’re creating is actually attracting and engaging the right folks. Or generating sales.
Analytics can help ensure you’re using the right distribution channels, critical since not every social media platform makes sense for every business. Analytics can help you tweak your marketing content, so you’re presenting the best and best-targeted material. Analytics can even help you improve your website’s presentation characteristics.
You’ve heard it before: think like your customer. Do that, and you’ll create and present marketing content that keeps them coming back.
Steve Lazuka is the founder of Interact Media, creators of the Zerys Content Marketplace and Zerys for Agencies content marketing platforms. Follow Steve @SteveLazuka.
Zerys is a powerful content project management tool and writer marketplace that makes it simple to manage any content project from start (strategy planning) to finish (auto-publishing). Zerys for Agencies is a custom, private-labeled solution that allows agencies to manage all their clients’ content projects from one, simple dashboard. Zerys was founded in 2008, and is now used by thousands of businesses and hundreds of marketing agencies.
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