Content marketing has the potential to be one of the most powerful and productive methods available to online merchants for attracting customers and making sales. Yet it is also the most under-utilized and inappropriately executed online marketing techniques, teamed up with SEO – it can be a incredible force.
Understanding how to use content marketing appropriately and then implementing it correctly is one of the most valuable skills you can have in the world of internet sales and advertising. Copy-driven marketing is far more effective than banner advertisements and even things like Google Ads and Google Shopping which are the most popular methods for making money through ad revenue. The money you make from such ads might be enough to tide you over, it may even be quite lucrative if you have a lot of traffic, but it still will only be effective on a small percentage of people who visit your page. When the article itself is the advertisement, you should find you get far more positive responses to your efforts.
Some of the reasons why content marketing isn’t being used more effectively include:
- Writing good copy is a skill, and not everyone can do it
- Site owner doesn’t want to invest appropriately (time or money) into developing the site
- Failure to understand the value of content marketing vs banner ads
- Nonsensical advice from “marketing experts” who claim users are lazy, don’t want to read, etc.
Most of what people say about website users is a lot of generalist garbage. Users viewing sites in controlled environments do not provide completely accurate research results because they’re not acting out of their own interest, they’re performing a task under instruction, with certain expectations already in place.
If web users were completely honest about their experience interacting with corporate sites when they’re thinking of making a purchase (and obviously this is the moment when that user is of the highest value to you), their number one complaint would not be any of the things you hear from these “experts”. It will be that the website they are browsing is not informative enough and doesn’t go into enough detail to really help the customer with their decision.
Other complaints will be that the site is difficult to navigate, hard to understand, contains errors, or is difficult to use. Those are all valid concerns that need to be addressed, but by far the three biggest mistakes that corporate sites make are:
- Skimping on details
- Hiding the cost of good and services
- Using tricks to make the consumer do something they did not intend
The third item is so obviously something you shouldn’t be doing that there’s no need to talk about it. If you’re one of those who likes to hide your price, you should know it is costing you potential customers. Now of course there are some circumstances where a business maybe does everything on a fully bespoke basis, with no definite locked in price. In such cases it should still be possible to provide examples and ballpark ranges so customers can make some kind of estimate, with the option to contact you for a more accurate quote. When requesting a quote is the only option you provide, most customers won’t bother because:
- It introduces a delay to their information gathering process
- They may subsequently feel awkward about backing out
- There are plenty of other sites to visit that fearlessly show prices
The above advice is geared more towards those who have something to sell. If your business model is more about driving people to making purchases from others, then you don’t have to worry too much about the issue of price, although it’s certainly something that can be worth mentioning in an article (make sure the article has a date so the consumer has a proper understanding of how old any mentioned prices are).
In both cases (both for sellers and for publishers) the first and most important point about not skimping on details is equally valid. Neither type of site can afford to do this without repercussions, and the truth is there are many serious advantages to giving as much detail as possible.
If you’re not naturally good at writing, you should seriously consider employing somebody who is. And that doesn’t mean buying from content mills that pay writers 2 cents per word to churn out drivel, it means hiring a serious writer who loves whatever it is you are selling, loves writing, and above all has talent for writing well. If they can pitch the sale through the medium of a story, so much the better.
You certainly never should resent paying for quality content because that is a solid investment. It will return well above what it costs to produce, as long as your site is actually good enough to attract visitors and they can find you. The good part is that if you have a lot of content, it’s of high quality, and it’s at least interesting to some people, you will rise to the top by natural ascendancy.
Quality content is what earns likes and shares. It’s what gets people talking. It’s what helps to elevate your site in search engine rankings. It helps to build trust with the readers, and it wins you the hearts of those who have been frustrated by their experience on other sites that don’t care enough to provide the detail the readers want.
Content marketing isn’t just about the written word. Relevant images and video can still have an important role to play, as long as they are complementing the textual information available and are not acting as a replacement for it. Ideally you should have a good combination of well written text content, useful and informative images, and professionally produced scripted video that reinforces the site’s message and hopefully has viral marketing potential. Get this combination right and you’ll be an unstoppable force.
To put it in perspective, if your business sells USB flash drives, any consumer searching for “usb flash drives for sale” will be presented with a list of around 2.5 million sites to choose from. Nobody is realistically going to look at all 2.5 million sites, so if you want to get noticed, you have to be one of the best. How do you do that? Simple – you provide great content, sufficient detail, and an enjoyable UX from end to end.