Whether you’re writing a blog entry, a branded article, a how-to, or even a PDF it’s essential to ensure that each piece of content you create can deliver your business goals. But what criteria can you apply before you publish to best ensure that the ultimate goal will be achieved? As I thought about this topic, I started putting together a checklist that quickly exceeded 30 items. While there are lots of detailed factors to consider, I felt that most of these could be reduced to a few simple guiding goals.
Reaching your customers is perhaps the most important requirement. Without reach, everything else crafted perfectly just won’t matter. Reach really boils down to who and how. Who is your content designed to reach? How will your customer find it?
Properly designed content must reach your customers. For web content, SEO is of course a primary factor to consider. Your content should be targeted to specific keywords that have a sufficient search volume for you to attract your target audience.
For all content types, it’s critical to consider the question of who. Content should be targeted for specific buyer or consumer personas. This topic is often overlooked since it can be a time-consuming process to develop personas. However, weigh the risks of investing in content that simply doesn’t match who you want as a consumer.
Relevance is perhaps one of the most difficult things to define. There’s a lot of confusing literature, which tends to get more philosophical in nature. I find it easier to rely on a more computer science based definition of relevance. From Wikipedia:
“Relevance most commonly refers to topical relevance or aboutness, i.e. to what extent the topic of a result matches the topic of the query or information need.”
The critical words here are “match” and “need”. How close does your content match the need that your target customer is searching for? It’s not just a question of general importance, it’s a question of importance with your customer’s search. There’s an enormous amount of great content available, but not all of it is important to your customer. It’s a classic mistake to blindly re-apply some content you may have found in your archives to your content marketing initiatives just because it’s “good” content. You run the risk of being irrelevant to your customer and also diluting what other relevant content you may have.
It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Your content must provide actual value to your consumer. Valuable content will educate, inform, make life better, or simply provide a smile. It’s not enough to simply attract your customer to your content, you need to reward their visit with something of value. Not providing something valuable at this stage runs the risk of actually damaging your brand’s image. Make your content valuable.
This is the end goal! It’s simply not enough to reach your target customer with relevant and valuable content. It’s customers that pay the bills. What defines a customer certainly varies, it could be a subscriber to your Email newsletter, a registration, a repeat viewer, or someone who will buy your product.
The delicate matter here is how you approach conversion. This may sound strange, but in my opinion you should never include conversion calls within your content. This makes it sound cheap and can deflate any value you may have provided. Don’t include a cheesy “brought to you by” or anything overt within your content. Conversion is better met by the surrounding framework of your content. This can be a simple call to action on a right panel of your web page or simply a branded page. The best policy is to tread lightly, but make sure you can meet your business goals.