Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Let me tell you a story

Content is arguably the most important factor for a web site, or indeed for any form of marketing communication. But what makes good content?

There is typically much discussion and focus on the technical aspects of web sites, often in stark contrast to the effort spent in providing compelling content. For example non-technical people merrily debate the merits of rival content management systems whereas practical observation suggests that marketing people rarely actually use them. And although we provide systems for people to subscribe or unsubscribe from email lists it is surprising how often we are sent emails asking us as administrators to add or remove names. Content rather than technology alone is what can convert a visitor into a prospect and ultimately into a customer.

It is likely people visiting a web site for the first time will be in an early research stage of sourcing a product or service and probably relatively ignorant about the options, or what products they actually need to solve their problem or meet their requirements. For example they might have a need to measure something very accurately, perhaps in a hostile environment and only have a vague idea what devices or systems will help them achieve this. They may have considerable expertise in their own field and need to be in touch with similar experts in another field - in this case precision measurement. We have a client who does just this and for tim we have developed informational content that describes how their transducer products are applied in a whole range of measurement situations. This content does not spell out the detailed technical specification of a product at all. Instead the product is referenced as a means of solving a measurement problem and readers are invited to contact the engineering team for free advice in proposing solutions to their particular challenge. Of course the web site will also need to provide product specifications, but these are for a later stage in the sales cycle, once the prospect knows what equipment they will require. But without telling a story that describes a scenario they can identify with, it is unlikely they will have made the journey to get them looking at product details. They simply will not have known that is what they needed.

Of course telling a compelling story helps establish the company as an authority and expert in the field. By explaining what is needed, how it can be used and most importantly the benefits the product brings to the prospect, the company who has provided the essential education and perhaps demystified the industry jargon has put itself in the pound seats for when that prospect becomes a buyer. Merely talking about the company and setting out the products is not enough. Content that positions the company as a vendor that can benefit the visitor will not only help lead the visitor along the path to become a customer, but will be recognised by search engines to as providing relevant content.

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