There’s a myth that failed content can be blamed on brands only conveying what they want, and conversely, that successful content is accomplished solely by intuiting what audiences want to hear.
The thing is, content isn’t so black and white – especially on the web – which is what makes it so disarming to begin with. But it’s also what makes it so flexible, versatile and imperative to an extraordinary web strategy.
Truth is, handling content is easy to do wrong. And it’s easy to do wrong because there’s no concrete way of doing it right.
While the belief of a “right way” makes content strategy easier to talk about, it’s misleading and borders on being outright deceitful. Dozens of articles oversimplify, and so deflate, the effort required to manage content properly – and doing it wrong can cost you more than time and money, repelling the exact users you’ve set out to court.
B2C audiences are admittedly a little more approachable, often leaving B2B businesses feeling relatively unimpressive when it comes to mastering content. Let's look at how to defang content, not through marking out “easy wins” (which are often neither as easy nor as winning as they’re made out to be) but rather by identifying strengths particular to B2B.
The Importance of Being Perfect
Communication challenges are but one difficulty posed to any business. In marketing, we’re committed to the suspicious praxis of informing, entertainment, intrigue, persuasion and salesmanship – all of which require a certain amount of clarity and tact to succeed.
Nailing communication can mean the difference between being heard and being ignored. It isn’t about being the loudest, but perhaps instead the most articulate, concise and user-centered. Increasingly, perfection is becoming expected from users – though is often fallen short of. Communicating effectively means:
- Stitching together the brand vision.
- Enriching the texture of your messaging.
- Focusing on the user’s course through a string of ideas.
More plainly, these considerations mean knowing what you want to say, saying it the best way possible, and making sure that whoever is receiving your messages can clearly follow the points you hope to get across.
How do you ensure that your content’s stars are aligning? The question isn’t simple, and the answer shouldn’t be either.
Know Thy User
How difficult is it to communicate effectively with people you know intimately? Now, how are you supposed to communicate with people you don’t know at all? Surprisingly, the latter seems more plausible in this day and age.
Conducting user research is no small task, but sketching a thorough portrait of potential partners is imperative to the success of your content strategy.
Most businesses take confidence in gradually accrued and unofficial insights into their user base. Without diligent research to support these impressions, you risk compiling an incomplete persona – one lacking vital and almost imperceptible user needs.
- Interview the client stakeholders to learn about existing users.
- Leverage complimentary web analytics tools to investigate their vocabularies.
- Jot down use cases and activity flows to better understand their behaviors.
These explorations will better tailor your content, paving paths for users to take – paths that imitate and so support the ways in which people think through information.
Steadfast Content, It Works
“Content” is often bound up in content marketing, which is great if you’re trying to improve your brand’s visibility or authority within your industry. But sometimes that isn’t what you’re going for. “Clarifying navigation” or “improving search” are also content-based concerns.
It’s better to first define business objectives, not jump the gun on “going viral” (yeugh!). From there, delineate tactics to achieve these goals. A good starting place is to:
- Flip as many soft aspirations into rock-solid success criteria.
- Hone this criteria so it is measurable as possible.
- Employ web analytics to monitor conversions and track signups.
In defining success metrics and performing follow-up analyses, there are few excuses for having negligible or “fatty” content. Trim, iterate, perfect – most importantly, have your content shine brighter than your competitor’s.
Beyond Catchy Copy
While unbeatable copy can help define unique selling propositions, improve click-through rates and even increase on-page SEO value, content goes beyond a series of well-placed or well-researched words.
Content, in all its shapes and forms, thrives best when executed properly – like a child, it craves attention. Like a child, it looks to meet expectations set out before it – intuited by your users. And like a child, content is still very much a youngster: the more we play around with it, the more we learn – wide-eyed all the while.
Perhaps guest blogging, infographic dissemination, or viral vlogging aren’t the solutions your B2B business needs in order to excel. It’s better to realize this early on, instead of being caught up in rudimentary content strategy trends. More content than ever before is being published online and, the way things are going, there’s no slowing down – it’s critical that yours remains afloat.
Though there is no sole correct way to deploy content strategy, there are ways of leading the blind. When possibilities are seemingly endless, excitement, incertitude, or disorientation can stunt your business’ growth. Instead, take charge of content from the ground up: understand what you need to accomplish and take the necessary steps to hit the ball out of the park.
How do you ensure that your content’s stars are aligning? The question isn’t simple, but the answer might be more manageable than you imagine.
Early Bird Rates have been extended!
June 12-14, 2013: Join industry experts at SES Toronto for a crash course in the latest strategies in Online Marketing and Advertising.
Save $300 when you register by Thursday, May 23.