It’s become a bit of a catchphrase hasn’t it? ‘Content is king’. Hmmm. Well, content is very important, if not vital, to the success of your online business. A website without useful content is a promise that doesn’t deliver. An intriguing book without a compelling story. A gorgeous partner who has nothing to say. Substance sells, especially in a highly competitive marketplace.
But important though it is, content does not deserve the crown.
As a copywriter who spends a lot of time writing website copy, I see the problem of the ‘content is king’ idea all the time. While it is great that expertly written and useful content is valued, it is not the one true answer to your online business woes. Content is one important piece of a framework that requires other, equally critical, pieces for it to work. So, here are five and a half reasons why strategy should be top of your list.
1. Performing to an empty theatre
If you want your content to win loyal customers then you need someone to receive your message. It doesn’t really matter how great your content is, someone needs to read it. And I’m afraid that fantastic content does not sprout legs and go viral of it’s own accord. You need a strategy for getting traffic to your content. Not just any old traffic, mind. That brings us on to our second point. (Although it’s so similar to the first it’s really only half a point).
1.5 Performing to the wrong theatre
This is a bit more difficult to determine, but if you are getting lots of traffic and no sales then you might not be getting the right kind of traffic. It’s a bit like putting on a production of ‘A Clockwork Orange’ but accidentally selling tickets to ‘Starlight Express’. Some people might like the alternative show, but a lot will leave. And quickly.
Getting the right people to your site is called getting ‘qualified traffic’ and it’s a lot better to get have hundreds of qualified visitors than thousands of unqualified ones. Imagine if your main traffic source was from a high performance sports car site and you sell environmentally friendly produced walking boots. Qualify your traffic.
2. Confusing signals
So, by now you’re sure that your healthy traffic levels are coming from qualified referral sources. You’re confident that your visitors are exactly the kinds of people your product is designed for. Still, your visitors are spending time on your site but they are not buying, despite looking at several pages each visit. Surely, this time, it must be down to lousy content.
It might be, but it also might be that your visitors are having trouble finding what they want. Or, they know what they want but on their way to the checkout they are ambushed by interesting but irrelevent content. They’ve had a great time, but they’ve forgotten why they are here. Game of Thrones is now on the telly, never mind.
Remember; one page to one outcome. Shortest possible path from product information to checkout. Don’t give your visitor the opportunity to become distracted and abandon the sale.
3. Being all things to all men
“If I could have lots of different products and information on my site, then I’ll appeal to a larger market and sell more. If I make my site too specific then I might lose sales”
To stand out online you need to have something that’s special about what you do or provide. It’s easier to come up with something unique if you have focussed your market down to somethig specific. Some people refer to this as finding your niche or USP (unique selling point) but it amounts to the same thing. If you try to be all things to everyone then your message will be diluted and you’ll sell to no-one.
4. No clear message
Online, you have a very short time to get your message across. Studies have shown that if a visitor doesn’t find some thing of interest within about 10 seconds then they’ll leave.
This might be down to a poor headline (content) but it also might be down to that flashing banner ad plastered across the top of the page. Make sure the first 10 seconds of a visit is used wisely and take the opportunity to tell your customer what you are all about and why you are the right place for them to be right now.
5. Poor Design
Oddly, some of the websites that look the most beautiful have the worst deisgn. I think this is a little like those poor dogs you see winning at Crufts. They look perfect but they can’t breathe or digest food properly.
Good design is about functionality. And while a website that is designed well will often look good, more importantly it will load quickly, have great userbility and make your content the star of the show. It will guide your visitors along your path, show them where to go next and politely take them from landing page to checkout with the minimum of pain.
Crown Website Strategy
So, there we have it. 5.5 reasons why putting your content on the throne will not be the best move for your online kingdom. Better to demote content to councillor, along with ‘design’ ‘traffic’ and ‘USP’. Then, give website strategy the crown. That’s your leader – operating with sound advice from the council chamber.