It was back in 1996 that Bill Gates wrote the essay ‘Content is King’ – if you are interested to read what he said this link should help His focus was on content as the ‘Product’ which generated revenue – and mainly from a B2C audience but the principle applies just as much to content as valuable Marketing collateral in a B2B environment. Let’s take a look at just how important the content of your site is in engaging your audience – not just now but into the future.
What is a Website?
In the ‘olden days’ (less than about 15 years ago!), for most businesses, the content was simply an electronic brochure, an on-line document you designed and published. Customers and prospects could view the website to read about the company, its products and services. Like a brochure it went out of date until, after 5 years or more, the MDs would decide enough was enough and a new website/brochure would be developed with updated content – but still a brochure. At the time, maybe this was OK. It was what people expected – but not any more.
Reflect Now not Then
One of the problems with brochures (and older websites) is that they quickly go out of date. Staff change, products and services develop, you may even start working in whole new markets. It is important that your website keeps up. You need to reflect how your business is now, not just how it was when the site was launched. Something as simple as a copyright symbol dated 2010 (or earlier!) is a real give-away that a site is not up to date. With the growth of Content Management it has become ever easier for at least basic changes to website content to be handled in-house. Even so, I still come across people who can’t get their site updated because they can’t get hold of the person who developed the site – the only person who has any access! Relying on external resources for any change to a website has another consequence – cost. A simple change that could easily be handled in house by even a basic content management system can cost £20, £50 or even more. It’s a catch 22 but if you want your website to work for your business, it must be up to date.
Content should be Dynamic
The development of interactivity on the internet means that a typical ‘brochure site’ just isn’t enough, even if it is up to date. To really help drive your marketing, your site needs to connect with your audience and position your company within your market. The content should be dynamic to allow your site visitors to engage with you, not just read your brochure. Here are a couple of examples:
Allow visitors to set preferences
By allowing visitors to choose which content they view your site will be more personal to them. By closely meeting their needs, they are more likely to do business with you.
Use News, blogs and social media to comment and invite response
If you regularly add new information and relevant articles, or comment on issues affecting your customers you demonstrate your expertise and connection with your markets. Even better, allow visitors to comment on what you write. When I first suggest this to clients they often feel very uncertain. We’ve all had customers where things don’t work out too well. What happens if they start leaving negative comments? First of all, the comments may be legitimate. If your service wasn’t up to your normal standard, you can reply to the comment. Be honest and acknowledge what happened but show how you have learnt and made changes to avoid the same problem in future. If the comment is malicious, you should always be able to remove it. With most comment systems there will be an option to allow you to moderate comments and check them out before they are published on your site. Don’t forget that including some slightly less complimentary comments can make your site more ‘real’ than a site that claims perfection.
Review your site
Just because your site is live and launched, don’t ignore it. Take a look at the content or, even better, get friends, family, work colleagues or clients to take a look and give you feedback. This ‘free market research’ can be immensely valuable and give real insight into how others see your business through your website. Try to take time to revisit your site at least once a quarter. If you have a blog or news section on your site, you will ideally be adding new posts or articles every week or two. Even so, don’t forget the rest of your web content. I recommend you spend a bit of time with your site every few months. You don’t necessarily need to change things if they don’t need changing. The aim is to ensure your site matches your business, and vice versa.
Don’t forget your content radar
Many people find coming up with new content a real challenge. You should always be on the lookout for new content. It can come from anywhere. Be on the lookout for:
- Case Studies
- News (company or industry)
- Hints and Tips
- White Papers or Technical Reports
Sometimes you may be inspired to write things yourself or other times don’t be afraid to refer to the work of others,just make sure you acknowledge the author and, if there is any doubt about whether you should use their work, check first. For more ideas on how to develop your content radar check out this post