You can dress it up all you want, but at the end of the day this whole online marketplace runs on one thing: content. You’re selling cars? You need content. Mowing lawns? You need content. Cutting hair? You need content. Also scissors, presumably.

Whether it’s engaging customers online or keeping your business at the top of the SEO heap, a steady stream of enjoyable, actionable content is crucial. Not just on occasion, but several times a week or daily if at all possible. It can take a lot of effort, so you need to be sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck when crafting content.

The Path from Content to Cha-Ching

You begin by realizing one crucial mistake most businesses make: content is not always an advertisement. Yes, the ultimate goal is to get the customer to purchase your goods or services, but the path from content to cha-ching is not always a straight line.

What you ultimately want to do with your content is give the customer something interesting, informative, valuable and actionable.

Be interesting

This is where you dangle the hook. Above all else, you need to give your customers something they will enjoy reading or viewing. Easier said than done, right? Well it starts off with an idea. If you need help priming the pump on a killer idea for content that will match your company’s voice, strategy and brand, check out this helpful guide to 101 Blog Post Ideas. Ok, so there are some odd choices in there (Start a conspiracy theory, post an obvious lie), but here and there are some ideas worth adapting to your needs.

Offer value

Contest, tutorials, analyzing a topic that’s big in your industry…all of these have the potential to hook your audience and begin the process of creating customers. It’s during this part of the process that you establish your content as informative and valuable.

View it from the user perspective: will the subject be something they’ll click on out of curiosity, because it interests them? Will it be something they click on to educate themselves, hoping you can impart some wisdom on them? You need to be able to answer yes to at least one of those questions.

Once you have your topic, it’s time to start crafting your words. And here, we can offer you a few style pointers.

  • To begin with, don’t stray too far into industry jargon or complicated phrasing. To quote Mark Twain, “Don’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do.” Your audience wants to read something simple and conversational.
  • There are free tools out there that you can use, such as Readable, that let you copy and paste text to be graded based on readability. The previous tip earned an A, although it was docked for using a long word like “conversational,” and the analyzer took issue with Mr. Twain’s use of the word “when” for some reason. You can call it the dumbing-down of the English language all you want, but page views don’t lie.
  • Ultimately, your content should be easy to skim and easy to digest.

Drive action

At the end of the day, what are you trying to do with your content? Drive engagement, right? So how do you do that? By giving your audience something they can engage with.

That can be as simple as encouraging your audience to like, share, subscribe and comment (something you’ll see in literally every YouTube video ever). There are also subtle ways to engage your audience that can be ingrained in the format of the content itself.

Check out this interactive infographic called “The Water We Eat.” As the user scrolls, they are given more and more bite-sized pieces of information. It may seem counterintuitive to make the user work to keep going through content (just look at the comments of any slideshow posted to Facebook) but in this case it takes so little to simply scroll and learn more that users wind up being hooked through to the end.

But the real kicker lies at the end, and the prominent placement of the Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google + and email share icons at the end of the scroll. Here’s where we see the value of the call-to-action (CTA).

In the case of your business, you have a golden opportunity here to tie the expertise illustrated in your content into your expertise as a business. Along with the CTAs to share on social media, include a direct link to your landing page, enticing your audience to go right to the source of this wisdom. Here you’ll want to use language that nurtures an urge to learn more (“Want to find out more about your car’s resale value? Talk to our experts!”), presents a problem and positions your business as the solution (“If crabgrass is ruining your yard, turn to our experts for a lush green lawn”), or otherwise evokes curiosity (“Is your face the wrong shape for your haircut? Let us help you find out?”).

Ultimately, a good call-to-action does all three.

Want to learn more about content that works?

Is your content not performing like it should and you need expert advice on fixing it? Curious about how content can help market your business online? Give us a call at 904-359.4318, or fill out our contact form.

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