In Connect magazine, marketing expert Chris Journeaux delves deeper into the subject of content, and how to make sure a website is engaging, interesting and also able to generate readers.
"Steve Krug said it best in his book, Don't Make Me Think!, when he mused on the best approach to a website: “Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what's left.”
"Content may well be king, but try to avoid ramming that fact down the throats of your users. So many homepages reek of the kind of self-satisfied bilge that makes me want to retch. I can see the author sat behind their keyboard, the kind of smug smile that encourages violence playing across their lips, delighted at just how clever they have been. So clever that they barely notice their bounce rate spiral beyond funny, and potential customers fleeing with the fear of verbiage propelling them on to the competition.
"Let’s peel this back a bit. What was it you wanted to achieve? If your ambition rested happily in impressing colleagues with quantity and jargon, jump off my page now. There is nothing to help you within this column. Go on in your cycloptic pursuit of the perfect semantic climax. What you should want is content that generates readers, users even, to engage with you, your website and your business. So, stop being clever and explore what your customers might actually want.
"From where do we gain insight into what they desire? Starting with the obvious and working backwards, that means stating who you are. What is your business? Unless you are recruiting for MI6, the answer should not involve the high-level code cracking of Bletchley Park fame. Make it bold and clear using a designer who is not intent on shouting about their creative flare. Then move on to consider what you want from the customer visit to your webpage. Even the e-commerce sites need this: connectivity. The sale is great, but where is your lifetime customer value if you hold focus on the transaction? Get your social media icons up there on the page, bold and loud, not buried in the foothills of the screen. Get contact, encourage engagement and that means LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and email. Whatever works for them.
"Now to the content. Again, keep it succinct and to the point. Help Google to find you and deliver value and relevance to your customers from the start of the web journey with you. Navigation bars that are a maximum of five categories long and quick options to flow through your website to where they want to be. I know the CEO and department heads are bleating, along with your dodgy and slightly disappointing design agency, about the need to list everything. Ignore them. Hold focus on your poor customers and their need to find what it is they were searching for.
"Use easy to recognise words. Don’t think like an expert, think like a search criteria. Consider that potential customer, using two or three words to summon up all the web options for their Google moment. This will also help you remove the jargon. Now is not the time for professional crises, that find you actually work in a supremely penetrable industry. Nothing is that complex. Ask a lawyer after a few glasses, and even they will ‘fess up that some fairly intellectually unimpressive staff darken their corridors. Help the process of being found.
"Once you have that perfect homepage, it is time to let it go. You have brought into the world something glorious, but it is not the panacea to all your online needs. Having prodded to life a customer-base with a well written and insightful Pulse post through LinkedIn, you have them in the palm of your sweaty, and over-eager, hand.
"You know now is the time to send them to your website, where you can secrete them away from the prying eyes of the competition. So, where do you send them with the Pulse hyperlink at the end of the article? Dammit you fool, the click went to that beautiful homepage. Now is the time to embrace the splash page, the online welcome mat that chimes with the article, takes the reader on through the customer journey you have created. They have no interest in your team, (especially the witty shots…everyone is laughing at you by the way), nor do they want to hear about the relisting with Legal 500 or Cityweath Leaders List. They want what they came for, substance, and that requires sending them to a page dedicated to the same topic they sought. See, simple isn’t it.
"To end a quick word or two about ‘stickability.’ Be interesting and relevant. Done."
You can read the digital edition of Connect here.
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