Want a Competitive Advantage? Create Meaningful content
We live and work on a web that is full of data from the latest crude prices to obscure building materials, and almost all of these sites have some sort of blog, newsletter, newsfeed, etc. Even as you read this, chances are someone else is reading or writing something similar in content. However, as anyone who has done a search for something complex can tell you, not everything that is published is worth reading.
The rallying cry, “Content is King!” was wholeheartedly adopted by those trying to market a business online; but here we are several years later, and what passes for “content” is often nothing more than a few paragraphs stuffed with keywords. There is nothing of value in this type of content: it is a poor attempt to trick search engines into ranking the content well in search results. Alas, too many marketers haven’t caught on to the fact that the days of tricking Google are over. And so are the days of cranking out poor content and winning new customers or prospects as a result.
Meaningful Content vs. “Just” Content
Suppose you were looking for an industrial, high performance grease for centrifugal pumps. You do a search and one of the top results is “Best 5 Pump Greases”. Sounds good enough, right? Then you open it to find it reads much like the labels and branding of the grease manufacturers themselves, not to mention they are ranked alphabetically. In short, it’s nothing but a copy and paste job by someone who has no personal experience with any of the greases they claim to be worthy of being touted as “the best 5”. What is the likelihood you ever visit this site again?
Providing meaningful content is even more important for industrial B2B’s who are often appealing to a more technical audience. Chances are someone ending up on your site via a blog post is looking for specific, expert data to guide them in making purchasing decisions. Some examples are topics like: the pros and cons of the materials your goods are fabricated from; case studies with real data showing how your product or service solved problems potential customers also encounter; or unbiased comparisons of competing products that have slightly different features/advantages. Outsourcing your content development to a firm that doesn’t know much about your business or the industrial world of marketing in general or having someone in-house who is unqualified create it can actually cost your company business. Your content is competing in a sea of similar content: today, only MEANINGFUL content is king.
Traits of Meaningful Content
Few companies can consistently produce content that scores high on all fronts; but if you strive to create meaningful content, it should possess at least a few of the following attributes:
- Commands the reader’s attention
- Educates or informs
- Moves prospects further in their buying journey
- Offers solutions to common problems within your customer base
- Challenges common ways of thinking
- Encourages the reader to take a specific action
- Moves a one-project customer to become a long term one – and even act as an ambassador for your brand
Google vs. Your Customers
In a Catch 22, marketers and business owners often find themselves wondering who to put first: Google – the site that is used most often to grade and rank their content, or customers – those who actually make or influence purchasing decisions.
Just remember that the team at Google (and all their high tech algorythms) do not know your area of expertise: you do. Search engines can only look for your keyword or keywords in titles, header tags, meta data, etc. Just meet these basic requirements and then freely share your expertise as you see fit. And be warned if you put Google too far ahead of your customers, you may lose both. Overuse of certain keywords or keyword phrases is a signal to both Google AND your customers that you are not writing to provide the information your customers need. You are writing to try and outsmart Google.
What Makes Content Bad?
So why are we inundated today with so much shabby content? There are many reasons, including companies that outsource to overseas firms, some of whom will write an entire blog post for $5 to $10. Seriously? Cliché though it may be: you get what you pay for. Many fine freelance writers and marketing firms are available locally and are well suited if you’re looking for well written “fluff”. But for those of you running an industrial B2B, fluff won’t cut it. Worse still, once a business acquires a reputation for shallow content, it is that much harder to undo the damage.
Ways to Make Content Meaningful
In addition to stating an expert opinion, presenting a case study, or freely giving out tips or techniques that you could probably charge for, there are a few ways to develop meaningful content in a way that gets a user’s attention:
- Does your content have a tight focus? Will it speak directly to at least a portion of your target audience? For example, compare “Centrifugal Pump Troubleshooting – How to Overcome Common Problems in Refineries” – to simply “Centrifugal Pump Troubleshooting”.
- Are you presenting ideas that are seldom discussed within the ranks of your target customers – or even challenging conventional thinking on topics that ARE often discussed?
- Was something attention grabbing shared such as a new study, statistic, video, or 3D animation?
- Does the topic fit within the realm of your expertise? When it does, the writing seems effortless – to both the author and the reader.
- Is the content strategic in reaching and pleasing the users to the site? Remember, there are very different content needs early in the buying cycle as opposed to the point where someone is ready to talk to a sales person.
- Does the content still conform to Google standards, i.e. not too long/short, images and video size, page loads, etc.?
In a crisis of meaningless content drowning out the meaningful, users (potential customers) are becoming better at spotting it. As time washes away those who continue to churn out fluff, only the companies who incorporate quality into their content and give readers what they NEED will be standing when the dust settles. We’d like to help you fit into that latter category. Contact us today so we can meet and discuss a content marketing strategy for your company!