No man is an island, entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main.
The Internet and the Web are all about connections.
Computers are connected to local and wide area networks. Web pages are connected to other web pages and to a website as a whole.
The most important connection, however, is the human connection. That is as true in the online world as it is in the offline world.
People can now connect through digital technology that allows communication across distances both large and small.
This same technology has changed how businesses reach and influence buyers online.
In the old days, marketers relied on one-way, interruptive advertising to reach mass audiences for single purchases.
Now, technology allows content marketers to use two-way communication with individuals based on permission. The goal is to build relationships that lead to repeat buyers and loyal customers.
Relationships are your most important business asset
Your business has many assets, both tangible and intangible. Web content is an important business asset. I have described it as the Holy Grail of content marketing.
But since the customer is king, there is a less tangible asset that is more important than your content for business success. And that is the relationships you develop with your customers.
Consider the type of relationship traditional marketers have with buyers. The relationship is tenuous at best because it is based on a transaction. Instead of bonding with individual customers, marketers are more interested in branding and reaching market segments.
The basis of content marketing, on the other hand, is conversation. Marketers strive to create an emotional bond with individual customers, rather than going after the one-time sale. This human connection is both more enjoyable and more profitable.
The fundamentals of content marketing
Content marketing on the web is essentially relationship marketing. It’s not about the technology; it’s about making connections with other people. To do that successfully, you must create web content that is engaging.
Remember the working definition of engaging web content from lesson one. Your goal is to get people to know, like, and trust you so they will be more inclined to buy from you. Let’s review the fundamentals of content marketing that make this happen.
Focus on the customer as an individual
Your journey begins with the customer. In today’s digital economy, the customer rules. Your goal as an online marketer is to get the right message to the right person at the right time.
You can get the message and the timing right, but if you aim for the wrong target, all is for naught. Remember, content is still important, but it isn’t enough to get the job done.
Have a conversation with your ideal customer
At the heart of engaging web content is a personal conversation with your ideal customer. Get that right, and the rest will follow.
Remember, it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. And how you say it will vary to fit the different kinds of conversations you will have.
When your readers arrive at your website, they start a conversation in their mind. Your job is to understand what they want to talk about.
Listen more than you talk
“We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Wise council for digital marketers trying to know and understand their customers.
If you are going to communicate effectively with your site visitors, you must learn what they want and need. That means asking the right questions and using online tools to work smarter, not harder.
Make a good first impression
You never have a second chance to make first impression. This is even more true on the web than in the offline world.
When a visitor arrives on your website, the number one question in his mind is: “What’s in for me?” Your job is to answer that question as concisely as possible with a value proposition that communicates what you offer and why someone should buy from you.
Communicate your value clearly
Your value proposition must be stated clearly. Your readers must get what your website is about in a matter of seconds.
Confusion is the enemy of engagement. If you confuse your readers, you lose them. Remember that clarity is more important that persuasion.
Ensure a positive experience for your website visitors
Usability can have a dramatic effect on engagement and conversions. A website with a poor user experience will make your content less engaging. Your conversion rate will also suffer, leading to lower sales and profits.
Refer to the website usability checklist included with this online course to make sure your website delivers a positive user experience and supports engagement.
Mind your manners at all times
Being courteous and doing the right thing online is just as important as it is in the offline world. Your reputation and your online business depend on it.
As an digital marketer who has adopted a publishing model, you must be aware of certain laws related to libel, privacy, and copyright. Seek the advice of a qualified attorney if you need legal help.
Earn the permission of your readers
Permission must be earned with engaging content. A challenging task, but one worth making the effort. It is the beginning of a profitable relationship with your customers.
There are many advantages to taking this marketing approach. Not only will you save time and money, you will also increase conversion, build customer loyalty, and enhance your reputation.
Tell them a great story
Once you have permission to market to your readers, you can send them marketing messages that tell a story. Storytelling is an essential method to engage your readers and drive them to action.
You can learn from scholars of mythology and screenwriters of blockbuster movies how to write great stories that resonate with your readers. And you may even learn something from humble marketing consultants.
Make a personal connection
In traditional marketing, the marketing mix is used to plan how to reach buyers with the four Ps: product, price, place, and promotion.
But something is missing. We must include a fifth P: people. Like the Dow Chemical commercial, the missing element is the human element.
The lesson here for you is that content marketing begins and ends with the customer. You have thus come full circle in your journey to discover how to write engaging web content.
As your teacher and mentor, I have tried to connect with you, the reader, through a series of lessons. I hope this course has been both educational and entertaining.
But the end of this course is just the beginning. There is more to learn and more to do. If you have questions about web content or need help improving the performance of your website, contact me today about my web writing services.
Image: Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem (author’s collection)