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The importance of visitor-oriented online content on your website

1st Dec 2009
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When marketers talk about online communication, it is often about campaign strategies, tactical approaches and platforms that help them to reach their customers and prospects the best way possible in order to turn them into loyal, active and participating customers or even into ‘brand advocates’.

We think communication is about much more than reach and ‘push’ but increasingly about guiding customers and prospects through their buying processes where our role is to provide them the right messages at the right time.

But of course this does not mean that marketing, communication and advertising are only about that.

There still is a lot of seeding, pushing and trying to reach anonymous customers to do, especially in some phases of the buying cycle, in ‘intensive’ B2C marketing environments and so on. Attention, Interest, Desire, Action, remember.

As well in B2C as in B2B sales and marketing, these days corporate websites and product websites play a significant role.

Websites as information enablers

They enable customers and prospects but also ‘non-commercial’ customers such as future employees, business partners, investors, the press, and so on, to find the information they are looking for themselves.

These websites thus have become ‘information enablers’ that are there when the ‘ecosystem’ (customers, investors, employees, whatever) of our company needs the information they hold. Of course that ‘ecosystem’ first needs to know the information and website exist and find it but now we’re talking search engine marketing and many topics that we would like to talk about later.

By using web analytics, newsletter registration forms, password-protected sections for some target groups and other online tools, we can collect anonymous but also personal data about the visitors to our websites, in order to follow them up further along their individual road or, if that is not possible yet, by working with visitor segments.

A matter of the right language

Visitors to our websites are people of flesh and blood. They talk to other people, they take hundreds of decisions every day and thousands of feelings rush through their head. In all these activities, there is something in common: language. People talk and even think in ‘language’. Language is so important that we even call the gestures we make and our physical attitude language: body language.

On the internet it’s not different: the mails we send, the sites we visit, the decisions we take to buy a product etc.: language and words play a crucial role. One example: the decision to buy a product on an e-commerce site for instance may depend on seemingly insignificant details such as the right words with which the product is described and even that one word on that particular call-to-action 'button' on our website.

It is therefore surprising that in the creation process of websites, online campaigns etc. the ‘words’, known as the (written) ‘online content’ often come in the last place. Sometimes, online content is even disregarded completely and becomes a last-minute job for someone who wouldn’t recognize good (read: effective) online content if it bit him in the nose.

A poorly and ineffectively ‘written’ website has an adverse impact on the efficiency of the website. Moreover, it also gives a negative impression of the brand behind it. Without good ‘content’ a website is an empty box.

Of course in this era of fast broadband connections and multimedia we are increasingly seeing other emerging forms of content: video, ingenious applications, images etc. They obviously also play an important role but, even then, the WWW is still predominantly a textual media and human communication, online or not, remains primarily a matter of language.

What is ‘good’ content?

The question that arises of course is ‘what is good written content?’. The answer is simple: it is relevant, visitor-oriented (and thus customer-centric), it complies with what we know about how people ‘read’ online (in fact they don’t really read) and most of all: it is written in the language and words of the various target audiences that visit our websites. We communicate in a human way, preferably even in a different tone, depending on the visitor segments / target audiences / subscribers of our websites. And of course: corporate speak should really be avoided.

Although this answer is simple, it hides a lot of complex questions to deal with and I would like to address them in the future. But one thing is certain: if your website does not offer the content that is fit for the individual visitor of your website, regardless what he is looking for or regardless where he is (in the case of a customer) in the buying process, your website will generate poor results.

And it’s not only about the content itself: it’s also about the way you serve it, how you guide your customers and visitors to the right content for them on your website and using the right words at the right time.

Jean-Paul De Clerck is a 360° interactive marketing consultant, founder of the Fusion Marketing Experience and owner of conversionation. You can connect with him via Twitter.


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