Developing Content Isn’t A Choice: It’s Core To Digital Marketing

Businesses and marketers continue to misunderstand how to effectively leverage the web for increasing returns on traffic and leads month over month.  They place too much emphasis on a limited amount of static web pages and mentally put each one on a pedestal.  Change a product page!?  What? We can’t do that.  Okay, we can make a tweak – but hold on while that goes through our 5 layer approval process designed during a pre-internet world.  And each little change is held under microscopic scrutiny, as if that overly refined page is the only thing that sells the product.

Adding totally new content is even trickier for many.  It is just not part of their plan to continually add valuable, unique and interesting content to their site monthly to increase their digital footprint.  This reality is surprising considering it’s 2010, and many share case studies and successes publicly of how valuable adding content to your site can be.  It’s an obvious way to leverage the web and not a new idea at all.

Still, people and businesses continue to ignore one of the more effective strategies staring them right in the face because it requires real work, and their teams either consciously or unconsciously don’t want to do that.  The larger truth is digital marketing is real work.  It’s going to be difficult and challenging.  It’s going to require time and passion.  You’re going to have to solve complex puzzles and think creatively.  Even if you outsource parts of it and work with agency partners, your internal team has to commit too.  Your past processes where you could pass the heavy lifting down the line are not relevant here.

I’m not saying your core pages themselves don’t matter, they do.  They should be optimized and they should sell what you need to sell.  But by themselves there is a limited set of methods to grow organic results for your brand month over month if you aren’t willing (or able) to increase the amount of additional unique and valuable content on your site month over month.  This is a core requirement.

If you’re a marketer and wanting to increase a site’s content you’ve heard the common reactions before.  Create more pages?  You have to be kidding!  Those reactions are (usually) from those who don’t know how the web actually works.  You need to get these people out of their own way.

Specific reactions against growing your site’s content:

The push back:   it goes against our company guidelines to create more content.

The reality: your company guidelines were not designed to take advantage of a connected society.  Change them or continue to lose share of voice to competitors.  Seriously.

The push back: we can’t create that much content or any new content – we’re not sure what to say or how to do it?

The reality: if any of your marketing team members say this, fire them.  You have the wrong marketing team.  Modern marketers understand the importance of creating content and should be able to tell a continued, ongoing story for businesses (both client-side and agency).

The push back: we don’t have the resources to develop new content.

The reality: then you don’t get to right to complain your competitors are dominating you.  The reason they have the consistent organic traffic they do is they are building out content assets that are extremely valuable to their business month over month.  Find the resources or fail at gaining digital share of voice.

The push back: we’ve tried creating more content but it didn’t do anything.

The reality: is your content team really digitally savvy?  Do they have a true understanding of other outlets (whether business or pure media players)?  Were they creating content for content sake or content which was truly valuable and passed the “so what” test?  You likely need better writers who understand content marketing.

More reasons that the addition of fresh, unique content isn’t really optional it is a necessity:

Search engines are getting smarter

The Mayday update impacted long tail traffic.  The strategies of quite a few sites were impacted, but not those who actually take the time to develop unique, hand crafted content.  Just the opposite, those sites continue to do fine.  But think about this longer term:  the search engines are only going to continue to evolve with an effort of finding the best content.  Long term the one constant is that great content is something that provides a positive user experience and it is in the search engine’s interest to continue to find and rank this content.

Further, there’s lots of data saying search queries are getting longer.  It’s a trend that is ongoing, and in a recent Q&A, Maile Ohye, Senior Developer Programs Engineer at Google noted that “people have evolved as searchers.”  This, combined with the trend of more and more businesses pouring content onto the web has forced the engines to evolve and reward content that is ultra-specific and in depth.  By answering those deeper questions on your brand’s property you position yourself to be found by those seeking out specific items.   You simply can’t do this with a limited set of product pages.  It’s an opportunity to disrupt competitors who only know how to create shallow product pages by going deeper and providing in-depth answers one page at a time.

Social web users care about what’s fresh

If your site is static, there’s little chance it’s going to get passed on socially.  Social media power users care about what’s new and are far less likely to share content that’s dated.  Further, creating viral content requires an iterative process.  While there are certain archetypes you can follow and methods to seed a campaign, the point is you need to be constantly developing fresh ideas and be prepared to fail often before you achieve success.

Conclusion

Your content development process needs to be as agile as possible.  For success, stop overvaluing everything you publish and consider content itself an ongoing experiment.  It doesn’t have to be perfect or go through so many layers of approval.  In fact, in many cases so many eyes on something can strip any of the personality of it and cause it to be far duller.  Tweak things in real-time, test as you go and consider it an ongoing process.

Get quick, and after enough experience if you’re studying the data you’ll start to discover what type of content resonates and that which falls flat.  Then you can refine that which you publish to better align with accomplishing objectives, sharpening your team’s ability to create what really matters.

Let’s face it, most business content is boring and published too infrequently to be effective.  Solve these two simple issues and it’s shocking how quickly you can leap ahead of competitors.  Almost no one fixes these two seemingly basic problems which spells opportunity for you.