The Three Biggest Mistakes Most Companies Make
So you’re convinced of the importance of content—and now you’re ready to identify what to do about. A good place to start is to identify bad habits and key obstacles. This article provides insight into the three worst content practices found at most B2B (and consumer) companies around the world.
1) The belly-button problem
Most marketing content is reflective of what companies know the most about, speaking directly to their own products and services in micro-detail. This is a great way to lose all but the most motivated and informed prospects, as you’re making the prospect connect the dots for themselves.
The problem with this approach is that the majority of first visit prospects are in exploration mode— they have identified their own point of pain and are seeking information from vendors that speaks to it. The closer you get to directly addressing that point of pain, the more likely you are to convert prospects into leads: convince them that you understand their problem and have a compelling and applicable solution that they want to learn more about.
• Key Takeaway: Shift your content to focus on your customer’s point of pain.
2) More is better
You have a lot of great products and services, and your job as a marketer is to make sure every prospect and customer knows everything about all of them—right? Absolutely yes—if you transact entirely online, and your average sales cycle is 10 days or less. In these cases you want to make sure that your prospect has exactly the information they need to make a quick decision and transact with little to no barrier. B2C eCommerce brands and smaller SaaS (Software as a Service) companies specialize in this—great examples include BasecampHQ.com and BigCommerce.com who both provide easy to understand and compare online services and work hard to encourage short sales cycles and easy conversions.
The picture gets more complicated when sales cycles exceed this short period, as is the case with most B2B technology transactions. Most of these websites are not geared to be transactional, but to drive leads and support sales cycles. Providing too much information in these cases can actually hurt conversion rates as prospects are encouraged to reach decisions independent of a sales interaction—potentially abandoning the process before your sales team has a chance to do their job. This is an exponentially greater problem as the complexity of offering increases, or when there are many competitors.
Achieving the right balance of relevant content may be the trickiest problem facing companies with complex sales today—how do you balance the influence
of compelling content and the importance it has in educating prospects, while avoiding premature abandonment and empowering your sales organization to convert the largest number of qualified leads into opportunities?
• Key Takeaway: The right balance of content is required to strategically drive prospects into qualified leads before they abandon.
3) Content is Copy, Design is Pretty Pictures
Most content is developed by a marketer, copy writer or agency as copy (text), separate from de- sign, separate from visuals, and independent of any strategy other than basic writing structures,a sitemap, page count or word count. This ignores the fundamental goals of design, content and frankly marketing—to communicate your value proposition in a relevant, compelling and meaningful way that engages the prospect in a desired behavior.
The best way to accomplish this goal is to approach content design in the same way most agencies approach visual design: understand the offering and the audience, and then craft a strategy for connecting the two using compelling visual references, intuitive layout and contextual and meaningful content (copy and graphics) to guide the prospect towards a desired action. To accomplish this strategy you cannot craft a design, select visual supports, and write copy in silos and expect all these elements to join in a magical confluence that compels action; when you are determining user personas and objectives early in the brand process, you must use this data to guide the development of your messaging, design AND content in parallel such that every touch-point of your marketing speaks to your prospects point of pain and provides an intuitive and compelling call to engage.
• Key Takeaway: Good content isn’t just copy—it’s Content Design and requires strategy, coordination and attention to detail just as visual design does.