A Scenic Tour of the Online World

For Content Marketing, Forget Context, Aim for Action

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Today’s post in inspired by the wise words of Gerry McGovern, the author and consultant focused on helping organizations better interact with their customers online.

His email newsletter last week contained this:

A key difference between web writing and writing for print is that on the Web you need to avoid context and instead focus on instructional, how-to, task-based content.

From a content marketing standpoint, this is simultaneously obvious and counter-intuitive. It’s obvious because most of us realize that the long-ago standard practice of having home-page copy that reads something like, “Welcome to our website …” just ain’t cutting it.

That’s a really stark example – Gerry uses a few more nuanced examples in his email – but the same concept holds throughout our online content. All of the marketing-speak mumbo jumbo that we think we need just gets in the way.

The counter-intuitive part is that even for the most seasoned marketers, there’s still that nagging feeling that, hey, prospects need to know who we are and what we do, and why we do it our way, right? They needs some context to help them decide that we’re the best choice for them. Right?

No. They don’t care. And that’s the core of content marketing. They don’t care about you. They care about whether you can provide them a solution. You need to make it clear to them that your solution is the best for their needs by demonstrating how your solution benefits them, not by talking about your firm’s history. (There are exceptions to this; email me and I’ll discuss whether you’re one of them.)

I’ll turn it back over to Gerry for the conclusion, with apologies to dentists everywhere.

But on the Web, people just want to do stuff as quickly and easily as possible. Engaging with most organizational websites is only slightly more interesting than interacting with your dentist.

The words people search with set the context. Once they’re at your website, the context has already been established as far as they’re concerned.

Too often, the general is the enemy of the specific.

Your web content needs to be written with this one truth in mind. The context has already been set. Just get to the meat of the matter.

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