The 4 Essential Attributes of Great Content
What makes “great content” so great?
With the number of articles published each day nearing 100,000, consumers are inundated with information from every angle, both on and offline. Because of this, brands practicing content marketing must focus on creating content that is truly great to reach their target audience in a meaningful way.
Today, up to 70 percent of the buy cycle is completed before vendor contact is made, which means people are thoroughly researching solutions and making vendor short lists on their own without input from any sales teams or customer service representatives. As a result, it has become increasingly important to influence audiences during that research period, and creating and distributing content provides that opportunity – but not just any content will do. As consumers are now in the driver’s seat when it comes to the buy cycle, it is necessary for brands to provide audiences with great content that stands out in the sea of information published online every day.
But what is it that makes “great content” so great, anyway? Though what is considered “great” is subjective and can depend largely on the industry or intended audience, here are four attributes I always look for when auditing client content offerings:
Great content is helpful
Technology buyers typically conduct research online to find answers to questions, solutions to problems and to scope out merchants. During this time, buyers seek out content that can assist in answering those questions and making those decisions. To successfully provide the guidance audiences look for and to positively influence future purchase decisions, businesses must provide content that helps the target audience in some way. The vendors that are successful in helping their audience are the ones that will be considered when it comes time to build a short list.
Think about it from an audience’s point of view. When researching IT software or hardware, what information is necessary to make a purchase decision? Maybe it’s an outline of a common challenge technology buyers face, with a detailed account of how it can be resolved (with or without your company). Or perhaps, it’s a comparison of the top three vendor offerings – from features to price. That is the type of helpful content audiences look for, and it’s up to vendors to provide it.
Great content is relevant
Just as great content helps solve problems and answer questions, is also relevant – in a couple of ways. First, as the technology space is constantly evolving, keeping content up to date with the latest news and advancements is important in building credibility and trust. Promoting content that is inaccurate or irrelevant can hinder the user experience for technology buyers and in turn, reflect poorly on your brand.
Next, great content is relevant to the research technology buyers are completing before involving vendors. The practice of content personalization is becoming more and more widespread – so much so that buyers expect to find content that speaks directly to their pain points. Keeping that in mind, companies must work to personalize content to fulfill market needs, while being cognizant of the fact that there are different stages of the buy cycle, all of which need to be addressed with great content.
For example, a technology buyer just starting to research may want to learn about trends and common problems, whereas someone who is closer to making a purchase decision is probably more interested case studies and product demos. Each person is looking for content applicable to their needs, making it imperative to provide content that is relevant to each buyer’s journey.
Great content is easy to consume
Great content can come in all shapes and sizes – from long-form written whitepapers and short eGuides to streaming media like videos and webcasts. Everyone has a preference in terms of content type, so publishing content in a variety of mediums provides buyers with the opportunity to consume content however they prefer.
Also, great content is available in the right place – ready for technology buyers to consume. Finding out where research is actually taking place is essential, as that is where your content needs to be. Don’t make people work to find great content – make it readily available where the audience already hangs out online.
Great content is share-worthy
Finally, great content is share-worthy. As social media use continues to grow in all age brackets, creating content that is share-worthy should be a top priority for companies across industries. Though social shares are sometimes considered “vanity metrics,” they can provide insight into how the audience feels about the information presented. People share content that is interesting, entertaining and educational – so much so that they want others to know about it, too.
Creating great content that is useful, relevant and easy to consume is certainly an excellent start to achieving share-worthy status, but providing social sharing buttons is a simple way to promote engagement. And technology pros are hungry for bite-size, social-friendly content. Make it easy for the audience to share content internally with their teams or externally with their online network by installing social sharing plug-ins on all content pages.
What do you think makes a “great” piece of content? Feel free to leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter @abbygilmore to discuss!