Creative content is the backbone of a successful inbound marketing program – but it’s not as hard to make as you might think. Here’s your step-by-step guide to creating content that people will get real value from.
Know your audience
The most valuable content is tailored to the people reading it. As such, identifying your audience is the very first step in creating valuable content. This comes in two stages.
First, you must determine your actual audience. This can be done through services like Google Analytics, which can identify the traits of visitors to your website and give you a breakdown on what they’re like.
Second, you need to consider your desired audience – and see how this differs from the audience you actually have. How you resolve the difference is up to you – some companies discard the audience they used to desire while focusing on the one they have, while others completely change their approach in order to better attract the companies they want. Both are workable, but you should always know which audience you’re aiming for.
Make sure your website is up to par
The delivery of creative content isn’t something that’s separated from the content itself – it’s part and parcel of the user’s experience. To put it another way, if your website looks like it’s from the early 90’s, people aren’t going to trust it as much as content from a newer-looking website – even if you have fantastic material.
Make sure your website is formatted for tablets and mobile to access your audience on all devices. Make sure the layout and design of the content is easy to digest and user-friendly. Finally, try to find a creative way to meet the needs of your audience – provide an extras asset, tool or call-out that will offer additional value.
First impressions matter, so make sure yours is a good one.
Include infographics or unique imagery
Nobody wants to read a solid wall of text. Infographics and images help to break up your content, refocus readers’ attention, and emphasize the points you’re trying to make. All content should include at least one graphic.
Provide unique information that only you can offer
People are naturally inclined to prefer content from experts – a blog from the head of NASA about a space program is a very different thing from a blog written by a kid with a telescope.
If you have any kind of expertise to add to your creative content, do so. The more you can demonstrate that you truly understand the subject and have valuable insights to share, the more likely people are to keep reading all the way to the end.
Link to in-depth, hard-to-find resources
Citing your references is mainly a way of emphasizing your expertise. That said, when people see scholarly references, they’re inclined to trust that the conclusion you’ve reached is the correct one. Providing links to smart, detailed research helps showcase your expertise in your industry.
Provide information in a way that’s easy to digest
When people use a search engine to find content, they’re usually looking for a specific answer of some kind – and you should give it to them. Offering clear, step-by-step advice on a subject guides the reader, and the positive feelings generated by this will transfer to their view of you as a company.
What kind of material is “easy to digest” varies by audience. The more your audience understands your topic, the more industry-specific jargon you can use. Similarly, if you’re trying to reach a general audience, you should avoid the use of terms they’re not likely to know.
This is more about the business side of things than the creative content itself, but you should consider putting additional or special content behind a wall of some kind.
For most companies, this ends up being an email signup form – essentially, you’re giving them the content in exchange for their contact information. Unlike even the smallest financial transaction, giving an email address is something people don’t see as truly costing them anything, so they’re far more willing to take that step… and once they’ve made that transaction, they’re more willing to make a financial transaction later.
That said, it’s important to be sure that your walled-off content is as good as it can possibly be. If people are disappointed by what they got, they may start to regret giving you their email address. On the other hand, if they’re impressed by the content, chances are they’ll start looking for more.
In short, creating valuable content is about knowing both what you’re making and why you’re making it – that is, what it is and how it’s going to be able to help people. As long as you keep these principles in mind, you can ensure that all the content you create is truly valuable material.