In case you hadn’t noticed, in today’s online world we are practically drowning in content — more content, in fact, than we could ever begin to consume. To give you a sense of the scale of it, just consider that every day 70,000 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube, 2 million blog posts are published, and 294 billion e-mails are sent.
The problem is that a lot of that content is going to waste. Why? Because it’s not very good and, as a result, people are tuning most of it out.
If you’re a business trying to build strong relationships with your prospects and customers, that presents a real challenge. How do you go about creating content that stands out so that your target audience not only reads it, but actually enjoys it and converts as a result?
Great content starts with information that your audience will find relevant, interesting, and perhaps even entertaining. But that’s just the starting point. Your language matters, too. That’s why the trick to making great content is making sure it has the following five characteristics. It has to be:
- Readable. When you create content, nothing is more important than making it easy to understand, which mainly depends on whether the content is readable. The readability of a piece of content is shaped by many factors, including your use of jargon, terminology, spelling and grammar, and sentence structure.
- Engaging. To build relationships with your customers, your content has to create the emotional connection with your audience necessary to foster engagement. Poor readability makes your content less engaging, but other factors play a part too, including your use of personal pronouns (say “I” and “we”, not “it” and “the company”), how concise and lively your writing is, and how scannable it is.
- Consistent. Because content comes from many sources both inside and outside of your organization, inconsistencies are inevitable. Inconsistencies confuse readers. Inconsistencies can also affect your company’s brand recognition. Rising above the noise of a crowded marketplace is difficult, but if your company name, product names, or key messages appear inconsistently, then rising above the noise becomes impossible.
- Findable. Whether you’re publishing support content on a dedicated portal, or making marketing content available on your website, you want your most relevant content to appear at the top of people’s search results. While there are SEO “tricks” that you can try to boost your search rankings, the most important thing you can do is to focus on creating high-quality content that includes appropriate keywords in appropriate places.
- Translatable. Many emerging markets, such as India and China, have driven huge increases in global trade over the last decade. As these countries develop, they create opportunities for growth far beyond what’s possible in nations with mature economies. To satisfy consumers in these new markets, companies must localize their content into more languages. That means doing everything you can to ensure that you’re writing is clear and readable, to make translation as smooth and efficient as possible.
The bottom line is that it’s not enough just to create content any more. Your content has to be great or you’re losing an opportunity to help your business. Making sure that your content is readable, engaging, consistent, finadable, and translatable will go a long way to getting you there.
Scott Abel, otherwise known as the Content Wrangler, is a content management strategist and social media choreographer who helps organizations improve the way they author, maintain, publish and archive their information assets.