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Traffic to a site can be a blessing or a curse. Visitors who find what they are looking for, are engaged in what the site offers, and/or come away with a positive impression become the site owner's best allies and customers. But lead a visitor to believe that they will find what they are looking for and then not provide on your promise and you will find yourself being stabbed in the back repeatedly by people you will never know. As discussed in another article, "What Are the Benefits of Good Design on the Web?" the task of the site owner is not simply to ask all the right question and make sure the designer interprets the answers correctly. Just as challenging is the need for the correct content-content that is largely dictated by the answers to the same question so important to good design: Who are the visitors? What are they looking for? What is their situation, are they rushed? Are they knowledgeable? Are they looking for opinion or facts? Are they the kind of prospect the site owner is looking for?
Much is made of the importance of "fresh" content, but I posit that the right content is ageless if it's still relevant to the audience it's targeted toward and the business objectives continue to be met. A contant infusion of ill-aimed content on top of bad or incorrect content is no answer to the challenge of gaining and keeping customers. So the question is, "What's the right content?" As Michael Gerber states in his must-read book, E-Myth Revisited, "It is in the understanding of value, as it impacts every person with whom your business comes into contact, that every extraordinary business lives." Deep knowledge of your customers will define your entire business and make clear the boundaries of your content.
Content development is often a missed opportunity for creativity. Here a team can and should gather to read and digest what the psychographics profiles indicate the interests and motivators of the audiences are. As a hedge against myopia, your team should include one or more from outside your company or immediate colleagues. The same scenarios that influence the designers should be the frameworks for role-playing within the content team.
No matter the intent of the site - whether e-commerce, private intranet, public promotion, nonprofit research, or secure account management - the measurement of success, the determinant of how much the site is returning on the owner's investment, is found in the server logs. They tell the story of the visitor's travels through the site. If the content is good, visitors will linger when they find content that resonates with who they are and their situation. If they stay less than a minute, going to another site from the first page they land on, you are looking at either a visitor who realized they were not looking for what you were offering, or a visitor who was turned off by the content they perused in those first 30 seconds. Good content engages; good content pays!
Stephen Dill is a seasoned marketer with expertise in the development and use of interactive channels and their integration with traditional marketing channels. Stephen has held leadership and/or conulting position in small companies, Fortune 500 companies and the military. He has extensive experience in conceptualizing and articulating new concepts, organizing teams and managing projects through to completion.
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