This morning, Facebook feed greeted us with the question: “How do you create awesome content when you’re on a tight schedule?”
It’s a trendy problem to have. According to research quoted by KOMarketing, the number one marketing challenge is “time”.
This was followed by “content quality,” “creating content” and “scaling content.” Other challenges noted by marketers had to do with creativity. “Getting creative” with their content, “coming up with original ideas,” and “producing quality and quantity” were deemed creative obstacles for marketers.
There’s a whole debate going on about Quality versus Quantity in Content Marketing, and it’s reflected in the responses to that Facebook post. Recommended tactics range from making lists and swipe files, to using dedicated tools, to hiring cheap bloggers on a freelancing platform.
In this article, we’d like to suggest a more mindful approach. From Scratch has its roots in customer care — and an attitude of caring for our readers is always a useful guide to the rapids of content creation.
Content should help people complete their task, effortlessly & enjoyably.
Whether that task is to find their new favourite pair of shoes, relax after work, sign their child up for ballet classes, or pay a parking fine. Pre-sales or after-sales, content should help people do what they came to you for.
“RACE” stands for 4 criteria that determine if your content does that job:
Read on to find out what they entail.
A lot of brands fall into the trap of looking at their competitors’ websites too much. We’re not saying you shouldn’t check out what your competition is doing; you totally should! But don’t look at 10 websites in your industry and assume that because they all have ginormous sites with 25 subpages and a blog that’s updated 3 times a day, that’s what you should do too.
The most important thing is to know exactly what you want to achieve for your business in a given period of time. Before you start tweaking your website or you head over to Canva* to make some nice images, write down that #1 goal your business needs to achieve for you in that time period.
For example, Sabine likes to work with one long-term vision and concrete goals for a shorter period (usually, she sets a vision for the next 5 years and concrete goals per quarter).
If your company is big, or you sell physical products, you may have to plan much further ahead.
Now think of the role your website plays in reaching that goal:
What’s the #1 goal of your website? Again, write it down.
What does this look like in practice?
Let’s say your business goal for this year may be to double your revenue, so you can grow your team — creating full-time employment opportunities for vulnerable people in your local area.
Applied to your website, this could translate into any of the following goals:
Importantly, decide on one of them, or 2 at most. Which goal is right for your particular website depends on your offer, how you typically sell it, how people find you, whether you send regular emails… a cookie-cutter approach won’t work here.
Next, make a list of all pages your website currently includes — whether accessible through a menu or linked deep within posts.
As a fictional example, the Konjac Sponge Company might write a long list like this:
Next, set or change the goal of each part of your website.
Every single page or piece of content should contribute to the business goal you’ve set yourself. Is there a page on your current website which doesn’t have a specific, measurable goal attached? And what if each page has a goal, but it doesn’t contribute to your business goal?
=> Either assign a (new) goal to that page or de-prioritise it by moving it to the footer menu or hiding it altogether.
Let’s look once more at the Konjac Company example above.
The distribution of their menu items in the website header and footer suggests that this company’s goal is to grow their consumer sales, mainly by attracting new people who’ve never bought a Konjac sponge before.
How do we know?
Because their link for new stockist applications is ‘hidden’ in the footer menu, as is their customer care information. This tells us those aspects of their business are not their highest priority right now. On the other hand, they have decided to highlight their shop, their store finder and the basic information about what Konjac is — by adding those items to the header menu.
The web is the primary way people research and buy from brands. According to Eptica, “45% of consumers will abandon an online transaction if their questions or concerns are not addressed quickly.“
So your web content needs to fit perfectly with the conversation taking place in people’s heads while they’re on their way to helping you achieve your web page goal.
This will also help you preempt many unnecessary emails, calls and chats.
The most important thing here:
Don’t make things up — it’s better not to have any content than to have loads of irrelevant stuff and create a bad reputation for your business. If people don’t learn something interesting, they won’t want to return to your website.
Here’s how to find pointers for what content you need:
Make time to review emails, calls and chats from your customers at least once a month to update your content.
“Answer your site visitors’ questions throughout your web content, not only in sections called frequently asked questions.”
— Gini Redish, Letting Go of the Words
Your blog and social media posts build trust by linking into your audience’s interests. They also show that you share their values.
The same can be said for the most useful FAQs. Check our blog post about FAQs for tips on how to integrate them into your content strategy.
Depending on the topic, decide whether text, videos, graphics or audio will be most useful:
GLS Bank, a social-ecological bank based in Germany, have started offering such audio versions of their blog posts on Soundcloud. To see an example, check out this post about crypto currencies such as Bitcoin and Blockchain (in German).
Multimedia approaches can also help you reach a more diverse audience — which will help your search engine ranking, too (accessible websites are usually automatically more SEO-friendly, too).
While ‘accessibility’ is a term often used in the context of users with disabilities, we all benefit from the principles it stands for. Accessible content is easier to find and use, often easier to auto-translate, and can even be more attractive.
There are lots of easy things you can do to help people of all abilities use your site.
Here are just a few tips:
According to Google, 94% of American smartphone users “search for local information on their phones. Interestingly, 77% of mobile searches occur at home or at work, places where desktop computers are likely to be present.” Some websites are nearly unusable on mobile, and thus exclude a huge amount of potential business.
We can’t tell you how many times we’ve groaned, repeatedly reading that incorrect ‘fact’: the fashion industry is the second biggest polluter on earth. It even happened at NEONYT in 2019… almost 1.5 years after we first saw that myth debunked by Francesca Willow (aka Ethical Unicorn).
Accuracy sets the baseline for ethical content creation.
If we want to be taken seriously, we must beware of ‘fake news’ — and anything that’s so outdated that it’s no longer useful. Here’s how to make that happen. If you like Marie Kondo, or The Minimalists, you’ll enjoy this one:
Anything that looks like it’s not been updated in a long time quickly destroys trust. So make regular maintenance a habit:
This is such a low-hanging fruit that we’re tempted to call it a meadow orchard.
If possible, switch off the date function on your content management system. Otherwise, you’ll need to make small tweaks to all your content all the time — because anything that’s not been updated in half a year doesn’t inspire much confidence with your users.
Have someone else check your website for spelling, grammar and punctuation. It’s easy to miss typos that your spell check program doesn’t pick up, and punctuation is a tricky subject. A fresh pair of eyes can usually find those errors more easily.
Finding the right info can be a needle-in-the-haystack experience. Tags change that. With tags and clever algorithms, you can show the right articles to the right people, at the right time in their buying journey.
You can group and reshuffle articles by topic to give them new purpose and spark. You’ll be seen as someone who knows their onions and their audience — in other words, as much more trustworthy.
People read differently on screens: they scan for information.
So make sure the way you present text on screen helps them do that:
If you’re overwhelmed, try this exercise:
Imagine a content cake.
What kind of cake is your favourite? That’s exactly the cake you have in front of you.
Imagine every detail of the cake… what it looks like, how it fills the room with its unmistakable cake scent… its texture…
Here’s a question for you:
What part of the cake appeals to you the most?
Is there a slice you want to eat first?
Or do you perhaps want to cut a circle from the very centre of the cake and avoid the crust?
Do you long to eat only the marzipan decoration?
Go for it. Start with the slice of the content cake that you enjoy the most.
Your joy will permeate the piece you create. Your website visitors will feel your joy when they read or watch or listen to your content. And the joy of creating will give you plenty of energy to tackle another slice of the cake, or overcome some of the tougher parts (a tiny but of burned crust isn’t so bad when the overall recipe is amazing).
Let joy be your guide, and you’ll have way better content.