Using the internet to engage with potential customers and sell products is a must in today’s digital society. But figuring out how to do so in the most effective way possible can be overwhelming.
So how do you go about designing and implementing a successful marketing strategy? Familiarizing yourself with the different types of web content you can utilize is an important step.
But before we explain the different types of web content (and when to use each), let’s take a quick look at some general information about writing for the web. These tips are important to keep in mind no matter what type of content you’re creating.
Web Writing vs. Print Writing
Although a webpage and a chapter in a book about the same topic may contain similar information, the way this information should be presented is very different. That's because people engage with content on the web differently than they do with print materials.
Reading in the Digital Age
For starters, most people find it easier to concentrate while reading print.
Between 2013 and 2015, Naomi Baron, a professor of linguistics at American University, conducted a survey of more than 400 university students in the U.S., Japan, Germany, Slovakia, and India. One of the questions posed to these students was whether they felt they concentrated best reading from print, computers, tablets, e-readers, or mobile phones. A whopping 92% responded that it was easiest for them to concentrate while reading print.
Most people, therefore, aren’t absorbing every word they see on a webpage. Instead, it is likely they are skimming. In fact, a 2008 study by the Nielsen Norman Group found that users only read about 20% of the text on an average webpage.
Making Web Content Work for You
So, does all this mean that creating web content should be avoided?
It simply means that how you go about writing for the web is very important. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Put your most important information at the top of the page. Don’t expect your readers to go hunting for it. They won’t. They’ll click the back arrow and find a site that does.
- Use headlines and subheadlines. Make sure readers know where to look for the specific thing they’re looking for.
- Use bullet points and lists.
- Keep your paragraphs short. Stick to one topic in each.
- Use images, graphics, and videos.
- Be sure not to underestimate the importance of whitespace (the blank areas between the elements on the page). Don’t overwhelm your readers with a wall of text. Give them some breathing room.
Types of Web Content
One of the great things about writing for the web is just how many types of content there are. No matter what your goal is, chances are there is a specific format that will allow you to best convey that information to your audience.
1. Blog Post
Most people know what a blog is. It’s an online journal of sorts that the author continuously updates with new posts. But blogging is not just for personal use anymore. Business blogging has become a way for companies to drive more traffic to their websites and gain more online visibility.
Let’s say you write a blog post about buying study abroad health insurance. If someone googles “how to get study abroad health insurance,” there’s now a chance they’ll end up clicking on your post to get their answer.
With each new blog post, you also now have fresh content to share on social media.
A few tips:
- Keep in mind who your audience is for each specific post and adjust your language and tone accordingly. Don’t presume that your readers will understand insurance jargon if you’re targeting college students who are curious about study abroad health insurance.
- Optimize your blog posts to make them more likely to show up in search engines. Determine which long-tail keywords you want to focus on. Add alt text to your images.
- Include a call-to-action (CTA) at the bottom of your post that prompts your visitors to take the next step. This clickable image or text will help you generate new leads.
Check out an example of a blog post.
2. Informational Webpage
The purpose of an informational webpage is pretty simple: to present useful and factual information.
A few tips:
- Anyone can put anything on the internet. Make sure you give readers evidence that you are qualified to be speaking about your topic.
- Make sure your information is accurate and current. Use legitimate sources and be sure to link to them.
- Avoid spelling and grammatical errors. You want to come across as professional.
Check out an example of an informational webpage.
3. Product Page
You want to make sure all your products are listed in one place so potential customers can easily look through them and find the one that best fits their needs.
A few tips:
- Include clear titles and product descriptions.
- Make it obvious where visitors need to click to proceed. If they’re looking at a certain coverage plan, make sure it’s clear where they need to click to get a quote. Use a bright, contrasting color to make the button stand out.
Check out an example of a product page.
4. Landing Page
Let’s say you’ve written an eBook that you want people to download. Or you’re hosting a webinar that you want people to sign up for. You would create a CTA prompting your intended audience to take action.
Upon clicking, they would be taken to a landing page where they would fill out a form in order to get the offer. This page is an opportunity to convert your visitors into leads.
A few tips:
- Check out all the elements your landing page should include.
- Remove your main navigation from this page. It’s a distraction and increases the likelihood that visitors will click away from the page before completing their task.
Check out an example of a landing page.
5. FAQ Page
As most people know, FAQ stands for “frequently asked questions.” This is a page on your website to include the most common questions people have for you, presented in a Q&A format.
A few tips:
- Make sure all the questions on your FAQ page are actually being asked frequently. Don’t use it as an opportunity to answer questions you never get asked but you think are interesting or cool. That isn’t helpful.
- Keep the most-asked questions at the top. And make sure you update this page regularly to keep it relevant.
Check out an example of an FAQ page.
6. Video Transcription
Consider including written transcriptions to accompany any videos posted on your website. There are several reasons to do this:
- Accessibility: People visiting your site may be deaf or otherwise hearing impaired. Or maybe they’re just in a place where they can’t turn the sound on or wouldn’t be able to hear properly even if they did.
- Search engine optimization: Search engines don’t know what’s being said in videos. A transcript will make your video more searchable.
Check out an example of a video transcription.
Infographics are visual representations of data, knowledge, or information. They are a good option if you want to quickly communicate a substantial amount of data or facts in an easy-to-understand way.
A few tips:
- Keep it simple. Readers should be able to understand what they’re looking at. Don’t hurt their eyes. Take advantage of whitespace.
- Make sure you’re accurately displaying the data. Use the right kind of graph or chart. Make sure percentages add up to 100.
- Check out these bad infographics for examples of what not to do.
Check out an example of an infographic.
8. Press Release
A press release is an official statement issued to newspapers and other news outlets announcing something noteworthy. Basically, you want to give the press the necessary information they need to write their own story about whatever it is that your company is announcing.
A few tips:
- Get to the point. Provide the “who, what, when, where, and why” in the first paragraph.
- Keep it short. One page. Two max.
- Include quotes, ideally from people in positions of authority at your company.
Check out an example of a press release.
Writing an eBook is a great way to showcase your authority to prospective customers on a certain subject and generate new leads.
A few tips:
- eBooks should be used to convey more detailed, complex topics that would be too much information to fit into a blog post.
- Utilize CTAs and landing pages to make people aware that your eBook exists and that it is available for download.
Check out an example of an eBook.
10. White Paper
A white paper is an informational report issued by a company that serves to promote a certain product or service. It is research-based and technical in nature.
White papers are not user manuals. They are a marketing tool written to influence prospective customers before a sale. The goal of a white paper is to persuade the person reading it that your product, service, or other offering is the best way for them to address a certain problem, challenge, or need.
A few tips:
- White papers are often B2B (business-to-business).
- They should be at least six to ten pages in length.
Check out an example of a white paper.
11. Case Study
People want to know that they can trust a product before they buy it. Case studies provide a way to prove to your prospective customers that your company and products are trustworthy and valuable, straight from the mouths of previous customers.
A few tips:
- Give clear data. People want to see actual numbers and tangible results.
- Use videos. Not everyone will want to read through a long case study, but they may click on a video to see a customer giving a personal testimonial.
- Make sure people can find your case studies. Consider having a specific case studies page on your website and placing a CTA on your homepage that leads to it.
Check out an example of a case study.
Email marketing is effective. In fact, in a survey by Crain’s BtoB Magazine, 59% of marketers said they perceive it to be their most effective channel in generating revenue. And according to Econsultancy’s Email Marketing Industry Census 2017, the proportion of respondents who rated email as “good” or “excellent” at delivering ROI is 73%.
When used strategically, emails are an opportunity to nurture leads and get your recipients to engage with your content.
A few tips:
- Personalize your emails. Use the recipient’s first name. Don’t send emails out from “no reply” accounts.
- Have a specific reason for sending out each email. No one wants to be spammed with pointless messages.
- Send your emails on different days and see which get the most engagement. Test out design, wording, and layout. But be sure to only test one variable at a time so you know which change was the effective one.
Check out some examples of email marketing.
13. Social Media Post
It’s 2018. Making sure your company has a solid social media presence is important, but the amount of social media platforms out there may seem overwhelming. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc., etc. Do you need to be using all of them? Probably not. But you should do some research and figure out which ones are best for reaching your target audiences.
A few tips:
- Make sure you’re updating regularly.
- Include links. If you’ve written a new blog post or created a piece of educational content, then you should be sharing and promoting it.
- Use images. If there’s a picture or graphic you can include with your tweet or Facebook post, add it. In an experiment by Buffer, tweets with images received 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites, and 150% more retweets that those without.
Check out some examples of social media posts.
Digital advertising is taking over. In 2016, it surpassed TV ad spend in the U.S. for the first time ever. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), TV brought in roughly $71.3 billion in domestic revenues compared to digital advertising’s $72.6 billion.
There are several different kinds of ads you can use to promote your products across the internet.
- Social media ads: These are the paid content you see on social media platforms.
Check out some social media ad examples.
- Search ads: These are the ads you see at the top of the search engine results page.
Check out some search ad examples.
- Banner ads: These are the ads you see displayed on webpages.
Check out some ad examples.
Now that you are a little more familiar with the many kinds of web content out there, it’s time to develop a marketing strategy and start implementing some of them. Hopefully more leads and customers will follow. Good luck!