Finesse your web content into engaging, trust-building freebies.

Demand for quality web content is high–customers, readers, clients, and fans want good information, and they don’t want to pay for it. Divulge “trade secrets” without an immediate kickback? Yep. Devotees of content-marketing-as-conversion-technique know that if you disclose expert company intelligence, people and profits will come. Let’s dig a little deeper into some of the most viable and widely used forms of content marketing to see where telling–and not selling–takes center stage.


Embrace the Content Marketing Methodology

If you’re crafting an e-guide, blog post, or infographic to raise brand recognition and increase appetites for your product or service, you’re on the right track. However, your fundamental goal should be to capture recipients’ curiosity and provide valuable, relevant content that is specifically suited to their needs, not to make an instant conversion. Content marketing done right is a slow and steady approach that builds recognition first, trust second, and, ultimately, advocacy and profitable customer action. Used consistently, the subtle content marketing message will create more affinity between a brand and its audience, leading to fruitful B2C or B2B engagement and long-term good will. In other words, cough up some good free stuff and your customers will eventually cough up the cash.


Write Blogs for the Right Reasons

Blogs should educate, inform, or entertain. They should not promote your brand or heave a giant sales pitch onto the unsuspecting reader. You can endorse a product (hundreds of beauty bloggers sigh in relief), link to a product or service that rocks (make it a-u-t-h-e-n-t-i-c and beneficial to the reader–you can even prudently link to your own stuff without blatantly promoting it), or generously share your expertise through useful proclamations (like this post!). The soft sell: Know it, love it, use it. 


Get on the Infographic Train

The most pertinent type of content marketing today is extreme short form, which equates to 15 seconds or less of visual material. One of the most appealing ways to provide the masses with interesting, share-worthy data is through a well-designed infographic or micro video. Images and graphics will always draw the eye more than a block of text. But it’s not because we’re lazy readers–it’s because we’re adept at seeing and absorbing. In fact, a study conducted by MIT neuroscientists found that the human brain can process entire images that the eye sees for as few as 13 milliseconds. Being able to identify images at such rapid processing speeds indicates to the researchers that what vision does is find concepts. Think about how many ideas the brain can handle in a whopping 15 seconds! Even when you don’t have new stats or research to report, infographics ably showcase established information in a fresh way, or clearly address a complex or often misunderstood topic. Plus, infographics and micro videos are a snap to share on social media, getting you more eyeballs and more clicks.


Let E-Guides Do the Talking

E-guides (or white papers) thoroughly dissect a topic via an easily digestible compilation, like a long-form infographic or compelling PowerPoint presentation. The reader gets smart info and feels confident about cherry-picking from a smorgasbord of action points.
Example: Chloe’s office workers are mopey, uninspired and their productivity is decreasing; the interior design e-guide Chloe’s downloaded is about upping employee engagement by transforming work environments into invigorating, inspiring spaces. Chloe implements the e-guide’s suggestions, her employees perk up, and so does business. Chloe is definitely referencing that designer’s web content in the future, subscribing to her newsletter, and recommending her to friends and colleagues.


A Brief Comment on Content Marketing Best Practices

What blogs, infographics, and e-guides have in common is that they do not–and should not–explicitly sell anything. Content marketing is not sales. Avoid being underhanded in attempts to increase conversions by succumbing to the temptation to hard sell your newly captured audience.You know how annoying in-app purchases are, and you know how easily you block them out and discount the source. Apply the same logic to your content marketing: People who download your goods or peruse your blog want the material they were promised, not an in-your-face sales pitch from a self-promoting, suddenly-less-than-reliable source. Give people what they want: information. If it’s good enough–and it should be if you’re putting it out there at all–they’ll remember the source and come back for more.
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