I found some interesting stats today from a study of 100,000 people done by Content Science. According to their results, content must be relevant and useful to be successful. It’s not enough to create one or the other; it must be both.
The survey also points out that broad articles or thought leadership content just doesn’t cut it.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? If content doesn’t help them accomplish their goal, why would it accomplish ours? It won’t convert.
People want content that resonates with their specific questions, needs, decisions or tasks, and we’re providing too much content that is basic, generic or vague. It doesn’t have enough detail, failing to be relevant or provide answers.
A whopping 78% said content often seems like it was intended for someone with different needs. Not them.
Lack of Detail & Sophistication Drives Low Content Usefulness & Relevance
But what is the difference, and how do you know if you’ve accomplished it?
Here’s the difference between relevant content and useful content. Relevant content is directly connected to the person reading or watching that content. It applies to them at that moment. But content must be useful, too – meaning it has information or advice that can be immediately applied to what they’re doing.
Creating content that fits these two requirements of relevancy and usefulness can be a delicate dance of understanding the the prospective customer, and coming up with topics that help define the intent of what they are looking for.
Here’s an example.
Say that I’m a consumer thinking about replacing the windows in my home. I don’t want to install them myself, I want someone to finance and install them, and offer a nice selection of higher end brands to consider.
I open a tab on my internet browser for Google, and typed in search terms to learn more about how to buy windows for my home, and which types of windows are best for my budget.
Here’s what wouldn’t be useful or relevant to my search:
- Content on Microsoft Windows 10. That’s not useful or relevant. Sure, it’s windows, but not the kind of windows I want.
- Shopping results to purchase windows from Home Depot, and content on DIY installation. No thanks. This might be useful to someone, but it isn’t relevant to me because I don’t want to install them myself. I want to hire someone.
- Content from a window installer in Michigan. This might have useful tips, but it isn’t relevant because my home is located in Arizona.
- Content about how to buy home windows from an Arizona installer might be relevant to me, but it isn’t useful if they don’t sell Andersen product.
What would be both useful and relevant? Content from an Arizona windows and doors installation company that sells the higher-end Andersen and Pella brands. Content that compares different product lines from those brands would be both relevant and useful, along with content that evaluates how high-end windows handle the heat of Arizona summer. I could learn about the best product for my needs, and connect with them to obtain a quote on the cost of new windows.
Flipping this around from the consumer point of view to a content creator point of view, it’s essential to take time to think about the type of customer I want to target. After all, content that pulls in a DIY buyer is vastly different than what would interest someone looking for high-end window installation, right?
They aren’t the same audience, and a window company that sells installation wouldn’t have any interest in a bargain hunting DIY’er.
Thinking this through can vastly improve the content I create.
You must be able to recognize a lack of relevance or usefulness
We’re creating more content than ever before, and investing a continually growing chunk of our budget in it, but it seems pretty clear that we must do a better job of aligning that content with our audience.
We must be able to recognize content that’s too generic, and content that isn’t relevant or useful to the individual person reading (or watching) it.
In my experience, the only way that happens is through a deep understanding of a brand’s customers and prospective customers. It helps the person creating that content to connect with the real person consuming that content. The individual we want to convert.
There are no shortcuts.
We notice these gaps when we’re looking for answers ourselves, but we often overlook applying this thinking process to the content we’re creating for a brand.
- Who is our audience?
- What are they looking for online that our content will answer?
- Can their search lead to revenue for us?
- Is the piece of content both relevant and useful as part of that search?
- How will it convert to something useful for the brand?
If your content is difficult to create, you’re probably on the right path
The truth is that good content is difficult to write and expensive. It’s a big investment, and we are doing our audiences a disservice when we’re satisfied with publishing easy, generic content. It doesn’t help them, so it won’t help us. Some of it’s even an insult to what we expect them to give us in exchange for that content: an email address, a purchase, a meaningful connection.
Giving them something valuable enough to earn their conversion requires OUR attention. If we want those statistics to change, we must push ourselves harder to earn it.
Great content requires learning about a brand’s products or services on a deep level, and finding creative ways to understand the audience targeted by that content. It requires a strong editorial calendar that is connected to the needs of prospective customers and their hot buttons, and clearly shows an understanding of what those potential customers are looking for online.
Only then can you create content that resonates and converts.
If you’re not doing these things, you might be creating content that is generic, lacking both relevancy and usefulness.
If your content is difficult to create because it requires thinking, asking questions, interviews… you’re probably on the right path!
Don’t guess or assume – let data point the way
When we are searching for answers online ourselves, it’s easy to become frustrated when we can’t find content that is useful and relevant. We tweak the search query we’re using to include a different phrase, continuing to scan content and click through search results until we find what we need.
But on the flip side, as marketers, it can be easy to overlook applying the same type of thinking processes to the content we’re creating.
If we’re trying to put ourselves into the shoes of those we want to reach with our content, it can help to use Google as if we were them. What would we search? Do our search queries bring up content that is helpful – why or why not? What would be helpful?
Taking it a step further, moving past our own guesswork and assumptions to build a content editorial calendar based on data can be incredibly helpful.
Deep custom keyword research can be one of the most high-value sources of data available, because it tells us EXACTLY what topics your audience is looking for.. especially when those questions directly relate to a purchase decision.
I’m not talking about a quick export from a keyword research tool – but a truly deep analysis that looks at the questions your audience searches online, and the keyword phrases they use. It often reflects a goldmine of content opportunities.
When doing keyword research, most quit too soon. They don’t dig deep enough to find the most valuable data. They pull research for their industry, then stop at that first layer of results – when fine-tuning their effort is where the real value lies.
Here’s an example using the windows company example from above. I wouldn’t want to just look at keyword research for “windows” – that’s too generic to be useful. Instead, I’d want to look at each type of product sold to understand search behavior. Including a keyword grouping for vinyl windows, Andersen windows, Pella windows, custom windows, and any other product types sold by that window company gives me more meaningful insight.
- If I sell vinyl windows, what questions are people searching around vinyl windows that help them make a smart purchase decision?
- What answers are they looking for to point them in the right direction?
- What are they looking for when it comes to comparing Andersen and Pella windows?
- Do they want to know if a more expensive window has enough difference in quality to be worth the extra money?
- Are they looking to compare warranties, or for local dealers?
- Which keyword phrases relevant to these brands are searched more often, and which ones have no search volume?
Segmenting the products or services into keyword groupings, then performing keyword research for each grouping gives me a far more detailed picture of search activity, and what information my potential buyers are looking for.
It’s not uncommon for one of my custom keyword projects to have 15-30 keyword groupings. Presenting the findings can be quite enlightening for the client! It’s incredible market research that can hugely impact their website.
✔ Window replacements
✔ Do vinyl windows last
✔ Are Andersen windows worth the price?
✔ Pella dealer near me
✔ Vinyl vs. aluminum windows
✔ Home replacement windows
✘ How to replace a window
✘ How to buy windows
✘ DIY home windows
✘ Replacement window
✘ Window repair
No matter what product or service you are showcasing on your website, or whether you’re looking for sales or a different type of conversion, clustering your keyword research by individual types of products or services will give you the bigger picture, and help you align the content you create with the real questions they’re looking for online…
Will this help conversion? ABSOLUTELY.
If you’re creating content, it’s far better to use the available data than guess or assume what to create. Let data point the way.
Do you have feedback on this blog post, a tactic related to this topic you’d like to share, or thoughts on how you can tell if your content is both relevant and useful? Click here to chat with me on Facebook.