Creating effective online content is often a two-sided struggle. On one side, we have a content strategist who has just been given a budget for creating a branded content program. He launches the site with starter content, eager to see the pageviews and paying customers start to roll in.
But each piece of content takes a similar approach: it prioritizes business goals over content quality, resulting in a website that is overloaded with branding. Traffic comes to the site, but in most cases it leads to poor engagement and a high bounce rate. That lost customer traffic will likely return, representing lost potential sales and disappointing website performance.
It makes sense that this content strategist would be devastated.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, another content strategist launches her own branded website. The only difference? Compared to the first scenario, where business-minded branding overwhelmed the site and its visitors, this alternative website features no business features at all. The content is great, but it features zero calls to action. This second strategist has created an excellent website as far as content quality is concerned, but it isn’t something a business can use as a sales and marketing tool.
Each of these two strategists is doing part of their job very well. But their failures reside in their singular focus on other business objectives or the content strategy. These are the yin and yang of any effective brand website: both are critical to reaching an audience and generating conversions. Success is only found through the right balance between these complementary strategies.
Creativity and business strategy don’t seem like they would mix. But content has always had a business implication, even before digital channels made “content” an ever-present necessity. Getty Images’ business-focused imprint, Curve, acknowledged as much: “Intelligence marketing, thought leadership, advertorials, infomercials…all these classic marketing formats were developed to meet business goals.”
TV ads are content, as are newspaper and magazine ads. As such, they are asked to promote a brand and further its business mission—but no one expects this to happen without the content being eye catching and engaging in its own right.
This rule of content creation is what makes the Super Bowl must-see TV even for people who don’t care about football. They tune in because they know they will be entertained by the commercials played during breaks in the action—and they have every intention of judging brands for their ability to deliver a memorable ad spot on the most competitive day of the year.
Just as those ads are only effective when they both captivate an audience and strengthen a brand, a branded website—or any type of digital content, for that matter—needs to accomplish both of these tasks at once, even though their execution sometimes seems at odds with one another. It’s a balancing act that gets easier when you break it down into a two-step process.