By Brant Baumann
Have you seen The Matrix Trilogy?
The first movie, The Matrix, was extremely popular. Brilliant sci-fi. It delivered on so many levels, and created the kind of pop-culture buzz that led to a lot of referral ticket sales.
The second and third installments, however, (The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, respectively) weren’t nearly as profitable, even though, after the success of the first film, the studios pumped more money into the special effects.
So, what happened? Why did the higher budget II and III make less money than the original?
Simple. Because the studio put all of its stock in the special effects and went half-ass on the story. The first script made us think. A classic “what if?” twist of reality.
On the second and third films, though, the writing got lazy, and the dialogue incredibly convoluted . . . y’know, the Keanu Reeves character would ask some mystery dude a question, as he was trying to figure out the plot like the rest of us, and the guy would reply with something like:
“The answer will reveal itself when you no longer find you have to ask the
question.” Well, if ever there was a “duh” moment that called for Neo to release his inner Ted, that was it. And the sequels were filled with tiresome “duh” moments that lost the audience.
Unfortunately, business websites often succumb to the same pitfall. When development begins, the emphasis is almost always on how cool it’s gonna look (design), and what kinds of cool things it’s gonna do (functionality).
Problem is—and it’s a big problem—no one gives any thought to what the website is gonna say (content).
The ironic truth is, for web success, content should come first. Why?
#1: Google says, “Content is king.”
You know the drill. If you want your website to be found, you have to be “optimized” for search engines. Well, search engines can’t read images or video, and they can’t read Flash. So, “cool” doesn’t get you found. Content gets you found.
But web content development for search is even more than the written words on the page. It’s also about strategically writing and integrating all the other text elements Google reads, including the page title tags, headlines and links with anchor text.
#2: It’s about the visitor, not you.
Your website is not an opportunity to tell people about your company. It’s an opportunity to connect with people based on their needs. That’s how you build brand.
This requires content development that never loses sight of the visitor’s one-track-mind question: “What’s in it for me?”
Offering the standard “About us,” “Products,” “Staff,” “Industry Links” and “Contact Us” doesn’t cut it. Obviously, your web content needs to communicate who you are, what you do, and, especially if it’s an e-commerce site, what you’re selling. But it shouldn’t be a static business card online.
You serve your site visitors and your company a lot better if you deliver your brand message in a dynamic way that resonates with prospects on an emotional or need-fulfillment level.
#3: You can’t afford a “duh” moment.
We’re talking about conversion. This is where The Matrix sequels really failed. People knew about the movies. People came to see them. But the films didn’t deliver to expectations.
Starting with site structure/navigation, then continuing through the actual text on the screen, web content development involves crawling inside the minds of your visitors, understanding what they are expecting upon arrival (from any page—not just the home page), and being there like a limo driver at the airport to engage them and take them to a desired destination. This could be an online sale, a visitor registration, a download, an email submission . . . whatever.
The point is, your visitors have an expectation—otherwise they wouldn’t have shown up to begin with—and you have an objective. You want them to do something when they arrive.
Content development is what’s needed to engage your visitors and influence them to take a specific action that supports your business objectives.
Questions? Or maybe you’d just like a conversation about your site? We’d be happy to take a look. Visit our site or send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org
__________________________________________________________About the Author: Brant Baumann is Indiana Design Consortium’s senior copywriter and web content engineer, with 15 years’ experience in the mad world of marketing. He also has quite a history of watching really bad movies, sometimes taking notes by the light of his cell phone in the theater. When the ushers don’t kick him out, he cranks out a blog like this. Get connected to Brant at LinkedIn, or email him at email@example.com.