Don’t Dive Off the Shallow End: 7 Rules for Web Content Creation

7 rules to help making content creation within an organisation easier. Includes content framework and other advice.

Content Marketing is one of the biggest trends now. However, as with many fast-developing Internet trends (SEO or Social Media in the past), there is an urge to do something but little understanding of how it has to be done.

7 Rules for Web Content Creation

 

In this article I want to share 7 basic time-saving rules for crafting Web content.

1. Have a concept

Consider creating a content framework where you define your cornerstones:

  • Who are the readers of the content? What motivates them?
  • At what stage of the buying process are the readers?  How high is their level of awareness of the subject on which you are writing ?
  • What do you want to achieve by creating the content? Look at this from several angles: the customer (information needs), the company (e.g. customer retention), and additional benefits (e.g. SEO).
  • How would that content fit in the overall company strategy and the current marketing campaign?
  • Which format is the most appropriate? Do not just think in terms of blog posts: white papers, infographics, press releases, tweets, online tests, presentations — these are all valid and working formats of online content.

2. Have a plan

If you are writing within an organization, treat your content creation process like any other project. Define the roles, the responsibilities and the deadlines. Think about the stages the project will go through (briefing, planning, first draft, correction, second draft, etc), and how different roles are involved at each stage. Do not forget about the documentation of the process: either use a project management tool you have, or place your project schedule on a shared resource, Intranet or cloud-based.

3. Have a structure

This might remind you of the school times, but do create a detailed plan of what you want to write about. If there is limited space (e.g. on an infographic), note down the required length of text blocks.

If you are writing a white paper or a blog article, decide in how many smaller parts you will divide it and how to structure them. Generally, consistency is the keyword. The paragraph headings should be of the same format and the text parts of the same length.

Do not forget about the main idea that holds all of your text bits together and contributes to the strength of your argument. And even though users online are said to read diagonally, introduction and conclusion (or summary) are still the important parts of any text.

4. Be brief

“People online do not read”. It is, of course, an exaggeration, but keep it in mind when starting a writing task. What does it imply?

  • Add visuals and make your content as appealing as possible (use colors and highlighters where appropriate, but do not overdo).
  • Make sure your paragraphs and sentences are short and easily digestible. Use bullet lists to present a series of arguments.
  • Use paragraph headings as pivot points to keep the user reading by arousing his or her interest in what comes next.
  • Within your text, avoid unnecessary padding such as filler phrases and redundancies. In short, if you can say the same thing with fewer words, go for it.

5. Be precise

Because of the usual practice of skimming through Web pages, the information is often misinterpreted or badly understood. Highlight the most important points through moderate repetition and rewording. You may use the writing formula: “Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell it to them, and then tell them what you have just told them” for delivering your main message. Having a consistent structure and writing correctly will also help to improve the preciseness of your expression.

6. Be correct

Even though the Internet seems to accept rather causal style, your text has to be correct. Ask other project participants to proofread your text, and work with credible sources to polish your writing and achieve grammatical and stylistic correctness. I use the Associated Press Stylebook, but there are other style guides, as well as dictionaries, grammar checking software and content creation tools you can use. Be aware that the norms in the US and UK English are different, so choose one language variant and stick to it.

7. Be true

Apart from grammar, factual correctness is important. Even when producing marketing texts, observe the boundary between promoting a product and misinforming your readers.

  • Research. Have you done thorough research on the topic? Research may include field tests, talks to product experts or to the customers, or information from special literature or industry press.
  • Citations. Are the sources you quote trustworthy? Is the information you use still up-to-date?
  • Details. Does your text cover the topic well or does it leave a lot of open questions? Can the reader follow your line of argument without interruption?

In conclusion, there is no magic wand for creating marvelous content within minutes. Writing a good text takes a lot of time and (collaborative) effort. But having a plan and working through it consistently will make content creation easier and accelerate your learning curve.

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Mobile Marketing KPIs: What to Consider

This post gives an overview of essential mobile marketing KPIs that would be considered for a performance dashboard. It also outlines a general framework of how these KPIs relate to each other.

mobile_kpis
Mobile marketing KPIs structure

Conversion funnel is an important part of any performance dashboard. The funnel shows how the user travels through different stages and interacts with the ad and then with the product.  A simple conversion funnel for a mobile marketing display campaign advertising for an app would be:  Impressions-Clicks-Installs-First Interaction, with percentage share between them.

Return KPIs can be measured as monetary values: revenue per user, lifetime user value, etc. However, non-monetary KPIs (number of installs, daily active users, daily active paying users, average session length, etc.) are also important, especially in the cases where monetization is detached from the download (free apps or image campaigns).

Cost KPIs will largely depend on your payment model for the advertising. Possible ways are:

Cost per mille (per thousand impressions)

Cost per click

Cost per install (also possible: cost per lead, cost per download)

Cost per engagement

Cost per revenue or revenue share models

ROI is calculated as a percentage share of return on what has been invested in advertisement, for a product that does not monetize immediately, the ROI is calculated per time period (daily, weekly) in user cohorts.

The framework at the bottom of the picture shows how the KIPs can be adapted to achieve a significant level of preciseness and data consistency.

Timeframe includes both how the KPIs are aggregated (daily, weekly, monthly) and what time periods they cover (past, current or future/trend data).

Segmentation is essential for getting the working data. Making the segments too broad will impact the data consistency negatively and working with micro-segments is mostly too difficult to implement and does not allow to make solid conclusions based the data sample.  As an example, consider segmenting the data by country or region, by traffic channel or by device type.

Sample statistics includes the parameters that analyze the quality of data and how the sample behaves in general. Instead of just aggregating and averaging the data, consider such parameters as median, min. and max. amounts and standard deviation. Besides, look at the size of the segments you work with: which of those have the strongest impact and why? Also, learn to recognize patterns in your timeframe, and how the data fluctuates on a daily, weekly or seasonal basis.

After you have decided on the KPI data you will include for your dashboard and reporting, consider making the data more visual and more structured for the intended users. In one of my next posts, I will cover the issue of data visualization in more detail.

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How to Create a Banner that Performs

Improving the look and the position of your banner may improve the overall performance and increase the profitability of your campaigns.

Display advertisement is often considered unprofitable due to high cost and low CTR (click-through-rate). However, improving the look and the position of your banner may improve the overall performance and increase the profitability of your campaigns.

1. Banner position.
The best position is close to the user’s eye path, that is to what a user is looking for on the page. E.g. an order confirmation, a product description, a sign-up form. Banners placed outside the main structural blocks of the page will probably not be noticed. In fact, users have learned to filter and ignore the parts of the web page typically occupied by banners (the top and the right-hand side of the page).

Banners placed on the side of the page vertically typically get half of the clicks that the banners placed horizontally do even if they are placed on the same level.

If a user has to scroll to view the banner, this reduces the CTR  drastically, so avoid placing the banner at the bottom of a longer page, unless the user normally has to scroll to the end of the page (e.g. when reading an article).

Surrounding banners, graphics and text also have a direct impact on your CTR. Experience shows that a user normally skims through blocks of content, thus grouping parts a web page together. If your banner is placed beneath or next to a bulky blinking ad, the user will often dismiss  both your banner and the ad as one content block that is of no interest to him/her.

2. Banner design.
Recent studies prove that a banner that matches the overall design of the page (i.e. uses similar colors, fonts, spacing, etc.) performs better than a banner that is a contrasting or exceptional element to the page design. My experience shows that the following elements have practically no positive impact on the CTR: moving or blinking elements, pictures of objects or people, logos, colorful backgrounds, flash animation, etc. However, consider the whole of the user journey on the website, if a graphical element, e.g. an icon, appears several times on different pages of a website, consider implementing it on your banner.

3. Banner text.
Here be specific about what your offer is. Provide the benefit the user will get from clicking on the banner in a wording that is suitable for the audience you are trying to reach. Banner title is the most important part of the banner text, often the only part of the text that actually gets read. Make sure that it captures the attention of the user, without exaggerating what you actually offer.

4. Call to action.
Make your call to action the most prominent element of the banner. Be very brief and precise about the action the user needs to take (“receive your free copy”, “register now”, “proceed to the checkout”). It is always good to make the CTR button three-dimensional and/or contrasting to the main palette.

5. A/B tests.
These recommendations are of general character and will not necessarily work on any page and for any product being advertised. Consider running some A/B or even multivariant tests in order to find out what actually performs best, both in terms of CTR and how profitable and qualified the incoming leads are.

banner example

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