Content for customers versus content for influencer outreach? Are these two different? Do they need to be? As a marketer have you ever given it a thought about what kind of content a potential customer may find useful, and what type of content an influencer or another blogger may find worthy of linking to or sharing? The issue at hand is that, unless you write some content specifically for influencer outreach and get backlinks and shares thereby, your content for potential customers will not work as hard, as you may not get the Google rankings for it that comes only with a good number of backlinks. Often content written specifically for influencers is known as “link-bait”. And link-bait content isn’t really what your customer may find to be what he is looking for!
There are a lot of articles online showing you how to write “link-worthy” content. In fact, Brian Dean the backlinks guru, says he started getting any traction at all, when he stopped writing for “consumers” and started writing specifically for “linkreators” i.e. other bloggers who had a blog to link to him from. Whereas his consumers were new bloggers without the traction yet to give him worthy links! So should it be an either/or situation? Or do we find a way to write for both audiences, without your brand sounding like it’s in two minds? I am a votary of the idea of making one piece of content go a longer way with both types of audiences. I think Content Writing Expertise demands that you have to be able to write with some versatility and cleverness. Read on to see how you could strategize for this, and how to implement some intelligent content tactics!
The expert perspectives on content for influencers: it has to be of knowledge-authority value!
Most of us marketers begin by thinking that influencers and bloggers love to link to content that their readers would like. So what does it matter if you write for customers? The bloggers will find that link-worthy!
But the truth is not that. Check out what experts think is content that can be link-worthy to bloggers and influencers. Eric Ward, one of the ultimate experts on link-building explains in his article “What Makes A Website Link-Worthy?”:
The fundamental principle of the web is to allow any document to link to and to be linked from any other document. This is how Tim Berners-Lee intended it when he first proposed the hypertext protocol in March of 1989, before most of us had ever heard of the Internet. But flash forward 25 years, and on a web now filled with spam, uninspiring shopping sites, fake pharmacies, and 80 million blogs about hairstyles, and it begs the question: what is the motivation for one web site to link to another web site? The less useful your content, the less likely you are to ever receive a link to it.
If we think of “useful” as a continuum, then the most useful sites are those that provide rich, quality content on a specific subject on which the editors or providers are authorities. An example would be CancerNet, aka NCI – The National Cancer Institute. Now there’s the ultimate example of content on the right side of the useful continuum — 300,000 pages on every facet of cancer, all free, all generated by experts in the field.
But the harsh reality is we can’t all be The National Cancer Institute/CancerNet. Most sites simply do not have the kind of content that engenders millions of links. So what do you? What if you are simply trying to sell a few basketballs and don’t have any quality content? If your site falls on the left side of the useful continuum, you have to accept that you are not going to get many links or shares. And those links you do get you will probably have to pay for. And those links you pay for are not likely to help your rankings, and might even hurt them.
If you don’t want to accept the reality I just described, if you want to earn links to your site, you have one (and only one) other option available to you. Make it linkworthy. What is a linkworthy site?
Let’s imagine you have an online magic store that caters to professional and amateur magicians. On your site, you sell tricks, supplies, hats, capes, and wands, even the saw-the-person-in-half gag. If your content is nothing more than an online magic store, why would anyone link to it? You might get a few links from magic web guides and link lists. A couple from your suppliers or magic industry trade associations, but then what? If you are an online store with nothing but products as your content, then you MUST look to associate/affiliate programs as a means of generating links. Basically, paying for them.
But maybe, just maybe, there is something more you CAN do, if you are willing to roll up your sleeves. What if, along with your products, you create a searchable database of information on magic. What if you had complete biographies of thousands of magicians? What if you had a section devoted to magical world records, or a glossary of magical terms, or a directory of magicians on the Internet? This would then be an excellent example of how a niche shopping site can add rich, relevant content, i.e. usefulness, to its web site, as well as sell merchandise. Such a site would be written about, linked to, and shared by just about anyone who cares about magic. Any magic fan with a web site and a curated list of hand picked links would be likely to link to it.”
Notice here that what influencers and bloggers would see as link-worthy content is content that exhibits domain expertise, breadth and depth of subject knowledge and information related to cutting-edge trends! It has more to do with intellectual understanding of concepts and debates. It has to be a repository of volume and width. Whatever else you sell on your site, your site has to be a knowledge-base for the topic of your niche!
The expert perspectives on content for customers: it has to be of practical, implementational value!
If you read the expert opinions on what works as ideal content for consumers, most experts believe that useful, practical, action-oriented, purchase-behaviour-changing content is what works. Read this definition of content for customers from the Content Marketing Institute:
Content marketing’s purpose is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behavior. It is an ongoing process that is best integrated into your overall marketing strategy.”
Ahava Liebtag, writing in the Content Marketing Institute’s blog has actually created a checklist called the “Creating Valuable Content Checklist”, where her perspective is thus explained:
Great content strategy is about taking the guesswork out of execution, so creativity about content can flourish. The checklist is designed for digital content creators and marketing teams, and it defines valuable content using five benchmarks: Findable, Readable, Understandable, Actionable, Shareable.
(Click the image to see enlarged version.)
Image courtesy: Ahava Liebtag
Over the years I’ve developed my own internal checklist of what needs to happen to keep the user interested in what I was writing. But I’ve also known that I control only part of the process. Visual design, information architecture, and usability combine to create user experience and are key in keeping users on pages.”
Notice how much emphasis is laid on content needing to be extremely practical in its orientation if it is intended for customers, such that it acts as an aid to implementation! It has to be actionable content, detailed in descriptions of steps to take, points to watch out for, and oriented towards to a do-it-yourself mode. In other words, your prospective customers will find useful all content that explains the “How-Tos” of processes to use in business, rather than pure knowledge.
Can you combine content for both influencers and customers in the same post? Should you?
From the distinctions that experts emphasize above, it’s natural for us content marketers to wonder if we can satisfy both sets of audiences important to us – i.e. the bloggers/influencers and the prospective customers – with the same piece of content, or do we have to tailor separate content for link-baiting and separate content for actionable tips for the customer? The answer is that many content marketers find their “happy balance” through sheer trial and error.
For instance, in my case my articles contain a bit of both types of content. You will notice (as in this article) that I’ve covered both the intellectual points of debate and depth in the influencer quotes above and then listed a series of action pointers for customers below. In my experience, the influencers take what they like from my article and the customers take what they like and my dilemma is somewhat solved.
I have known other writers, however, who have two clear sets of informational content created separately: one set is clearly “written up” and aimed at peers and other bloggers and influencers in lingo that satisfies their credentials and expectations of value; while the other set of content is “written down” to target audiences, who may need less theory and more commonsensical, do-able lists of actions.
Both strategies work, and it all depends on how you see your business traffic getting built up more easily.
You may strategize that getting more influencers is more important so that you can focus on more backlinks and shares and you can thus raise your Google rankings. When your overall authority status is thus exhibited to Google, all your posts tend to get higher rankings not just the influencer ones – the rising tide raises all boats!
Alternatively you may decide that to build a huge bank of customer-centric practical posts is the way because your business is going to depend on Google rankings less and more on social traffic, guest posting and other non-Google sources.
Three content factors that require particular attention and differentiated handling!
Whichever strategy you choose as right for your business there are three points to keep in mind when executing your content:
1. The “content” part of the content has to be different. For influencers, include a lot of expert quotes, facts, statistics, debates, trends, research findings, cutting edge predictions etc. They need something in your piece that surprises them because all of them may have done intensive reading themselves. For customers, include lots of bulleted lists, names and details of tools, process details, cheat sheet style delivery, links to other sources of explanation in the case of any jargon being included etc.
2. The “language and vocabulary” of the content has to be different. For influencers, you need to “up your style”. You need to sound like “one of them” rather than like a Domain Authority 20 site writing to a Domain Authority 78 site! In general, outreach works when potential linkers feel they are getting something out of the linking i.e. they tend to like to sites with higher authority than themselves. So your task (if your own authority is still being established) is to go slowly uphill, reaching out to those around your own Domain Authority score at first, before you can climb to the higher players. For customer-content, the process is in the reverse. Write down to the lowest denominator of audience, so that the language and vocabulary is not daunting, the reading is easy, the instructions are clear and crisp, and there’s a lot of “hand-holding”.
3. The “tone-of-voice” of the brand content has to be nuanced. This is a bit of a tough one to master. If you’re doing separate content for influencers and customers, you could get two different people in your teams to write the appropriate content. But if you are a solopreneur, you need to wear two hats and wear the boss’s tone-and-style versus the informal tone-and-style in tandem. If you practice at it a lot, and do pieces like I do with something for both audiences, you will get into a tone-and-style eventually that can shift up and down a continuum without sounding like two separate brands or people. Practice over time makes perfect!
So what are your thoughts on this topic? Do share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of aspiring digital solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us in the comments field below this post.
Other articles in our series “Content Writing Expertise”:
- How To Create Truly Original Content – And Not Be A Copycat!
- Learn To Write Content Like A Pro With Force And Authority!
- Content Engagement Vs. Content Consistency Vs. Content Variety!
- How To Help Your Customer Cut Out The Noise And Hear Only You!
- How To Write Headlines For Your Articles That Scream “Click Me”!