Content is king, says the old (well, old in internet years) saying. You probably didn't know that this phrase was coined in 1996 by none other than Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, who first used it in an essay arguing that:
"If people are to be expected to put up with turning on a computer to read a screen, they must be rewarded with deep and extremely up-to-date information that they can explore at will. They need to have audio, and possibly video. They need an opportunity for personal involvement that goes far beyond that offered through the letters-to-the-editor pages of print magazines."
Here at Immersion Active, our content team takes Bill's urging to create a fuller and more complete reading experience for our audience to heart. In every piece of content we create - and we create a lot of content, including social posts, landing pages, full websites, blogs, and ad campaigns - we work hard to ensure that everything we publish rewards the reader just as Bill Gates outlined above.In fact, as the premier content creators for the 50+ market, there are a host of considerations we take into account when creating the content that will attract mature adults. Over the years, we've had a lot of successes, and some failures. We've learned from both. Here are some mistakes we've seen many websites and content creators make, and the solutions we've found for supporting our content and delivering it to exactly those who are looking for it.
Mistake #1: Forgetting the User
Every piece of consumer-oriented content at Immersion Active starts with three key questions:
We focus on these three questions in order to orient our content to the end user: the consumer. We know that effective content speaks directly to the audience and always puts clarity and efficiency over the flowery language we content writers sometimes dream up.
Perhaps surprisingly, answering these three questions clearly isn't easy. In fact, it might take our team coming together for an hour-long brainstorming session to get a sentence that perfectly encapsulates the goal of a campaign in a way that informs both our content and design.
Once we've nailed this part of the process, however, everything else falls easily into place. Our years of experience tell us that if you can't easily identify your audience and put their needs into a concrete statement, you haven't figured out how to reach them, putting you in a position where you chase your audience, rather than lead them.
Mistake #2: Unskimmable Content
Web users don't read, they skim. You're probably even skimming this page right now, looking for key words and phrases that relate to whatever topic brought you here in the first place. Content writers need to understand the difference between reading and skimming and provide their content in easy to digest nuggets that help the reader find what they are looking for.
Here at Immersion Active we take the "easy to digest" analogy a bit further. We talk about our content in chunks made up of "bites," "snacks," and "meals." Bites and snacks are short blurbs of content that give the reader a quick look at a topic and leave them wanting more. This blog, however, is a meal. It is meant to be longer and more in-depth, and while we hope it leaves you wanting more, we also hope it satisfies whatever need brought you here in the first place.
When content writers don't understand the need to supply content that meets their readers' appetite, they are doing the content they create a disservice. There is a time and a place for a content meal, and that place probably isn't on the home page of your website. Expert content writers will help you find the places to showcase your content while helping you deliver it to your readers how and when they want it most.
Mistake #3: Fumbling the Call to Action
The call to action is what you actually want your audience to do once they come to your website or landing page. If the prospect is at the top of the sales funnel, you may want them to find out more about your company and the types of products you create. If they are further down in the sales funnel, you might want them to download your brochure. If they are already familiar with your company and the types of products you create, you may want them to buy something or contact you.
No matter what you want the user to do, you don't want to blow your chance to get them to do it. That's what happens when your call to action isn't aligned to your goals.
Check out this ad from music streaming giant Spotify:
Problem #1: There are two calls to action here. Do you want to "go premium" or do you want to "play free"? I don't know about you, but I'd rather play free. I'm guessing that's not the choice they are hoping their audience will make.
Problem #2: "Go Premium" doesn't mean anything to anyone. A better choice would be to put "Try Premium for Free" in the button.Your call to action should be clear and concise. It should not compete with other content on your page, instead it should reinforce what you are already telling your audience. Good choices for wording are often the simplest: "Add to Cart," "Download Floorplans," or "Find Out More" tell the consumer exactly what will happen if they press that button.
Mistake #4: Using the wrong voice and tone
If people were to ask my pet peeve as a content writer, it would be exactly this. Finding the right voice and tone (two different things, by the way) are essential to creating content that your readers want to read. Far too often, a website will blow their chance with their customers because they talk down to their users or use an authoritarian tone that makes people instinctively back away. The most useful advice I can give here is don't talk down to your user, especially older adults. They aren't children and they deserve to be treated as the competent and vital people they are. (And by the way, don't talk down to children either. They know when you are doing it, and they don't like it.)
Mistake #5: Not including interactions with social media
You've probably heard people scream about the need for content to contain good SEO keywords. If you are like most people, you have no idea what this means and even less of an idea of how to implement it on your website. We will agree wholeheartedly that you need to implement excellent SEO practices if you want to reach out beyond your core group of consumers. However, implementing a strategy that optimizes your SEO by integrating it with your social media is perhaps even more important.
Social media is arguably more important for getting out word about your brand or your product than your actual website. In fact, we know of at least one reputable company who has dropped their website in favor of rich content contained on their Facebook and LinkedIn pages. While we wouldn't recommend going this route, we do think your website should incorporate a strong social media presence. This could include links to your social media pages, a live display of your current social posts, and an integration between what your user will find on your website and what they will see when they link to your posts.
For more about how to create content that supports your customers as they travel down the sales funnel, get in touch with the Immersion Active sales team. And to discover the role that design plays in reaching the 50+ consumer, read Part 1 of this blog series: Website Best Practices for 50+ Homebuyers Part 1: Design.