When you think of your website and blog, realize that your content isn’t a bunch of clever-sounding words slapped on a page. A lot of thought and careful strategizing has to go into what you say. Here are four guidelines for a content strategy that will give you an edge over the competition:

1. Know your customers. Who is most likely to purchase from you? If you can answer this question in-depth, then you’re already on your way. A study found that 80% of companies don’t research beyond basic demographics—age, marital or family status.

This is where your research can really pay off. Dig deeper. What do your customers need? What do they struggle with? Your blog should address those needs. Be able to answer questions like: What does your buyer’s typical day look like? What are their jobs? How do they define success? Also, remember, there is not always one type of customer. Consider variations in your target demographic, and you’ll want to speak to them as well.

You should make every business decision based on your customers’ needs, values, even the changing trends in their shopping habits. For example, companies are now competing for grocery delivery customers, trying to be faster, more affordable, more convenient. Grocery delivery service is currently being tested in San Francisco because they’re trying to appeal to busy professionals who have no time to shop for food. They’ve developed virtual shopping carts because they’re faster.

Besides surveys, how can you learn more about your customers’ needs and buying habits? To get critical customer information, pay attention to click-through rates, content downloads, shares on social media, and comments under blogs, all valuable information loops. Feedback you get from potential customers can help you plan your next step.

When you really know your customer, it makes you more intuitive in anticipating what new products or services might appeal to them. So it’s worth taking the time to do more thorough research than your competitors.

2.Create content for each phase of customer contact. It’s been said that a potential customer may see or hear about you on the web four times or more before making a purchase. Social media, advertising, your blog, then on to your website to purchase.

You want your messaging to work at each stage of interaction with potential customers. First, solve their problem. Give them ideas and strategies in the “getting-to-know-you” phase. It’s like meeting a new friend who has an interesting idea. You won’t know that person well enough to trust yet, but you’ll likely hang around to hear the person’s ideas. Your goal in this phase is for your audience to see you as an expert resource. If you’re selling paint, offer DIY painting tips and helpful advice like which brushes are best to use for trim or how not to fall off a ladder. After a while, potential customers will likely see you as a trusted friend, and they’ll most likely purchase from you the next time they need paint.

For the purchase stage, be prepared to know what kind of customer support you’ll provide. Do you have any loyalty programs in place? Or other programs that can enable return customers?

3.Break the rules. More IS better, as long as it speaks to your customers. You’ve heard the saying, “quality over quantity”—in the case of blogs, it’s time to break that rule. Have a lot to say—and often—for return visitors. Keep in mind that what you say must serve your purposes.

You want customers to understand why it’s NOT better to purchase X the way they’ve been doing it, why ordering online from you is better. Provide useful, solid information, not fluff.

If a post gets a high Google ranking and lots of positive attention on social media, consider a follow-up post on a related topic. Interesting posts can also have “cliffhangers.” For example: “More secrets to fixing your finances in Part II, coming up next week.” It’s engaging and gives them a reason to return as well.

HOW you say it is as important as what you say. The web isn’t like a novel. Short, concise, and easy to read is what attracts and keeps attention, especially for quick scanners. You don’t want a lot of long, convoluted sentences with large words like “convoluted.”

4.Patience really IS a virtue. In the world of online marketing, you’ll outlast your competition by waiting. Understand that content marketing is a long-term investment. It takes time to develop a brand and a following. Content marketing works in stages, gradually building and increasing your visibility. Some CEOs get frustrated for not seeing immediate results, so they quit. If you hang in there, you’ll reap the rewards.

It’s a different world for marketing in the digital age. It requires patience and perseverance to succeed.

At Your Page Today, we’re not only dedicated to effective web design, but also developing content that will help you gain a large following. We’re a full-service web development company serving central Massachusetts—Barre, MA; Holden, MA; Auburn, MA; and Oxford, MA.

Wherever you’re located, contact us when you’re ready to build your business on the web! Get started today.