Yawn—content is so boring, right? Why should we care about content? Throw a few words up on the page, call it good, and move on. Hold on! Not so fast. Content is the star player in any online marketing program. Key functions of content are:
- Search Engine Optimization Placement: Content plays a major role in how/where your website is placed on Google. In February 2011, Google made a change to its algorithm, emphasizing high-quality content as a key search engine optimization requirement. This change was called Panda. Bottom line—template content is out and original content is now “in.” (For tips about search engine optimization and content, please visit www.beyondindigopets.com/blog/.
- Education: As consumers, we know about cars, food products, cleaning products, and beer because of the amount of advertising we have seen on these subjects. However, we know minuscule amounts of information about veterinary health care and why we should pay for it. We just know as pet owners that we “sorta need it.” The job of content is to educate people about what the service is, why their pet needs it, and, frankly, why people should pay to have that service conducted.
- Engagement: If the content on your Internet marketing platforms is stale, boring, flat, and so on, then why should the consumer read it? The content needs to be written correctly in the proper style for the platform (website, Facebook, blogs, Twitter, Pinterest, eNewsletter, YouTube, newsletters, and so on) where it is placed, and it needs to ENGAGE the reader. If the content is not compelling, why should the consumer read it and, more importantly, why should they come back?
Placement for Engagement
Multiple times I have been asked: “Can I write the content once and copy and paste it across all my platforms?” No. Resist this urge to write material once, check the box, and just plaster it out there willy-nilly. You will lose your audience. Each platform has its own style and guidelines for the way content should be displayed, the length, and the tone of how it is delivered. Sure, the message across all the platforms can and should be the same, but the exact content in each place needs to be avoided. General guidelines are as follows:
- Online Review Areas: Everywhere people can leave you reviews online must be managed and monitored. The content on these pages needs to be accurate and updated on a regular basis. Once a review is left, then a thank you note needs to be given for positive reviews and an educational note placed for a crabby review. Each thank you/educational note needs to be unique to the post and should not be a standard reply.
- Website: Most veterinarian websites I see fall down on the job when explaining the services they offer and why people should use them. Website content needs to be 400 to 500 words per page, needs to educate the pet owner on what the hospital does and why they provide those services, and it needs to be optimized (coded) to be found in Google. The content style needs to be informative and educational in nature. Because protocols do not change every week in the hospital, do not expect to change content about what services you provide on a constant basis. Instead, a blog should be used for weekly educational updates.
- Blog: Confusion reigns over what in the heck a blog is. Think of it as an online magazine that is educational in nature. Resist putting cute updates about the office pet on a blog (those type of updates go on Facebook/social media). Focus on short paragraphs, bullet points, and easy to understand educational topics that are timely. For example, in the spring a good topic would be flea, tick, and heartworm prevention.
- Social Media Platforms: A good framework for the tone and style of social media is a coffee shop. Conversations on social media areas are fun, chit chatty, ongoing conversations with a hint of education thrown in for flavor. Numerous times I have heard doctors say they wrote a beautiful article that is educational in nature and are disappointment nobody thought it was useful on Facebook. However, the picture of the office cat doing something cute went viral. The educational piece is great but needs to be placed on a blog. Correct placement is everything with content. (For tips on content for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+, check our blog each week during the month of May at www.beyondindigopets.com/blog/).
Monitor Its Success
Marketing needs to be monitored to make sure it is generating the results that are desired. Are people engaging with the content? Are they reading it? Is the post/page/tweet being passed to other people? To find out, monitor the statistics. Each platform mentioned above has its own statistics program that is included or can be added to determine the success of the created content. Monitoring, adjusting, and changing the content based on results is an ongoing process—but a necessary one.