Those of you who have seen our Quality Criteria will have noticed that Quuu doesn’t publish sales-focused content. This might be confusing, especially as Quuu is a content marketing tool. How can you promote your business using Quuu if you aren’t allowed to sell?
Well, this rule has a good reason behind it, and believe it or not, it is one that will give your content a boost, so let me demonstrate what I mean so that I can help you produce more value-adding content.
On average, people view over 300 adverts per day; when they click on your content, the last thing they want to see is another one. They are busy, and typically, have a lot of content to choose from so cut to the chase in how your article is about to help them, tell them what they can expect clearly.
Being helpful offers a win-win alternative. Valuable content costs a lot less than traditional advertising, but according to research, it reaps three times as many leads per dollar. Consumers feel good when they read custom content, with 70% feeling closer to companies that produce it. As the Content Marketing Institute puts it:
‘Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty. And they do.’
Being helpful vs. being pushy
So, what does helpful content, rather than sales-focused content, look like?
Below are some common differences between helpful and sales-orientated content, along with tips on how you can make yours more effective.
1. The post gives something valuable to the reader
One of the most important differences between helpful article that will get you likes, shares and even customers, is that they give something back. This could be advice and tips, useful or new information, a solution to a problem or a free resource. These offerings will be relevant, valuable, and varied; in other words, not a thinly disguised advert.
2. The post doesn’t use salesy language
In traditional adverts, most of us can spot the sales copy instructing us to ‘try this’, ‘go there’, ‘wear that’ (‘only while stocks last!’) However, recent research has shown people are less likely to notice they are being sold a product or service when reading about them in an editorial. This is very good news for content marketers, but can make separating ‘salesy’ from ‘helpful’ language a little tricky.
One simple way to do this is to focus on the reader, rather than themselves. References to a business’s company, products or achievements should be few and far between. Steer clear of phrases like:
At xyz company…
We can/we will/we guarantee…
Our product/service is…
This exclusive offer…
Available for a limited time only…
Hurry/act now/start today…
There is a time and a place for this type of language, but in a full-length article, readers are much more likely to respond to language that is relatable, full of value, and has their best interests at heart. That is what will hold their attention.
Here is an example of a post that does this really well, from Sujan Patel’s blog:
Even though he has mentioned the work he does in the last paragraph, the article is focused on its audience and their needs throughout. This presents a much more positive image than if Sujan spent the article talking about how great his business is!
3. The post isn’t filled with product or affiliate links
This one is fairly self-explanatory. If an article contains lots of links to the company’s own products, or affiliate links designed to sell other peoples’ products, it is clearly sales-orientated. Readers will notice this, and will be less likely to trust your content as a consequence. They’ll sense that the article, no matter how interesting it may be, is in fact geared towards one goal: taking their money.
This is why inserting links only when genuinely helpful, and 100% relevant, makes more sense. Lead with content your audience will benefit from, and they will seek them out; littering your articles with URLs won’t be necessary.
4. The post isn’t obscured by irritating UX
Don’t get me wrong – capture pages and sign-up forms are essential to some businesses, and when done well, can be very effective. Most readers are so used to them that one request won’t bother them. However, it’s another matter entirely when these features disrupt the user experience.
Readers who click on your links have been attracted by the snappy title, and the prospect of finding something useful or entertaining on your site. How will they feel if that click is followed by a capture form, another pop-up, and then a slide-out tab? You may as well approach people in the street shaking a collection bucket.
A Better Lemonade Stand’s website is a good example of a compromise. They have placed their capture form in a prominent position and created a stand-out design, but have not opted to obstruct the content itself:
This is unlikely to irritate readers, whereas too many pop-ups could. If that happens, it won’t matter how helpful your content is – an annoyed reader won’t bother to stick around!
There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these sales tactics; even native ads (for the time being) are considered commonplace. But nowhere in the Content Marketing rulebook does it call for the use of them all together in your content! This only serves to frustrate and ultimately scare-off people you could have nurtured.
Please get in touch and tell me your take on salesy content. What’s good or bad, effective or boring? I’d love to hear your take on the place of sales in content marketing.