The Hostway Blog

The Lifeblood of the Internet

If you've been involved in marketing of any kind over the last two decades, I'm sure you've heard the saying, "content is king." Marketers, successful marketers, live by that mantra. When I look at the Internet, what I really see are two things. There is the content and then there are the applications that allow you to interact with the content.

To completely over-simplify things, the applications are what make it possible for us to create, share and use the content we find on the Internet. So to say content is King, you'd have to also say that the applications are Queen in order to have a more complete view of the Internet. There are all kinds of applications from the browsers that make surfing the Internet possible to all sorts of applications that manage and deliver the content.

Think about it. Without the application we know as Google, how would you find the content you're looking for on the Internet? I've been there, and I remember finding things online was next to impossible, but that was back in 1987. Then we have Adobe Flash that allows us to see and hear sounds and images over the Internet.

There are all sorts of content management systems available to us today that simply didn't exist a few years back. As it becomes easier and easier to manage and digest, the demand for new content grows and grows.

Marketers who create quality content often find they are able to generate large amounts of traffic, they usually have large mailing lists and it almost goes without saying that they usually have healthy bank accounts.

It all starts with the content. The more you create, share, distribute, the better off you'll be in building a profitable business on the Web. If you want the real secret to Internet success, this is it.

Content comes in many forms, and it's best to use as many forms as possible on your Web site because there are now so many ways to access and use content and not everybody wants it the same way. Some people love to read, others prefer to listen, some prefer to sit back and watch a video.

As you develop your content, think about creating not just written articles, white papers and special reports. Be sure to add streaming audio, podcasts, videos, screen-captures and even animations to your mix.

Sometimes it's best to give the same content in different formats. For instance, you might present an article as both a regular Web page and a downloadable .PDF file. You might present a video and also present just the audio track from that same video.

Now how do you get from creating content to building a successful business?

Think about why most people use the Internet. They get online and check email. They log into their social networks to keep up with their friends. They search for information to help them answer a question. They look for things to purchase. They come to play games and meet people. All of these activities revolve around finding and using content.

When you've got content on your Web site and you make it easy for people to find, you increase the traffic to your Web site, naturally.

The more content you have, the more people will be stopping by your Web site. Truly the days of the single-page sales letter Web sites are done. You've got to do more than make a compelling sales pitch, you've got to demonstrate that you're the leader in your market. You've got to show people why they need what you have and how it will truly make their lives better. And most of all, you've got to let them sample your stuff before they purchase.

Let's look at it from the customer's perspective. Your customer wants the best of what's available but how can they figure out what's best from a sales letter alone? They need more information that's not in the form of a sales pitch. They need to feel like they can try it on, test it out, and they can do that when you present them plenty of content on your Web site.

So if you're selling a product that is best demonstrated in a video, be sure you have a number of videos on your Web site showing customers using and loving your product. If you sell consulting, demonstrate your knowledge of your topic with articles, reports, white papers, audio presentations and even videos of you speaking to an audience.

As you plan your content, also keep in mind how you're going to present it on your Web site so that it's in the formats people can really use, that it's easy to find, and that it's readily accessible from different Internet devices, including smart phones.

If you'll take to time to do this, what you'll soon realize is that your sales letters will perform better, people will not need as much strong-arm salesmanship before they purchase, your mailing list will grow and your Web site will show up in more places on the Internet.

It's no surprise that Web sites that present a lot of content lead the field when it comes to sales. Take a look at your Web site today and think about how a new visitor would really get to sample what it is you do without having to purchase what you're selling.

How good is your Web site at attracting new visitors with little or no direct effort on your part? Do you have enough easily accessible content on your Web site to keep people coming back for more?

Most Web sites, including my own, can always use more great content. Adding content is the best and most profitable use of your marketing dollars because the return on your investment continues for years.

For instance, in 1991 I wrote my very first article on marketing. It was published in a national business magazine a few months later and it continues to appear on the Internet almost 20 years later. In that time, this one article has been read more than a million times and has generated countless sales for my business. What other kind of marketing can do that?

In my opinion, no other marketing piece can do what adding fresh content to your Web site can. Ideally, you'll be adding new content regularly, and expiring content that is no longer relevant. When you do, you'll have the most profitable marketing strategy working for you all day, every day for years to come.