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Tom Elgar

Educate Using Content Because No One Reads the Manual

By: Tom Elgar | November 6, 2013 | 
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Educate Using Content Because No One Reads the Manual

By Tom Elgar

The amount of time an Internet user devotes to the content of a particular webpage has been decreasing steadily over time: From one minute 30 seconds per page in 1998, to 1.2 nanoseconds in 2013.

Bottom line? The amount of time available to engage your customers on your home page is falling fast.

This makes the job of web designers and developers steadily both more difficult and more boring.

Speed is everything.

Don’t Make Me Think is a bestselling book on web design. And nuance – or thinking as we used to call it – is nothing.

Hopefully we’re all selling something at least a little bit new. So how do you explain a new product or service?

End Confusion with Quality Content: One Brand’s Story

We have been launching a new blogging platform recently – nothing NEW in that particularly – but we do have a different spin on it to make it easier to maintain. During our market testing one thing became very clear – explaining how it worked just confused people.

I really wanted to explain WHY it was easier and WHY it was better, but we could see using tools such as Crazy Egg and (big tip of the day) LuckyOrange that no one was interested in paragraphs (or frankly even sentences).

So we ended up with just four words – “Better, Easier Business Blogging” – in a kind of ‘Just take it from me: IT IS’ kind of a way.

With this super simple message, people coming directly from Google Adwords, as we did for our testing, had a very high sign-up rate – higher than 40 percent – which is stunning.

But they had very low rates of engagement once they got in to the product – because it seems – they had very little idea of what to do, and what was important.

Blogging is great for answering those very (common) questions about your product, and is not often a quoted benefit.

Gini Dietrich wrote about the classic case for blogging a few weeks ago:

  1. It builds brand awareness and credibility.
  2. It drives thought leadership.
  3. It increases sales.

So I guess my point falls under number three. Use blogging to cast, like seeds on the wind, your much more multi-layered worldview rather than a four word “punch in the face” headline or descriptor. That’s how you will see the important increase in sales.

Then, when people do arrive at your site, they understand what you are trying to do, and maybe give you a little more of their precious time. They think, “This really might help me.” And they move from bored (and irritable) casual consumer to a more thoughtful, careful potential customer.

And that is very valuable indeed.

About Tom Elgar


Tom Elgar is co-founder and CEO of passle, which aims to make it easier for businesses to maintain an up-to-date and engaging blog. Prior to passle, he also co-founded Serverside Group, which created software allowing bank customers to personalize their payment cards (presently somewhere around 75 million designs have been created). The company was bought by Gemalto NV in 2009. He coded his first website in 1995 for Netscape 1, and lives in Oxford, UK. 

7 comments
Anthony_Rodriguez
Anthony_Rodriguez

Building on your point that the time to engage people on a website is dwindling, there is not other industry doing it worse than the government. They are offering a service to people they are paying for, and instead of giving it to people the way they want it they just throw it all up on the web and basically say 'you figure it out.' There is so much opportunity for government in this area, but they are so far behind the curve that it is no wonder people don't believe government can help meet their goals or solve their problems.

biggreenpen
biggreenpen

Tom I read this earlier --- so interesting because it's most definitely my inclination to explain all the "hows" behind things. Important to remember that may not be what people want. Thanks!

belllindsay
belllindsay

I love people who use their blog to educate. I have to say, Gini's pretty great at that - especially because she's prepared to share personal stories of not one what's worked - but also what didn't! Having a rich library of smart, searchable blog posts at your customers or clients fingertips is an invaluable resource. 

Jack Long
Jack Long

Great article- I use Lucky Orange for all my sites. So helpful to actually SEE what visitors are doing with Recordings, and Heatmaps!

ConnorKinnear
ConnorKinnear

@Anthony_Rodriguez DEf a good point.  I was at The Content Marketing Show in London last Friday and a chap from UK gov was presenting about their content strategy - he mentioned everything you in your comment and how the are trying to change that.  To be fair, he said they had 75K web pages and went through every one and judged them on how useful they were, if they were needed, if they provided a benefit etc.  If they did not, they were culled - they deleted 72K pages to leave just 3K - a gigantic cull and I think it shows they are finally understanding what you talk about above.

Tom Elgar
Tom Elgar

Yes. It really is a class product. CrazyEgg is good but LuckyOrange (weird names even by web standards) is superb. 

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