Any investment in online marketing, be it in paid search, email marketing or social media activity, without a prior investment in content is money down the drain.

Getting people to visit your website can be a simple enough (if not expensive) process. Getting them to make a purchase or even a repeat visit to your website is a little more complicated.

This is where great content comes in. Although content creation can be labour intensive and at times, plain difficult to produce, it’s an investment that, when done correctly, will yield significant returns.

Although content creation is a never ending process, there are some very simple steps that small businesses will want to take to start them off on the right foot.

Product Descriptions: These need to be as detailed as possible. Additional information, not included in the standard texts supplied by the manufacturer or supplier, will enhance your listings in the eye of the customer and make your pages more SEO-friendly.

Be sure to include details like physical size and weight of product, identifying codes such as EAN or ISBNs, customer and expert reviews, regularly updated frequently asked questions (FAQs), etc.

Detailed Delivery Information: Don’t hide this away. The customer should have access to your delivery options and costs from every page. Remember, one size does not fit all. For items that cannot be fitted through the letter box, superfast or next day delivery might not be the best option.

Email Capture Forms: Again these should be visible from every page. Give your visitors a reason for subscribing to your email marketing campaigns. The promise of a regular newsletter isn’t enough. Companies like iContact will give you all the tools you need to kick-start your email marketing campaigns the right way and then deliver more sophisticated strategies as you grow.

Remember, email marketing gives you the best (and most cost effective) opportunity to drive repeat traffic to your website. If you cannot make a sale, make it as easy as possible to capture your visitors contact details.

Your Company Blog: A well written blog is an essential marketing tool for any business. Not only does it give your website a pulse (separating it from the many millions of static websites gathering dust on the web), it is SEO gold and will also provide great content for your email and social media marketing activities. Companies like BoostSuite can help you reach a wider audience with your blog content and build community around your site.

Remember, just because you have a social media presence, does not mean you have a social media strategy. Great blogged content will kick-start any social media campiagns.

Photography and Video: Never skimp on photography. Great product images will help your company stand out from the crowd. Try and include images taken from all angles and showcasing any specific product features. High quality video will enhance your visitors’ experience even further.

Great image or video production does not have to be expensive – it just takes a little planning and experimentation.

Final Thought on Content Creation

No matter how much you have spent on your website, without great content you’ll find selling online an uphill struggle. When producing content always try and stick to the golden rules of relevancy and engagement and never be afraid to ask for the sale with a strong call to action.

Great content is a far more persuasive driver of business than deep discounts or never ending sales which will ultimately devalue your product or service.