Let’s face it, quality content is hard to create and hard to keep fresh. We might all agree that a website or blog fed daily with fresh content will probably capture and keep more loyal fans than a Web presence that never changes. Furthermore, content that engages visitors and creates a dialogue is even more powerful. But there are challenges and tradeoffs between static, dynamic and interactive content. Let’s take a look at some examples and list some of their pros and cons.
Examples: website pages, social media profiles (not feeds), eBooks, whitepapers, emails, landing pages, ppc and social media ads, banner ads, videos, one-way webinars.
You might think that videos and webinars or rotating banners would be considered dynamic because they move or change over time, but each of them is really one event that doesn’t change, with a beginning, end and a single purpose. The other criteria that defines static content is authorship. If a piece of content is created and promoted by a brand or single author, it has no way to evolve or grow over time through engagement with outsiders.
- Relatively low time commitment: create once and publish to multiple channels. Can be repurposed and republished, but most static content just sits there and waits for people to find and consume it.
- Easy to control: people can read it or view it, but they can’t change anything. In most cases, they can share or comment, but that’s interactive content (see below). Good for highly regulated industries in which all content must be carefully reviewed and approved.
- Easy to promote and convert: creates a single, focused opportunity for lead conversion with calls to action, emails, landing pages and ads of all kinds. Just tell people what it is and why it’s good for them, and they will download or view your content—maybe.
- One-time deal: good for first time visitors but bad for repeat visitors. Why should I come back to your website if your content is always the same? Why would I re-read your eBook multiple times when there are so many new ones published every day?
- Boring: same stuff, different day. People grow weary of your product-centric messaging and self-congratulatory tone. Time to move on…
- One-way communication: most static content is nothing more than a broadcast, just like a TV advertisement. There is rarely any two-way dialogue with the exception of blog comments or product reviews, and even those can be tightly controlled and edited.
Examples: blogs, rss feeds, social media feeds, syndicated sites, A/B tested landing pages and emails, smart website content (post-conversion content personalized for a lead), smart email (post-conversion email personalized for a lead), smart forms (post-conversion, progressive profiling), smart CTAs (post-conversion, lead nurturing offers), native advertising, personalized advertising.
- Higher conversion rates: many studies have shown that personalized, relevant content converts at much higher rates than static content and landing pages.
- Increased loyalty: studies have also shown personalized content that changes with time and circumstance is far more likely to produce repeat visits and subscribers than static content.
- Improved search visibility: Google and other search engines respond positively to fresh, dynamic content, especially content that is shared and subscribed to.
- Relatively expensive: it takes time and effort to produce high quality blog posts on a regular basis or to develop content strategies for multiple personas and buyer journeys. Finding and hiring brand journalists or content marketing agencies can add significantly to your marketing budget.
- Requires change: in most cases, moving to a dynamic content strategy involves changing from a product-centric broadcast approach to an inbound, customer-centric approach. This may be hard to swallow for senior managers and entrenched, old-school marketers.
- Requires analysis: it doesn’t do you any good to simply publish dynamic content. You need marketing automation technology and experts to monitor the different channels, optimize for conversion rates and report results to managers looking for budget justification and planning.
Examples: blog comments, social media sharing and liking buttons, social media follow buttons, social media updates and shares (likes, retweets, comments), customer reviews, online surveys, web apps (for example, financial calculators), online games, mobile apps, hangouts, 2-way webinars and courses.
- Cheap to set up: most blog software comes with built-in comments and a backend to manage them. Same with social media sites. There are plenty of inexpensive online services for creating surveys (like SurveyMonkey) and even sites for building web and mobile apps at lower costs than hiring a developer.
- Provide social proof: if your people and brand engage regularly and promote high quality content, they can generate substantial numbers of followers and even brand advocates in social media.
- Increase brand loyalty and reputation: companies that engage with potential buyers and customers when they ask questions or share comments enjoy substantial competitive advantages over companies that ignore these channels.
- Potentially dangerous: with interactive media, there is always a risk that your brand can suffer from negative comments from both inside and outside the company walls.
- Not cheap: you really need to monitor the channels at all times to make sure you respond to both positive and negative comments and keep your followers engaged with fresh, relevant content. This involves manpower, training and talent to do well.
- Hard to swallow: most companies struggle with social and other interactive media because it opens Pandora’s Box to all kinds of legal, regulatory and brand reputation liabilities. The question is, what if you don’t engage in social channels? Can the same damage occur without your even knowing it? There are many examples of that happening these days.
Finding the Right Mix
There’s a lot to think about when you plan your content strategy. Too much of any of these types of content can be a turn-off to visitors or even downright damaging to your brand. Successful companies create an effective mix of static, dynamic and interactive content that helps to find, engage and support both potential buyers and loyal customers. Budget also plays a large role in deciding how and when to roll out updates to your content strategy. Ideally, you want to evolve your web presence into all of these channels and build teams to support them with great content on a regular basis.
Photo credit: Kris Krug
- Campbell Ewald’s Chris Moritz on Creating Interactive Content for Large Enterprises
- When Someone Says Website Content, Do You Stress?