Curb appeal is the first step to getting a prospective buyer in your front door to see your home’s potential. When approaching a home, a buyer asks several initial questions like,“Is this the same house I saw in the listing? What’s my first impression? Do I like what I see?”
Web users ask similar questions when navigating to your digital property for the first time. “Is this the site I was looking for? Does it have the information I’m seeking? Is the content easy to find?”
Just as a home contains character and décor, a digital property contains your valuable content. A house overgrown with weeds and abandoned car parts in the front yard will fail to lure buyers inside to see the new cabinets and countertops. Similarly, if attempts to find and view your content are frustrating and unpleasant, your audience will leave without hearing your message, listening to your story and seeing your value.
A strong user experience strategy and thoughtful design will get buyers in the front door and ensure content marketing success.
Address and for-sale sign
Your customers want to know they’re at the “right address” before spending time looking further. For digital properties, a clear and prominent primary message conveying how you solve their problems and make them more successful will let them know they’re at the right place. Once that personal connection is initiated, your audience will continue to take inventory of their initial reactions and impressions.
Paint, landscaping and walkways
Next comes the visual assessment. Look, shapes, colors and accessibility create immediate emotional responses. Regardless of context, these reactions are human nature and are critical for continued visitor engagement.
Visual stimuli can help convey your content’s tone and voice to your target audience. If these components are arranged oddly or are frustrating, buyers become disinterested and move on. Tools for easing content discovery and consumption are key, such as smart menu navigation, easy-to-use keyword searches, thoughtful tagging, content browsing by category (think Pinterest-style browsing) and related content to demonstrate interconnections. Audiences need to find and explore your content inventory in ways that make it enjoyable – this will reinforce that personal connection.
You’re not the buyer
Many first-time home sellers believe buyers will fall in love with their home because of that well-placed paisley chair or offbeat garden gnome. Remember: Your taste and style do not speak for the masses. Buyers want to see past your décor choices and instead envision themselves living in your home.
Similarly, companies often want to closely align their message and content discovery with their internal vocabulary and structure. In most cases, this is very different than the audience’s understanding.
Message and content discovery should be established from the point of view of the audience. By using navigation, tagging and keywords the audience is familiar with, you can significantly strengthen audience engagement.
In the front door
The combination of an audience-focused primary message, a thoughtful content discovery strategy, deeply integrated design and an audience first approach will get buyers in the door. But keep in mind that attracting your audience to your digital property and keeping them there are different, yet equally important issues. Clearly distinguishing one from the other – and creating specific objectives for each – can help ensure you don’t become overwhelmed. Once you’ve created and executed a successful strategy for your content curb appeal, take a hard look at your content – it should position your company as a thought leader, subject matter expert or industry leader in a given vertical.
Tim Smith is vice president, digital at Imagination.Originally published on September 19, 2013