How to create great content to acquire, upsell, retain customers

Written By Fraser McCulloch

Traditional marketer specialising in keyword research, SEO content plans, and content briefs. Has-been Scottish golfer. 

Creating great content is time-consuming, expensive and difficult for most website owners.

This guide will teach you how to create great content for your audience.

Why create content?

There are 3 reasons to create content for your website.

  • Customer Acquisition
  • Customer Upsell
  • Customer Retention

You want to acquire new customers.

You want to sell existing customers other products or services you offer.

You want to retain existing customers who will continue using and paying for your services or products.

How do you do that?

First, producing content that answers prospective clients’ or customers’ questions can help you achieve the objectives you seek.

Then, educate them and persuade them to take the action you want them to take.

Researching Your Audience

The best way to learn about your target audience’s questions or problems is to ask them.

If you want to know what they like, then ask them.

If you want to know where they hang out, then go there.

If you want to learn about their interests, read books, magazines, newspapers, and websites that cater to them.

Start with audience research and create buyer personas

  • How do they define themselves?
  • What do they talk about?
  • What do they read, visit, follow, engage with or are influenced by?
  • What problems do they have?
  • What products and services do they use or search for that solve their problem?

Try using the audience intelligence and buyer persona tools Sparktoro and Hubspot offer.

You must understand your audience so that your written content resonates with them. 

What questions do they have that you can answer with content?

Let’s start with your prospects and use a proven framework to identify their questions.

Since the Google search engine is the world’s largest buyer research tool, let’s use buyer behaviour as a framework for discovering questions prospects have.

  • Problem questions
  • Questions about products, services and brands
  • Evaluation of alternative questions
  • Purchase decision questions.

To identify questions that existing customers have, you can use these sources.

  • Questions or problems posted on your Facebook page or group
  • Questions or problems left on a chatbot or web form
  • Questions or problems that staff receive from customers
  • Questions that appear in your Google Search Console account

Once you have these questions, you should be able to come up with the answers and a content plan.

Content Planning

Website content planning is the process of determining what information should be included on a website.

This includes deciding what pages to create, how they should look, and what content should be placed on each page.

Once you have decided what kind of content you want to include on your website, you must determine its placement within the site’s overall design.

Content Schedule

Using a content calendar is the best way to plan and schedule content.

This allows you to create a list of all the content you want to publish and then schedule them at specific times.

Just remember to keep track of everything you plan to post.

Types of Content

The most common pieces of content are :

1. Data-Driven Content

The key to higher search engine rankings and organic traffic is links from relevant, authoritative websites.

It is possible to earn links to your website by becoming a credible source of information for your industry with data-driven website content.

When it comes to data-driven content, you don’t focus on your primary audience but on those with a habit of linking to it.

I studied web pages that earned 30 or more links to their website last year.

How to create data-driven content

Using the content explorer tool within Ahrefs, you want to filter topics with statistics, facts or data in their page title.

And find out the most linked to content and produce a similar data study.

Data-driven content creation works in other industries too.

Here’s an example below.

This topic is rather sensitive.

A private investigation company surveyed 200 people and produced an Infidelity Report.

144 other websites have linked to that blog posts, and there have been 724 shares of the content on Facebook.

2. Infographic

An infographic is a form of content that will simplify complicated information.

I created an infographic of my business ideas blog post to summarise the best new business ideas.

The infographic earned 5 links from other websites.

How do you create this content?

Sign up for a free account at Canva.com and edit any one of their free infographic templates.

Brand it up and make the content of your infographic useful for users.

Then you can publish your infographic on social media sharing websites such as Visual.ly, Scoop.it and Flipboard.com and share on your social media channels.

3. Listicle

A listicle is another popular type of website content that works well in search engines and social channels.

The human brain seems to have a low attention span, and list posts are ideal for those that skim content looking for answers.

A holiday destination client briefed me to do keyword research for their next blog post.

I discovered from the research a very popular search query.

Places to visit in xxx

So the client created a list of related, non-competing places in the area.

And, of course, they put their business at number one on the list.

Then they reached out to the places and venues on the list to mention their inclusion, hoping to strike up a conversation or backlink.

How do you create this type of content?

Use the Ahrefs keyword explorer tool and filter your seed keyword with “top” or “best”; you’ll find the search volume and click volume of the pages that rank for this content.

4. Curated content

A curated content list is a type of content where you write a page on your website and summarise and comment on a list of other website articles.

You express your unique opinion and commentary on what others have written in your content.

For example, here’s a curated list of chrome extensions.

To create this type of content, you want to do your keyword research and find keyword opportunities that include “best”.

5. Step-by-step instructions

Instructional content or knowledge base articles are created for existing clients who have already found or paid for your product or service.

Users want to know how to use your service.

Using questions in chat or support tickets can easily be turned into instructional content as you learn more about how users use your product.

The content writing for instructors is usually produced by something with a deep body of knowledge of your product or service.

6. Recipes

It’s not just food websites that have recipe content.

This article is a recipe; I’m outlining the ingredients for creating website content and giving you instructions on how to make it.

7. Case studies

My website contains a host of previous website work and case studies.

Most web designers simply produce screenshots of the work they did.

Beyond screenshots, explain the business rationale for redesigning or developing a website.

The case study adds business context to the project.

8. Before and after examples

You may have seen this kind of content used in diet products, home improvement and web-design portfolios.

You show what a person, room or website looked like before and contrast it with the new, improved version.

Great visual content like this can highlight dramatic changes and improvements.

Here’s the before and after example of a recruitment web design.

10. Stories

I like to borrow content ideas from movies and books.

A good story is a way to attract and engage a person and get your message across, especially on blog posts shared on social media.

My favourite writer has a great story on his website called Ranger Up Leads The Way.

It’s about a business that drove $750,000 in social commerce sales due to the content they produced for their clothing business.

The page could have been called “how to create content for your business“.

But that would have been incredibly boring.

11. Documenting

Documenting can produce original content, popularised by Gary Vaynerchuk.

Love him or loathe him, documenting is where you create content as you are working towards a goal.

You don’t show the results, you explain what you’re doing as you’re doing it.

Documenting is about sharing the journey with website visitors, customers and subscribers, good or bad.

Here’s a documenting example I shared on Twitter.

I wanted to show people how long it took to improve my SEO copy and the initial results.

And e-commerce sites are well known for documenting their stories too.

12. Testimonials

Testimonials are great pieces of web content, especially when clients or customers provide them without prompting.

Take websites like Amazon with book reviews and testimonials rated by people who have purchased the product before you.

Testimonials reduce risk.

You can also install testimonial plugins such as Feefo to business and shopping websites to generate user-generated testimonials.

Then share a screenshot on social media with the text from the testimonial or client.

13. Interviews

Video interviews give potential and existing customers valuable content and an insight into other people’s experiences in business.

Video interview content adds a human element that the written word sometimes doesn’t convey.

Steven Pressfield talks about almost puking up when he and his business partner started doing video interviews to promote their new product.

After trial and error, they figured out the best solution was not to talk to the camera but to let the camera roll, and they just talked to each other naturally.

14. Frequently asked questions

Creating website content for websites has been a common client issue for many web professionals.

I sat down with a small business owner, Dave, in a restaurant and read out a list of prepared questions about his services.

I turned on the voice recorder on my iPhone, and he replied with the answers.

The recorded answers from Dave were transcribed and put on his FAQ web page.

A simple and quick way to produce original content to convey the client’s expertise to his primary audience.

15. How to guide

The biggest reason for creating website content is to get traffic from Google’s search results.

‘How to’ content is so powerful in search engines because people use Google to find a solution to their problems.

And Google aims to reward the best website content for a user’s questions with top search rankings.

When skaters type “how to do a skateboard kick-flip, ” they are looking for an answer to their problem.

And the best way to serve up a solution is to create, for example, a ‘how to do a skateboard kickflip page on a YouTube, Facebook, IGTV video or on your website.

A worried client once told me he would lose potential customers if he showed or explained how his products and services were produced.

I replied ‘a 70-year-old grandmother is not going to go up a pair of ladders to repair a roof and clean out the leaves from her gutters ‘.

She just wants to know you’re the expert she can call on.

How to start a how-to guide

Start this process by typing “how to …” in Google.

Try typing different letters of the alphabet after you’ve typed “how to“.

Most people fear giving away their secret how to method.

But unless you own the secret recipe for Coke or Irn Bru, rest assured, most people will never implement your ‘how-to’ guide.

But if the ‘how to’ that you write is valuable for your audience, people will share it, like it, and then it becomes valuable to others.

16. Proposals

I have many successful and failed website proposals I can turn to when I’m looking to create new online content for my website.

There’s nothing confidential in the proposals.

Adapting what I had already written saves me time and less agony when creating or adding new content to my website.

17. Industry Views

Simon delivers mobile strategies for big brands and produces a weekly report about what is happening in the industry as part of his content strategy.

He writes a weekly newsletter that he publishes on his Addictive Mobile website and in his newsletter.

Many would say this is curated content, but Simon translates what is happening so that most people can understand the impact or opportunities for their business.

There’s a ton of quality content in each article, and notice the calls to action at the end of the article.

18. Trends report

Another great type of website content is writing a trends report.

Here’s my latest search engine optimisation trends report.

The only downside to these reports is that you must update them yearly.

How do you create a trend report?

You need to know your industry well or use Ahrefs and filter your keyword research with “trend” to find the opportunities.

19. E-bombs

Amy Hoy coined the phrase ‘e-bomb ‘as content people will love.

E stands for educational.

Your content strategy should educate prospects instead of writing vainly about you or your business.

Amy creates her content in 3 steps; pain, dream, fix.

To find a prospect’s pain, you find a common problem on a forum and note that.

Then you write down what it would be like if that pain went away (dream).

Then you list the steps to fix that pain.

For example, look at this landing page.

  • Pain – vague link building blog posts leave you confused and unclear.
  • Dream – Within 12 months, I was getting over 1,000 organic visits per month and new leads.
  • Fix – 10 link building lessons, including how to do broken link building.

21. Tips, tricks and hacks

Another type of website is to publish tips and tricks.

Again I used Ahrefs to filter the seed keyword “SEO” by “tips”.

I analysed the top-ranked pages and tried to write more detailed tips than theirs.

22. Buyers’ guides and reviews

A buyers guide is a page that provides information on consumer products, including reviews, ratings, and comparisons.

Why write a buyer’s guide and review?

  • Both pages rank on page one in Google.
  • I know the products very well and can write without hiring an external copywriter.
  • I am sharing my expertise.
  • Reviews and buyer guides have the potential to earn links.

Use Ahrefs or Ubersuggest to filter your seed keyword with “review” to identify opportunities

23. Product or service comparison

Here’s a reason for writing great content about a product or service comparison.

During the purchasing process, most people hesitate before buying.

This is called the evaluation of alternatives stage.

(I can still remember this lecture when studying marketing at university.)

You need something; you find a potential product or solution, and just before you purchase, you hesitate.

The consumer is wondering if they are making the correct purchase choice.

So they search terms such as :

  • Alternative to product x or product x alternative.
  • Product x reviews.
  • X versus product y.

Months after creating my supplier review page, I discovered the search query “Adobe Business Catalyst v WordPress” in the related search results.

I added a new product comparison content section to my page.

In reality, this product comparison merits its dedicated page.

There’s a small UK e-commerce company basing their entire advertising campaign as a “Shopify alternative”.

Positioning your web page content as an alternative or product A v product B allows you to piggyback on top of a larger brand’s success.

When comparing yourself to competing products, be truthful; you don’t want lawyers emailing you.

24. Landing Pages

Landing pages are typically associated with pages used for advertising campaigns.

Today there’s a blurred line between a blog post and a landing page.

I can add a call to action multiple times throughout a blog post and engage a reader for longer.

WordStream provides a great insight into landing pages, conversion rates and improvement strategies.

27. eBooks

Tools such as Google Docs, Slides and Reedsy allow you to create a document and turn it into a PDF formatted eBook.

For instance, most of my blog posts contain a call to action to download an eBook version of the post.

eBooks can be repurposed into slides to be used in SlideShare or as Instagram or Facebook images.

28. Checklists

Here is an example of a checklist for content writing.

29. Audiograms

In this article about AI for SEO, I outlined how to create an audiogram and share it on social networks.

I dictated existing content and then used a tool called Headliner.app to create short audio clips in a video format.

Writing Great Headlines

Writing a headline is one of the most important aspects of a piece of content because it can influence and persuade the reader to click and read the web page.

So, if you don’t get the headline right, you’re not only missing out on traffic but also losing potential subscribers, leads or customers.

Great headlines are short, catchy, and attention-grabbing.

They should be written in the first person and include a verb.

The headline should also be unique and stand out from other headlines.

A guide to writing great headlines

  1. Put the primary keyword you are targeting near the start of the page title
  2. Add user intent – best, top, list, review, vs, compare, review, alternative tips
  3. An offer, outcome or action verb, e.g., buy, shop, choose, read, learn, check, boost, watch, compare
  4. Add brackets or numbers (brackets can boost CTR by 40%)

Writing and content creation

Copywriting is the art of writing to persuade people to take action.

It involves using words to persuade readers to do something.

When someone reads your article, she wants to know what will happen next.

So, you need to give her some clues before telling her what happens.

Then, once you’ve given him enough hints, tell her what will happen next.

Make sure every word has meaning, and there isn’t too much repetition.

As a result, your reader will feel like she understands what’s happening and won’t mind reading more.

Choosing The Right Words

When writing your website copy, you must be careful about choosing the right words.

The wrong words can confuse and may even lead to a loss of visitors.

If you want to write great copy, you should use words that are easy to understand and that convey the message you want to send.

In addition, make sure that any technical terms used in your text are defined clearly.

You could lose readers by using jargon without explaining what it means. 

Write in short paragraphs.

When people read long-form content on websites, their eyes glaze over.

They don’t pay attention because too much information is thrown at them.

Instead, break up longer pieces into shorter ones by using subheadings.

This makes reading easier and more enjoyable.

Use bullet points and numbered lists.

Bullet points or ordered lists make words easier to scan.

You can use bullets when listing items or facts.

Make sure your content has value.

People won’t spend time reading content unless they think it’ll benefit them.

To ensure that happens, ask yourself whether each piece of content adds value to your overall brand message.

  • Is it helping you reach your goal?
  • Does it provide useful information?
  • Are its benefits clear?

Create unique content

Don’t just copy other web pages; create original content if you can.

Your ideas deserve recognition.

There is a Google ranking factor called Information Gains Score, which, to summarise, rewards content creators with better rankings.

Take this scenario; a user searches and clicks a page.

They go back to the search results, which change based on what new information other pages can offer about the subject.

  • So create content top pages don’t have.
  • Add your personal experience.
  • Add fresher statistics or information.

Use Images To Enhance Your Content

Images are essential in adding life and context to words on a web page.

In addition to being eye-catching, images can provide valuable context to readers by showing something that words alone cannot convey.

Call To Action

Call to action (CTA) is a term used to describe an element of a website that encourages users to take some kind of action.

A CTA should be clear and concise, directing visitors to a specific action they can perform. 

Examples of a call to action are :

  • Sign Up
  • Click Here
  • Download
  • Get Started
  • Buy Now

How do you know that a call to action works well?

A clear reader benefit with clear and direct wording can help increase conversions.

A rule of thumb for successful CTAs is:

  • Clear Call To Actions – Make sure the user knows where they need to go after clicking on the button.
  • Concise Calls To Action – Keep the wording simple and direct.

Proofreading And Editing

Proofreading and editing are two different processes that can be done on any writing document.

Proofreading is the process of checking for errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting.

You can proofread your content using tools such as Grammarly.

However, tools such as Google Docs and Microsoft Word have built-in spell checkers, allowing you to correct mistakes automatically.

Editing is the process of changing the content of a document.

The most common changes to copy are grammatical corrections, but sometimes other types of edits are necessary.

For example, I use a paraphrasing tool to simplify sentences with simple language my readers understand.

Analytics & Measurement

Analytics allows marketers to measure their success with each type of content.

This includes measuring things like:

  • What were the top keywords associated with my web page?
  • Which pages received the highest traffic?
  • How many times was my content read?
  • How many actions or conversions resulted from my web page?

Conclusion

1. Write about topics people search for and care about. If it doesn’t interest them, no one else will either.

2. Use short paragraphs and bullet points whenever possible. Longer sentences make it harder for readers to absorb new ideas.

3. Keep your articles simple and easy to understand. Don’t use complex language unless necessary.

Include visuals wherever appropriate. They help keep your audience engaged and interested.

Be consistent.