I have been asked to write a Christmas or holiday themed post, now I don’t normally write what I am asked, especially when it sounds this, well lets be honest – cheesy – but, if you bear with me, I think I can do it. So, web content management, persuasive content, customer engagement and the holidays…. hmmm…

Lets start with me stumbling over whether this is a “holiday” post or a “Christmas” post. In the UK it’s firmly Christmas and calling it a holiday post would demonstrate that I am talking to a US audience. Writing and delivering persuasive, engaging content even in a shared English language is a subtle business.

Back to the topic – regardless of your tradition, I think we can agree that Christmas (or the holidays) is pretty much about some omnipotent being watching your behaviour, seeing if you are bad or good and making a judgment on what you can get in return (hopefully comparing a god with Santa isn’t too offensive, undoing my good work on the ‘holidays’ thing).

Anyway, in our house, the tradition is firmly hallmark, cocoa cola or Turkish saint (whoever you blame for a jolly red Santa) – it’s family, food and presents and whilst we may not be omnipotent, we do the same thing – looking for clues on what will make our loved ones the perfect gift.

Despite this, we have cupboards and shelves that hide tucked away dusty, untouched gifts from me to my wife over the years – indicating that I am not that good an observer of her want, need, taste or behaviour. I am clearly rubbish. How could I improve?

I could invisibly watch her wandering into shops lingering over a scarf or handbag she likes, but doesn’t buy. I could listen as she tells me, she’d much prefer me to spend the money on the children. I could monitor what she tells her friends and family. I could test her reaction, comparing the successful gifts with the dusty rejects. Is this starting to sound familiar?

Well yes, all this is an analogy of how we should be delivering content to our web visitors. They come to us expecting a content gift, tailored to their specific requirements and not in the least bit interested in the holiday tradition of the moment of “surprise”.

There are thousands of little gift givers in the pages of Google search results that this visitor has just come from and one dud pair of socks or an ill judged kitchen implement is going to send them scuttling off to see what everyone else has to offer.

Don’t get me wrong, I think your visitors will love a surprise, a little bundle of content they hadn’t thought of or a special offer on the very thing they wanted to buy – but it needs to be perfect for their needs – your website as a secret Santa – not a lucky dip.

It doesn’t need to be complicated, I often use the analogy of my daily visit to my favourite news site; clicking on sport, clicking on my favourite sport, clicking on my favourite team. I am telling them what I want, I am introducing myself to this site on a daily basis. You wouldn’t need to do that in real life.

So, great Auntie BBC, this Christmas, like every other Christmas I am a Chelsea fan – please remember me.

Image of Christmas presents published under Creative Commons License, courtesy of  allerleirau