Aside from being the name of this blog, what really is Persuasive Content?

The well documented profileration of web content, fueled by increased access to social software and content management tools, tell us that people want to be published, to share their thoughts and participate in on-line communities. Often the publication of content is about more than just a desire to be read, the author wants to encourage site visitors to do something, to participate in their community, to visit their site again, to think a certain way about their company, to participate in a marketing campaign or maybe buy something. The term Persuasive Content has been coined to describe this, typically  well written, relevant content that will persuade your site visitors to do something,

So, can we create Persuasive Content by having a knowledge of our audience, an excellent writing style and access to Blogger.com?

I am not naive enough to believe that if you publish it they will come, but if you’ve got nothing to say or can’t articulate your ideas, values or even describe your product in a coherent way, what is the point of publishing? Google will tell you that relevant content is the most important part of any SEO strategy and the purpose of any web strategy is to get a message across. So we need to start with content contribution, to create persuasive content, we need good copy to work with.

Although of course there are plenty of gifted bloggers out there, who can nail a great piece of content that’s spot on for their audience, it’s not always the case. Let’s imagine our goal is to write an article about a new product. The techie guys that built the product probably can’t articulate it’s business value and the marketing guys don’t really know how it works, so.. they’ll need to collaborate. We’ll need a framework to do that and good corporate governance dictates that in these litigious times we’ll want to get the copy checked – not entirely true for a blog or one persons view on the world, but a necessity for a serious website. It would therefore seem that in order to produce persuasive content, we’ll need at least a basic content management process – even if it’s just a peer review.

At this point you’ve created some great, approved content, that’s accurate and well written, but how do you know you’ve hit the spot and people are coming back to read more? We need to do some website analytics, to see who is coming to the site. Therefore, in order to produce Persuasive Content, it’s helpful to have a publishing process and some website analytics – or maybe we need to identify whether this content really is as persuasive as we thought!

This touches on one of the problems, the definition of what content is persuasive is fairly subjective, we need to have metrics to understand the purpose of the copy we are writing and then define it’s success, how it encouraged or persuaded the visitor to meet our goals. It could be that this is fairly loose, how many visits, track back links and comments you have on a blog or maybe it’s a more sophisticated conversion of visitors to prospective or actual customers. Whatever they are, it’s good practice of any web content management strategy to define and measure against some goals. It may also be that the location of the content in the site or page improves or decreases it’s ability to help meet those targets, there is an art to the analysis of those web logs.

I talked earlier about relevance, we may already be communicating to a well understood audience, but perhaps we do our analytics and we identify some trends. Perhaps through following click path data (the route that someone took through your site) you identify that there are two different audiences.There are the technical guys that are really interested in what the guys who built it have to say and the end consumer who wants to know how it will make their life better. Or maybe you find a community that are commenting on your content.

OK, so in my example of a product company, it’s more likely that someone told you they needed the technical specifications and perhaps I should tangent off to CRM systems and the importance of gathering intelligence on the folks you are communicating with, the single, holistic view of the customer across multiple touch points.

In any case, we need to split our content by audience, to highlight or mark the content as being about a specific subject. This requires us to tag the content so that we can identify which content is for which audience, to enrich it with meta data. This can be automated to a certain extent, finding relevance in the text through algorithms (like Google) or to automatically find keywords, but we’ll need an extensible system to do that. There is plenty written about this subject, about getting users to do this essential step, some of it in the context of search – for example Here is a quote from a piece by Tony Byrne at CMS Watch: So the enterprise that cares about the usefulness of its documents will give you the skills, tools, and incentives to drag them, frag them, flag them, and yes, tag them — if only so information managers can ultimately ultimately bag them…legally.

We would also need to identify our audience, or have some way of enabling them to segment themselves, either through site navigation or user profiling. Once we have that we can personalize the delivery, so that the right content can be matched with the right audience. So our content management system needs some concept of a visitor, some way of storing preferences and a way to deliver dynamic personalized content. This personalized delivery needs to extend to the device they choose to use, to the channel or site that they want to view it on.

So, in addition to identifying good content as “Persuasive Content” – it seems that Persuasive Content Management is about the process of creating the good stuff, a cycle of content production, of adding intelligence with meta-data and analyzing/refining it and delivering a relevant personalised user experience to multiple sites and devices.

A Persuasive Content Management System is a solution that provides all of this and is something our example business users, or even better our gifted authors can actually use, or even love to use. Your Persuasive Content Management strategy is going nowhere without business user buy in. A system that itself encourages, dare I say persuades good content, best practice adoption and adherence to process – a persuasive Persuasive CMS?  I should stop there, but if you are looking for something that’s easy to use, please stop by our demos.

One thing though, am I missing something, isn’t that content publication process cycle what content management professionals have been talking about since the early days of this industry?