Content is STILL King (with SaaS and eCommerce)


Content is STILL King (with SaaS and eCommerce)

December 13, 2011

Making money online using cloud content management can be a hard thing to wrap your mind around, but some of the old rules still apply.

Most people find the volume of data on the Internet unfathomable, yet scientists and mathematicians have tried to put it in sensible terms: The world’s cache of digital content is roughly equivalent to a stack of books stretching from Earth to Pluto, more than 20 times—and growing.

There is no question that people go to Internet for content, but there is an ongoing debate about what equates quality content and how we value (and market) that content. How do we separate data from knowledge and good content from bad? What does that mean relative to building eCommerce from traditional print media?

Anyone can post content on the Internet, regardless of his or her level of expertise. Fact checking and literary standards are not imposed, but optional. The general perception is that all content is created equal, but publishers know that’s not the case—so they grapple with how to translate the value of their content to the online platform.

The good news is that quality content still drives consumers. Just compare the steady growth of the digital subscriptions offered by the New York Times (focused, specific content) to Yahoo’s declining readership (mass, varied content).

But what equates quality and how do we offer it?

1)    Base your approach on the idea that you have services, products and content of value to offer -- you simply need to adapt it to the eCommerce environment. Recognize that in the Internet’s brief history, it has been perceived as a source of free information, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add value to your assets in hand and generate revenue from them.

2)    Provide knowledge. Data is widely available, information (the organization of that data) is less so, but real value (and thus revenue) comes from knowledge – information that is categorized, reliable and presented in context.

3)    Examine the benefits of providing paid content vs. the trade-offs of providing free content specific to your audience e.g. views vs. payments,  and/or ad impressions vs. subscriptions. Plan on providing both.

4)    Focus on providing niche content. Generic mass content has lost its value—volume does not equate to value or commerce. Consumers place more value on specific content and the Internet enables them to find it easier. Realize that your content should provide more than news—it should provide tools that help people do their jobs and live their lives better.

5)    Use speed to your advantage: The Internet provides consumers with instant results. Present simple calls to action so that consumers can access your content easier and more quickly. Don’t allow interest to wane—after all, most online content has a shelf life of three hours.

6)    Offer free content. People are willing to pay for quality content, but you have to get them there. Creative publishers are applying a multi-tiered approach to marketing their content—and seeing results:

  •  Show some content before asking users to register or subscribe. This implies accessibility and fosters consumer curiosity – which increases site stickiness.
  • Gate your content. Once you have a reader’s attention, you can ask them to register to access premium content, web-only content, most recent updates, archives or other content they consider valuable – for use in their daily work, industry research, marketing, etc.  Capturing basic contact information sets the foundation for future communications, which enhances your customer relationships and gives you a better understanding of their needs and preferences.
  • Apply various models. Look at what other comparable publishers are using and decide which model (or combination of models) best suits your content and approach—a registration wall, opt-out subscriptions and/or a paywall.

All the content contained in servers worldwide weighs about 50 grams—the size of one large juicy strawberry. Enticing consumers to bite into it is not the problem. Apply these techniques and you’ll get them to chew.