Monday, November 19, 2018

The Goldilocks Question: Too Much Content, Too Little, or Just Right?

The tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears has endured in various forms since the 1830s. It's pervaded popular culture to the extent that astronomers talk about "Goldilocks planets," planets that are neither too close nor too far from their sun to support life. (They're not too hot; they're not too cold -- they're just right.) When you're creating marketing content for your business, you may find yourself wondering where that Goldilocks zone lies for your purposes. What counts as too many words, or too few, or just the right number for the particular marketing channel you're working on? It's a question worth asking, so let's look at some answers.

Web Page Content

While the maximum word count on an effective web page can vary widely, there's little doubt over the minimum. Google has made it known that it considers 250 to 300 words the least you want to put on each page. Why? It's an SEO thing. There has to be enough written content for the search engine's bots to crawl and index the page properly. The content should contain an even, sensible, relevant scattering of keywords that you want Google (and its users) to associate with your business.

Beyond that minimum word count, the general rule is to include as much information as you need to convert the visitor -- and not a word more. The more complex or pricey your product or service, the more verbiage you'll probably need to apply toward persuading your prospective buyer. But keep in mind that people have better things to do than read long, densely-packed web pages. Give them the least they need to know to get excited enough to take action.

Article Content

How many words should your article contain? That depends on what sort of article it is. Many of my clients are happy with 300-word blog posts which deliver concise, digestible, entertaining content to their clientele. For press releases, I generally get requests for about 450 to 500 words. (Remember, space is limited in printed news formats.) Feature articles can run longer, but you have to know in advance what word count your intended publisher wants from you. On the other end of the scale, a detailed report or white paper may run thousands of words, not including the list of sources.

Print Marketing Content

Print pieces can be some of the most challenging things to write simply because you have so little free space. These pieces tend to be dominated by their visual elements, and rightly so. It's your job to find just the right words, and as few of them as possible so you don't overcrowd the design. Don't fall into the trap of writing substantial content for the small panels of a typical trifold brochure -- unless you're ready to shrink the text down to an unreadable size.

Direct mail pieces can be among the most challenging of all. You only have space for a few words, so make them count. Focus on grabby headlines and a few high-level points that maximize the excitement factor while conveying only the most critical information.

The most important step in creating any kind of marketing content is making sure that it delivers the necessarily results, whatever word count that may entail. If you need compelling writing that falls comfortably into the Goldilocks zone, contact me so I can help you get those words just right!