What Is performance content? And why does your brand need it?

Posted on May. 19, 2020  /  Insights  /  

By Jenny Fish, Connections Manager | Performance Content Writer at VMLY&R 

Digital content plays a pervasive role in every step of the consumer journey. From building awareness by showing up in search results all the way to making a sale on a product detail page (PDP), content heavily influences every part of the process.

Consider a few stats:

  • 75% of click-throughs occur on the first page of search results, and almost 50% of click-throughs occur on the first two results.1
  • 98% of shoppers have been dissuaded from completing a purchase because of incomplete or incorrect content.2
  • 50% of shopper have returned an item they bought online because it did not match the product description and 54% are less likely to buy from a retailer again if they returned an item.3

What’s the common thread here? Content. Specifically, content that fails to meet performance goals by a) not showing up where potential customers are searching, b) not providing the information customers need to take action, and c) not meeting customers’ expectations in a way that makes them return for more.

That’s why content — specifically, performance content — is an essential component to any marketing strategy.

Defining Performance Content

Performance content is data-driven digital content that leads to visibility, conversion and other measurable results. Whether that’s showing up higher in search results, increasing click-throughs on a Google ad campaign, or enticing customers to “add to cart” on Amazon, performance content can help your brand strategically reach its desired outcomes.

To put it simply, performance content is the perfect mix of science and art, seamlessly blending hard data with a brand’s unique voice to tell a story that not only connects with the consumer but moves them to action.

Part Science: Data-Driven Content

For content to perform, it must be built upon a strong foundation of data and research. Performance Content writers must work closely with paid and organic search teams, as well as commerce strategy and brand experts. Together, they can identify important insights and audit the brand, product and competitive landscape to create a baseline for content creation. Some important resources include:

  • Search optimization – Performance content writers work with organic search experts to develop a strategic list of valuable search terms and help shape the story for how and why the customer searches for a brand or product. Search insights play an important role in increasing an item’s discoverability.
  • Audience insights – Writers also dive into brand-provided research, as well as data from fellow strategists and analytics teammates. The goal is to develop a comprehensive view of the target audience, understanding how they are shopping for the product and interacting with the content.  
  • Retailer requirements – For ecommerce content, writers thoroughly understand retailer requirements for PDPs and best-in-class practices to create content for the brand that shows up on internal and external search results pages and is optimized for conversion.


Part Art: Story-Driven Content

However, this doesn’t mean the writing should sound sterile or clinical (unless — of course — the brand or project requires it). The best content creators combine a deep love of prose with industry knowledge and experience to help the brand stand out in a digital ocean of bland. Some elements to incorporate in performance content include:

  • Brand voice – Optimizing content for performance does not cause the brand to lose its tone of voice. In fact, the best content always reflects the brand — whether that’s witty, helpful or even a little authoritative — and still shows up in search results or drives conversion.
  • Storytelling – At its heart, performance content is about storytelling, effectively communicating the narrative of a brand or product and helping consumers visualize how that narrative positively impacts their own unique stories. With the help of organic search insights, you can learn more about the stories the target audience is already telling and write content that positions the brand as the resolution to the conflicts they face. 
  • Emotion – Like all decisions, customers rely heavily on emotion when making purchases. Because of this, it’s important to become a master at using content to connect emotionally with customers, which will help to build brand equity and influence strategic outcomes. 


Creating Performance Content

Defining performance content is a lot easier than actually creating it. It takes time and resources to determine performance goals, gather relevant data, write emotional stories, publish optimized content and measure outcomes. 

However, performance content drives the traffic, clicks and conversions every digital marketing campaign needs to succeed. If you want to improve your brand’s ability to reach strategic outcomes, then it’s time to invest in the right processes and partnerships for performance content creation.

1Advanced Web Ranking Click-Through Rate Study November 2019
2Episerver Reimagining Commerce 2019 Report
3Salsify Cracking the Consumer Code 2017 Report

Huge thanks to Jenny Fish of VMLY&R for sharing these valuable insights with the AAF-KC community!
Guest Writer Jenny Fish

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