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5 Things That Make Web Content Different From Traditional Print Media

pexels-anthony-shkraba-4348401Even though it often seems like everyone is online these days, that's not necessarily true. By some accounts, approximately a quarter of all small businesses don't have a website at all—though that number continues to shrink yearly. The value of producing web content that brings in visitors and builds your brand's reputation is tough to overstate. However, for newcomers to this space, transitioning from traditional media to digital media isn't always easy.

 Why? Simply put, writing for an online audience is much different than marketing through traditional media. Understanding the differences in digital content is a fundamental first step toward embracing the potential the internet has for businesses of every size. What are the five major differences you should be ready to face online?

 1. Digital Content Reads Much Differently

 Taking your copy online requires a complete pivot in terms of how you write and structure your content. Online, attention spans are far shorter than what you can work with in traditional media—nearly 73% of all readers say they mostly skim articles rather than reading in-depth. When you're dealing with shorter attention spans and the possibility that a user might leave to find more interesting web content at any moment, you'll need to zero in on punchy headlines and attention-grabbing copy and make your main points quickly. 

2. Data Drives Your Decisions More Frequently 

Feedback on traditional advertising investments isn't always easy to come by, and estimating the impact of your spending is more often "guesstimating" than not. Online, though, you'll have so many numbers to look at it can make you think you need an advanced degree in statistics to interpret it all. 

At first, it can be overwhelming—but a closer look reveals how useful this information is. You'll need to become familiar with the metrics that matter, from audience engagement to bounce rates and click-throughs. Doing so will enable you to produce better, more effective content. 

3. Optimizing Your Content for Search Is Crucial 

Print copy is all about nailing the right tone and voice, pairing it with good images, and pushing the message you want a reader to take away. Online, it's not so easy. You can still use push marketing with pay-per-click advertising, but that's not a long-term winning strategy on its own. 

Voice and message are still critical when you're writing online, but so too is search engine optimization. Without good SEO, putting eyes on your content regularly is not easy—to put it lightly. Keyword research, audience segmentation, A/B testing, and more are all important elements you'll need to start thinking about online. 

4. Format Matters Even More Than in Print 

Remember how readers mostly skim content? The average time web users spend on a post usually clocks in at less than a minute. That means you have to leverage the flexibility of the web to present your content in formats that are easy to digest in quick bites. Bulleted lists, big ideas in big headlines, and a structure that guides readers to your core message quickly will be your best friends. You don't have the luxury of a dozen pages in a glossy pamphlet to sell your message. 

5. Your Content Must Match Its Platform 

Are you publishing content on a blog or sharing directly on social media? How do you message in the content you publish on each platform? Much more than traditional media, you will need to tailor content to align with what works best for your format. An email is different from a landing page, which is different from a product page, which is different from—well, you get the idea. The rules for content in one space aren't always the same for another. Be ready to adapt, and don't fall into the "one size fits all" trap. 

Making Your Digital Transformation a Success 

Even though web content has some key differences compared to traditional media, both goals are still the same: reach your audiences, inform them about your brand, and bring them closer to conversion. By understanding the unique aspects of digital marketing approaches, you can develop a strategy that makes sense. Combine that with the support structures your content needs to thrive online, and you'll be well on your way to effective outreach.