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The argument of print vs digital content gets more heated every year. Print isn’t dead yet – although it is on an annual decline – and it can still prove to be a profitable source of customers for some industries. However, online content has many advantages over print content in the digital age, and the gap only seems to be widening.

Investing in online content is a valuable tool for businesses or anyone seeking to grow an online audience. It comes down to one thing: value. If you offer value to your target demographic, then you have the best chance of achieving conversions.

In this post, we will explore the advantages of digital content, the importance of online content and offer some quick tips to create effective content.

Advantages of Digital Content

  1. Cost

This goes both for the creator and the consumer – online content is a far cheaper way of finding and sharing information. Platforms like WordPress mean you can set up a semi-professional website for free. For those looking to create digital content on a professional level, investing in a few tools can make a massive difference to the output and quality of your content.

As a consumer, with a couple of words in a search bar, you can find answers to almost any question you can imagine. If you wanted that level of access to information in print, you’d be picking up the Encyclopaedia Britannica – but even that’s gone online now. Still, this reviewer did find some upsides from making the switch!

  1. Reach

The internet allows us to access digital content from around the world without paying extortionate post and packaging costs. A blog post can reach hundreds of people relatively easily, and a viral post can skyrocket your website’s fame overnight.

The wider your reach, the more you’ll find the right kind of audience. If you adopt an effective inbound marketing strategy, you’ll know that online content is an ideal platform to create a loyal audience. You can even make sure that your content targets terms with the right search intent to ensure that your content finds its audience at the right time in their buyer’s journey.

See our guide to creating buyer personas for more guidance on attracting the right people to your site.

  1. Engagement

Before the internet, engagement on your print content meant waiting until it had been published and then waiting some more until someone decided to send you a letter or call you to share their thoughts.

Now, we’re firmly in the era of reactive content. When you put some online content out into the world, you could have hundreds of comments within minutes, depending on your audience. This gives you valuable feedback for points you could improve on, allows you to forge relationships with your readers (thereby reinforcing your inbound marketing) and lets you see what content is the most successful.

  1. Retractions/changes

We all make mistakes. In the peak of print media, a mistake, miscommunication or controversy would have to be publicly redacted and could do serious damage to a business’s reputation. In contrast, a mistake in online content can be quickly rectified, possibly even before it’s noticed.

Of course, this does come with a pretty serious caveat – if you do become embroiled in controversy, it can be much harder to pry yourself out of it. ‘Cancel culture’ is the name given to a common phenomenon where those who have erred publicly can, rightly or wrongfully, be completely shunned in the public eye.

This is why, before your content goes live, you must proofread it carefully. Ideally, ask someone else to peer-review it as well because there’s always the chance of missing something.

See our blog for guidance on what to do if you receive negative reviews or negative social media comments.

  1. Sustainability

While you could make a great argument here for the rise of e-waste as we all clamour for the latest technology, the difference between the sustainability of print vs digital content is that our smart devices offer us hundreds of functions, while a printed page can really only offer one – the information it holds.

Viewing content on a device – any device, it doesn’t have to be the latest one – is more sustainable than printing that same article out hundreds, thousands or millions of times and then distributing it.

It’s probably no surprise that in the debate of print vs digital content, the scales tip very favourably onto the side of online content. However, all the reach in the world is no use if your content isn’t quality.

Writing Online Content

Okay, so you’re going to stick with online content – probably a good call. So, how can you make sure you’re writing online content that will make an impression and boost your chances of being seen?

We’ve put together a few top tips to help you get started! Essentially, you want to make your content attractive to read, which focuses on three elements. You want to make sure your content is visual, snappy and simple.

Make It Visual

The internet is a visual medium, and web design can affect your bounce rate. Images, banners, buttons, colours and animations can all contribute to a more interactive and engaging website, and therefore keep people’s attention on your copy.

Try not to use all of these at once – an overcrowded page can be as likely to turn people away as a bare one – and when you’re using images, make sure you have the right permissions. See our blog post on using images from Google legally if you’re not sure whether or not you have permission.

Make It Snappy

This links to the visual appeal – large chunks of text often signal to readers that the content will be dry and overstated. Aim for more bitesize chunks and shorter paragraphs. If you have a habit of overdoing it, ask someone else to read it over and see if they think you could be more concise.

Make sure to use paragraphs and headers to break up the text – this is especially vital for mobile users, who will be viewing your content on a much smaller screen than desktop. Remember that Google switched to a mobile-first index a few years ago, so optimising for mobile is integral.

Make It Simple

While it might be tempting to use every big word you know when writing online content, remember that a tendency towards the loquacious retains a large propensity to monotony. That is to say, talking too much is boring to readers and can come across as condescending.

For many online content creators, writing online content in a more conversational, ‘human’ way will be more impactful than a dry piece; it doesn’t matter how much value your content has if nobody is sticking around to find out!

Most readers will scan a page before deciding if they’re actually going to read it, and if it looks like it’ll be a struggle to understand, they’ll simply look elsewhere – hello, high bounce rate! Keep it simple by using accessible language and steering clear of unnecessary jargon.

Content creators continue to wage the war of print vs digital content. Neither are going anywhere any time soon, but the importance of online content in the modern age cannot be overstated. It’s a competitive world out there!

If you’re interested in creating a content strategy or updating your current one, please get in touch with Zelst today. For more tips on generating content ideas, creating relevant content and getting others to share it, check out our blog.