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5 reasons why your brochure content won’t work for your website

Posted by Kerrie Brooks in General on February 26th, 2016

A common mistake people make is assuming that what works for their brochure, in terms of content, will work just as well on their website. Wrong. Reworking printed content for digital purposes may seem like a good cost saving option, but it can be very ineffective. Why? Because brochure and web content are two very different beasts.

1. Brochures are linear, websites aren’t

When a prospective customer or client picks up your brochure, they typically start at the beginning, reading left to right. There is a natural linear progression, similar to a book – the content flows from page to page.

In comparison, when a person enters your website their interactions tend to be interrupted. They start wherever a searched term or inbound link led them and they are encouraged to navigate a path based on their individual needs or preferences.

Because of this, simply inserting your current brochure content will not work. Every page of your website needs to work in its own right – encouraging action without relying on other parts of your site for reference.

2. Websites must be optimized for online success

Brochures are created for humans, not for web ‘spiders’. Therefore, brochure content only needs to be one thing: a persuasive read. To this end, writing clear, convincing copy and using appropriate images and design is enough. However, for websites, there is more to consider.

The key issue here is SEO. Web content must be search engine optimized to be effective. That means that every piece of content you create needs to contain an appropriate number of relevant ‘keywords’ to be found. This, alongside quality content, improves the visibility of your website on search engine results pages.

3. Web and brochure audiences are not the same

Who are you writing for? You might think the audience for brochures and websites is the same. In fact, although they may all be prospective customers or clients, they are being exposed to your product or services in different situations and at different stages of their decision journey. Plus, where a brochure audience may be targeted, a web audience is more general.

In addition, understanding how people interact with these two mediums is critical. For brochures, you don’t have to get to the point immediately, for websites, you do. Online you only have only seconds to attention grab, so the content must lead with the key points and be appropriately concise. Strong titles, subheads and navigational aids are essential.

4. Brochures are static and have limited scope

Once a brochure is printed or saved as a PDF its content it static – it doesn’t change. This means its two main assets – copy and images – must work hard, despite their limitations. In addition, if the brochure is to be in circulation for a while, the relevance and accuracy of the copy for that period needs to be considered.

Web content, in contrast, is dynamic. You can change and add information depending on your requirements. On top of this, websites communicate in a much more engaging way. As well as text and images, they can include a range of multimedia and interactive features such as videos and online subscription forms. This demands a new content approach.

5. Websites can withstand more calls to action

Brochure copy peppered with calls to action would likely come across as pushy, ultimately deterring potential customers. Plus you are limited in the types of actions people can make e.g. phone or email for more information. Not so for websites. Structurally, multiple calls to action are essential. You can tell people to purchase now without seeming salesy.

Because of this, brochure content on a webpage would not be anywhere near as effective. It would not have the same urgency or persuasive power as action-orientated copy with click buttons.

Create unique but consistently branded content

Brochure and web content both serve a purpose in attracting potential customers and clients, but the ways in which they communicate are very different. Although it’s important to keep your branding the same across both to maintain consistency, always create your content with your intended media firmly in mind.