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You might've noticed a certain distractedness in your friends and colleagues recently. You may have even picked up that this happens every year around this time.

It's squeaky-bum time, the end of the football season, and it matters...a lot.

This is when the trophies are decided, when you get to find out if you'll be making away trips next year to Villa Park or Vale Park, if your season might be extended into the play-offs and a potential make or break trip to Wembley.

Are you going to be able to claim bragging rights over your local rivals or have months of trying to change the subject every time the beautiful game comes up in conversation?

When you’re putting together an enticing online proposition and battling against the key competitors in your industry, is the content on your website pushing your business towards glory or are you in danger of relegation?

There's a chapter in Why England Lose (by football writer Simon Kuper, and sports economist Stefan Szymanski) that details how much influence average wage bills have in terms of football team success rates.

Investment works; not just flash-in-the-pan, January transfer window type investment that attempts to solve a short term gap, but long-term expenditure on every area of the squad from youth team prospects to the tricky negotiations involved in keeping established first-team regulars suitably imbursed. 

Every team has certain big names who are able to command a level above their colleagues. In a successful side these rewards have usually been earned, and the other players will work harder, striving to be seen on an even keel by the management. In less successful teams, a high wage may have been used as more of an emergency measure, and the player may struggle to justify the costs.

You need, at a bare minimum, two quality options in every position. A goalkeeper is only ever as good as the understudy who’s pushing for his place; your right-back being injured for a crucial run of games needn't be a cue to leak goals if you have a viable replacement ready to step in; giving your misfiring star striker a breather by bringing on a hungry young poacher might let you sneak a 1-0 victory in a tricky midweek game.

If your website is set up in the same way, you can make the most of every visit to your site, making individual content elements work in tandem to guide people through an optimum user journey.

If you slotted the content on your website into a 4-4-2 formation, who would be the first name on the teamsheet? As with any unit, it's all about the balance.

Spend too much on creating a prominent piece of content for your homepage and you might get a nice peak of activity, but you may not have enough left in the pot to look after the other important areas of your site.

You've got your defensive objectives, to cover off the rudimentary customer service functions, you've got your midfield objectives, to create opportunities, and you've got your attacking objectives, to convert.

There's a reason why strikers cost more money: they score goals. Similarly, content that aids conversion to business goals can justifiably claim a higher proportion of your budget.

The NIkeID tool is a fun feature to play around with, but it's also got a highly defined purpose of selling shoes.

On the opposite end of the scale, the Pinterest Terms of Service are a beautiful example of functional content done right, which would have only cost a few hours of someone's time.

If you have the equivalent of Russian or Qatar oil money to help build your content squad, you're in the fortunate position of being able to improve things over a much shorter time period, and your marquee signings are likely to be worthy of a back-page splash, rather than a byline on page 57 of the red tops.

Within a few months of taking over at Chelsea in 2003, Roman Abramovich had shelled out over £120m on the likes of Johnson, Geremi, Bridge, Duff, Joe Cole, Verón, Mutu, Crespo and  Makélélé, helping to propel them to the status of title challengers. Manchester City repeated the quick-fire spending in 2008.

The rest of us have to improve and evolve our team piece by piece, using an agile framework to test and learn which pieces are performing above or below expectations. Bear in mind that you still need to put eleven men on the field, there's no use having Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front if that leaves you with a gaping hole in defence.

Say you’re a finance brand that has an online calculator tool that’s attracting a lot of traffic. You could spend a bit of your budget on improving the functionality or design to make it even more useful.

On the other hand, you may be experiencing huge exit rates when visitors come across your case studies. Perhaps it's time for them to retire, replacing your PDFs with interactive HTML5 brochures.

Every industry offers a highly competitive playing field and, just like football, there are big rewards on offer for those who come out at top after each season.

Many companies have a loyal customer base that will follow them over land and sea, and they will live the brand through the content that's on the field.

As the person on the sidelines in the tailored suit and Armani overcoat, make sure you know who your Yaya Touré is and that you don't have a Titus Bramble letting the side down.

photo credit: Simon Welsh via photopin cc

Published 19 April, 2013 by Danny Chadburn

Danny Chadburn is Content Strategist at iCrossing and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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