Gone are the days when you could simply break into TV viewers’ shows with your ad, tell them how great your product is and then wait for them to show up at your door. The Internet doesn’t work that way. While the Internet can connect you with a wider pool of potential customers, it’s also more challenging.

The issue is your potential customers can instantly click away to countless competitors around the world. Paradoxically, the Internet’s vast reach also comes with a personal touch. People don’t just view information; they interact with it and with those giving it to them.

It’s this interactivity that drives one of the golden rules of Internet marketing: Build a website with good content and they will come. The reason every business needs to add this component to their marketing strategy is because content:

1. Gives potential customers a reason to visit — and to return.

People want to be entertained, informed, educated and engaged. Most people dislike content that is just a sales pitch. Instead of telling them to “buy, buy, buy” because your fishing tackle is the best, give tips on how to cast a line, list the 10 best fishing holes off the beaten track or write a feature about someone saving the habitat of a popular fishing spot. That kind of content will get them hooked.

2. Can prompt people to give you their contact information.

Package your content in a weekly email newsletter and send it to anyone who leaves their email address. Bingo! Now you are developing a potential customer list.

3. Is passed around.

People who like your content will forward it to their friends. Put your content on a business Facebook page and watch your contacts grow.

4. Can be interactive.

Invite people to respond with comments. Even better, post a video and invite them to post their own, perhaps as a regular contest. People love to take part and create content, not just passively receive it. Having content created by a community of customers is better than any old-fashioned testimonial.

5. Creates more valuable pages on the Internet.

Write every article, blog post, video introduction or other piece of content with a focus on search engine optimization and you will increase your organic traffic.

6. Transforms you from a salesperson into an expert and a mentor.

Over time, your website can become so rich with content that people will turn to you for advice and will feel confident buying products or services from you.

By making content an integral part of your Internet marketing strategy, you will build a web presence to which the people interested in your topic will turn again and again. As any old-fashioned advertiser will tell you, it’s that kind of traffic that drives sales!

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