In the content-saturated, immediate gratification, online world we live in today, surfing the web has turned into a speed dating-like experience between the user and the sites they visit.  Like any new relationship, the first meeting is a chance for the website to find common interest with the user, and prove they bring something fresh, valuable, and appealing to the table. In the content world, a “first date” plays out as a user taking the time to read your landing page, blog post, or resource page. But in the world of online marketing, what counts as a second date? And if content creators make it to a second date with a target user, how can they ensure they don’t totally bomb… or worse, push the user away to a sexier source of information?

Enter the concept of “intentional choreography.” Intentional choreography is a content framework meant to move the user through the sales funnel by using strategic set-up, linking, and synchronization with the larger awareness-building and buying cycle. Intentional choreography moves the user from first date to steady relationship, progressing their knowledge and connection to the brand each step of the way. Simply, if you really want a reader to become a customer, you must use content as a way to court them, not just as a one shot opportunity to gain site traffic.

To get started with an intentional choreography content strategy, here are three thoughts to keep in mind when developing blog posts, landing pages, and other new pages on your business’ site:

1) Create each piece of content like it’s a “make it or break it” first impression: When you’re in the weeds of your company’s website, you may have a webpage flow in mind: First, a potential customer visits your home page, then they see a link to an interesting product or study, they read about their topic of interest, then fill out a form for more information. Wouldn’t that be easy? Unfortunately, this is unrealistic, utopian marketing thinking. If a page is indexed in search engines, it’s open to be an initial point of entry, especially if it’s optimized for particularly juicy industry topics.

When developing any piece of content, think like a first time visitor to your site. Is there enough background and context? Does the content assume that the user has basic knowledge of the topic (otherwise, why would they be there?) but then provide a new, interesting perspective? Does the content get to the point and not bore them into clicking off the page? Don’t waste your first impression with a potential customer with filler content.

2) Thoughtful linking: “Put a link in it” has turned into the online marketer’s version of “put a bird on it” from Portlandia. Marketers will take a really great, thought out, meaningful piece of content and load it with hyperlinks to other resources, news stories, and pages on their site. This is often done as a misguided, and actually counter-productive link-building effort. Whenever putting in any link in a piece of on-site content, always ask yourself, “why do I want my reader to click on this link?” If you want them to stay on page, read your entire piece of content, and move through the funnel, why is there a link included to an off-site page?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a link hater. They have their place. Some links to other pages on your website is good for SEO, linking to your products moves readers in the right direction, and linking to on-site pages that define complex concepts mentioned in your content helps readers gain a deeper understanding of the topic. What I am saying is simple: If your link won’t move a potential customer further down the track to purchase, you’re wasting your precious content-courting time.

3) See how users interact with your content: Don’t guess what’s working, wondering if folks are reading your content, and what their page-to-page flow is – it’s worth it to examine the data. Google Analytics is good for much more than just site traffic. Use the tool to see what pages users visit on first entry to site, and make sure that page is optimized to move people through the awareness cycle with appropriate links, side bars, interesting images, and satisfying information.

Also look at how long readers stay on a page. Are you getting a lot of clicks but a majority of 15-second site visits? Look at the traffic sources and search terms to make sure your page’s keywords aren’t accidentally getting a lot of irrelevant, misplaced traffic, or worse, that the page is boring to your target audience. Last, be sure to look at what pages visitors look at after they visit their first page, and refine your content to make sure they’re moving in the right direction.

Through purposeful action, informative content, and a little strategy, an intentional choreography framework can elevate your content marketing efforts from ho-hum to salestastic.