Why simple to complex content both are necessary

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

You might remember those moments in school:

  • You write something
  • The teacher edits something out and says that is implied or people just know that

It’s common sense knowledge! Or something like that. But who actually decides what’s common or basic knowledge anyway?

I get reminded of this all the time:

  • I read things and I wonder why writers didn’t include something. How do people know?
  • Or the opposite when something is included and I’m like “I know that. I’m skimming this article.”

It all depends on the audience, but at the end of the day, including more explanatory content – especially in blog articles – will help make it easier for consumers of the content. And if will make the content more findable in search.

The place for simple content

The other day I was watching a video on how to, why and when to sign up for a frequent flier program. It was so basic and it was great for people who weren’t frequent fliers yet but had some trips coming up. As a longtime traveler it wasn’t that useful to me.

So there certainly are different audiences and knowledge levels. On the other hand, adding all the basics into every piece of content we produce can get quite cumbersome and get people who already know to tune out.

To a degree that’s why I created this resource page of terms on here. It has terms that really should be common knowledge to content marketers but might not be to a beginning content marketing strategist. Instead of explaining every term in every article I just link to the definition page when it makes sense.

I typically follow this thought process in deciding what to include:

  1. What’s the point of this content?
  2. What do I think the most likely audience already knows?
  3. What’s something that I know that they may not know. I try not to fall in the trap of leaving something out because I know.
  4. How does including more information impact the rest of the story? Does it help or does it slow it down unnecessarily?
  5. Is there another place to link to? Or should there be?

There’s definitely room for basic content and also more advanced content. The trick is to figure out when to use which and also to keep in mind that users who might need advanced content end up on the basic content page and vice versa.

It’s definitely something to keep top of mind when creating content:

  • Does this work for my target and most likely audience?
  • Does it work for adjacent audiences?
  • How do I get relevant audiences but not exact matches for my content to a better place?

Why you need complex content

Some in our audience might be more advanced in the topics that we create content around. It’s not always higher-ranking employees and it depends on your topic and vertical.

For example, if you are creating a new category the content needs to be simple enough for all career levels to understand. But, it needs to have a splash of showing that you understand the complexity of the industry.

Of course, as the category evolves so does the content. For example, I saw this as a problem in content marketing after a few years. Some content stayed too simplistic for those growing in the industry. That group needed more advanced content and wasn’t getting it from some of the sources.

Another way to think of “complex” content is “advanced” content. It’s not just complex for the sake of being complex but it’s for the people that are more advanced in the topic. It dives deeper into more advanced topics.

There certainly is a space for simple and complex content for businesses to drive awareness and results. Both can help with us raising our brand and thought leadership. The trick is to find the right balance.

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