Cutting Through the Noise with Content Marketing
Content marketing is big in the world of digital; it has been for some time and it’s only set to grow. Working for a digital marketing agency that believes in the power of quality content, we’re constantly preaching the benefits of good content marketing and persuading clients to jump on board and produce quality content that speaks to their target audience in a language that they understand. As a team, we talk about delivering the right content, at the right time, to the right person, in the right format, in the right language, on the right device… At which point we realise the enormity of the task ahead and how confusing and daunting this all appears. How on earth do you tick all those boxes?
Great content marketers excel at creating content that their readers love, but even the best struggle to deliver that content in a personalised way to the right person at the right time. And with the growth of online content being delivered by brands, it can be even more difficult to make your content stand out amongst the crowd.
A recent study highlighted that 41% of people (and 33% of millennials, those aged 18-34 years old) claim to feel overwhelmed by the sheer wealth of choice on the internet, preferring friends’ recommendations on social media rather than searching for content and products themselves. So how can you make sure your content is achieving that level of ‘shareability’?
Consider the objectives you’re trying to achieve with content marketing. Is it an increase in traffic? Brand awareness? Keyword rankings? Community building?
This article doesn’t provide a secret formula for perfect content marketing, but just takes you through a thought process to ensure the content that is delivered ticks all these boxes and achieves the objectives.
The right content
With so many forms of content out there, how do you know what the right content is? Get to know your audience first by building your target personas (explained in the next point), and then test out different forms of content to see how the audience reacts. Social listening will play a key role here, allowing you to analyse the type of content that gets shared the most, whether that be blog posts, imagery, video, GIFs, infographics etc. Consider what content format type is the best way to get this message across? And in what content format will my audience most like to consume this content?
Knowing what type of content to produce is great, but don’t forget that where it’s housed will also play a major part in making sure it’s found and shared. Place your content front and centre on your website or social media channels, make sure it’s well optimised and that it looks just as great on a mobile as it does on a desktop.
Your website visitors aren’t going to spend hours going through your blog pages, so give them an easy way to find what they’re looking for. Using search boxes, categories, tags, recommended reading, related articles etc. will make it easy for people to find what they’re looking for and to read what else you have to offer. Make sure you cater for those visitors who know exactly the type of content they want, as well as those that are just browsing and may ‘stumble upon’ your content.
The right person
The basics of all good marketing activity is to know your audience. If you don’t know who your audience is, then how do you know what to say and how to say it? If a piece of content has no clear audience, it will have no distinct voice, and therefore the message will get lost or seem disingenuous. All good content marketing should be based around target personas, and every individual piece of content should be aimed at a distinct persona. Get those right, and you’re on your way to a great content marketing delivery.
As with all good marketing, personas need to be adapted and updated over time, as we gather more information about our audience. Start with your personas based on demographics research you can conduct from the start, but keep an eye on results and make sure to tailor your personas as you get to know them better.
Again, social listening will play a part here, as it will allow you to gain insight into your audience’s content consumption habits and interests, for example what formats of content they like, who their influencers are, when and where they read and how they feel about that content.
The right place and time
Living in a multi-screening world, it has become increasingly difficult for marketers to pin point ‘the right time’ to send marketing messages. Consumers are now connected 24/7 with the ability to login at any time, from any device, anywhere around the world. So does ‘the right time’ really matter anymore? The answer is yes to a certain extent. Personalisation here is key which is why the personas mentioned in the ‘right person’ section are so crucial. By understanding your audience and when they’re most active online, you’ll know when to hit them with your content. However, the key here is to make sure content is delivered in a way that enables people to use it at the right time and place for them. Making sure your content looks great across all devices and that the experience isn’t diminished depending on which device it’s being viewed on will ensure that all content delivers an enjoyable experience.
Consider how you can give your audience more flexibility, or take it one step further and take location and timing into account automatically to further improve their experience.
The right format and device
Again, this is all about offering your audience flexibility to choose which device they view your content from, and ensure that they receive the same positive experience from each one.
Knowing that your audience is active across multiple devices means it’s your job to ensure that content is delivered across all, and that the experience isn’t lost cross-device. And remember, if your content is shared across social media, it’ll be consumed via a variety of devices, so don’t shoot yourself in the foot by forgetting about responsiveness.
So, consider how you can enable your audience to consume your content in what they consider the right formats on the right devices.
The right language
Finally it’s all about communicating to your audience in a language they understand. Again, this is linked back to understanding your personas and really knowing who your audience is. I don’t necessarily mean geographical language here, although this is always a nice touch for multi-national businesses, I mean adopting the language that your audience uses on a daily basis, whether it’s filled with jargon or more colloquial and informal.
For example, a B2B business specialising in the financial industry should adopt quite a jargon-heavy tone of voice, reflecting its expertise in the industry. On the other hand, a fashion brand with products aimed at a young female audience, should adopt a friendly and colloquial tone of voice that their audience will respond well to. It’s all about knowing who you’re talking to and speaking their language!
So what does it all come down to? Basically you need to nail these areas and you’ll be on your way to ticking all the boxes in content marketing:
- Detailed target personas
- Content marketing with objectives in mind
- A variety of content, to measure its effectiveness
- Make sure you are measuring the right metrics
- Offer a great experience across all devices
- Make your content easy to find and easy to share!