This is a great year for content marketing as more bloggers and brands begin to truly understand its value as well as the quality and creativity required to make it work and engage and entertain audiences. Major brands like Chipotle and Microsoft are raising the bar for what passes as marketing and branded content while bloggers like Pat Flynn and Neil Patel also prove the real meaning of quality content and responsive community management. While “content marketing” may seem to be a new concept to many, it has actually been around for more than a decade. Certainly the most basic form of content marketing began as merely blogging and anyone a decade ago with a consistent flow of content stood a chance of making it big. However, now with the barrier to entry practically eliminated, almost anyone with an internet connection can start pushing content for the world to consume; on the basis of fun or for profit.
With this explosion of volume in content being both produced and promoted, the web has gotten very noisy and average content for the most part is being ignored. Bloggers and other content producers will need to step their game up, recognizing and employing what’s proven to work along with a little tenacity to push the limits and status quo and try something new.
Keeping it simple, here are 5 key approaches you’ll need in your online marketing strategies.
Use Interactive Media or Be Ignored
Audio and visuals matter more than ever now, especially as more of the world gains access to stable high speed mobile internet; it’s become a standard. It’s all about getting into the minds of the user and the more you understand consumer psychology the more you can relate to your audience’s desires and what they respond to. The fact that photos make up 93% of the most engaging content on Facebook only reinforces this and is still driving huge success for marketers taking advantage of the platform regardless of the algorithmic changes that have recently impacted Facebook’s organic page reach. We are visual consumers, our food has to look good, our clothing has to be attractive and content online has to be entertaining and visually inviting for us to engage it.
In addition, due to our shrinking attentions spans, our brains consume images, video and audio at much faster rates than basic text.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Use attractive featured images for your blog articles that are appealing and express what the post is about.
- Use images and graphs to represent statistics and other interesting information. That’s the reason infographics have done so well over the years at increasing traffic and engagement.
- Make images and other media emotional
Genuine, Helpful & Emotionally Engaging
Think about what entices you about article headlines that make you want to click them and read further. You’ll discover that the content you often click on and engage with connects with you on an emotional level or is hard-hitting on a subject that matters most to you. To first get the message across to attract readers, your headline has to achieve that emotional nudge or make an offer readers cannot refuse – something controversial, newsworthy or super useful that aims to solve commons problems towards adding significant value to your readers’ lives.
Check out this video by GoPro, great example of content that evokes an emotional response:
Then you’ll need to deliver on your promise or lose your reputation and your marketing efforts become stunted. If your post headline is offering something “Amazing!” then ensure that you’re honest with yourself first and your readers that it certainly is. If your content isn’t achieving this in this age readers will pass and your results will mainly be poor.
Every social network and major website is positioning itself to be mobile-first or mobile adaptive; inline with the upward trend of mobile device usage for consuming content online. It’s only common sense, if more of your users are using mobile devices to access your content then you need to present it in a manner that guarantees a beautiful user experience.
For bloggers, it’s vital that whether you’re hiring a developer, purchasing a WordPress theme or developing your site yourself it absolutely needs to be mobile responsive; there’s no compromise here. A couple years from now if your blog and other content isn’t suited for mobile your viewership and engagement will literally be zero.
Check out Google’s Mobile Playbook; very interesting guide on serving your mobile audience from the company who’s investing the most in this area.
Your content won’t sell itself and you’ll need to perfect your process for distributing content to achieve wide viewership. Promoted content is now a convergence between organic discovery, social conversations, paid amplification and native advertising. Assigning a small budget to test the waters on Facebook, Twitter, use free content discovery networks like BizSugar or Triberr and a content amplification service like Outbrain will be worth it as you’re able to target your content to very specific audiences for higher conversions. The trick here is to know who your audience is.
In addition, spending on social and native advertising is increasing as more companies begin to better understand the social web’s value. As more of your competitors use these tools to push their content, bloggers will need to begin investing more in building their business online.
Quality vs. Quantity
There was a time when the more articles you published, the better your search engine results would automatically be as your pages get crawled more often and is loved by Google because of fresh content. Unfortunately, this is no longer true and a successful content marketing plan does not work on the basis of just simply having tons of content, especially if you’re trying to serve a market with substantial competition.
You’ll achieve greater results from posting 4 articles per month that are well-written, 1,000+ word pieces providing powerful insight and a unique and rich experience for your audience than publishing 30 mediocre ones. Your content absolutely has to make a bang serving your community. Instead, focus your energy on the highest quality you can push out with an emphasis on originality and distribution through an engaged community that will be willing to share your stuff because it’s good and they respect your contribution and input.
Content marketing is here to stay and for bloggers, the approach has to be a well planned one based on work done to intimately understand the people you’re targeting to consume your stuff. It’s not a walk in the park anymore and will require a complete investment of time, effort and at times money.