Welcome to the digital age! At a time when we’re able to provide instant updates through Twitter, share intimate details of our lives through Facebook, and even livestream our nights out, we’re more connected to our friends and our favorite brands than ever before. It’s somewhat ironic, therefore, that in this highly connected world, customers feel disconnected; more disconnected than ever before. The problem, it seems, is that although businesses are utilizing the multitude of marketing distribution channels now available to them, they’re not using them in the most effective manner.
While many businesses are using social media and other forms of digital distribution channels to publish and advertise their content, a lot are failing to produce content that actually connects them with their audience. It’s reported that 75% of marketers are increasing investments in content marketing, but paying out more is not going to achieve the desired results unless the content itself is engaging. So how do we know if the content we’re putting out there is actually doing its job, or if it’s simply falling flat?
On the one hand, it’s easy to measure and analyze overall success depending on what exactly it is that you want each piece of content to achieve. If you want to spark a reaction in your audience and encourage them to take action, for example, it makes sense to monitor and track comments, shares, and retweets. Similarly, if you wanted your content to boost visibility and traffic, analytics tools can help you to determine the most popular landing pages (and, therefore, the most effective keywords or PPC ads), time spent on the site, and overall conversions. However, there’s more to measuring than meets the eye.
Digital disconnection isn’t just about businesses not understanding what it is that their customers want; it’s about not understanding the reasoning behind customer behavior. Reports show that marketers place a lot of importance on ad sharing, while customers themselves don’t tend to associate ad sharing with having much of an effect on how they view that brand. It’s called the ‘engagement-marketing disconnect’, and it highlights the importance of viewing the situation through the eyes of the customer.
If the results of your analyses aren’t quite what you’d hoped for, it could suggest that you’re not using your available distribution channels in the most effective way. Maybe you’re publishing objectively good content, but that doesn’t mean the content is going to capture the attention of your particular target audience.
There are many possible reasons for this: creating content that isn’t very readable (keyword-stuffed, terrible reading flow), that’s not aimed at the target audience (i.e. a serious, scientific tone for a game related content), or content that isn’t relevant to your brand. Or it could simply be that your content isn’t interesting. It’s not too late to take action.
Introducing Interactive Content
The thing with marketing is that it’s constantly changing. It rapidly evolved from a one-way to a two-way street, and it’s essential that we stay on top of the latest trends. Marketing no longer centers around a brand ‘telling’ a consumer something; it’s about interaction. It’s about engaging customers, and inviting them to be an active and important part of your campaigns.
How can we do this? By making our content more interactive; while selling and promoting ourselves through text while also drawing the customers in. Text-based quizzes, calculators, social media contests, interactive surveys, and even a bit of controversy added into a blog post to spark a bit of healthy debate are all excellent ways to do this. Today’s content shouldn’t be flat or ‘2D’; content needs to have depth.
There are already a number of big name brands that are incorporating interactive content into their marketing campaigns. Wendy’s, with their tongue-in-cheek Twitter responses are a prime example, and of course we can’t overlook Buzzfeed. Buzzfeed quizzes are often said to be the driving force behind the website’s almost unprecedented success, and the figures don’t lie. Back in March 2014, Buzzfeed had very little content on offer (just under 3000 articles, compared to 17,000 by the Huffington Post and 50,000 by Fox News), and yet it had more Facebook shares, likes, and comments that its competitors. Interestingly, when creation of new quizzes dropped in May 2014, so did overall Facebook interactions.
The main advantage of interactive content is that it gives something back; it’s fun, it encourages participation with the brand, and ultimately it speaks to your target audience.
Now that we’ve looked at how to make your content speak to your audience, how about taking a look at what NOT to do. Quite simply, don’t make it difficult for your audience to listen to what it is you’re saying.
Today’s consumers lead busy lives, and have grown accustomed to instantaneous results (same day deliveries, for example). These are not people prepared to fight their way through obstacles to access a brand message.
Don’t waste your time on covering ideas and that have been already widely discussed unless you have something really unique to add or a special way to present it. You can bet that your customers are getting bombarded with different information from the side of your competitors. Doing the exact same thing in the same way will definitely not get you noticed.
Your Next Steps
Now that you know how to do content marketing right, it’s important to keep doing it right. Create a guide for your marketers and writers, but try not to make this guide too restrictive. Remember that the fundamentals of content marketing aren’t set in stone.
Just look at how content marketing has changed in recent years. Once upon a time, we could write a blog post — optimized, of course — publish it on our website, and walk away. Only the content that is shared by influencers, has some sort of interactive element, is unique in some way and sparks a conversation is the content that can leave an imprint in today’s digital world.
About the Author
Dario is an outreach specialist at Point Visible. Except for taking care of blogger outreach projects and creating helpful blog posts, his interests are related to graphic and web design. He occasionally throws in an On-page SEO project, just for good measure.