Do you want to create content that your audience actually enjoys? It doesn’t matter if you’re a startup or a Fortune 500 business, there are two things that you should be doing to ensure your content sticks… If you want to create content that your audience wants and is willing to share, these two approaches need to be considered.
Do you currently have strategies for creating content that sticks?
Do you already have a process that drives the type of content you create?
For most brands, the answer is no. And guess what, it’s not enough to simply write a few blog posts and call it content marketing. It’s a much more strategic and analytical process that will drive content marketing success. It’s a commitment to excellence that will help you craft content that your audience truly wants to read. It’s the conscious decision to review past successes and failures while also committing to establishing a deep understanding of who what your audience looks like.
Let’s talk about each of these processes now…
Get to Know Your Audience
If you ask any business owner who hasn’t gone through a persona process to describe their customer, you will hear a response that describes a perfect human. Ok, some entrepreneurs and marketers are more tuned into reality, but for the most part, we base our “target audience” solely on assumptions and guesses.
I can remember when I worked in advertising. We would spend hours chatting with clients about who would use their product. Generally, the first hour would be spent simply gazing into the stars and describing the people we wanted to be. Instead of playing guessing games with our target audiences and personas, it’s important to base your logic on insights and analytics.
First, let’s start by describing exactly what a persona is. A persona is a hypothetical description that highlights key attributes of your businesses target audience. It highlights their demographic, psychographic, needs, wants and their lifestyle. But not all personas are created equal. You have to differentiate between two groups:
Your Brand Audience
The audience is the folks who consume your content, share your content and frequently act as supporters of your brand. It’s these folks who are influential within your industry and, while they might not use your product or service, they are most certainly willing to spread the word.
In many ways, your brand audience is somewhat of a little PR & Marketing Military that goes out to channel after channel singing your praises.
Your Brand Buyers
These folks are the ones who actually by your stuff. In many instances, they are influenced by your brand audience and, at one point in time, could have even fallen into that category.
Your buyers are the ones who get deeper into understanding the value that your product or service offers and see’s where that value would benefit them. It’s at this point where the exchange in value takes place and they go from potential buyer to existing customer.
To identify the persona of each of these groups, you need to do a lot of research. I tend to look at my clients’ existing databases to review everything from their client list to their mailing list to the folks who follow them on twitter and comment on their blog posts. From there, I look to more traditional avenues to understand the audience such as the PRIZM lifestyle lookup. Once I’ve done my research with both PRIZM and social media listening, I try to describe what these people really look like on the inside and out.
I analyze their content habits on social media and the web to understand where they spend time and how they use the channels. For example, research would show that developing a slideshare marketing plan might make sense to target a business professional, but a brand looking to target college students would be better off marketing on Instagram.
It’s this knowledge that helps you understand what content will make your audience keep coming back for more.
History Predicts the Future
Could it really be that simple? Could the content that you’ve created in the past play a role in determining what content your readers want in the future? Psychology studies dating back to the 1960’s have determined that the answer to this question are yes.
For example, the 2003 Complete Idiot’s Guide to Psychology claims as an established “psychological fact of life” that, “when it comes to human beings, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” Period. End of story. Years later, Psychological scientists who study human behavior still agree that past behavior is a useful marker for future behavior. The only difference is that today’s scientists believe it’s all about context.
In marketing, some of the key things to consider is how many people actually consumed your content. Too often do businesses feel as if it’s enough to simply create the content and overlook the fact that it’s important to distribute the content just the same. Content that isn’t distributed to a large sample size will taint the results of using historical data to better understand what they want.
A few ways to better predict the future of content success is to look at which blog posts have generated the most social shares, traffic and conversion rates. Evaluate the topics of the posts and truly analyze what it was about those posts that made people want to share them. Ask yourself if there’s any similarity between the most frequently shared content and those that are barely shared at all. Look close at the language you use in your posts, how you sign off your content and even compare the language used in the headline.
For me, one trend that I’ve noticed, is that inspirational blog posts are consistently shared more often than posts that break down the power of content marketing or social media. When I write blog posts about overcoming fears or life lessons, they’re more likely to generate traffic and shares. At the same time, I’ve also noticed that these inspirational posts don’t drive as much conversion in comparison to my marketing posts which makes for an ongoing battle to balance the two.
You don’t have to give away prizes and run a handful of promotions to keep visitors coming back for more. Making strategic decisions around what type of content you should create and truly understanding what your audience is interested in, will give you a chance to build a strong community.
As you learned above, history can help predict the future. History shows us that most people are going to be too lazy to actually implement these tactics and simply move on as if they never read it. You however, need to break the trend. You need to be different. You need to be a round peg in a square hole.
So, what do you think? Have you ever looked at your analytics to see what content stands out in comparison to others? I’d love to hear your findings in the comments below or on Twitter: @TheCoolestCool.