We are at an exciting time in the digital evolution, where suddenly creating great digital assets is extremely accessible and easy to deploy, we have flexible content management solutions, a vast array of content online, an ever growing array of channels and a great culture for sharing, so where am I going with this?
In the past 24 months I have seen a huge shift in culture for content development, more and more businesses across all sectors are realising the importance of knowledge sharing and the array of opportunities that come with it, from increased brand awareness, to engagement, through to sales.
However, as pressure to get great content out there quickly and regularly increases, are we losing sight of its purpose and the business objectives which should underpin what we do?
Content doesn’t have to be complex, in-fact it’s nearly always the simpler the better, however what is important is that even the simplest of content abides to the principles of marketing:
- Is your content relevant to your audience?
- Is your content useful?
- Does the content that you have created meet it’s objectives?
So be creative with your content, use your content to help you stand out, but make sure it is relevant and delivered in the right way. Here are a few simple tips we have created to help you get the most from your content.
Stand Up and Stand Out
If you regularly interact with the web and social media, you will have noticed that in the last year there has been an explosion of content, not just from well known blogging sites, but from just about every type of business out there. It’s such an exciting time and on a daily basis I can be reading about the environment, latest travel trends and a whole host of other information which I may not have gone looking for.
Like with anything, the more content there is, the harder it is to stand out. Dare to be different, remember the styles of writing you most enjoy and create a style that works for you and your audience.
Know your customers and stakeholders
For many businesses, one style of content won’t suit all and I strongly believe you shouldn’t try to make it. When developing your strategy, think about articles, white papers, stories, but also think about rich media including video, infographics and photography. In a recent survey it was suggested that 59% of executives would rather watch a video than read content (hubspot 2016), a huge percentage which shouldn’t be overlooked.
Your choice of content, should reflect your audiences, take time to get to know the people you want to tune in and ultimately buy, and create a diverse range of content to help you to reach as many of the right people as possible.
Your Content, Your Brand
The content you produce and deploy is a representation of you and your brand and so although it is possible to produce and deploy content quickly, it often pays to take a little more time and focus on the tone, style and brand you want to portray.
Most readers will quickly identify if content is rushed and poorly thought out, you’re are being judged from the moment they read the title. You need to focus on keeping people reading and delivering your message in a style that your potential customers and key stakeholders will love.
Get Your Facts Right
If you are writing a more factual piece or an article which focuses on a current topic, checking your facts and stats is essential. Social media and digital channels have brought us ever closer to our competitors and other industry leaders and people will tell you when statements and facts are wrong. Our biggest recommendation here is to spend time doing your research, collect information from a range of sources and use this research to add a range of dimensions to your content. Of course make sure you reference any sources you have used.
Writing for Your Customers not your Competitors
Something that I have seen a lot in the last few years, is very well written articles, including lots of great knowledge which simply don’t get engagement. The reason for this is that they are written using industry jargon and terminology that would only really be used by professionals. So what could be a really helpful and insightful piece of content becomes difficult to understand. This is of course great insight for your competitors and a great way of showing you know your stuff, but if it is out of reach to your customers it is unlikely to contribute to your bottom lines.
It’s an Art
Many of us love reading, but whether fact or fiction we quickly know whether a book has the substance to grip us or not. Writing great content is an art, how you write will define whether people continue to read the next chapter or move onto the next. If you are not a natural writer or struggle to be on camera, it may be better to involve other members of your team or even hire a professional to help you perfect the style.
In a digital age we are more empowered than ever. We suddenly have access to a whole host of quality quantitative and qualitative data. We can quickly see, how many people have viewed and read content and also get a gage at how useful the messaging and content is by the level of engagement and shares. The key thing is to use this data to your advantage. There is always going to be a level of trial and error when it comes to content, but if it doesn’t work, fix it.
Where Should you take Your Content
In an age where it’s so easy to get things done in no time at all, taking time to work through every element of your strategy can feel like an unnecessary burden. The truth is that it really couldn’t be more essential, according to a recent survey (webstrategiesinc2016) a typical business is now spending 30% – 50% of their marketing budget on digital marketing, this spans from social media management, through to SEO, PPC, through to content and video marketing. The question you need to ask is if you are spending 2-6 hours a week writing content, is your content reaching the right audience, are you choosing the best channels and approaches and most importantly is there a return?
Our recommendation is always to develop a strategy first, it takes time, but helps to make sure your content is on brand, on message and helps you to reach your customers with useful, practical snippets of information. You can also use your strategy as an opportunity to explore how different channels can work for you. What kind of video content should you create, which sort of articles may be more effective, should you develop graphical assets? All of these questions can be tied together with your detailed content strategy.
This is not about discouraging businesses from writing content, it really is essential, but just because it’s easy to do, doesn’t mean you need to rush it. Irrelevant content can lose you customers just as quickly as great content can win you them.