We’d all love to have the marketing budget of some of the giants—Disney, AMEX, Coca-Cola.
This article is not for them.
This article is for the underdogs. Those who have just a couple thousand dollars every week to try to get their message out there, and who already have a few bits and pieces of content—perhaps a few articles and some social media material.
Here are our five quick tips on how to be savvy and boost that content:
1. Know what your audience is searching for—and how
You need to know your audience to be successful—at anything, really—and creating powerful content is no different. Quite often, a refresher on your target audience is needed. Maybe somewhere along the way you forgot about your audience, or they changed. (Millennials are OLD now. For heaven’s sake, half of them are still creating “Thailand Trip 2018” albums on Facebook.)
What’s the best way to get your message across? How best to communicate and convince people to take an action? Where are these people, how old are they, and what apps are they checking multiple times a day—perhaps when killing time at 4:25 pm on a Friday? These are the questions you need to ask.
How do you figure this stuff out? Talk to your audience, and to those who know them well. Conduct interviews (with customers, customer service, sales people, and marketing people), conduct social listening, check out the online sentiment, and conduct keyword research. Once you’ve got a strong grasp on what they’re annoyed, confused, or unsure about, you have a goldmine of content opportunities.
2. Write a better headline
“Headline” here means “the first bit of copy somebody reads”. It could be the text on a YouTube title card, a blog headline, the first line of a Facebook post, or the H1 on a salesy landing page.
Your content may be engaging past the first couple of sentences, but with millions of content pieces published a day, the first thing your audience reads must stand out. Make sure your “first thing” answers a popular question, solves a problem, or presents an interesting point of view. Clickbait titles can get tired, so you have to ensure that your headline is framed in a way that speaks to your target audience. Maybe that means using more emotive language, or perhaps it just means extracting your key point and making it your title.
Consider also the younger demo—your future customers. They are far more likely to use voice search. According to a study by Thrive Analytics, 71% of 18- to 29-year-olds are using voice assistants, compared to just 39% of 44- to 53-year-olds. Since the way we speak is very different from the way we type, your content needs to adapt to natural language search. Instead of focusing on keywords, you need to focus on answering questions in a relatable, human way.
Keep in mind that headlines should primarily be for people and not search engines. Marketing folks often spend energy trying to keep up with Google’s algorithm changes, writing titles for high rankings. But in the end, Google wants to show what’s relevant and what’s proven to be popular through people’s consumption. Know that quality content will always transcend any update.
3. Recycle the good stuff
It takes resources to produce good content. Don’t spend it producing just one piece of content. Double-down on your content investment by repurposing.
Assuming you have some decent content already, consider taking it and reformatting it for other digital channels. Tweak copy for an email newsletter; repurpose user-generated content for image-heavy channels; or take a great blog post and rewrite the headline to create a social post and amplify that, driving back to your site.
There’s also great benefit—audience-wise and SEO-wise—to updating your on-site content and blog articles periodically. Most content can be quickly polished, updated, and re-published again—and achieve lifts in traffic and audience interest. Mine sites like Quora, Yahoo Answers, and Answer the Public. Is there a way to update your content by incorporating some of that engaging content into your own, and helping your target audience with a problem? Take inspiration from user-generated answers to burning questions across the internet.
(A word of warning, though: these sites are bottomless pits, presenting wonderful insights into humanity. You may get sucked in. Coincidentally, they also repurpose their own content for email marketing—they do well for a reason, after all! You may get sucked in…more than once.)
4. Create gated content from existing content
Take a look at your analytics. Do you have a particular page that is performing well? Can you analyze the data and uncover why this could be? For some organizations, this could be a CTA-focused landing page, but for others it may be other, more informative areas of the site.
Consider expanding content that is performing well and creating additional pieces of gated content, where users are prompted to enter at least a name, email address, and interests to gain access. This is particularly relevant for blog posts that are already generating promising traffic. Instead of a short 600-word article that is consumed, then quickly forgotten, expand on the subject matter by creating a list of helpful advice, placing it in an eye-catching template, and turning it into a PDF. Then put it on a landing page (with a great headline).
You’ll then be able to generate a list of those who are most interested in reading certain topics. Treat your content like a business asset, not an expense. Make content go further and work for you.
5. Amplify strategically
“For every hour you spend on content creation, spend five hours on content amplification.”
This is stated repeatedly in the content marketing world, but the idea is still solid. To make good content powerful, get creative with how you plan and promote it. While the traditional digital marketing channels of display media and paid social are tried-and-true content amplification formats, consider thinking strategically beyond that. Is there an app your audience loves? Is there a social channel they use far more than others? Is there enough flexibility in your content strategy to test new and novel content collaborations to spread awareness?
Also, consider where your content lives. Is it in a good spot to be seen and appreciated by your target audience? Is your content well-suited to the format of the platform? When brainstorming ideas for content amplification, this question is key. It is better to focus your budget on the few key channels you KNOW your audience frequents, rather than try to do it all and spread yourself too thin.
There we go. Know your audience, write better headlines, recycle good stuff, create gated content, and amplify strategically.
In the end, it all comes down to your audience. Put them first. Maybe they never visit Twitter but are the types who check Instagram 50 times a day for inspiration. Maybe they have an arsenal of adblockers installed on their browser, but will dutifully open everything that comes through their email inbox. Or maybe their inbox is jammed full; instead, they are using every possible combination of keywords to find answers to their questions on your website.
Powerful content is helpful content. Service your audience by ensuring your content helps them.
Melissa Chen is a Senior Content Strategist in DAC’s busy Content team. To learn more about what it takes to translate great content to business results, please get in touch!