Depending on who you ask, content marketing is either an immense perk to building a new business online, or it’s a huge annoyance. For one thing, it takes longer, and requires a lot of genuine thought about the people you’re marketing to. It’s also expensive. On the other hand: it requires a lot of genuine thought about the people you’re marketing to, which means you’re forced to think about the habits of your demographic. In the best case scenario, you know exactly who your audience is, what they like reading about, how your product or service will revolutionize their lives, and what kind of information they’re likely to pass around. However, most of the time, it’s a crapshoot. You know what appeals to you, but you can’t say empirically that other people share the same tendencies as you. However, with a lot of research, some community engagement, a good dose of moxie, and a friendly openness, you can find yourself in the best case scenario. Here’s how.
Know your user, where they are, and how they read.
By the time you are ready to start building your content, it should already be assumed that you know who your potential users are on a more targeted level. A travel startup, for example, might direct their efforts towards tech-savvy businesses travelers or young, hip jet setters. But they might also look to retirees, who are newly financially liberated from paying their kids’ tuitions. By knowing the habits of their target demographic, then content marketers can shape their content after the types of information their audience is looking for (The Unexpected Benefits of Travel Concierge Services vs. Stunning Waterfalls In Costa Rica), as well as the medium which news travels fastest in their demographics (older people prefer Facebook, while Medium and LinkedIn attract a wide net of young professionals.)
Engage the community.
Over the past decade, the Internet has fostered a niche economy, and there’s no better example of this than the craft brew industry, which went from 1447 breweries in the US 2005 to almost 3500 in 2015, largely thanks to a passionate community of brewers, drinkers, and reviewers who have been able to connect across the country, largely online. And it’s not just brewers: craft makers, vintage clothing hunters, artisanal coffee roasters, otaku, and gamers have all seen their hobbies emerge from niche to normal, largely thanks to the communities that creep up online. Millennials have had a hand in boosting these creative businesses, because they place more stock on individuality, creativity, and personal interests, and they have digital networks on their side.
Businesses can better place themselves within their communities of likeminded individuals by inviting discussion from readers, engaging through social media, catching the attention of bloggers in their niches, and curating thoughtful articles on niche subjects.
Create an everyday context, and find solutions.
Only you know the best uses for your businesses, so it’s important to create an everyday context for which your product or service that can act as a solution. Evernote is a great example of a company that used a simple product to solve a million different problems that people didn’t know they had. By interviewing key influencers like TV hosts and pianists on how they use the note/photo storage app, and sharing helpful tips on how to use the app at work and at home, Evernote has been able to build a successful and reliable fanbase who are addicted to the product. They understand the value of their users, and provide content on productivity, creativity, task-hacking, and creative industries, all while reminding their readers how Evernote can be used to help those processes (like how to keep track of business cards).
Make relevant references.
Since you know who your audience is, you should also know where your audience gets their news, who they enjoy reading, and what they tend to watch. By adding a personal touch, like dropping a jokey reference to Game of Thrones or even going as far as interviewing a well-known personality in the industry, you can connect more intimately with your audience, and establish your position in the community. Quote media publications that your audience is likely to read to make a point, or invoke giants that your readers are likely to know. This isn’t limited to the post itself: by syndicating content to small or large blogs and websites whose values are aligned with yours will certainly net you a few more eyeballs. Keep in mind that the freelancer community is growing by almost 3% a year and now makes up almost 20% of the workforce. Make sure you have relevant references for that growing demographic.
Keep the technical jargon in-house; keep the human outreach more human.
Gone are the days when marketers and businesses have to try to impress potential clients with over-dignified vocabulary and industry jargon. The fact is, the more natural and conversational you can communicate your point, the more people will be able to relate to you. Producing quality content involves giving your thesaurus a break and concentrating on thoughtful ideas, truly helpful suggestions, and straightforward communication. Writing naturally, which often means conversationally, means that your visitors will be more likely to stay and read to the end, and it won’t alienate anybody who doesn’t care about ROI or KPIs (or other gross abbreviations that exist in your particular niche.)
Consider other mediums.
As more and more readers are migrating to mobile devices, the form that content takes has more possibilities. Depending on your business, you can think about how localization can help your content reach your audience, or which mobile apps you can take advantage of. And because screens are getting smaller, you should consider other methods of communicating your message: infographics, for example, bring in 12% more traffic, while video marketing has proven to be an effective marketing tool, as 64% of customers are more likely making a purchase after watching a video. How-To videos are wildly popular, and there’s no more easy way to demonstrate your product than by shooting it in action in a video.
Forget what you’re expected to do.
There are a lot of formulas to making a brand play well online. SEO is useful for driving certain traffic, and someone’s aunt is always going to share a commercial if it involves a tiny, helplessly lost puppy and a brawny farmer. It’s been a topic of debate whether longer or shorter articles work better in Google’s algorithms. These are all, theoretically, important points to consider when building content on your business’ site – but naturally, by trying to play by all the rules of the Internet, content marketers compromise on quality. After all, while it might do well on Google, who really wants to read an article made up of nothing but keywords? By experimenting on what works for your company, keeping your H-tags and meta-descriptions by the book, and applying passion, patience, quality, and innovation to your marketing, you will find more fun in your work and you’ll have better quality readers.
This article was written by John Rampton from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.