“Content is where I expect the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting,” said Microsoft Co-founder Bill Gates in his 1996 essay titled “Content Is King.” This has been a mantra for marketers for almost 20 years, but times have changed. Today there is no shortage of content. The content battlefield is crowded with microsites, blogs, videos, white papers, webinars, social posts and more. Just ask Siri or Google, and your screen will be filled with hundreds of content choices. I’m not suggesting the content battle is over, but rather expressing that simply adding more content is not the answer.
According to a recent BrightEdge Content Engagement Report, consumers engage with 20 percent of content on average, whereas in the business-to-business space, average engagement for technology and manufacturing professionals is more than 53 percent. This engagement includes traffic, conversions and revenue.
Consequently, if you are involved in business-to-consumer marketing, I suggest a new mantra: Engagement with Content Is King.
If content is the battle, deeper engagement is how the war is to be won. Good content is vital, but striving toward deeper engagement is what fills needs and increases revenue. In order to drive content engagement, follow these seven proven ways:
- No dead ends. Too often marketers are so happy to complete a piece of content that they publish it on a website and breathe a sigh of relief. However, every type of content should include a call to action or a way to more deeply engage. For example, “watch now”; “start today”; or “download the e-book.” Think about the next piece of relevant content and offer it.
- Test, test, test. We’ve all heard about the importance of testing headlines, calls to action and even the color of buttons. Quite frankly, marketers rarely test. Recently, gyro conducted an A/B test of a button color and increased conversions by 12 percent just by imaging the amplified effect across an entire website.
- Create once; use many. While this should be a common practice, some marketers are better at following it than others. If you are able to take a white paper and develop a social media post or infographic from it, think about how you could extend that content even further to create a SlideShare deck, webinar or even an executive summary to direct people to a white paper. Push yourself harder in this area, and you are bound to reap rewards.
- Love surprises. At gyro, we are firm believers in measurement and analytics. A few months ago, we were surprised to learn that our social media program for a heavy manufacturing client was actually driving more conversions and engaged leads than some of our other channels. As a result, we reprioritized our efforts.
- Include a passing lane. Do not limit your customers’ potential to advance to later marketing funnel content. You might think they are early- to mid-funnel because they downloaded a white paper, when, in fact, they are ready to request a quote.
- To your target audience, be true. How many times have you been disappointed by the lack of authenticity of a brand? Sometimes it seems like brands forget who they are. Be consistent, but expand your brand by turning facts into stories, elevating customers into superheroes and inviting customer conversation in ways you have never done before.
- Thank you is not goodbye. We love when forms are completed and leads are identified. However, too often we don’t deliver a “thank you” page. Thank you pages are wonderful opportunities to drive continued engagement by offering additional relevant content that might include offering a newsletter or providing social links.
As a content marketer, it’s a great time to be alive. There are more content tools, resources, channels and ways to measure engagement than ever before. So which of the “7 Proven Ways” make the most sense for you to focus, encourage and drive deeper engagement?
Background: This was adapted from a presentation John gave at Content Marketing World 2015.