Content is the soul of modern marketing and hardly anyone can deny this. However, occasional surveys keep identifying the areas of improvement and emerging trends in the marketing world. At the end of this article, you should be able to learn an emerging transition from quality content to engaging content. While highlighting the industry’s current practices, it should help you (as a marketer) to reorganize your marketing mix and prioritize resources allocation well.

A recently published report by digital marketing solutions provider TrackMaven claims that brands scaled up their content production by 35% last year. They used their own platform to analyze the impact of 12 months of marketing activity for 22,957 brands in major industries. Collectively, this analysis included 50 million content pieces across six digital marketing channels — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and blogs totaling a set of 75.7 billion interactions.

However, despite this mass level of production, the key challenge of marketers remain quite unmet as the engagement level of content fell by 17%. Towards the end of 2015, the engagement ratio dropped to a low of 2.19 interactions per post per brand per 1,000 followers on average. The conclusion is: marketers are generating more content with less to show for it. The following screenshot (from the same report) illustrates the comparative analysis of engagement and output.

comparison of content output vs engagement

There is more stress on quality and quantity of output but less on engagement, which results in marketers’ inability to engage prospects and monetise their content. Moreover, stress on quality is limited to uniqueness and decent set of information with no mention of consumers in it. Whereas, what’s the value of content if users don’t consider it worth-sharing or worth-downloading?

So it’s the right time that marketers determine the difference between quality content and useless set of information. By doing so, they’ll be able to achieve the following key objectives of marketing:

  • Determine the right set of content mix
  • Produce better content
  • Increase engagement level
  • Monetise content and achieve growth

In the following, we’ll list down 6 suggestions that will help you craft a piece of content that is not only engaging but drives the growth as well.

  • Keep consumer first and search engine second
  • People read on mobile- scale your content for small screens
  • Readers love visuals – stats endorse it equally
  • Social networks’ free lunch is over – invest for exposure
  • Email still matters, and still works (largely) for better
  • People care about their online security, – avoid SPAM

1. Keep Consumer First and Search Engine Second:

One of the key reasons behind failure of content’s ability to inspire readers and attract engagement has been misplaced focus of the content producers. Most of the writers produce the content keeping the search trends, keywords and Google’s requirements of search friendly content in mind. This helps them gain good ranks in search but the content loses in terms of engaging audience across the web. People don’t share it even when they’re reminded by regular posting by brands. Moreover, when people keep reading similar type of content from a writer/publisher, they either unfollow/unlike/unsubscribe or at least don’t take any action.

Therefore, if you want to make your content engaging and valuable to people, publish something they love to read. Focus on prospects’ pain points and deliver a solution. You can definitely promote your brand or service in the same document but first highlight the problems to build your case of “offer”.

2. People Read on Mobile – Scale your Content for Small Screens

If you’ve to pick up one, mobile would be the most important marketing factor today. estimates that by year end, the number of smartphone users in United States will reach 198.5 million unique users. It also projects over 2.08 billion smartphone users by the year end. “Moreover, mobile friendliness is also important for your search ranking and SEO strategy. Since April 2015 Google’s algorithm has been updated to elevate the importance of mobile friendly web design. Responsiveness has become a key ranking factor and shouldn’t be ignored,” says Mr David Bryan, Managing Director of Birmingham-based digital marketing agency; Opace.

You can use Google to check out latest mobile usage stats that endorse rapid growth and widespread adoption of the small screens and smartphone technology. Since we know that there are more mobile readers than desktop ones, our content should be crafted in a way that it suits mobile. This requires a complete content map for mobile that covers design, size, scalability, and pattern.

3. Readers Love Visuals – Stats Endorse It Equally:

Do you have a visual marketing strategy? Be concerned if you don’t. HubSpot has combined some interesting stats about visual content marketing on their blog. Check a few of them here.

  • Researchers have found that colored visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%. (source)
  • 46% marketers agree that photography is critical to their current marketing and storytelling strategies.
  • Content with images receive 94% more views
  • 73% of content creators plan to prioritise creating more engaging content in 2016, and 55% plan to prioritise creating visual content.

What should be your strategy here?

You must add branded images in your blogs, e-books and other content pieces. Since images have their own search index, so web content with visuals tend receive more online visibility, engagement and better search engine rankings compared to those that don’t. I strongly advise fellow marketers to prepare a separate portfolio of image based content and distribute across digital channels, including social media, as content with images receive 94% more viewership.

content marketing quote by doug kessler

4. Email Still Matters, and Works Best for Content Monetization

Email is often regarded as dead horse which is wrong assumption. It’s still one of the most cost-effective digital channel that can yield up to 44% return on investment. If you want to monetize your content and earn some value against your efforts, never ignore email marketing. Email should help you in content promotion, lead generation, lead nurturing, and revenue growth.

However, make sure your content is distributed to a quality database using some reliable platform. Learn to write captivating emails that drive open rates and motivate actions or hire a copywriter to this for you. In your content drips, your email copy as well as landing page design matters the most. If you’ve been able to work well on content, landing page and list; ROI can be astonishingly good

5. Social Networks’ Free Lunch is Over – Invest for Exposure:

If research is to be believed, social network’s organic reach has shrunk to just 5%, which means you cannot rely on organic posts anymore. This means, in order to get exposure and enhanced reach to the audience, businesses will have to spend money. So if you are planning to attract prospects, quality content alone doesn’t work. You need to ensure it reaches the right audience, which requires research and investment. Set aside some content promotion and exposure budget and plan your content promotion program. If you don’t know how to, read my previous post here at Business2Community where I have explained 5 steps of an effective content promotion strategy.

6. Prospects Care about their Online Security – Avoid SPAM:

Phishing and identity theft are two key concerns that force people not to click on your links or accept certain call to action. This is visible on your social media as well as email marketing campaigns. In order to tackle this issue, you need to work on building trust by educating people about key precautionary steps to keep themselves safe online through sending reliable content. I would like to encourage marketers to build trust before moving ahead with offer calls or emails. This process starts when you (as a marketer) avoid sending too many messages and do not overburden prospects. Moreover, when you give the ‘opt-out’ or ‘unsubscribe’ option in your email, it also builds trust and gives a very positive message to prospects.

Finally, in order to devise a balanced content marketing approach, you should design a content calendar that defines content types and frequency of publishing. It’ll help you craft better content that contains information with visual elements that people love to share and get engaged with.