Content Marketing in the Age of UX and the 7 principles to apply to improve performance

Winning in the content marketing game in this new age of UX means knowing how to apply the 7 user experience best practices principles to your communications, here’s how.

Content marketing in the age of UX from

The winning formula for content marketing in this age of UX requires marketers to understand and apply the 7 user experience principles to optimize communications, improve conversion and successfully engage the audience. By doing so, marketing teams can ensure the communications that are so critical to their business success are efficient, effective and engaging. And that ultimately leads to marketing and thus revenue success.

Content marketing is a hot topic these days, because for marketing purposes it defines a better way to communicate and engage with prospects and customers.

Some naysayers may question the entire topic, wondering aloud;

“If you’re not marketing with content, what are you marketing with, the Vulcan mind meld?”
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Definition of Content Marketing

For you UX fans who are wondering what content marketing is, the definition on Wikipedia states:

“Content marketing is any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers. This information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, etc.

Content marketing is focused not on selling, but on communicating with customers and prospects.”

Ahem. That last line may not sit well with executives and the C-Suite, who I’m pretty sure are thinking they are absolutely paying their marketing team to help generate sales and revenue. But that’s a whole other blog post.

“Content Marketing” may be a hot topic now, with some marketers believing it to be new concept. But the truth is content marketing has been around for just about as long as we humans have been around.

A case in point is the infographic (they called it a political cartoon back in the day) that Benjamin Franklin published in his Pennsylvania Gazette in May, 1754.

Join or Die infographic created by Benjamin Franklin image from
Join or Die is a good example of an early content marketing infographic or political cartoon as it was known

“Join, or Die” was a brilliant graphic targeting the independent colonies and suggesting to them that they join forces to fight the French and Indians that threatened the colonists. The ‘information’ part of this infographic is the pieces of the snake representing the colonies. The message was clear, an organization (in this case the fledgling American colonies) cannot live as separate elements, but must be whole to survive. A highly effective content marketing piece that is just as effective at communicating today as it was in the 1750s.

Interestingly, it was repurposed years later as a popular symbol for the opposition of British rule during the American Revolution, which was an early use of a content repurposing strategy (sorry again content marketers, that concept has been around a long time too).

But content marketing IS an important strategy for engaging with prospects and customers. By providing valuable content that is NOT directly calling for a purchase, it has both marketing and UX benefits that are far reaching and include…

  • Engages target audience well before the buyer consideration phase
  • Reinforces the quality of the Brand
  • Provides rich content for SEO and inbound marketing purposes
  • Improves the human condition by adding value and knowledge

7 Content Marketing Principles and UX:

By applying the 7 UX principles as part of a content marketing strategy, smart marketers will benefit from the optimized content and communications that result. As I mentioned in the article how to conduct a usability review, there are important UX principles that can be analyzed specifically to optimize the usability and conversion of a website. What works for websites works equally well for marketing content. Thus, applying one, several or all of the following 7 UX principles can significantly improve content marketing results:

  1. Attractive: UX practitioners and marketers understand that content must be attractive, else risk losing the audience before they ever engage with the information. Content marketing takes information and wraps it into attractive packaging, UX teams use design best practices to ensure the experience and thus packaging is attractive.
  2. Stimulating: Content must be stimulating if it is going to be consumed. Boring information is, well, boring, and thus ineffective. UX best practices identify ways to incorporate value, motivation and incitement to drive engagement. Even the lowly white paper can be made more stimulating with simple additions of charts, graphs, callouts and the like.
  3. Novelty: As humans, our attention is captured by ‘new’ ‘different’ and ‘unusual.’ Good marketers and UX practitioners incorporate this fact into the content they produce. Information presented in new ways works very effectively toward capturing and holding attention. As an example, this is why infographics work so well as a content marketing tool. Infographics take existing information and wrap it into a novel and unique format that most of us find hard to resist.
  4. Efficiency: The core purpose of content marketing is to provide an efficient method for prospects and customers to find and consume information. UX teams live and die by efficiency, it is the core of their mantra. Marketing communications that are highly efficient at communicating will always provide better results than those that don’t. Remember that complexity is the enemy of good communications.
  5. Perspicuity: Clarity or transparency is another critical element of content marketing and UX. How understandable, easy to learn and clear content marketing communications are directly impact their usability, and adoption. UX best practices call for decreasing ambiguity and clarifying the experience whenever and wherever possible. The over use of jargon, abbreviations or company specific terms falls into this bucket. Keeping content marketing clean means keeping content marketing clear and transparent.
  6. Dependable: The interesting thing about content marketing is it must communicate consistently across many mediums and over time. One-off ads are easy, dependable content marketing pieces must maintain their style, theme and vision across videos, articles, infographics, white papers and much more, and must reflect consistent Brand and tonality of voice throughout. UX best practices focus on creating dependable and consistent user experiences, which helps reinforce a positive user experience and satisfied users.
  7. Satisfying: A major component of good content marketing and UX is the ability of the content to satisfy the consumer. A great headline that stimulates a response to visit the content won’t matter if the content does not satisfy the reader and their expectations. But satisfaction implies something deeper; it implies a connection between the audience and the content. That connection can only come from identifying with and being connected to the audience and what they care about.

7 Winning Content Marketing Principles in the Age of UX

By evaluating content marketing strategies and tactics against these seven UX principles a marketer can ensure the communication will be as effective as possible. Given the ever increasing adoption and utilization of UX best practices in products and services, it makes sense for Marketers to utilize these 7 UX principles as a strategic tool to elevate their communications from good to great, and improve results.