Five Steps to Content that Increases Engagement

Where do you think great, engaging content comes from?

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For this blog I want to do something a little bit different, I want to ask you a question. Don’t worry too much though, it’s an easy one AND it’s multiple choice.

Where do you think great, engaging content comes from?

A)     A long, lost spell book that’s been passed down through generations of marketers?

B)     A literal content mill that we load up with data, so it can churn out blogs and banner ads?

C)     Hard work, years of practice and a liberal sprinkling of creativity?

D)     Too much whiskey and a Ouija board, as made famous by Hasbro Toys

This might shock you and it probably isn’t the answer you wanted but it’s C. It’s always been C.

The truth is that marketing isn’t easy and creating engaging content is bloody difficult. Even with the miracle of analytics there isn’t a formula for the perfect piece of content – it’s mostly about knowing the subject and understanding what your audience. needs.

he point I’m labouring over is engaging marketing that drives sales is more than likely a result of someone spending hours hunched over a laptop, not a magic spell or SEO trickery.

It does have to start somewhere though, and to help we’ve come up with five steps to create content that engages your audience.

1.    What does engagement look like to you?

Engagement can mean a lot of things to different people and it might be measured in clicks, views, likes, downloads, or one of a hundred other metrics. Figuring out what it means to you is the first step to creating content that’ll get you the results you want.

At ResourceiT we think too many people rush through this step, which is why we never start working on content until we understand what the client wants to achieve by engaging the audience. After all, if we don’t know this, how can we know if they want more clicks, more retweets or just more sales.

2.    Start with the content, not the hard-sell

It’s somewhat of a paradox that even though the marketing industry is at its peak, it’s actually easier than ever [ML4] to avoid adverts. The audience can now fast-forward them on TV, skip them on YouTube and block them from their browser, so how does marketing even work anymore?

It’s simple, customers now seek out brands they trust to do business with, not the other way around.

Customers want to buy things but being forced to sit through adverts isn’t a part of the journey they want to take, they’d rather make their own decisions. If they want something, they’ll usually research it online and when they visit your site it’ll take more than sales jargon and flashy visuals to convince them to part with their cash.

That’s where your content comes in. Potential customers are going to be put off if all they find is shallow, sales-led content. What they’re looking for is a reason to buy from you and this requires content that shows you’re knowledgeable, trustworthy and can actually meet their needs.

That’s why it’s important not to publish anything that pushes sales instead of giving the audience something of value.

3.    A picture says a thousand words, but…

There are plenty  of facts that prove visual content is a hugely successful way of engaging your audience - whether it’s photos, infographics or video. So, it turns out some old clichés are worth listening listening to, but before you rush to your image library take a second to ask yourself, “What am I trying to say?”

Just because pictures communicate more effectively, it doesn’t mean you can get away with having nothing worth communicating. Sticking a stock image in your content doesn’t guarantee results and designing an infographic that isn’t relevant to your message won’t connect with your audience.

 Have a long think about whether the picture works with the copy to communicate your message, and if doesn’t, don’t use it. Go back to the drawing board, sometimes quite literally, until you’re confident it connects the content to the message – and resonates with the audience.

4.    Talk to your audience…

A lot of content fails because it simply doesn’t address the needs of the people it’s being aimed at. So before you even get started on your next blog ask yourself three questions, “Who am I trying to engage? What tone do they respond to? Where do they normally find content?”  

If you’re trying to influence tech nerds that read Wired and spend a lot of time watching tech videos on YouTube, then shape your content around them. Highlight technical features, use technobabble (but only if you’re fluent yourself), aim to get shares from prominent tech influencers and if you’ve got the means, make your own video content.

Alternatively, if you want to engage decision makers you need to highlight business benefits, aim for short snappy content like listicles (time is money after all) and post it on LinkedIn.

5.    …and listen when they respond 

How do you know if you’ve engaged your audience? Is it because they’ve clicked, viewed, liked or retweeted your content? Or have they only truly engaged with you once they’ve bought whatever it is that you’re selling?

If you really want to know, why don’t you ask them? Communication works two ways, so take advantage of the fact that your audience is right there on the other side of the internet. Ask your audience for their thoughts on what you’ve posted, find out what content they’d like to see more ofkeep in mind that incentives help encourage response.

And the number one thing to do when somebody does interact with you? Make sure you answer them.

A little bit of magic goes a long way 

I know that earlier we said you don’t need magic to create engaging content. And that’s true, however, there is something undefinable, a certain “je nais se quoi”, that all amazing, engaging content has.

That’s why marketing agencies like us exist, and it’s what we’ve built a successful business on, offering that something special that nobody else can. To sprinkle a little fairy dust and help you strike a chord with your audience, whether that’s through copywriting, design flair, digital knowhow or channel expertise.

Except that instead of sprinkling fairy dust, we’re mostly spending hours huddled over our laptops.

 

About ResourceiT

Whether you’re looking for that little bit of magic to bring your content to life or you need the collective experience of a building full of channel marketing experts, we’ve spent the latest 14 years connecting IT businesses with their prospects and customers.

As always we’d love to know whether you agree with what we’ve said. Yes? No? Maybe so? All you have to do is leave a comment below.

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