Content marketing feels a lot like a one-way street. You look for a gap or need and fill it with brilliant word-smithing that leads your audience to a solution. Naturally, the point is to help them land safely within your sales funnel … eventually. But the immediate goal is to establish yourself as a source of valuable information your audience can trust.
The problem is if you traverse the course of content marketing as though it IS a one-way street … you will fail.
Your content should be a narrative about the solution you derive from the needs of your audience.
Creating content your visitors want to read and engage on requires understanding their pain points, habits, and journeys. You must read your audience and tune in to where they go for solutions, when they need them, how they respond to different forms of content, and why they choose you.
Where is your audience most active? Meet them there.
It’s critical you track your overall brand awareness. Identify on what social sites you’ve made the most significant impression and how encompassing you’ve established your reach. This doesn’t mean you should confirm how many followers you have on your Twitter account or how many page likes you have on Facebook. Those numbers can be misleading.
The trick is to discover where you have the most opportunity to engage with active users that need your insights, services, or product. Say you gained 74 Insta-followers after sharing a hilarious baby-Yoda meme. Your popularity may have grown, but if that audience is mostly comprised of 15-year-old, “Mandalorian” fans and you regularly publish content on life insurance benefits, you’re not reaching the right followers.
If you want to lead readers into your sales funnel, look to pages and online groups where your audience searches for solutions. Keep fun posts on social sites where you can show off your quirky culture or company personality. Accurately read your audience and expose them to the appropriate kind of content to meet their needs on a source-by-source basis.
What time of day do they browse? Show up.
Metrics that measure traffic to your blog and social accounts allow you to see how well your posting habits align with your readers’ browsing habits. There are plenty of convenient bites of data you can pull straight from your Facebook Audience Insights or Twitter Analytics. Or you can really dig in and get your hands dirty with a full analysis run through Google Analytics or a social media manager like Hootsuite.
For example, if your blog content speaks mostly to 9-5ers in the business world, you may see the greatest engagement mid-morning on Tuesday, when your subscribers have a moment to open the current newsletter. You could also have readers who like to pick up the late-afternoon post from Facebook on their commute home. Or maybe you need to tailor some content for caregivers who settle in to catch up on quick tips after the kids are in bed.
No matter what the scenario, your audience is busy, and if you’re not posting when they are active, your content will be buried in their cluttered feeds and crowded inboxes.
Review how many users you reach across different platforms and how many clicks your blog content gets at various times of the day. It could take some trial and error until you settle in on a reliable schedule, but if you show up when users search for your insight, they will come to rely on your brand for answers when they need them most.
How do they like to engage? Customize your content.
Understanding the engagement rate of your audience is key to knowing the kind of content in which you should be investing your time, energy, and possibly, budget. Analyze their reactions to your content. Do they comment or like it? Don’t underestimate the value of content that gets a high rate of clicks even if no one shares it.
You have probably read a dozen content marketing ‘how-tos’ that recommend long-form blog content to keep readers engaged. Well, there are just as many that say infographics; no, white papers; NO, be direct … be visual … BE yourself!
It’s exhausting to keep up with ‘best practices’ when it comes to content trends. That’s why you have to read your audience.
Do they like to share engaging visual content on Instagram? Great!
Do they LIKE your blog post updates on Facebook? Great!
Do they follow links to your printable guides from clever CTAs? Great!
There is no perfect formula for creating the best user experience when it comes to content marketing. You simply have to respond to the reactions of your audience and create the content they want to digest and engage on accordingly.
What path do they take? Look and listen.
It’s vital you understand what behaviors specific content evokes and how that leads your audience through the correct content funnel. Knowing where your audience started and why they stopped on your content determines how you respond to their needs. This requires you to look hard on your followers’ journeys.
Did they land on your Instagram account as a result of another user’s engagement? Did they engage on that meme?
Did they follow your most recent Facebook post to your website to read more content? Did they click on other pages?
Did a post you shared on LinkedIn drive them to your site where they clicked your blog CTA? Or did they just exit the website?
These are real questions you need to ask yourself, then dig in to answer before building out new content. By looking and listening to their actions, you can identify failures and successes in your content marketing strategy based on your readers’ behaviors and establish a system for using unique metrics to keep improving your brand’s story.