Online marketer Jason Acidre provides four basic steps to help you launch a content marketing strategy that enhances your audience’s user experience.
UX or user experience has been emerging as a very vital channel for digital and inbound marketing, given the fact how users’ behavior and demands toward web-based content are continuously growing over the past years. This constant evolution in web usage is clearly defining the changes in the online marketing space as well, because users have to come expect continually better experiences. This means marketing professionals must now work to delight as well as inform to efficiently get the attention of their target users/audience.
Evaluating the significance of UX in today’s marketing age will simply take a longer list, but here are several reasons that exemplify its impact on marketing and revenue generation processes:
- Search engines are now using usage data to assess pages that are being found genuinely useful by users based on user metrics (duration of time spent on site/page, exit rate, etc.).
- Conversion rate optimization also relies on user-based testing to further see how businesses can increase transactions and activities happening within their websites.
- Traffic and awareness generation methods such as social media, email marketing, branding as well as content marketing all need UX to increase the chances of retaining the incoming visitors yielded by these campaigns and eventually turning them to customers/loyalists.
These reasons simply imply how great marketing/advertising experiences can result in customer loyalty (by serving as an extension of the brand).
Effective Content Marketing can improve User Experience
UX and content marketing are very dynamic practices, wherein both often change based on the industry’s market necessities, standards, and circumstances. And at this stage of the information age, where almost everyone acquires knowledge/information through the web, presentation will always be a denominator of who can win their target audience’s trust and attention.
This precisely means that the quality, relevance, and value of the information that you can offer to your audience through your content can simply shape their perception of your brand and develop an experience that will make them stay.
The body of the content as well as its overall presentation is definitely a huge aspect of optimizing a site for usability/user experience. People will subscribe/follow/share/trust your content if they find it valuable.
There are 4 basic steps in launching a content marketing campaign, which I’ll discuss more below:
Research: Observe communities that are highly effective in content marketing
Planning is always as crucial as the implementation part, since this phase allows you to understand what you’ll be dealing with and what will you probably be achieving or be rewarded with.
Start by understanding how people within communities (your target audience) consume content, as this will always depend on what a specific market needs in terms of information as well as with the content formats that they have already been mostly accustomed to.
For instance, people in our industry (online marketing, SEO, social media, etc.) are mostly interested in data-driven content, which means we enjoy and find case studies, actionable, and well-researched types of posts very useful. Just look at how SEOmoz and other top industry blogs deliver their content to their community:
- Most effective content in this sphere is as detailed and comprehensive as it can be.
- Includes rich-content elements such as screenshots, data visualization, videos and/or slide presentations.
- Links out to other helpful external resources.
So basically, if you’re in our industry, you’ll definitely want to do the same approach to absorb people from these top blogs’ communities.
Analyzing how other brands produce/promote their materials and observing the reception to their content will give you an initial idea of how to approach your industry’s online community through the content that you’ll be building.
Look at how successful communication happens. Emulate that! If SEOmoz’s readers respond to metrics and your audience is similar, they’ll probably enjoy metrics, too.
Another great example is the home improvement industry, where most blogs provide detailed images to their readers/viewers. Take a look at Freshome.com. They generate interest using high quality images that are then easily promoted through targeted social media channels (Facebook and Pinterest).
Pay attention to the content formats that resonate with your readers. Here are a few types of content to consider:
- Data visualizations
- Comprehensive blog posts/articles
- Slide presentations
- Rich-images (cinemagraphs, photographs, memes, etc.)
- Interactive tools
You’ll just have to know what will efficiently work and what has been proven to work in your niche.
After reverse engineering the content formats that are evidently working in the popular blogs in your industry with robust communities where your target market is, you can then start imitating how they deliver their content.
Implementation: Create content specifically tailored to your target communities
Knowing the kind of content that people in your industry share, read, and learn from will give you an advantage, especially if you’re looking to improve your site’s readership, subscriptions, social follower base, and potential customers/clients.
A few questions you can ask yourself before publishing your content:
- Will your target audience (active participants in your industry’s blogosphere) find your content share-worthy?
- Will your content help your potential customers understand what your business is all about?
- Will it be still useful in the coming months/years (is it evergreen)?
- Will people who are in need of the information provided by your content search for it using search engines?
- Would you personally share it to your friends?
If you can say yes to all of the questions above, then you’re definitely good to go.
Also, before publishing your content, it’s important to know which marketing channels are effective to use for your content.
If you’ll focus more on providing high quality images, you’d definitely find Pinterest, Stumbleupon, Reddit, and Facebook more helpful than other social networks, whereas if your content marketing campaign is more text and data-centric, then Twitter, News Hacker, Facebook, and/or LinkedIn would be more apt.
Using targeted social networks to syndicate and seed your content will be more effective, seeing that your audience will more likely find your content relevant and useful from these networks – which can translate to more social shares and relevant pageviews.
Outreach: Reach out and engage your target audience
Great content will never move across the web on its own, it will always need a little push through promotional techniques for it to be more visible to people who’re really interested about your content.
Outreach is certainly one of those ways that can make your content be seen by people who might find it interesting or useful and perhaps share it to their networks as well.
The real key to a successful content-based link and social outreach strongly depends on the value proposition. When sharing your content by contacting people (through email or social networks), it’s important that they see the value that your content has to offer for them to have a reason to share it to their followers/friends too.
Focus your attention on the right people from your target communities for outreach, preferably those who are somehow influential in your chosen tribes (have blogs and/or have strong social following). Because once they see that there’s something that they can get or use from your content, the higher amplification they can give to your content in terms of coverage/visibility when they share your content publicly or mention it through their own works (blog posts/articles).
In using these tools, you’ll just need to run the URLs of the pages/posts from your competitors that have received good number of social shares and links pointing to them on either tool. The tools will show you the people and sites that have shared the content or have linked to it.
Make a list of these people who you should be engaging with, so you can easily contact them once you have a solid piece of content that might be of their interest.
What should you tell them? Ask for feedback or suggestions for your content to be more compelling, or simply ask if they would be interested to see what you have been publishing on your site (since you already know they are into those things – based on your research).
Track, Analyze and Improve
Use Google Analytics to track the progress of your site’s content marketing campaign, because you can easily replicate the process when you know how every little detail impacts the campaign. You can use some of the metrics below to determine your content’s success:
- Unique page views
- Average time on page
- Amount of social shares (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc…)
- Page value (can be measured if you have set up goals for conversions on Google Analytics) – to see if your content is generating transactions to your site
- Number of new followers on social networks and subscribers acquired after publishing the content
- If the page is sending search engine traffic to the site (using related keywords with substantial search volume)
- Exit rate
- Natural links acquired by the content (voluntarily links given by other blogs/sites to the page)
If great results were achieved for a single piece of content, you can then try to enhance it to increase its ability to be utilized by your site’s target audience and convert them into leads/subscribers/customers.
Areas of the content that you can improve after determining its usability and shareability:
- Continuously test the page’s call to action to get the most out of the incoming traffic to the content.
- Optimize the page for search for it to rank better on search engine results for keywords that might be used by people in finding the information your content is providing. You can build internal links (from your site’s other pages) using keyword-rich anchor texts directing to this content to improve its search rankings.
- Continuously promote the content on places where people may find the content useful such as from related forum threads, Q&A sites (like Quora), and blog discussions.
Bonus: Creating content for links
As I’ve mentioned in a recent group interview, creating content for links is a different story, though the process I’ve shared in this post pretty much works on this arena as well.
The real key to achieve a scalable link building process is based on a solid content strategy, but it seems that so many people don’t get this stuff easily, since many are being pushed to the idea of “just create great content”.
What people are really missing is to “create great content specifically tailored to linkers.” Creating useful stuff is good, especially if your content is targeting your potential customers. But creating content for links is a different story. Because in this arena, you have to know what content resonates with the “linkeratis,” and it’s not just useful stuff — these are mostly things that can really compel and educate the people in your industry who’re in the “advanced segment.” People who basically write about the things in your industry, too.
So how do you attract these people to link to you? Write about the things that they read and learn from, and then let them know about it! Continuously provide content on the things they read and mostly link out to, because that will lead you to the road to a scalable link building process.”
Mastering the processes from researching, implementing, promoting, and measuring your content generation strategy will allow you to efficiently build a solid marketing campaign that can hit more than what your brand is aiming at.
Jason Acidre is the Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, an online marketing agency based in the Philippines. He’s also the author of the SEO blog Kaiserthesage and the marketing strategist for Affilorama. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre.