How can user insight help you create better content?
A good content marketing strategy forms the jugular of every self-respecting digital marketer.
Providing content that helps, entertains and educates your current and potential customers improves their customer journey.
Traditionally, advertising did this job but lately traditional advertising is being considered interruptive.
Advertising is an old-school method of reaching potential customers. It doesn't yield as much result as it used to because it's hard to collect user insight.
But content marketing makes it a lot easier.
People are trying to find ways to avoid ads now that Apple has armed them with the needed technology.
A recent study from Adobe and Pagefair showed, the use of ad blocking software has increased 41 percent since last year, and has cost publishers $22 billion in lost revenue.
Content marketing bridges this divide. It provides the same information that the advertisers want to convey to their target audience in a less sensational, more informative and more acceptable way.
Marketers are observing and studying the trends. Smart Insights predicts that content marketing will have biggest commercial impact in year 2015. More and more big and small businesses are moving towards creating their own branded content.
Smart content marketers are engaging prospects with better content – mostly without making a direct reference to company’s products and services. They are aiming to master the art of soft-push.
They know that the content they create shapes the brand narratives of businesses.
A good quality content is an asset.
It is of lasting value and impacts the conversations with and around the brand positively. Some of the best brands like Intel, American Express, Coca-Cola have started thinking like a publisher and are competing for eyeballs.
Their content marketing strategies have resulted in increased brand awareness, leads and subscribers.
The problem lies in measuring the ROI. Honestly speaking, we don’t have sufficient metrics to measure all the impact content has on an audience.
How do we measure the soft benefits like increase in trust, happier clients and more engaged prospects, probably a few moving towards the funnel?
Did a twitter discussion spark an offline discussion about the products and services of a brand ?
Did the Johns really opt for a Weber Charcoal Grill after being fascinated by the succulent pictures of juicy steaks and crunchy ribs on Weber Nation?
Weber Nation is a micro-site developed by Weber where consumers can go through tips on grilling, recipes and interesting videos that instruct customers on best techniques for grilling different types of meats. We may never know.
Collecting User Data & insights
It is important to know if a content published by a publisher resonated with the intended audience.
Analytical tools like KISSmetrics, Goals from Google Analytics, help you gain detailed user data. You need to mine it efficiently. You need to know what you are looking for. Analyse the story the numbers are telling you.
Read the comments and feedback posted by the users on your website and social marketing platforms.
Use right tools to listen on to the conversations that happen. ‘You need to be curious to identify problems worth solving and then come up with new solutions,’ says Lorraine Twohill, head of marketing at Google.
Zero in on engagements – on what is popular with the audience. Keep your eyes and ears open to spot good engaging piece of content. Study it in detail.
To stay on the top of trends use content curation tools like Percolate or Curata. Find out if your content strategy needs trimming or tweaking.
Focus on Customer Experience Management and collect customer feedback. Collecting continuous feedback and easing the pain points optimizes your content strategy and improves the overall performance.
The nuts and bolts
Content marketing was earlier called Link-baiting- the idea was only to get more links. Now the aim is impact and conversions.
So whether you’re creating infographics, creating blog posts or send an email using either GetResponse or any other email marketing software, the main focus is to help people.
For content marketers and link building services every word put on the website, microsite, blogs, social media and whitepapers is important. Tweaking content when backed by A/B testing yields big results.
Content marketers perpetually need to be in the experimentation mode to incorporate the insights they gather from data mining and user feedback.
Sales, Likes, shares, comments, re-tweets, no. of views, website traffic, subscribers are all different ways a user provides feedback in.
Let’s discuss how we can use the feedback to better the functioning of the nuts and bolts that constitute the content machinery driving the content marketing efforts.
You can start by improving the efficacy of the content on your website. Is the site easy on the eye? Are the fonts of right size?
Have you received any feedback about the website content? Study the numbers and find out where the visitors drop off from your website.
Can the content be improved there?
How are the landing pages of your products performing? Ask your customers for feedback on the designs and offers that are on.
How are the articles on the blogs being received?
If there are sufficient number of views, shares, comments, tweets and other websites are linking to the content, buy yourself a beer. You are doing well.
Read the comments posted by the readers. What are the topics they want you to write on next – are there suggestions? Implied suggestion ?
Do you see a lot of comments on a particular topic you wrote on ?
Probably it is time to write on that same topic again, by building on it and providing more clarity. It will have better reach. Let’s see how Coca-Cola succeeded in blogging.
Coca-cola handles blogging well and one of its posts “Is your name on the coke bottle” created waves. The number of likes and shares it received proves the customers like the strategies it is employing.
For video marketers it is important to know at what point the viewer stopped watching his video.
The user data points at the drop and then the marketer can correct the pain point – whatever was causing the viewers to drop out.
You can know how many times it was shared and if it succeeded in creating required impact.
Tools provided by Vidyard.com, Wistia.com, Vzaar.com and YouTube analytics can be used to get the numbers and the insights provided by them.
Cornetto, an Italian ice-cream brand can teach the marketers a few things about video-marketing.
It created a collection of short films on teenage love called Cupidity, aimed at its target market that consists of teenagers. This demographic of teenagers wasn’t responding by traditional means.
These short films focused on Cornetto’s values – love, humanity, surprise and equality, uploaded on YouTube, and other channels succeeded in getting Cornetto attention from its right audience.
The marketing team of Cornetto got to the right channel with the help of user data and delivered content that was lapped up by the teenagers globally. The trend continues.
Evernote conducts demographic surveys periodically.
It is also committed to stay attuned to the ways people use their products. It knows who its users are and designs its content strategy accordingly.
Andrew Sinkov, Vice President of Marketing and editor Hickey feels the content should be useful, fresh and offer something new.
“If a content helps to educate, then people will want to tell their friends; it will drive word-of-mouth marketing,” adds Sinkov.
Evernote has a rich video library with tutorials, tips and demos. Evernote is doing it right – hoards of its followers on social platforms reward and encourage it routinely with likes, inbound links and re-tweets.
Airbnb, the website for people to list, find and rent lodgings had a unique problem.
They wanted to engage with their current and potential customers but the user data suggested they were mostly offline.
Most of their customer experiences were also offline. In early 2015, Airbnb decided to print a glossy coffee table magazine Pineapple for adding impact to their content strategy.
The aim was to take a new and inspiring look at the travel through the lens of Airbnb community.
Pineapple had customer stories, beautiful curated print graphics and was very well received by its customers. It turned out to be a great way of engagement. You can buy the digital version of Pineapple too.
LineShapeSpace.com is a microsite of Autodesk, which makes software for engineering, construction, architecture, engineering and entertainment industries.
The user feedback they got from small businesses was revealing. Small businesses found Autodesk intimidating.
Head of Marketing Dusty DiMercurio said that small businesses looked at the Autodesk website and were like, “You guys are super high-end.
It looks really sexy, but it doesn’t really connect with me.”
LineShapeSpace looks and feels very different than any other blog at Autodesk. We were aiming to reach small businesses.”
Autodesk reaches small businesses and independent contractors through LineShapeSpace.
It provides financial assistance, client-relations advice, business operations tips, marketing and promotion guidance and software tricks.
“I think it’s important for brands to own their audience and have a direct connection with them.
That’s what we try to do with LineShapeSpace at Autodesk,” DiMercurio concludes.
It is one of the best content marketing strategies a business could have. LineShapeSpace was an official honoree in the 18th Annual Webby Awards.
Soft drink companies like Coca-cola, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper constantly get bad press. Most of the times Americans blame these companies for prevalence of obesity in America.
Tired of the snarky barbs from users and other stake holders Coca-cola, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper – all members of the American Beverage Association came together for a healthy initiative – the goal: to ensure the reduction of beverage calories consumption by 20% by year 2025.
The companies along with American Beverage Association came together for Mixify.
It is a unique content initiative that supports the efforts to help teens balance what they eat and drink with the physical activity.
The overriding message: Balance what you eat and drink with what you do. The strategy includes online resources, TV spots, advice and tips on healthy eating and exercises.
Competing companies came together to deliver a message that partly acknowledged that there was a problem but also assured the stakeholders that the problem was manageable with exercises.
It is important to keep user insight/feedback in mind.
The content needs to stay relevant and interesting. It has to be so good that it is hard to ignore. Quality content draws people towards your products and services. Ensure you do all you can to promote your content.
A good mousetrap has to be placed with the right bait, where the mice are. It would do nothing if you keep it neatly packaged in the garage.
All the inbound marketing strategies depend on the ability and potential of the content to provide traction. User feedback can provide timely course correction and cues for planning content strategies for future.
It can help in getting relevant links and give you an unfair advantage over your competitors.
The shift from “How to get a good twitter and facebook strategy” to “How do I create a good quality content that fits into the content marketing plan and drives engagements on social platforms” is a welcome sign.
Feedback is important and so are the numbers mined from analytic tools. They help you stay on the road when it is foggy. Drive Safe. Godspeed.