Pouring countless hours and thousands of dollars into content that isn’t producing any return on investment (ROI) is one of the most frustrating experiences for business owners. You may be tempted to throw in the towel, especially in the beginning. However, don’t completely abandon your content creation efforts just yet.
If something isn’t working and you’re losing capital, then yes, sometimes you should shut it down. It may be an absolute waste of resources. But, what is most likely happening is that something within your process isn’t working. When you search for the weak spots in your process and focus on improving them, it can make a huge difference.
Creating content that increases traffic, engagement and ROI isn’t magic. (Although, it may seem like it is at times.) Through our own personal experience, a lot of AB testing and data-backed tactics, we’ve found these 6 tips to be the most effective.
1. Document your strategy.
The latest report from Content Marketing Institute (CMI) shows that only 32 percent of organizations document their content strategy. Creating content without a documented strategy is like going to the store without writing a shopping list first. You’ll wander around, forget many of the items that you needed and buy a lot of junk that you didn’t need.
Your strategy should cover basics like:
- Target audiences
- Objectives and measurable goals
A documented strategy prevents you from losing sight of your goals and getting lost in the process. It will also highlight weak points in your content plan and prevent you from pouring resources into futile campaigns.
2. Identify your customer personas and what they care about.
Customer or buyer personas help you understand who your current and prospective customers are and what motivates them to take action. Well-defined buyer personas help you make more effective marketing and content decisions.
If you have an existing customer base, analyze your data and look for patterns. Without a solid customer base, you can still develop personas by asking questions like:
- How old are your ideal customers?
- What are their interests?
- How do they interact with your business?
- Do they use social media? If so, what channel do they use primarily?
- What problems do they face and how can you help solve them?
With those 5 questions, you’ll have a solid foundation. However, there are many other questions that you can use to learn more about your customers.
It is important to note that customers aren’t stagnant. Certain demographics may stay the same. Preferences and buying behaviors like what channels they use most or how they like to receive communication can change over time. Remember to revisit your personas so that they still reflect your audiences.
3. Personalization is your secret weapon.
According to a recent report, close to 75 percent of consumers will get frustrated when a site’s content isn’t relevant to them or their interests. On the other hand, audiences engage with brands that tailor their content. In one study, personalized content was shown to increase sales by 19 percent. Personalization is critical. When you understand your customers and their passions, you can create more personal content.
There are several ways that you can make your content more personal. You can recommend other products based on a customer’s past behaviors or purchases. Amazon and Netflix are two of the biggest examples of this type of personalization. Some brands like Stitch Fix and JustFab will ask customers to take a survey to gauge their interests and preferences. Others factor geolocation into recommendations and suggestions. Google incorporates it into their search results.
4. Utilize keywords.
You may have high-quality content, but if it isn’t search engine optimized, people probably won’t see it. Do you know how your customers find you online? What keywords are optimized on your website and in your content? If you aren’t sure, you may want to do some research.
Data is your friend, especially when dealing with content marketing and SEO. Hopefully, you have Google analytics or some other analytics tool on your site. It will track where your traffic originates from, which can provide insight into how people find you. Utilizing keywords in blog titles and fluidly throughout your content can increase the odds that it will reach your target audiences.
However, keywords aren’t automatically going to pull your content to the top of search engine rankings. As part of a larger SEO strategy, they help you reach target audiences that are more likely to interact with your content in a meaningful way. But, once you hook them, you need to give them a reason to stay. Remember the content itself still needs to be well-crafted, relevant and valuable.
5. Become a thought leader.
In today’s digital world, it seems like anybody can call themselves an expert. It’s easier than ever to write a blog, post to social media or upload a video to YouTube. This comes with good and bad news. The bad news is that competition is high. Also, those that claim to be experts but aren’t, can devalue the real experts.
The good news is that if you are willing to devote the time and effort, you can become a trusted and respected thought leader. However, you still have to be well-versed and heavily experienced in your area of expertise. To become a thought leader, you must provide valuable insights. This means you’ll need to create more content than you curate.
Content creation is like making cookies from scratch, whereas content curation is like making them from a box of mix. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Baking cookies from a box (curation) is often faster but can still be appealing. Baking cookies from scratch (creation) may require more time and skill, but it is often more respected and valued.
Use your own graphics and photos in your content. Conduct or sponsor research like surveys and polls. Statistics are incredibly powerful and can be used in a variety of media, from infographics and videos to articles and case studies. In thought leadership, quality reigns over quantity. No matter what you create, make sure it is at the highest level of quality. We recommend content creation whenever possible, and can help.
6. It’s the little things.
People are exposed to so many emails, online ads and social media posts that it is incredibly difficult to stand out from the crowd. When you add a personal touch or signature, it makes your brand memorable.
For instance, you could follow up an online purchase with a handwritten Thank You note. As our culture become increasingly digital, there is a nostalgia for offline interactions. Some companies like to send their clients birthday cards or exclusive freebies in the mail. It serves as both a thoughtful gesture and a creative personal touch. Another option is to give members or subscribers access to exclusive content like ebooks or tutorials.
These tips can help you strengthen your content strategy, reach target audiences and boost your ROI. Still in need of some guidance? If your content investment isn’t producing the results that you want, contact the 10twelve team to discuss how we can help you optimize your content and grow your business.