With consumer habits changing rapidly, how should marketers adapt their efforts and content in order to get maximum value for effort? If customers and audiences have moved on to new platforms and new ways of consuming information, how do we recapture their attention?
A new report from HubSpot offers compelling insight into the changing habits of consumers and how they are engaging with online content.
The report showed over the past two years, the number of people looking for content via search engines has grown by 57%. Thirty-three per cent of people are more likely to go directly to a publication’s website compared to two years ago, while growth in RSS reader usage has almost halted.
As online marketing reaches adolescence, it raises some interesting questions about online content and whether marketers are still getting maximum value for their effort. Have their customers and audiences moved to different platforms and adopted new ways of consuming information? And if so, how do you recapture their attention in a crowded online environment?
“People go online to consume content,” says report author Mimi An. “Their options are endless. For content marketers, knowing what type of content generates the most attention in readers has always been important.”
“In our survey of 1,091 global internet users, we’ve found people have dramatically increased content consumption on the three most popular social networks in the last two years: Facebook (57% increase), Twitter (25% increase), and LinkedIn (21% increase).”
“We asked our respondents what they tend to skim and what they read or watch thoroughly. Not surprisingly, video was listed as the type of content people pay close attention to, followed by social media posts, and news articles. Blog posts, interactive tools, and long form content are more likely to be skimmed by readers.”
“Because most online browsers voraciously consume all content formats, this isn’t a call to abandon certain content types. Rather, marketers should focus their content to reflect the reading or skimming habits of their audience.”
Where Are People Most ‘Engaged’?
Below is a breakdown by percentage of survey respondents who reported that they consume the following content marketing ’thoroughly
- Videos 55%
- Social Media Posts 52%
- News Articles 49%
- Research Content 47%
- Online Classes / educational games 37%
- Interactive articles or tools 33%
- Long form business content 32%
- Blogs 29%
So how do marketers make sure their content is reaching consumers, and aligned with their buyers’ online habits?
1. Create Buyer Personas
The best way to create content that connects with the online habits of modern consumers is to truly understand them. And I don’t mean grouping your customers into arbitrary age or gender groups. I mean delving into the attitudes and behaviours of your buyers, knowing their pain points, the nature of their jobs or personal lives and the solutions they need to work and live better — then creating content marketing to match.
This is a process called Buyer Personas. It’s a systematic approach to understanding people who are likely to buy from you, what motivates them to start researching and what information helps them ultimately decide to buy from you, or one of your competitors. This insight will help you align your content marketing to what’s important to your buyers.
Buyer personas become the foundation for content marketing that connects with people. As we know, people who feel as though you understand them and can provide what they need will be more likely to choose your company and its products and services over your competitors.
2. Publish Content Where Your Buyers Are Going To Find It
Content marketing can’t be a game of hide-and-seek. It has to be so easy to find that your buyer falls over it while they’re looking online, and then can’t help but interact with it.
By the time you’ve developed your buyer persona, you will have determined the kind of content your target audience wants and where they want to find it.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, companies who are most successful at content marketing use an average of 15 different approaches.
That doesn’t necessarily apply to your business, which may get more value from using three platforms very well rather than using 15 very poorly. But you should be willing to use and experiment with different forms of content and ways of publishing it. Here are some common examples:
- Social media
- eBooks and White Papers
- Research documents
- Industry standards resources and tools
- Use your buyer persona as a guide and trust the process
Use your buyer persona as a guide and trust the process. Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint and the results aren’t always immediate. But if you do the groundwork correctly and create content that speaks to your ideal buyers on their terms, you will eventually flourish online and start attracting customers to your business.
3. Um, Just Ask!
Social media has given marketers the ability to have a conversation with their customers. Why not just ask your audience what type of content they’d like to see?
Tommy Wyher from business.com says that asking for content input from prospective and existing customers is a great way to interact with your audience, while developing a killer editorial calendar at the same time.
“Having readers come up with ideas for articles builds reader loyalty and possibly customer loyalty,’ he says. “Not only does it save a company time they would spend coming up with articles but the readers are actually getting content that they have requested.”
“Engagement will go up if this is done on a consistent basis as the topics covered will be of interest to readers, staff, and others in the industry. If a business is in a bind for a blog post then opening up contributor positions to readers can be done.”
4. Commit To A Publishing Schedule
Once you have an idea of the buyer you’re targeting and the content you need to create, next you need to develop a calendar and commit to a publishing schedule, tailoring your content to the specific platform you’re using.
“The frequency of blog posts is going to be different from the frequency of Twitter updates,” says HubSpot’s Neil Patel. “Generally speaking, the more a content type costs in resources and effort, the less frequent you’ll be producing it.”
“Curata’s content marketing pyramid is a helpful way to determine how frequently you should be posting different types of content. It's all about the results you get from the amount of effort you put into that content creation.”
Once you have some achievable timelines in mind for your content platforms, develop an editorial calendar and get publishing!
5. Monitor and Measure Like Your Life Depends On It
“Measurement is what makes marketing a science, rather than a superstition,” says Forbes Marketing expert Jayson DeMers. “For many business owners, marketing is a superfluous expense – something to spend money on only when the budget is flexible enough to accommodate it.”
Metrics are essential to making informed content marketing decisions, and ensuring that you’re investing your time, money and resources into platforms that are reaching your ideal customers. Metrics are the roadmap that lets you know if your blog lead conversion black hole, or if your YouTube channel has the highest conversion rate at the lowest customer acquisition cost, making it far more worthy of your time.