Content marketing tactics to boost engagement
Making the next viral video isn’t the only way to drive engagement with your content. It’s time to put down your cell phone and stop trying to catch your dog playing soccer (unless that’s how you enjoy spending your time…) because today we’re talking about how to boost customer engagement with content marketing.
This is a big topic, so this article breaks it down into three key categories:
- Content marketing strategy ideas to start.
- Driving engagement with blog articles and other content types.
- Driving social media engagement.
First things first – let’s talk strategy
You must fully understanding your target audience in order to engage them. That means answering all the basics, like who, what, why, how and so on.
How to understand your target audience
This will happen in two steps. First, we will figure out who our audience members are and what they want. Then we’ll put together a persona guide to etch it in stone.
First, answer these questions:
- Who are your customers? Think age, location, interests, goals in life, relationship status, their assumed level of knowledge, and so on.
- What do they want? Figure out their wants, needs and pain points. What ticks them off? What’s frustrating? What are they looking for online?
- What can you offer your audience? Building engagement with content means providing real value to your readers (more on this in our content category below).
Now turn all of this information into persona documents. We recommend you read our user personas guide to get started on this process.
Building engagement with content
Customers engage with content when it’s valuable, easy to find and easy to read. This won’t require a whole new way of writing, but an attention to detail in areas you may not have thought so much about. These core tenets apply across the board, from blogs and whitepapers to infographics, videos, and even email marketing campaigns.
Your overall quality will bring value, a stellar headline will push up your click-through rate, and promotion will get your content to the right people.
1. Quality over quantity
Quality trumps quantity every time when it comes to engaging your audience. Content has to be worth the time you’re asking people to spend on it. So how do we create quality?
- Answer needs/wants: Remember those personas? Now go back to them, make a list of common needs/wants/FAQs that these audience members have, and uniquely target each one with an article
- Cut the sales: Focus on providing education before you focus on sales. You can sell with your ads, or link back to products with calls to action and internal hyperlinks. Content should be about providing value
- Use professional writers: If you’re trying to present yourself as an expert, thought leader, trusted adviser or any of the above, you’re only undermining your own message by allowing basic grammatical errors and other content mistakes to slip through. A content creation specialist will help you avoid these embarrassing gaffs.
2. Use a great headline
A famous Princeton University paper found it takes humans a tenth of a second to form a first impression. You can see, then, how important it is that your headline grabs the attention of your audience and conveys the right message. But beware – sensationalised, click-baity headlines can get a lot of negative flack on social media. There’s a middle ground between sensational and sensationalised that you’ll need to walk.
These are six quick headline rules to live by:
- Keep it snappy: Google only displays around 60 characters, so an extra-long headline is pointless in search. Most other platforms are similar.
- Use emotive language: Try to provoke emotion in your audience, whether that’s humour, curiosity, interest, sadness or whatever else is appropriate.
- Create a curiosity gap: Asking questions is a great way to intrigue people and make them want to know the answer. But avoid yes/no questions (in case the customer’s answer is no!).
- Keep it clear: The headline must match the content.
- Use numbers: Numbered articles (e.g. “4 things you’ll definitely want to read about”) are great attention-grabbers, and Conductor research even showed that users choose numbered headlines as their most-preferred headline style, before how-tos and questions. However, remember to always mix up what you do – don’t just repeat listicles every day or it’ll get stale.
- Use keywords: Finally, make sure to drop keywords and important search terms into your headline to keep them relevant and SEO friendly.
3. Promote your content
Finally, promoting content is a fast way to get it in front of audience members and boost overall brand awareness. Think social media sharing, AdWords, paid social ads, and whatever else you can leverage to show your content in the right places at the right times.
Paid ads work. Here’s proof: Google’s research showed that 89 per cent of traffic generated by AdWords ads is not replaced by organic traffic when those same ads are paused.
So, promote your key content pieces to the right audience members and watch your traffic rise.
Building engagement on social media
Nearly eight in 10 people are on social media in Australia, according to the 2017 Sensis Social Media Report. This is a huge market, and should be one of your go-to places for building engagement.
But there are ways to do social media and ways not to. Let’s avoid the latter, shall we?
1. Don’t just sell – converse
There is room on social media for advertising and sales, but it can’t be your only content. Social media is a fantastic platform for starting a discussion, and discussion is a quick way to rope audience members into engaging with your posts – whether by liking them, or commenting with their thoughts.
- Consider this: Compare two Facebook posts in your mind. One of them says “50 per cent off all items in our BIG mid-winter sale. Hurry while stocks last!” This post links to your product pages. The other post says “When was the last time you cleaned the inside of your car? We reveal how disgusting car seats can get, and what to do about it.” This post links to an article on the topic, which itself links to cleaning products. Now which Facebook post are you more likely to engage with?
2. Monitor conversations and respond
Social media is a two-way channel. You aren’t just talking to customers, they’re talking back – asking questions, leaving reviews, voicing opinions.
- Consider this: Ambassador research states that 71 per cent of users would recommend a brand to their friends if they had a good service experience via social media. However, the same number also expect to receive assistance within five minutes of reaching out, yet Sprout Social found 89 per cent of their messages get ignored. Can you do better?
Respond quickly to private messages, and keep an eye on comments to monitor the conversation and reply when relevant. If you need to, you could also deploy a social media bot to help vet messages so your customer service agents don’t get bogged down with quick fixes.
3. Share content and use influencers
Sharing other users’ content and interacting with influencers are both good ways to engage an audience and build social traction.
For instance, other people may already have answered a question that is important to your audience, but you haven’t had a chance to do the same yet. You can re-share this person’s answer (provided it is high quality, too) so your customers still benefit from your guidance even though it’s not from you personally.
As for influencers, these folks are like the internet’s best salespeople. They typically have a large number of followers and – importantly – people trust their opinion. So reach out to the influencers in your market to see if they can share your content. You can tag them or ask them questions, and some even accept payment for promoting brands.
- How to find influencers
Try using BuzzSumo. It has an amazing Twitter influencer tool that lets your compare popular figureheads with keywords to identify the right people for your target market.
To learn more about influencers (and how to become one!), check out our article “How to build your brand influence online.”
The question of ‘how to build engagement with content marketing’ can be summed up quite easily:
Figure out who your users are and what they want, then provide those wants to those people. If you can do that, you’ll be creating valuable content that meets their needs – and that increases their chance of reading it, liking it and sharing it.