The competition for audience attention is fierce. Across the board, marketers are increasing their investments in content. Not to mention, human attention spans are getting shorter.
Brands need more than great content to engage their audiences – they need to take advantage of every millisecond to delight and engage people on a 1:1 level.
The challenge, however, is that marketing budgets are finite. Unlike the Intels and Coca-Colas of the world, we need to make the most out of very little – we need to make sure that each dollar and moment spent on content delivers maximum ROI.
Creating engaging content is easier than you think. In addition to focusing on the big picture — like message architecture, blog topics, and distribution — we need to focus on the subtle techniques that amplify engagement. Here are 7 to get you started:
1. Embed videos
It’s estimated that content with videos attract 3 times more links than plain text posts. Next time you’re writing a blog post, think about ways to integrate videos. You don’t necessarily need to produce these videos — instead, focus on curating great examples of recent favorites that you’ve come across, like this roundup of top marketing talks from the Popditto blog.
You don’t need a production budget to create compelling videos for your blog post. For inspiration, check out the following blog post on Clarity.fm from Prerna Gupta, co-founder at Khush. These homemade videos helped generate millions of downloads for Khush’s intelligent music apps.
2. Involve the Community
Make your readers a part of your content strategy. This process could be as simple as (1) inviting your audience to contribute to your blog and (2) integrating “tweetables” for readers to participate in the conversation.
Consider the following quote round-up from Clarity.fm, a blog post that features contributions from 23 of the website’s members. Each quote is tweetable, which makes it easy for readers to join the conversation and spread the inspiration. This strategy helped generate thousands of shares for the post.
3. Respond to Comments
Successful content marketing is a two-way conversation. Encourage your audience to participate in the discussion (or engage in healthy debate) by responding to comments with follow-up questions and counter-points.
Not sure how to spark a conversation? Just ask your readers to chime in — it’s an invaluable way to show your audience how much you care.
Here is an example from a recent Freshbooks blog post about the Affordable Care Act.
And here is an example from the Clarity Blog, in a recent blog post about entrepreneurship outside of Silicon Valley.
Keep in mind that it’s important to respond to comments and shares across different platforms on channels like Facebook and Twitter.
4. Engage Audiences Across Channels
Blogging is only part of the content marketing equation. In addition to creating awesome material, you need to recruit an audience.
The challenge with content marketing is that readers are busy — it’s unlikely that they’ll commit to visiting your blog on a regular basis. That’s why your marketing team needs to provide guidance by reaching your most dedicated followers across multiple user acquisition channels.
Start with the low-hanging fruit: your email marketing list and social media.
The Shopify blog has an amazing strategy, publishing content on the company’s blog and then distributing it through email and social media.
5. Write Like You’re Talking to Friends
If you’re like most of us, you probably struggle to get your ideas on paper. The challenge? Writing feels unnatural. You’ve been taught so many lessons in school, and writing makes you feel like you’re back in your college English class.
You’re overthinking the task.
Blogging is about friendship, community, and natural conversation. Stop worrying about writing and instead, imagine that you’re talking to a friend. The writing will flow naturally and be more compelling.
After all, what would you rather do? Read a textbook or grab coffee with your best friend?
6. Publish Great Photos
It’s common for businesses to cut corners by avoiding images. They’ll post blog posts without compelling visuals.
This is a big mistake.
Humans are visually driven. It’s estimated that 46.1% of people say a website’s design is the number one criterion for discerning the credibility of the company, and 40% of people respond better to visual content than plain text.
Whether you’re producing blog posts or sharing content on social media, make sure to prioritize the photos that you’re choosing. There is ROI value in beauty.
If you’re a non-designer, and you’re looking for visual inspiration, check out this blog post from Coworks on design thinking for non-designers.
7. Stop Trying to Sell
This last tip is the most valuable of all.
Sales and marketing teams are under immense pressure to sell. The problem? Consumers are sick and tired of being sold to. The more you try to pitch your audience with an aggressive marketing message, the more that they will shy away.
Instead, focus on becoming a thought leader and guiding the conversation. The more you’re able to influence your industry, the more that consumers will want to do business with your company.
The most refreshing way to be engaging? Stop selling. Focus on delighting and educating. If your product and brand image are awesome, everything will fall into place. Put your heart into what your customers want most.