With exponentially more content available to your target audiences from myriad sources, your content had better be performing. Follow the A, E, I, O and U principle.
For all organizations — large and small, corporate and non-profit — content marketing has become a more complex activity. It’s no longer adequate to drive traffic to an information-loaded, passive website. Today’s digital devotees are responding to curated content, presented with their perspective in mind, thoughtfully packaged in accessible and easy to absorb (and share) formats. Successful writers and editors have expanded their skill set and become veritable content engineers.
Enticing such a savvy audience requires a professionally branded online presence (website, appropriate social media and content) along with strategically developed content resources that will Attract, Engage, Inform, Offer and Understand.
Writing content designed to attract, engage and inform seems to be the goal of most good writers. Material that improves organic SEO and interests the reader is key to good content, but the goal post should be moved further. Every organization has motive for publishing/posting content; that goal is to persuade the reader to take some specific action: buying a product/service, registering for a seminar, joining an association, signing a petition, etc. Creating awareness is a critical first step, but on its own — without the offer — it has achieved little value for the organization.
To be successful, the offer needs to be of value to the reader, and should therefore be appropriate for where the content is in the sales funnel. For example, an association looking for new members shouldn’t necessarily ask a reader to join simply because they registered for a blog article. An invitation to download more detailed, or related, information would be more appropriate. On the other hand, a reader on an HVAC site, who has visited several product pages on air conditioners and downloaded “10 Things You Need to Know When Buying an Air Conditioner,” may be ready to book a sales appointment in the showroom.
The take-away here is that interesting content with the right keywords is not the end goal; you should include an offer associated with the content to move the reader further down the funnel.
The next step in the process of attracting, engaging and converting readers is understanding. Hopefully, you have already created personas for your target audiences and you have a solid understanding of their perspective, needs and wants. Now is the time to demonstrate that knowledge and try to develop a relationship. People are relationship driven and we choose to deal with those we trust and those that show they care. The best way to develop and maintain a trusting relationship is via the content you produce and the communication you have directly with the reader (which is, after all, more content).
The reality is that most of your readers will not engage with you. (I know, it hurts.) Even if they liked what they read, most will be hesitant to move further with your relationship attempts. Understanding their point of view and the type of information that interests them allows you to provide more information and other offers that help you gain trusted relationship status. Welcoming readers further along your funnel with relevant content and thoughtful offers is part of the nurturing process, as well as an important aspect of actively maintaining customers.
Back to the content engineering: doing it right is a lot of work. Developing strategy, researching and defining personas, creating a content plan, developing topics, themes and keywords… this all happens before the actual research writing and editing. Then you have the actual implementation monitoring and responding. If you’re taking advantage of marketing automation you’ll also need to develop emails, landing pages and strategic workflows to nurture your interested readers.
Whether you contract out these tasks (which will still require some significant time from you and your team), or handle it all internally, you’re best advised to budget time and money to be successful. Either way, ensure to use a comprehensive process that will attract, engage, inform, offer and understand your readers.