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On May 17, 2017, I was a guest on #AdobeChat on Twitter to discuss how to improve your content marketing. There were eight questions through the 60-minute chat. If you missed it, here are some of my highlights on how I answered the questions:
Q1: What role does content play in creating a better customer experience?
The best customer experience is a combination of many disciplines and tactics like personalization, usable design and useful content. Serving customers the right content at the time they need it can be a huge differentiator. Googling for some topics to answer my question to a problem can be super frustrating. High-ranking answers are from two years ago and the solution they describe no longer works, for example. So while that content might rank high it might not always be the best customer experience.
The way the content is written matters too. Recipe for useful content:
Helpful content solves customer problems and when it does that well, it improves the customer experience!
Accuracy is important, too. If your website says you are open from 8-6, that needs to be correct. That’s not quite content marketing, but still content. Ultimately, customers won’t care if it’s the content marketing department or customer service or whomever. They just see the brand!
Q2: What can brands do to ensure their content is relevant vs. just adding to the noise?
To rise above the noise, whisper more relevant things!
I hear a lot of talk about brands needing to “rise above the noise” with their content. This story came to mind:
When my seven-year-old is a bit loud while I’m watching TV, I might turn the TV’s volume up a notch. Of course, that only leads to her being louder and me turning up the TV some more. Ultimately, this could lead to another family member hollering even louder at everyone about the noise. But the noise isn’t going away. It’s just getting louder. It’s like a competition – the wrong one.
But then Mrs. Trappe walks over and quietly lets us know that dinner is cancelled if things don’t quiet down.
With everyone’s stomachs growling, the quiet message had relevance and effect.
Instead of being louder with your content marketing how can you be more relevant? Share messages and stories that people actually care about and that affect them – maybe even inspire them!
Make it a race to be most relevant, not loudest. Of course, distribution is still super important. Building and they will come may work to a degree, but use paid and free channels and outreach to get in front of the right people!
Here are steps for brands to think about to not just add to the noise:
- What makes you unique! Talk about that!
- Within that, what do people actually care about? Talk about that!
- Be useful
I call this the zone of mutual relevance. Don’t lean too much toward engagement and also don’t lean too much toward conversion. Find the sweet spot where you AND your audience wins.
Q3: How can brands create content that provides an experience rather than content that merely informs?
Informational content is highly important to actually get people to pay attention. Content marketers sell by not selling. They sell by being helpful. But beyond that the key is to have content that integrates into the whole user experience. I’m still surprised to run into content that doesn’t work on a specific device, for example. This also includes content that is presented in the right format and that could include:
- Shopping carts
I’m surprised when brands make buying hard. For example, I was on a website the other day and couldn’t even buy their products there. I was asked to call. When I did, the recording let me know that they are closed on Sundays. 🙁
Q4: What obstacles or challenges are preventing brands from creating relevant content?
Often it’s the act of overthinking things or asking for results too quickly. I see brands that get stuck in Approval Hell.
Regarding wanting results too quickly… That low-hanging fruit in storytelling and content marketing – did you see it?
I hear it often when organizations are kicking off content marketing initiatives or try to refocus a program. What’s the low-hanging fruit and how do we get it?
That’s the problem right there with this alleged low-hanging fruit. If we can’t even identify it without a committee meeting how low-hanging really is it?
When I think of low-hanging fruit, I see it smacking me in the head. There it is. Ouch. Picked. No discussion needed. Now it’s gone.
And that’s the second issue with this. If there was low-hanging fruit, it was likely already picked by somebody – likely after it hit him or her in the head.
How about we stop focusing on low-hanging fruit or shortcuts? How about we simply focus on finding our niche, stop selling around the clock and share useful stories and content with our connections? Just be useful!
Once we do that there’ll be plenty of fruit and meaning because we are investing in long-term relationships and not short term transactions.
Q5: What is the first step to creating better, more relevant content?
It’s actually fairly simple when you can follow this six-step process:
- Make the decision
- Make a plan
- Evaluate skills
Make it a habit and it works!
Q6: What issues do brands face with content creation and what are some solutions?
First, brands needs to see the value. Make sure the right people are in the right seats and go. I do believe all brands – even “boring” ones can do content marketing. Everyone has a story worth sharing. Assign some budget, start, refine and give it some time. Many brands have made it work for them!
Q7: Content has many different success metrics. How do you measure content effectiveness in relation to its objectives?
Tie it to a business goal but also have short-term metrics. Something around readership (like sessions or views) still matters. Also, look for trends. Where are people coming from and how can you reach more of those right people.
Q8: What do brands risk by putting irrelevant content in front of their audience?
They could push their target audience away. If it’s not relevant, why would they come back or do any business with you? There’s a real danger there, but don’t overthink it either. Don’t let the need to always be relevant stop you from starting.
Thanks to Adobe for keeping me involved. P.S.: I wrote a number of posts from the 2017 Adobe Summit, which you can find here.
Adobe holds the chat weekly on Wednesdays at 4 ET. You can follow the account below to stay tuned in.