What goals do you have for your content marketing? Do you want to generate leads? Build brand awareness? Start conversations? While each of these goals require a unique set of actions, would you believe that 1 specific strategy is the catalyst to success for any and all of these goals? That’s right. None of these goals can be achieved until you attain engagement. And that’s why the best practices for your content marketing efforts need to first center around engaging your audience.
So how can you encourage more engagement? The exact approaches vary depending on who your audience is, but successfully driving engagement comes down to some common best practices. Here are 12 steps to boost engagement and reach your goals.
1. Deploy Customer Segmentation & Buyer Personas
Whether you already have buyer personas in place and are looking to gain more specific insight with persona validation, or are starting from scratch with a full customer segmentation plan, some degree of segmentation and persona-building benefits organizations of all kinds. That’s because, beyond simply identifying the demographics of your target audience, these exercises tell you about their experiences, opinions, decision-making process, and so much more. To truly engage an audience, you must first understand them. So don’t overlook the importance of a detailed analysis of your customer in your content planning.
2. Explore New Content Formats
Are your webinars a hit? Explore short-form video and animations that highlight key points and encourage sign-ups. White papers and ebooks landing well with your audience? In that case, consider infographics or mini-infographics that can summarize entire sections of your reports. Take a look at what’s been working and consider ways to enhance it.
Conversely, examine what hasn’t been working and determine if it’s a conceptual misstep (the wrong type of content or the wrong channel), or executional errors (lack of visual content or low-quality visuals) that are leading to lower engagement. By breaking out of your comfort zone you can connect with audiences in new ways. Further, this shows that you’re committed to growth, change, and innovation.
3. Repurpose Content for Multiple Channels
When building your content marketing calendar, it’s a best practice to consider ways to maximize your efforts. That infographic can be broken down into social media images or bite-sized visuals for your next blog post. You can make short-form animations, commonly known as GIFs, from your full-length motion graphics. There are so many ways to get more out of a single piece of content! And the benefits are extensive. You save time, produce more content with fewer resources, and have the added benefit of assured visual consistency.
4. Develop Visual Languages for Unique Campaigns
Do you have a content campaign or series of campaigns in the works? Perhaps you’re promoting an event, a new product or service, or something else that’s a bit of a departure. Get ahead of the curve by mapping out a visual strategy and creating visual languages for these campaigns before content creation starts.
Why is this important? Visual languages help define standards like fonts, icon and illustration styles, data visualization styles, and more, but they do this specifically for campaigns that depart from a larger set of brand standards. Creating a visual language for each campaign allows you to establish the aesthetic upfront. In this way, you can determine ahead of time how similar to or different from your overall brand this campaign should look. This ensures a strategic approach and consistent output when content creation begins.
5. Prep with a Visual Workbench
The benefits of a visual workbench are similar to those of visual languages. A visual workbench is a collection of assets (icons, illustrations, or templated data visualization styles) that you can pull from again and again, whether within your overall brand or within a campaign’s visual language. They create efficiencies and drive cohesive design. This is particularly valuable when multiple people within your organization are creating visual content, or when multiple agencies are collaborating to do the same.
Where to begin? Think of the concepts that your brand or campaign repeatedly addresses. These may be core values, areas of opportunity, product or service offerings … whatever the case, if you need to reference it consistently, a corresponding icon or illustration may belong in your workbench.
6. Create Useful Content
It may seem obvious, but it bears pointing out that producing content that your audience finds useful is key to meaningful engagement. Rather than discussing what you as a brand or marketing team want your audience to know, put yourself in their shoes. Use the customer segmentation and persona work from your planning stages to identify topics and details that will resonate with those key audiences. And pursue personalized content for a unique touch that is proven to drive engagement. When it comes time to evaluate your success, metrics like bounce rate or social media engagement can help measure how useful your audience has found your content.
7. Develop Evergreen Marketing Content on Best Practices & FAQs
What questions do your customers routinely ask? And what issues and topics are prevalent in your industry? Use the subjects that come up consistently to work evergreen material into your content calendar. This content will remain relevant to your audiences whether housed on your blog, revived on your social channels, or recorded as a webinar or educational web series. This way, you can revive and reuse content over time (remember repurposed content, too!). Further, if you front load this content and produce more than you need early on, you’ll have extra content on hand to push out if you hit a snag in your publishing schedule.
8. Optimize for Each Channel
LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, YouTube … all of these platforms have unique requirements for sizing, text-to-imagery ratio, file formats, what type of content you can upload or embed, and much more. To start, during your planning phase you should have assessed which platforms are most relevant to your audience. So don’t worry about optimizing for every channel that exists. Just select the ones where your audience will see you. But do plan to determine which content will be shared across which channels, and prepare ahead of time for the unique requirements of each channel. In the fast-paced world of content marketing, knowing the best practices for each channel before you begin production helps reduce stress as each launch day nears.
9. Keep a Consistent Look & Feel
This goes back to the work you did with branding, visual language, and the creation of your visual workbench. Consistency helps establish brand recognition and projects the image that your organization cares about quality and attention to detail. With today’s consumers scrutinizing not only brands’ visual content authenticity but also brand integrity, this goes a long way in forming brand loyalty, too. That’s why you should keep your visual guidelines and workbench front-and-center during production.
10. Consider User-Generated Content
What better way to gauge and encourage audience engagement than by requesting and sharing user-generated content? Users can take photos with your product or while engaging with your service. Further, they can share their experiences through social posts, reviews, and more. With the right prompt from your organization, they can make requests or recommendations for new avenues for your brand to explore. Don’t underestimate the power of engaging your audience through requests for participation. For consumers, interacting with a brand they’re interested in or even passionate about can further solidify their brand loyalty and encourage others to do the same.
11. Measure the Results of Implementing Content Marketing Best Practices
How successful were your efforts? You may feel you’ve seen an uptick on views or likes, a few more contact forms coming in, or other related sensations of improvement, but to truly gauge your win, you need to measure it. How much more engagement did you get? What kind of improvement was that month over month? Well, how about year over year? And do these results approach the target you set for yourself? If so, why? And if not, same question: why? Which best practices yielded the most results for your content marketing? Record these results, because the quest for engagement doesn’t end once you’ve hit a certain goal. It’s something you must continuously monitor and plan for throughout the life of your brand.
12. Use What You Learned: Plan Again
The best success is still a failure if you don’t learn from it. Once you’ve analyzed how far you’ve come, put that knowledge to work. Set new goals, assess where you’ve found your stride and where more improvements need to be made, and stay in close contact with your audience. If any of the metrics you found upticks in begin to stall or fall, take action! It should be far easier to maintain your wins than to try to regain them all over again.
Looking for More Content Marketing Best Practices?
If you’re ready to dive deeper, here are a few more places to learn more about content marketing strategies:
- The Strategic Content Summit is a weekly discussion between Killer founder & CEO Amy Balliett and renowned experts in the fields of marketing and content strategy.
- See how visual communication factors into content marketing in our ebook, which discusses the importance and benefits of ramping up your visual content.
- Gain key insights on how to build a strong content marketing strategy, and get examples of successful approaches in the real world.
- Not sure if you need a brand new content marketing strategy for your organization? Here are some signs that you might.