Content engagement, content consistency and content variety … where do you think your brand’s content is lacking? Which is your area of maximum challenge? You have to try and identify the weak links in your overall content strategy and try to rectify them because without all three of these factors working together, your content plan will not fire as well as it should. Consistency is what you put into creating content, variety is what content gets from being on diverse but related topics and on different devices and formats, and engagement is what the customer should want to experience from it.
Content Writing Expertise demands that every content creator should include all the three factors, so that each piece of content produced meets its many goals. Not always are all these three factors equally needed, though. Sometimes you may have to give one of the factors a bit more weightage over the other two. But which factor you give prominence to depends of the content campaign objectives. Remember, that customers value content highly when all three factors are present. Here’s a quick enumeration of all the factors to consider when you aim your content towards engagement, variety and consistency, and to wrap up let’s look at a case study.
What is Content Engagement and how do you increase it?
Brian Hughes writing in SmallBizTrends says something very true about content engagement:
Content engagement is one of those ambiguous terms everyone likes to toss around, “We’re boosting engagement this year!” But few people actually know how to define this term or, for that matter, effectively measure it.
From our vantage point, several years into the content marketing revolution, old-school analytics like page views have effectively gone the way of the dinosaurs.
We know that maximizing clicks is shortsighted and that whether your goal is boosting brand awareness or generating more leads, content engagement is where it’s at.”
He’s absolutely right because the current focus of experts on the subject of Content Engagement is on how to measure it. It’s such a vague concept that it’s open to all kinds of opinion of what exactly constitutes “engagement”. For instance, if we were to take a simple metric like “how long a person spent on your webpage” as an indicator of absorption and engagement, how wrong we would be, if all the visitor did was sharpen his pencil while the webpage was open?
What are the guarantees that being on a page long enough (without that horrible bounce rate!) still means that the page was being devoured with gusto? So there you have it. Engagement can only be decided by the “quality of engagement” even if the time spent on a site was short.
Again, another dilemma in calculating engagement would be whether a person was moved enough by the content of a page to take the next steps you want him to take. Did he interact as you wanted him to, did he respond to the call-for-action as you intended, or did he click forward to a page you wanted him to additionally visit? What if he did not do it in the same session, but needed a breather to think about what he’s read on your page, before he wanted to pick up the threads with your page again to interact?
We do that all the time, don’t we? Lots of people who really respond positively to a product, and can be relied upon for their purchase intent, are the ones that don’t react impulsively. They may want to do it more deliberately after a bit of pondering. So then again, unless you are continuously tracking a customer through the visits – and between the visits – how can you tell the quality or depth of engagement?
Despite the difficulties of ascertaining engagement, in terms of metrics and measures, you can and should plan for your pages to be “more absorbing, more compelling, more interactive and more emotionally binding.” These are the four keys to making a piece of content more engaging and this is as far as a marketer can go. The rest is up to the way the audience chooses to react or not, quickly or slowly.
- How do you make content more absorbing? You build up your points quickly, without meandering around the topic. You throw in something that is unexpected.
- How do you make content more compelling? You use arresting visual supports and reach out to the heart and not just the head. You also don’t give away the full story at the start.
- How do you make content more interactive? You make sure to give the reader something to do at key points of the page, which can signal to you if he’s reached that point. You encourage him to reciprocate by sharing his own comments or images or thoughts.
- How do you make content more emotionally binding? You make the person want to bookmark the page to return to again and again. You add something valuable that keeps changing dynamically with every return visit.
What is Content Consistency and how do you increase it?
Mark Schaeffer, one my role models in Digital Marketing, writes in the Spiceworks site:
To be known, heard, and respected, you have to pipe up and say something on a consistent basis – whether you are developing a company brand or a personal brand. This does not necessarily mean blogging every day. There are lots of ways you can show up through your content.
Commenting on a blog, video or podcast can lead to amazing benefits. Connecting through Instagram photos, LinkedIn updates, and YouTube videos are great ways to provide a consistent presence. Even re-tweeting great information and links is an example of micro-content that can keep you connected in a consistent way.
Show up and contribute content consistently. That’s what leads to awareness, trust, and relationships that create business benefits.”
That’s it. It’s as simple or as hard as just turning up for work every day! And having something to say!
But strategy apart, there’s some vital philosophy that operates behind the consistency principle. It is said that when you memorize something 21 times – or repeat a habit like exercise for 21 days – it forms a mental pattern in your brain that then becomes fairly indelible (unless you do something else for 21 days again to change the mental pattern!).
When you try to make your brand known and respected, it’s the same principle. It’s not how far and wide you spread your content for a few days, it’s how you keep at it unrelentingly to form ingrained patterns in your prospective customer’s brain about you.
In advertising-ese there’s a huge difference, for instance, between “prompted recall” of your brand (when a person remembers your brand when you jog his memory) versus “unprompted recall” (when he remembers you all of his own). You want that kind of recall of your brand name – the unprompted recall – for which you have work tirelessly and persistently.
How do you cultivate this level of application, patience and persistence to be able to make deep grooves in your customers’ consciousness?
- Firstly, you schedule your calendar and do what needs doing without shortchanging yourself or finding excuses. If you have no commitment to your brand, why should a customer?
- Secondly, you work for the pleasure of creative productivity without expecting results. You don’t dig up the seed every day to see if it’s growing into a plant. You do the work and let the results take care of themselves. This is not just because the wise say so, it is because constantly looking over your shoulder, to see if customers are following you, takes your eyes off the ball, and your mind off the “duty”. The sooner the word “duty” starts sounding like “pleasure”, the closer you will be to success.
- Thirdly, establish a system and iron out the knots so that no part of the daily process feels like speed-breaker. For example, for a long time, I would find writing articles easy, but would balk at then promoting the articles (which was part of my calendar). It was because I had not fixed a clear system of where I would promote the articles exactly. The minute I shook myself up to get firm on my exact 8-10 distribution points, it was no longer a bugbear and I was soon gliding over it all with least effort.
What is Content Variety and how do you increase it?
Before you run away to create content for every known digital channel under the sun, read this from the Content Marketing Institute, which is the last word on the topic:
Marketers often feel pressure to plant their brand’s content flag on every new channel that emerges or create new content pieces in every conceivable format because, well, that’s what they see their competitors doing. But greater variety isn’t what leads to greater success. In fact, it may even be distracting you from creating the content your audience needs and wants most.
Joe Pulizzi often warns content marketers against doing too much at once, pointing out that many of the most successful media brands – including The New York Times, ESPN, and Huffington Post – started by mastering the conversation on one core channel before diversifying their content offerings.
Instead of blindly pursuing variety, Joe recommends that you first focus your energy on producing the best content possible for your audience on a single platform or format. Only once that goal has been achieved should you consider branching out in new directions.”
Okay, now that you’ve got that insight that “variety” is not “reckless proliferation”, let’s see what you need to do to increase variety without too much effort. There are two great ways to do this.
- One, you can repurpose the same content – say a blog post – into other formats. Repurposing existing content into videos, podcasts, slide decks, or infographics will reduce the need to drum up new content. Not only does this help customers who have format preferences, but it also works wonders for your Google rankings to have your content on YouTube and Slideshare. Incidentally, there’s also a new format these days called “instructographics” where you show “how-tos” in visual steps!
- Two, you can curate other people’s content instead of always relying on your own efforts. But curating is not copying! It involves taking important or interesting passages from other people’s content, adding your own headline, images, annotations and comments, and making it thereby original as your opinion on the topic inspired by the curated passage. Curating, if done with creativity, can drastically cut down your workload and the need to be constantly searching for great content topics.
Creating content variety is not just consumer-friendly, it can be a great way to learn how to do new things. You can learn to shoot pictures, make videos, record podcasts, read scripts … it adds variety to your workload as well and keeps your mind refreshed doing new things you’ve never attempted before. The only thing you have to factor is in the time taken to learn! Don’t expect mastery in two tries – and don’t give up on variety of formats in two tries either!
An example of a brand creating a variety of engaging, consistent content!
Reading all the advice abobve may make you feel like there’s a lot of tough work to do. You’re not alone in thinking so. According to a B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report, even large content marketers, have said their biggest content creation challenges include:
- Producing engaging content (54 percent)
- Producing content consistently (50 percent)
- Producing a variety of content (42 percent)
But it all easier than you think. It all boils down to one thing: good ideas. When the creativity is flowing, it is easy (well, easier) to create a variety of engaging content consistently.
One business that does this very well is Hubspot. It’s a big business, no doubt, but it’s idea is replicable even for small businesses.
HubSpot produces a lot of non-promotional content (they actually a handful of different blogs!). But the masterstroke is that HubSpot does a lot to share its accomplishments via a seemingly never-ending display of customer success stories. There is even a section of their site dedicated to this tactic. Looks like a simple enough idea, right? But see how every time a visitor visits there’s a huge variety of new customer stories from diverse businesses with diverse challenges? See how consistently Hubspot keeps this page bustling with new stories to read? And see how the Calls-To-Action at the ends of each story make you want to engage to make a success of your business too like the inspirations they fill you with?
So what are your thoughts on this topic? Do share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of content-marketer solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
Other articles in our series “Content Writing Expertise”:
- How To Create Truly Original Content – And Not Be A Copycat!
- Learn To Write Content Like A Pro With Force And Authority!
- Writing content for customers versus writing for influencer outreach!
- How To Help Your Customer Cut Out The Noise And Hear Only You!
- How To Write Headlines For Your Articles That Scream “Click Me”!