7 tips to help you create better content for your audience
In recent years, a certain problem has arisen for my clients repeatedly.
They’re certain that content will help attract new and retain existing customers. They’re ready to give it their all but the question that has them baffled is “What content should I create for my audience that is valuable to them and me?”
Going with the assumption that content is the right route for you, here are 7 tips to help you create better content for your audience.
Understand what content will bring value to your customer
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01. Understand your customer and what content they wantBy understanding what your audience wants from you and how they perceive you, you can begin to understand the kind of content that they would like from you.
A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a search conference in Leeds hosted by Branded3 called Search Leeds. One of the speakers had an excellent summary about user intentions.
• I want to know
• I want to do
• I want to go
• I want to buy
‘Know’, ‘do’, ‘go’ are all informational requests and ‘buy’ is a commercial request. I began to apply this theory to content creation by understanding the customer’s intention.
For example, let’s say you are a car manufacturer. The brand you’ve worked hard to create is seen as sleek, knowledgeable on all aspect of car production and manufacturing and pretty cool all round. In this instance, the customers want to know what tyres are right for their car in winter. To produce content on tyres appropriate for certain vehicles on specific terrains and seasons would be perceived as useful for the audience and on brand.
This same brand has an audience who love to drive. They are willing to travel to destinations round the world to drive on the most picturesque roads. Let’s say their intention is “I want to drive on the best roads in the world”. This would fall into the ‘I want to do’ category. By understanding the audiences love for driving and their intention, you can produce another piece of content that satisfies that query by providing details on the company’s best roads around the world. You can expand by creating (or curating) videos, images, maps and a guide or whatever else you deem useful to the audience to help do the activity they love.
If you have a strong idea of who your customer is and why they come to you, you can begin to build up a bank of content suited to their needs. Essentially, you want to play to your strengths and create the best one-stop shop that your company does.
• Understand your customer persona
• Understand why they come to you
• Create a bank of content satisfying a range of customer intentions
02. Identify and focus on what you want your content to achieveYou should have a clear business benefit as to why you’re creating the content. You should ask yourself questions when before production begins:
• What is it that we’re trying to achieve?
• What is it that we want the audience to do?
• What does success look like?
• How are we going to monitor if what we’re doing is working?
Some of these questions are often over looked at the beginning of the content process. I can understand that due to time constraints, deadlines, pressure from management and several other reasons that companies feel the need to make progress as quickly as possible without putting the proper planning in place. It’s then unsurprising that eventually, there’s a moment where someone asks “So… what’s the point of this?” Funnily enough, just to make something cool isn’t enough justification.
Here are some top-level examples of what you may be trying to achieve from the content. Think about how this would apply to you in the context of what you’re trying to achieve.
• Establish what it is you’re trying to achieve
• Establish clear KPIs and how you’ll monitor success
• Establish how you will achieve your goal
03. Ensure you On-Page Optimisation is on pointThis is on-page housekeeping for all your content. Check that you have the following in place every time.
If all your competitors are popping products to review into the post, go one step further and host a trendy blogger breakfast event where you can meet the influencers you’re interested in and show your product off in person.
Ensure that your headings are tagged appropriately. You should only have one H1 tag per page. A chrome extension called SEO Meta in 1 Click is excellent for checking that your pages are tagged correctly. Alternatively, you can check within your CMS.
As well as this, try to include the keywords that you’re targeting within your titles in the most natural way you can.
Your page should have a meta description informing search engines what the page is about. The meta description should be accurate for the pages content, contains your target keywords in a natural way and be between 150 and 160 characters long.
The URL should be clean and match the title of the page. Let’s go back to our car company and see examples a good and a bad URL. The title of page is ‘Terrain and Seasonal Guide to Tyres’ within the tyres sub folder.
Good URL: www.imakecars.com/tyres/terrain-and-seasonal-guide-to-tyres/
Bad URL: www.imakecars.com/tyres/maybe8&%-^^%-about_8^wheels?##
The good URL is clear, matches the title of the page and will give the user confidence that they’ve landed on the right page.
The bad URL is messy, doesn’t match the page title and will make the user question if that’s the right page they were looking for. This could make the user not click on the link or bounce off the page quickly.
So, you’ve completed your keyword research and understand your target keywords and long tail phrases you want to target. Be sure to target those keywords within the content in the most natural way without keyword stuffing.
If your pages topic contains a target keyword, use it in your:
• Meta description
• Page title (with H1 tag)
• Subheadings if you are able to branch off onto related subjects containing the keywords (with H2 tags)
Associated keywords and phrases are absolutely fine to include and even encouraged. It’s natural to branch out when discussing a topic.
Remember to keep it natural. If in doubt, ask someone to read it over.
If you have content related to the topic you’re discussing or would even enhance the user’s experience, you can link to the page within your content. For example, our company has a blog post on the build of a new car and is discussing the merits of the new engine. We also have a blog post specifically on engines so we link directly to that page.
The topic of internal linking a large one but here are 3 primary benefits to internal linking to get started:
• It makes it easier for users to navigate throughout website
• Helps search engines index your pages more easily
• It can pass on page value to deeper pages
For deeper analysis on internal linking, check out the internal linking page from SEOMoz.
• Check your on-page optimisation for all content
• Check for keyword stuffing. If unsure, ask someone to read over it
• If you have relevant content elsewhere, link to it
04. Include Imagery and Videos into your content marketing strategyImagery and videos can be great marketing assets. They can be easily shared on social media and make written content much more visually engaging. Let’s take a look at real life examples of different business making use of the video and image formats.
One of the clients I work with is a recording studio in Edinburgh. They wanted to create something that would be able to have a wide reach to increase brand awareness and deliver traffic to the site as well as allow their audience to hear the abilities of the studio and see how attractive the studio is inside. The result of this goals is a video series. You can see one of them below:
Another client of mine is a luxury chalet network based in the south of France. They’re fully aware that imagery is essential to create curiosity about the properties. Take a look at some of the imagery they’ve used around the site.
Image attribution: www.ovonetwork.com
Assets like these can easily be shared on social media and be used in relevant content in the future.
Not everyone can afford to use a professional photographer or has the capabilities to create photographs to a high standard. It is possible to curate appropriate imagery from other sources like Creative Commons as long as you make sure you are allowed to use the imagery with the owner’s permission and credit them as the owner.
Be aware of file sizes. Large images and videos can potentially slow down your page load times which can affect your SEO.
• See where imagery and video can fit within your content and promotional strategy
• Try to keep files sizes small where possible
• Imagery and video can be evergreen content to reuse and re-purpose
05. Analyse your Competitors ContentAs creative marketers, we have to find inspiration from every source we can. There are times that the creative juices run low and we have to look elsewhere. When I find myself stuck in a rut, I remind myself to look at what others are doing. Specifically, my competitors.
It’s no secret by now that content marketing is a strategy that most companies are diving into so there should be many examples of the good and bad for you to investigate.
- Here are a few questions to ask yourself when snooping around your competitor’s content.
- What kind of content are they creating?
- What are they doing well?
- Why is it working?
- What aren’t they doing and is this a gap I can fill?
- How could their content be improved?
- How are they promoting their content?
- Can I see the engagement rates of the content on their social channels?
Essentially, this is a competitor analysis of their content. By giving yourself answers to these questions, you can measure yourself up against your competitors more easily. Below is a table that you are welcome to follow.
This should allow to see, at a glance, all the top level information and what the standard is overall. As a result, it should make it easier to see how you measure up against your competitors.
Using Open Site Explorer, I like to insert competitor URLs and see the volume of links they were able to achieve from that piece of content. This allows you to see who was interested in that content and should you create something similar, maybe they would link to that too? It also gives you a sense of the appetite for that content and where you should place your efforts.
• Understand what content your competitors are creating and how well it’s doing
• Be honest when measuring yourself against your competition
• Use competitor content to inform or innovate your own content
06. Study content in other industriesWhen researching competitor content, as above, I believe it can be beneficial to go outside your industry entirely. Regardless of your company and the sector you work in, we can all learn something from how other companies approach content for their audience. As well as the regular competitor analysis, what I attempt to do when analysing content is to see how it makes me feel and what my perception is of the brand regardless of what it is they sell. Let’s approach this from the perception of our car manufacturing company.
A company that I championed growing up was Quiksilver, primarily a surf and snowboard brand associated with the extreme sports scene. It’s fair to say that the average consumer would know Quiksilver as a company that sells clothes, sporting accessories and equipment. That’s true, they do that but however, they have used the connotations of the sports they supply to, to create a feeling that can then be associated with their brand.
They use fantastic imagery from glorious beaches, colossal waves to stunning mountain tops and nostalgic sun sets. They have cleverly used the appropriate social platforms to their advantage to create, what I believe, a very warm feeling that gravitates me towards them. Their Instagram account is a prime example of the beautiful imagery they create.
What questions do I have for my car company?
• What is my product associated with that I could use to my companies advantage?
• What do I think my customers feel about my brand and content? How can I find out?
• How do I want my customers to feel?
• Do I have a solid tone of voice for my brands content?
Seymour Duncan is a company that manufactures pickups for guitars. There is such a vast selection of pickups out there so how do you know which one is right for you? Seymour Duncan created content simply known as Pick Up Selector. This is useful to the consumer, easy to navigate and promotes their products at the same time. Most importantly, they are providing a potential solution to their customer’s problem. While they produce another product entirely, I can use their customer solution approach to inform the content that my car company creates.
I am aware that this curious approach does not necessarily work out for everyone. You can sometimes find yourself thinking that you cannot apply what another company does to your content as the audiences don’t align. I would use this approach purely as inspiration rather than to straight-up copy what another company outside your sector is doing.
• Look outside your own industry for content inspiration
• Think about how other brands content makes you feel
• Think about how you want your audience to feel about your content
07. Have a content distribution and promotion strategyYou may have heard of the 80/20 rule. If not, this post here by Yarn Starak explains it very well. I am firm believer, along with many other marketers, that you should apply this rule to content distribution. That is 20% budget/time for creation and 80% for distribution/promotion. I’m not going to go into the concept regarding content in depth here as it’s been covered a lot in other great posts like this one by Sunjan Patel .
What I want to be clear by introducing the 80/20 rule is to indicate how important distribution and promotion is. Contrary to what Waynes World has taught us, a ‘build it and they will come’ approach is rarely, if seldom, enough. What I want to present to you are ways of being to promote and distribute your content effectively. These tactics will all be dependent on your content medium so think carefully about which would be most appropriate for your content. I would recommend attempting a blend of tactics and not relying on a single one.
For the uninitiated, you can post your content on your owned social platforms. Different content is better suited to different platforms so dependent on what content you are creating, you should know what platform it is best suited to or amend it so it can work on several.
Paid approaches are available too. In theory, this is where you pay money so your content is shown primarily to a target audience who are more likely to engage with your brand. This post here by Quickspout walks you through the different paid approaches for different social platforms.
If you have a newsletter and subscribers then you have an engaged audience ready to be wowed by your content. Use your newsletters to give your audience a reason to stay engaged. They’re already interested in your brand so use it to share with them all the content you’ve been busy creating for them.
PPC (Pay-Per-Click Advertising)
PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click. If you’ve created a specific landing page for a piece of content targeting certain keywords then PPC can help that page in front of audiences. You only pay when someone clicks on the ad in the SERPS so you can tell very quickly whether it’s working or not. Neil Patel goes into depth on how to incorporate PPC into your content marketing strategy content marketing Strategy here .
Having cut my teeth in outreach for 2.5 years, I’m aware that this can be very difficult to achieve. Outreach is the art of mutually beneficial relationship building and understanding of what content is effctive for a particular audience. This is a huge topic with several possible approaches so I’ll be very top level here.
If you have content that you believe a site would be interested in, you can send an email to them to inform them that this content exists as their audience might be interested in it. They could link to it, share it on their social platforms or not even acknowledge your email.
Be prepared to create extensive targeted lists and become very familiar with the key players in your industry. You can get an understanding of outreach through my 5 steps to find and approach an online influencer post . You can apply the majority of methods discussed in that posts to outreach.
Outbrain, a content discovery platform, define native advertising as “…a form of paid media that is frequently adopted by content marketers. By definition, it is any paid content that is "in-feed" and inherently non-disruptive. This includes promoted tweets on Twitter, suggested posts on Facebook, and editorial-based content recommendations…”
This is where your content appears as sponsored content on high reach publishers like Sky, BBC, Daily Mail etc. You have the ability to be targeted with the publishers you choose in order to only promote to your target audience. Your content should be a natural fit to the publisher so won’t stand out like a normal ad. This can be great for targeting customers but can be very expensive.
• Have a distribution/promotion plan for your content
• Think about how other brands content makes you feel
Let’s sum this upThere you have it; 7 Tips to creating better content for you customers.
Content Marketing is all the rage, but unless you prepare properly, your strategy will fail. It is not enough to just ‘do content marketing’, you must ensure there is value to add.
Use one or more of these 7 insights and I guarantee you will produce better content than if you ignored them – a final reminder:
• 01. Understand your customer and what content they want
• 02. Identify and focus on what you want our content to achieve
• 03. Ensure your On-Page Optimisation is on point
• 04. Include Imagery and Videos into your content marketing strategy
• 05. Analyse your Competitors Content
• 06. Study content in other industries
• 07. Have a content distribution and promotion strategy
Think you are up to the task?The Digital Co offer Content Marketing Training suitable for those starting out and more experienced marketers; is this course for you? Why not check it out.
Why not test yourself with our Content Marketing Skills Test and start preparing yourself for the adoption of Digital Marketing.
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