In a time when we spend more and more of our professional and personal lives online, it’s mission-critical that the valuable information your organization creates is not only findable, but also highly compelling and easily shareable.
But not all content is created equal, especially for online consumption. Think about the types of content you consume online. It’s unlikely that you exclusively dive into long-form content or watch webinars, right?
The same goes for your audiences. No single type of content will appeal to every visitor, nor will it rank the same across search engines. That’s why your content marketing must be tactical. Variety is the spice of life, so whether your readership consists of scientists or statisticians, they all want compelling choices.
1. Mix up the content types
First and foremost, it’s essential to offer content diversity. This diversity can include offerings like text versus video, as well as content that appeals to visual versus verbal learners. You never know if your audience is looking for content by speaking to Alexa or searching for research to share with their board, so your content offerings should cast a wide net to ensure you’re visible where your audiences are searching. Your checklist should include:
- Articles/blog posts
- Charts and infographics
2. Vary content length
Consider how much time your audiences have to interact with you, and what they might need during different times of the day. Providing content of varying lengths helps make sure that your audience will access and find value in your content both during short breaks and when they have time to consume more detailed, lengthier material.
For example, if your audience is at work and has small pockets of downtime, they may want a webinar delivered in five-minute “chapters” instead of a full 60-minute story that they might watch from the couch at their leisure. TED Talks do a great job of repurposing content, offering short videos (plus transcripts for those who prefer to read!) as well as curated TED Interviews, all made from the same initial source material.
Time is an important factor, too. Did you know that 37 seconds is the average time readers spend on a blog post? Pithy, skimmable, quick reads are popular on mobile, but that doesn’t mean longer content doesn’t connect.
In fact, studies show that long-form articles increase SEO (search engine optimization) and generate business leads for a prolonged timeframe. This is because in-depth content attracts backlinks and organic traffic from Google, making it evergreen content. Plus, you can take long-form content and launch a marketing campaign solely by repurposing smaller sections of these epic content pieces.
3. Ensure your content is digestible and shareable
We don’t get all our information in one place anymore. Now more than ever, it’s important to plan for readability on different sized screens, with and without sound, and across diverse platforms like social networking apps.
As a rule of thumb, offer bite-sized chunks of content with options for deeper dives. For the best results, you should:
- Incorporate whitespace for your eyes and brain to pause and shift gears.
- Add compelling imagery (fun fact: our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text).
- Call out key points in pull quotes.
- Explain complex data in a chart or graphic for near-instant understanding (better yet, offer share options across social media).
- Include closed captions for full accessibility (as well as for those who watch with the sound off).
- Offer downloadable takeaways and recordings so audiences can dive in at their convenience.
Remember to test and track how well your content performs on mobile versus desktop, and what types of content resonate best with users on each social media platform, and tweak accordingly.
4. Optimize for time of day
Knowing when to post and share your content is another important way to maximize reach. Consider timing your content sharing to align with peak social media usage times (as of April 2020):
- Twitter: As a key channel for social customer care, be sure to plan your messaging to hit the peak times of 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- LinkedIn: Usage and engagement spikes at key times during the workday (before work, during lunch, and 5-6 p.m. as the workday winds down).
- Facebook: The most consistent engagement for business and educational content is Tuesday through Thursday, 8 a.m.–3 p.m.
- Instagram: This is the second most logged-in social media site for daily use, and similar to Facebook, peak engagement occurs around midday in the week (9 a.m.–4 p.m.), with lower engagement on weekends.
Of course, take these time suggestions with a grain of salt—if you know your audiences are particularly active or inactive at different times, consider pairing this data with the audience personas you may have already created to optimize your posting times.
5. Organize content by industry or audience
Once you’ve gotten your audience’s attention, how do you help showcase the complete breadth of your content and streamline access for your audience?
Be sure to take advantage of these key tactics for cross-referencing and customization:
- Build a library of strategic content that specifically benefits your target personas (detailed write-ups about each of the key representative members of your audience). A persona outlines the who, what, when, where, and why of what they need from you, in addition to general demographic information, business size, team size, pain points, and opportunities. Depending on your business model or whether you offer memberships, you can consequently use libraries as gated content and joining incentives.
- Create targeted taxonomies in your website CMS (content management system) and tag your content for audiences to filter by industry and subject. Taxonomy refers to the classification of things (i.e., the category of Music can be broken down into sub-categories like Classical > Symphonies > Beethoven). Online, a taxonomy allows you to connect, relate, and organize content. Your website’s taxonomy and the tags you assign in your CMS allow you to connect a piece of content such as an event listing, to a journal article, blog post, press release, etc.
- Tailor blog posts, landing pages, or email marketing campaigns using your CRM (Customer Relationship Management software) or AMS (Association Management Software) audience data to personalize content based on customer/member data and past behavior
Now you’re ready to reach your audiences with greater efficiency and effectiveness. And if you need help taking any of these five steps to the next level, let's talk!