05 Jul 2016

Content K.O.: Delivering What Readers Want, When They Need It

You want to knock out your customers, right? (Metaphorically-speaking.) If so, your goal should mirror the goal of a prize fighter: To score points by delivering effective combinations with pugilistic precision and speed.

Know that today consumers do their homework. According to the 2014 State of B2B Procurement study from the Acquity Group, 94 percent of B2B customers and 81 percent of B2C clientele (via a GE Capital Retail Bank) conduct online research before making a purchase. (Mobile users aren’t missing a beat: Think with Google’s stats say 82 percent consult their device before a buy.)

This is great news for content marketers! By simply having an online presence in the midst of all this investigation, you’ll probably win on points, right?

Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that.

In 2014, Harvard Business Review surveyed more than 7,000 consumers and found when they interact with brands, it’s because they want something – but what they want isn’t necessarily a relationship with a brand. This is important. To win prospective customers over, the trick is to deliver content readers want – not a sales pitch.

It’s All in the Timing

How do you convert the curious into customers? By making sure your content strategy is focused on providing the right information at the right moment.

Content KO Quote

Whether prospective customers are seeking product reviews, how-to videos or research, it’s imperative they find your information quickly. Research supports this: Google determined in their study, How to Beat Consumer Tune-Out with Useful Mobile Content, that 91 percent of users leave a mobile site if it fails to deliver useful insight immediately. (This need for speed isn’t just limited to mobile. Kissmetrics determined 47 percent of all consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less.)

Short attention spans and narrow windows of opportunity are the natural byproducts of the content overload that has been clobbering unsuspecting consumers during the last decade. Speaking at a recent digital marketing conference, Cliff Seal, a Lead UX Engineer with Salesforce, said it’s important for marketing professionals to take ownership of their share of this excess. “We’ve abused our privilege,” he said, reminding listeners that one in five web visitors no longer even bother reading content.

Fortunately, Seal says, the solution is simple.

“The road to creating content people care about is paved with authenticity.”

Cliff-Seal4
How do you build a content strategy that is authentic?
Build it so that it’s focused on meeting needs, honestly and free of spin. Focus on your customers’ goals. Deliver what they need.

How to build a content strategy: focus on meeting needs, honestly & free of spin. Click To Tweet

Hitting Right

In order to deliver on genuine needs, it’s imperative to think like a prize fighter when developing your content strategy.

Wait … huh?

Despite what Hollywood keeps telling us, rarely does a boxer win a bout by unleashing a single, climactic, power punch. More often than not, fighters win fights strategically, over several rounds, by delivering expertly-timed, expertly-delivered punches. Boxing is about economy of movement. The exact right combination at the right time can win the fight. Conversely, a boxer that throws a random flurry of haphazard blows will likely end up exhausted, overwhelmed and down for the count.

To borrow a thought shared by famed trainer Jerry Boyd:

“You don’t hit hard in boxing, you hit right.”

What does any of this have to do with content marketing? Not much, until you remember the 91 percent of consumers who – after seeking valuable and fast insights – quickly leave a site that fails to deliver useful information.

They are in a hurry, but you should not be. Do your prep work. Study your site analytics; find out where your traffic is going. Which pages connect and which miss entirely? Find out what your customers want and then consistently deliver on that need in the form quality information, delivered over time. But be patient. Plan on going the distance, instead of hoping for a quick knock out.

Win your #contentmarketing match by fighting strategically, over several rounds. Click To Tweet

Perfecting Your Strategy

Most people reading this probably already “get it.” According to CMI’s 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends study, more than 70 percent of B2C stakeholders have committed to creating “more engaging content” this year, but what constitutes engagement? Consider the basics:

  • Don’t settle for “telling a good story.” What readers want is useful information. The average person would cringe at the thought of a complete stranger offering to tell them a story. The only reason people listen to complete strangers if there is something in it for them. Google’s confirmed 73% of consumers select brands that provide them with “useful information.”
  • Sharpen your delivery. A message dispensed through a loud speaker usually sounds garbled and overbearing, but a tailored, meaningful conversation resonates with people.
  • Mobility is key. Nearly 70% of buyers select organizations that offer pleasant mobile experiences. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly and you build a “mobile-first” content strategy.
  • Mix it up. Don’t rely solely on text. One study determined content complemented with images results in 94 percent more traffic over text alone.

Online searches exceed 3.5B each day. To stand out in all that traffic, it’s imperative that your content connect.

Do’s and don’ts? That’s easy: Don’t post a flurry of content just for the sake of posting. It’s an exhausting waste of your time and resources. Do study your customers, understand their needs and their online habits. Follow that up by delivering well-thought out, thoroughly-researched content that hits its target by meeting customer needs.