Engaging Your Audience: Avoid Random Acts (of Content)

Scott Allan
Scott Allan Chief Marketing Officer, AddThis

Posted on June 17th 2014

Engaging Your Audience: Avoid Random Acts (of Content)

Audience Engagement

The proliferation of Web technology and social networks has forever changed the marketing landscape. Or has it?  In recent years, we’ve become conditioned to believe that technology has fundamentally changed the rules of marketing. But are we simply distracting ourselves with our own hype?

During the past few years, marketing budgets have expanded to help organizations capitalize on the content marketing gold rush. But the reality is that much of the content created more often than not meets a turned cheek from consumers. It’s a harsh reminder that despite all of the recent, rapid changes, our primary objective remains the same: create compelling content with the intention that it will get visitors to engage. “Engagement” has always been the goal, whether driving more clicks, sharing to social networks, cutting-and-pasting of a URL, bookmarking, emailing, and even printing – all of these actions add up to engagement with your message and content.

At its core, content engagement is about relationships. So, how do you establish the best relationship with a target audience by making a connection through your content? The answer is to match the right content to the right consumer at the right time at just the right moment. Part of the answer is good content, but keep in mind that today’s Website tools are becoming smarter when it comes to helping Website owners increase engagement.

Below are a few key steps to engage your target audience.

You, you, you? No, no, no.:  Never underestimate the impact of relevant, well-written and well-placed content that caters to the interest of visitors.Don’t overload your site with useless or redundant information about YOUR mission, YOUR products, and YOUR services. Volume does not validate expertise. Use your content to connect with consumers based on their needs and interests. Too much ‘noise’ is a turn off and visitors will quickly move on. E.F. Hutton was right. Say only what needs to be said, when it needs to be said.

Keep in mind that content should always inform and/or entertain as it provides relevant information. Content, regardless of format, requires a consistent tone, look, feel and voice. If you can do this, users are more likely to choose you, and better still, share your content.

Neglecting or Nurturing Your Narrative:  Make sure to consider your long-term narrative and voice. Are you funny, snarky, factual, authoritative or all over the place? Consider your audience and determine the personality of your Website by writing down the desired traits and characteristics of your brand. In the haste to create content you may find yourself veering away from your desired voice. Take the time to step-back and read through your site with your team or even friends if you don’t have a team. You’ll either validate that you’re on track or end the discussion with action items that will get you back on course.

Widget One Should You Choose?:  Invest in recommended content widgets that will precisely match quality content to a particular user’s past interests and actions. Leading firms, such as Venus Imaging Education, LLC, report that recommended content tools are a key component in developing strategies for all of its sites. Their content recommendations are implemented in ways that drive more clicks, more sharing, more time-on-site, and ultimately more traffic and recirculation. The engagement metrics also provide insight as to what content is truly resonating.

There are a variety of recommended content technologies on the market that incorporate trending, contextual and behavioral algorithms. Each has its own secret way to analyze and target audiences.  Consider your goals and make sure the technology you choose matches your objectives. Behavioral data can often be paramount to driving engagement. 

For example, which content do you recommend to first-time visitors?  By looking at past interests and browsing history, recommending content based on behavioral data can be extremely effective for addressing the “cold start” problem and the result is ultimately more page views and more traffic.

10 Minute Content in a 10 Second World:  Given the sheer volume on information on the Web, the audience, whether B2C or B2B, wants to acquire knowledge in the shortest amount of time possible. With the content and technology in place, consider how you should present it.  Will you present an article, animated unit, banner advertisement, link to sponsored site, or promote through social media channels?  Carefully consider the average length of your content, your audience and the time of day they engage. Don’t set a seven-course table for the drive-through customer. Use the data acquired through technology to better target users, understand platform preferences (mobile, social, Website), and then make the delivery consumer-friendly.

Photo Credit: Content and Engagement/shutterstock

Scott Allan

Scott Allan

Chief Marketing Officer, AddThis

Scott Allan is chief marketing officer at AddThis, where he is responsible for public relations and marketing. Prior to joining the AddThis team, Scott was senior vice president of Global Marketing at Rakuten LinkShare where he was responsible for global public relations, corporate marketing, events and sales support. Scott has also held marketing management positions at Quark, EMC and IBM Lotus. 

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Comments

rangerover
Posted on June 18th 2014 at 4:42PM

The widgetsare unique. great product!