So here’s the deal: we’re all experiencing content fatigue. Soon, the world of online marketing will become a wasteland of abandoned blogs and blazing hellfire, and our tiny brains will leak from our tired, weepy eyes. ‘Contentmageddon’ is on the horizon.
Okay, excuse the hyperbole. But, ever since it’s become apparent that valuable content such as blogs, news articles, videos, webinars and whitepapers were the key to gaining attention online, we’ve been in an arms race to produce as much as we can, no matter the quality.
It makes me sad as a marketer. A writer? Let’s not even go there.
The thing is, people are forgetting the holy grail of adjectives in our busy digital world: “valuable”.
Valuable content fulfils a need or gives a solution to a problem. Valuable content gives relevant insight into something previously unexplored. Valuable content gets far more customer loyalty.
It’s been said for years:
‘Customers and prospects actively seek out brands that provide engaging and valuable content that is relevant to their needs.’ (Halligan & Shah, 2010).
But 60% of the content that’s out there is “dull and irrelevant” to reader’s needs.
Now everyone is a content creator, and we’re being eaten alive by our own output. There’s too much to read and look at for our tiny minds to handle.
Even the Huffington Post has noted that the amount of content online will increase by 600% by 2020. Guys – that’s literally only 4 years from now.
The ever-growing mountain of the stuff makes it really hard to climb to the top. As Lianna Patch of Copyhackers eloquently put it:
‘You could be the most beautiful tattoo model (a career that didn’t exist outside of circus sideshows until 20 years ago) in the world, but unless you’re also making your breasts dance to Mozart, you’ll probably never get more than a few thousand followers.’
But don’t get carried away; among buying a bikini and ‘The Best of Mozart’, here’s what else not to do if you’re drowning in the sea of content marketing.
- Publish clickbait
Obnoxious, spammy clickbait headlines are unimaginative ways of capitalising on our “curiosity gap”, forcing us to click through to whatever ill-informed, unrelated content lies dormant waiting to piss us all off. Thankfully now, most people are immune to these glaringly obvious titles; it’s perceived as untrustworthy. Not to mention it’s annoying as hell.
- Post video stills that suck us in with autoplay
Ever since Facebook got the video autoplay feature, I get caught up in an endless mind-numbing scroll which always takes me a while to get out of.
This is another form of content fatigue. We really don’t have to do anything to make a video play, no matter what it is. Plus, half the stuff isn’t even relevant or useful to us, and our brains are melting. THEY’RE MELTING.
- Indiscriminately increase your advertising spend.
Years ago, when Ask Jeeves was your main man and Myspace ruled your entire social life (just me?), no one had to fight with the 80 other marketers for the same sidebar ad spot. Now, depressingly, Mark Schaefer says:
‘We are in an era where advertising, promotion, and distribution strategies may eclipse the importance of the content itself.’
It’s no secret that companies with more money miraculously reach wider audiences, In fact, in 2016, digital display ad spending will surpass PPC ad spend for the first time.
But does that automatically mean they get to the right audiences? Nope. These ads are more often than not just getting in the way of people’s online experiences.
Don’t worry, if you don’t have a pile of money to chuck at advertising anyway, then here’s how you can ensure your words get to the right people…
- Publish fewer posts, but make sure they’re higher-quality.
‘We don’t need more content. We need better content.’ (@annhandley)
Taking a break from the hamster wheel of constant publishing means you can take time into thinking about what you put out into the world, instead of hitting publish every time you think “meh, that’ll do”.
Publishing less often will probably mean that when you do publish, your posts are longer, more thoughtful, and genuinely valuable. You might also find that when you’re publishing less, you have more time to focus on bigger projects.
- Coin a term
Coin a brand-new term which carries marketing “stickiness” and SEO value (and don’t let it go!)
oe:gen actually owned the URL www.smarketing.com until we sold it years ago, thinking it wouldn’t catch on. Now “Smarketing” is on the uprise. Doh.
Ah well, there’s always going to be new ideas. For example, we’re actually in the midst of planning ‘The UX Files’ on our own .tv channel… (get it?!)
However, if you can’t think of a term (because let’s face it, it’s really hard), focus on sticky language – the words and phrases that stay with your audience long after they’re done reading, watching, or listening to your content. Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting sticky from copyhackers.
- Get to know your audience
Gather information about your “buyer personas” and create detailed accounts of them. These are a fictional representation of your real-life ideal customers, and will help you picture who you’re talking to when creating your stuff, enabling you to directly target them more easily.
- Advertise your stuff (target well, though)
Don’t incessantly promo your stuff like the whole world needs to see it. They don’t, and the only thing you’ll really achieve is wasting your marketing budget.
Instead, spend your money where your ideal personas/target audience hang out; you’ll spend less money and your audience will feel more connected to the stuff you put out there. After all, even people who hate adverts are more likely to feel favourably toward ads they find relevant to them. (Zeng et al. 2009)
- Create “smart” Content
Set up workflows and create smart fields that appear only to the kinds of people it was made for. For example, if a person with a certain job description fills out a form on one of your landing pages, you can then show them tailored content that relates to their work. Magic.
- Make new points
Instead of being a parrot to stuff that’s already out there, add a couple new points into the mix. Repurposing existing articles is okay; hell, it’s hard to be original in a digital world. Just make sure you’re adding more value wherever you can.
- Be human
Treating a reader like an actual person is much better than constantly being sold to as a consumer. Including a call to action or offer in every email is more likely to get you unsubscribes than sales. Appeal to a reader’s wants, needs and feelings to generate genuine interest and appreciation.
- ‘This article will take you X minutes to read’, and key takeaways at the end of long posts.
Using something like Read-o-Meter, which allows you to paste your blog into a text box which then calculates on average how much time it’ll take to read it. This way, a person is less likely to skip reading it depending on its size. Alternatively, if your blog post is really long you can make it less intimidating by including a TL;DR (Too long; didn’t read) takeaway at the end. This also shows you respect your reader’s time.
- Invite guest bloggers
Grow your audience by bringing in new topics and fresh eyes to your business. Inviting guest bloggers expands your reach and has a huge amount of benefits, including building relationships with new people, and improving search engine results. You can also try guest blogging yourself!
To avoid the crap, only consume blogs from a handful of your trusted sources, and do your best to align yourself with the valuable stuff they’re putting out there.