Content marketing is all about getting the attention of potential customers. Whether your primary goal is building a better reputation or processing conversions, everything starts with getting a user’s attention, and then proceeding to boosting site visits, brand engagement and other valuable results.
The hurdle most content marketers encounter (quite soon after getting started) is that there’s only so much user attention available to grab, and thousands of brands like yours are already competing for that attention. The content universe is pushing toward oversaturation.
As a result, it’s harder than ever to stand out from the crowd. If you want your content to rise above the crowd and earn the attention you want it to, you’ll have to identify the best tactics to accomplish that.
Choose the Right Topics
Your first line of defense in ensuring your material’s originality comes with your initial topic selection. Your topic will provide the foundational strength for your headline, make or break the users’ first impression, and ultimately dictate whether visitors click through to read the rest of your content. Here’s how to do it:
- Choose specific, niche subjects. As a general rule, the more specific you can be, the better. All the easy, general topics have been done to death, so try to pick something that people are less likely to have seen before. As a simple example, take this blog on the health benefits of walnuts. It’s not about nuts in general, but a specific subtype. That kind of small, subtle, yet clear distinction could be the edge you need to stand out.
- Offer new information. This is another point that should go without saying, but your topic needs to offer some kind of new information for your audience. Do you have new research to discuss? Are you introducing an entirely new idea? Are you posting an opinion that hasn’t received enough attention? Try your best not to rehash what’s already been covered.
- Speak to your audience. Your audience probably isn’t “everybody.” Think hard about your target demographics: Who are they? What’s important to them? What would they prefer to read? Choosing the right angle for the piece can make all the difference; consider this post, which offers a guide to workplace etiquette specifically written for millennials.
- Make it important. It’s not enough to pick a topic that nobody’s ever done before. You could write about the peculiar shade of your upstairs carpet, but nobody would read that because it’s not important to anybody else. Make sure your topic has some level of relevance, whether it’s practical, informational or otherwise significant.
Offering the Right Material
Once a user has clicked through to your content, your job isn’t even close to finished. You have to deliver on what you promised, and hold your reader’s attention for as long as possible. Your body material needs to be as good as the topic you selected, or your readers will move on. So here’s what you do:
- Include visual elements. People love visuals, so insert images and videos in the body of your post. This will entice readers to keep reading, and make your piece more digestible and memorable. Take a look at almost any article on Gizmodo to see a good example of this strategy in action.
- Be detailed and thorough. Flesh out your piece with as much information as possible. The more detailed it is, the more valuable it’s going to be … and if you don’t have room to list all the details, link to posts that do it, such as this article on how to develop an editorial calendar.
- Keep a consistent (and unique) voice. People respond to the personality of your writing. Seek to develop a unique voice for your brand, and keep it consistent across all your platforms and mediums.
- Surprise your readers. Include at least one surprise for your readers. That will make them remember your piece, and make them more likely to share it with others. The surprise can be an opinion they didn’t expect, a fact they’ve never seen before, or just a quirky take on the subject.
Syndicating to the Right Audience
Even if we assume you’ve created a great piece on a great topic, the readers aren’t going to magically flow to your site. You have to promote and syndicate your work if you want it to gain real traction. Here’s how to do it:
- Choose the right platforms. First, don’t waste your time on platforms that your audience doesn’t use. Instead, focus on the best fits. For example, LinkedIn is almost exclusively populated with experienced professionals, whereas platforms like Snapchat and Instagram cater to younger users. Know your demographics and aim for them.
- Tease your readers. Don’t give away your entire post in the span of your headline. Tease your readers with phrases like “you won’t want to miss,” or “that might surprise you.” This will pique their interest more than flat, straightforward assertions.
- Cycle your headlines. After publishing your piece for the first time, cycle it into syndication with multiple variations of your original headline. Chances are, some of your headlines will perform better than others, which will give you the widest shot at capturing the entire pool of your target audience. Take note of which types of headlines perform better than others, and use that knowledge to design your subsequent publications.
With these strategies in place, your content will stand a far better chance of rising to prominence with your target audience. But remember this: Environments, technologies, and consumer demands change all the time. If you want to be successful in the long term, you must adapt your strategies to correspond to those changes. Your audience might want something different from a content provider a year from now, or you might just find a new opportunity for expansion.
Anna is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant from Olympia, WA. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, iMediaConnection.com and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. When she isn’t writing, she’s outside on her bike and contemplating her eventual trip to graduate school. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.