In a world where instant gratification is the norm, it’s difficult for brands to develop insightful content that does more than just attract. In other words, brands are focusing way too much on generating leads and not enough on converting those leads into genuinely interested readers and engaged participants. As marketing expert Joe Lazauskas brilliantly wrote at the beginning of this year, “Depth not breadth will become the rallying cry of content marketing in 2015.” But really, you could replace the year 2015 with the term “the future.”
As content becomes increasingly shallow, brands that invest in thorough, insightful, and rich content will thrive. Will you be a part of that contingency? If you don’t hear a resounding “Yes!” when you ask that question of your company, give this in-depth content guide a try.
Ditch the Attention Span Myth
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: Attention spans are decreasing for the everyday consumer. This is one of the most prominent things you’ll hear when researching content marketing strategies. It’s also one of the most prominent misconceptions.
That’s right. This common school of thought is stretching the truth just a little, and it could be the biggest thing that’s hurting your content strategy. The attention span of the average consumer isn’t what’s decreasing; it’s the depth and value of the content that companies are producing.
There have been numerous studies showing the attention span of the average customer, and the time spent on the website has been incredibly low. However, other studies have shown that when the content is in-depth, personable, and valuable to the consumer, they spend much more time on the page as compared to a couple years ago.
It seems that companies want to point the blame finger on something other than themselves for the lack of time consumers spend on sites, but other studies clearly show that when companies have great, feast-worthy content, as opposed to simple, snackable content, the attention span multiplies. It turns out that the consumer’s average attention span can lengthen quickly, and the secret is great, in-depth content that consumers deem worthy of their time.
Know Your Audience
A great, in-depth content strategy requires harnessing the right tools, and knowing your audience is one of the most important ones. Honestly, it doesn’t matter how detailed and attention grabbing your content is if you don’t know your audience. Your content may get views, but it won’t convert the readers into customers.
Begin your content strategy by creating buyer personas. This involves posing a series of questions to understand your target audience’s age, demographics, searching habits, and more. Once you know your audience inside and out, you’ll begin to recognize the kind of content that doesn’t appeal to them, and the kind of content that brings in conversions like flies to honey.
Take It Back to the Drawing Board
Never underestimate the power of brainstorming and planning. Not having a solid plan is one of the biggest reasons that content strategies fail. When you find that your content strategy is spinning out of control without a logical path and very few views, it’s time to take it back to the drawing board.
Begin by determining the goal of your content. This will shape your creation strategy. For example, if you want your content to generate traffic on your home page, it will involve strategically placed keywords and a naturally incorporated link to that page.
Next, brainstorm your ideas. Don’t let this process carry on too long. It’s best to set a brief time limit for brainstorming in which you select a relevant and popular topic, and then move on to the creation part.
Once you’ve thought of a decent idea, narrow and refine it until it turns into an article that involves in-depth analysis and actionable solutions. For example, if your topic involves boosting your social presence, a simple “How to Boost Your Social Presence” article won’t cut it. You’ll want to focus on a narrower topic so that you can talk about one venue in depth. You might write an article on “How Facebook Advertisements Can Help Make Your Company More Socially Visible.” This refining process paves the way for the kind of high-quality content your audience craves.
Write Long Articles with Fewer Subheadings
It’s common practice to create long “listicles” with 15 or more headings to explore in 1,000 words or less. This is great for generating page views and keeping your readers mildly entertained. However, that kind of content has a time and place, and if you’re looking to create content that will generate longer user attention, lengthier articles with fewer subheadings are the way to go.
When you only have a few topics to cover in your article, you’re forced to explore each matter in depth. If you shoot for brevity over in-depth on this kind of article, you’ll quickly find yourself hundreds of words short of the ideal word count. Quality content worth feasting on offers in-depth coverage and actionable solutions.
Use Questions as Content Angles
Evergreen articles are the best kind of content to create, if you can pull it off and make them popular, and question-angled content is one of the best ways to do that. Studies show that 27 percent of search engine queries are posed as questions, and your article could be the answer to many of your users’ biggest questions.
When searchers find an article that directly answers their question, they’re more likely to spend time on that article, exploring the answer in depth. Though content that answers a specific question should not be used for all of your content, it can generate quite a following that brings the user back for more in the future.
Promote Your Content
Finally, what’s great content if no one ever sees it? Your new and improved content strategy is worth nearly nothing if you don’t take the time to promote and market it. Understanding how to promote content revolves around learning how people share content.
Today, the principle factors in promoting content involve social influencers and consumer engagement. Your company alone has the power to reach and influence a handful of people with your content. When you get a social influencer (or a person with a vast network of followers) on board, you suddenly have the power to reach thousands, including other social influencers.
The key to gaining social influencers is engagement. It’s always a good idea to start out by finding satisfied customers. Then, engage with them consistently to continue to promote your brand. Ask them to glance at a piece of content you created and share it if they agree. You may also consider adding incentives for your most valuable influencers to get the ball rolling. Social word of mouth is your key to getting high-quality, in-depth content out in the open where it belongs.