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Quite simply, content marketing is the most effective way to build credibility with your audience in the digital era.
It costs nothing to write a blog post - just time and energy - yet once a blog has gained traction after months (or years) of hard work, the return on the investment can be extremely rewarding.
However, in order for people to return to your site time and time again, your content has to actually be good enough to warrant the repeat visits.
It sounds obvious, but the amount of marketers who fail to tailor their content to the needs of their audience is absolutely astonishing. Feel free to promote your products and services all you want when crafting your sales copy, but your blog should primarily be used to selflessly provide value to your readers.
In order to do this, you need to intimately understand your target audience, their desires, aspirations, and most importantly, the problems that keep them up at night.
Connect with your customers on social media, ask for feedback on previous blog posts and engage in email dialogues. Best of all, have a real conversation with someone - or at least a phone conversation - and find out what makes them tick. A face-to-face conversation will reveal all kinds of information which may be hidden in a customer feedback form. With this knowledge, you can start to create content which will truly resonate with people.
In the digital era, it’s so easy to conduct business without even seeing the faces of your customers. However, what many marketers forget is that people have, and always will, purchase from people - not faceless organisations!
Digital outsourcing expert Chris Ducker suggests that the best business relationships are P2P (person to person). With this in mind, don’t be afraid to inject some humanity into your content. Although this varies from niche to niche, generally speaking, people want content that speaks to them in a human manner, not content that reads like a personless textbook.
While blogging is the easiest - and low-cost - type of content to create on a regular basis, don’t be afraid to experiment with other content forms. Perhaps a podcast featuring an industry expert would be a good way to deliver value to your audience, or maybe a statistic-heavy blog post could be better presented as a stunning infographic? Solicit feedback from your audience and study the metrics of what types of content tend to generate the most engagement. Simply put - find out what your audience likes, and then do more of it!
One of the reasons that visual content is so popular is that it’s immediately scannable, so people can judge within a matter of seconds whether or not it will be of use to them. But what about regular blog posts?
Well, the easiest way to provide easily digested text-based content is to break up the paragraphs using catchy subheadings. This is one of the reasons that the list post remains the most popular type of blog post structure - people can check the subheadings to ensure the post will be of value, and then commit to reading once they’re sure it won’t be a waste of time.
Sometimes, philosophical posts can be extremely enlightening. Other times, it’s better to provide your users with easy to follow, actionable advice that they can implement immediately after reading the article. If your content can help your users to solve common problems, make their lives easier, or even better, make them richer, you are sure to have people returning to your site repeatedly and referring their friends. Scan some of your recent blog posts. Could people immediately take steps after reading your advice? If not, you know what to do!