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Creating Content Connections: 10 Lessons in Resonance from Content Marketing Pros

Lessons in Content Marketing

Lessons in Content Marketing Spot on. via GIPHY Exactly. via GIPHY Truth. via GIPHY Accurate. via GIPHY Yaaaaaaaaaas! via GIPHY It’s hard to contain the excited, “uh huh” head nodding when you read, watch, or listen to a piece of content that really hits home … strikes the right chord … illuminates something deep inside your soul. And for us marketers, these moments should remind us of an important digital marketing truth: Creating content that resonates is key to building rapport, credibility, and trust with our audience, and, ultimately, driving marketing results. When a piece of content connects with a customer or buyer, it makes them feel like you get it, that you understand their point of view or struggle—and that you may be worth paying attention to. In my time at TopRank Marketing, I’ve had the pleasure of reading, watching, listening, and talking to some of our industry’s brightest minds as they share insights or tips that really resonated with me as a content writer and strategist—teaching me and reminding me of the importance of resonance in the content we create and how we share it with our audience. Below I share some of those lessons that you can hopefully use to create more meaningful connections across channels with your content.

#1 – Comedy creates some of the most intimate connections.

Tim Washer of CiscoAs part of our Behind the Marketing Curtain series, I was lucky enough to speak with Tim Washer, a comedy and marketing genius as well as Cisco’s Creative Director of SP Marketing. As he shared his story and his perspective on comedy in marketing, his lesson in resonance was quite simple: Comedy demonstrates empathy—and empathy creates connection.

Let’s face it, a lot of true comedy comes from pain. So, when we can come out and touch on a customer pain point, we show them that we understand their point of view. When we do something that is self-deprecating, when we look vulnerable, and when we let our guard down a little bit that’s when we make a connection. These days, there’s so little content out there that truly connects with people. … So much of marketing is telling people how great we are. But with comedy—especially in the form of video—we can show them that we’re not always going to tell you how great we are. And if you can make someone laugh, that is the most intimate connection you can make.

Marketers need to let their guard down if we want our customers and buyers to do the same—and you can do this “on brand.” Good comedy is certainly an art; you don’t just throw “something funny” at your audience. Use your audience and their pain points as your guide to thoughtfully create content that will connect and make them giggle. Read my full interview with Tim. Follow Tim on Twitter or LinkedIn. [bctt tweet=”If you can make someone laugh, that is the most intimate connection you can make. – @timwasher #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

#2 – If you want to connect with your audience, be dedicated to helping them learn.

Mina SeetharamanA common goal for many brands want to build thought leadership by creating authoritative, credible content. But pushing your amazing product or service is not how you get there, as Mina Seetharaman, Executive Vice President and Global Managing Director of Content and Marketing Solutions for The Economist Group, told us in our interactive, supercharge your digital marketing infographic.

Thought leadership is about solving, not selling. People wake up thinking about their problems, not your product. In our research, Thought Leadership Disrupted, only 28% of marketers cited helping their audience become more knowledgeable as a primary objective. True thought leaders don’t push product, they understand their audience and share ideas to help them tackle issues.

People are constantly searching for answers to their burning questions and resources that will help them learn and find ways to solve their problems. When you make it a point to be the best answer for their inquiry, you have the opportunity to make a real impact. Find more tips for supercharging your digital marketing. Follow Mina on Twitter or LinkedIn. [bctt tweet=”True thought leaders don’t push product, they understand their audience and share ideas to help them tackle issues. – @minaseeth #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

#3 – Less is often more.

2017 marked my first trip to one of the industry’s biggest events: Content Marketing World. While there, I attended the incomparable Ann Handley’s session. There she revealed five “radiant” writing secrets inspired by the classic novel Charlotte’s Web. The MarketingProfs Chief Content Officer’s session was designed to help content writers become more thoughtful in how they approach content and make an impact on their audience. Ann challenged us all to:

Think of how Charlotte was able to save a life with just [a few] words. How can we use our words more intentionally? How can we make a difference?

It’s certainly no secret that we’re living in a world of content abundance. But if we want to create content that really resonates and makes our audience feel something, we need to remember that less is often more. Read more from Ann’s session. Follow Ann on Twitter or LinkedIn. [bctt tweet=”Less is more in writing. How can we use our words more intentionally? How can we make a difference? – @annhandley @MarketingProfs #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

#4 – When it comes to social content, don’t let your personal brand get in the way of your brand’s message.

Beverly Jackson Once again, our Behind the Marketing Curtain series gave me the honor of speaking with social, content, and customer experience wiz Beverly Jackson, now Vice President of Social Portfolio Strategy for MGM Resorts International. When asked about a bad social media habit marketers needed to drop, her immediate response was: Too much self-promotion that gets in the way of a brand’s story:

The great thing about social media is that it allows brands to create one-on-one relationships with their customers and prospects—not the marketers. And the bottom line is: marketers should never get in the way of that relationship.

Your brand needs to own the relationship with the audience if you want to make an impact. Of course, you should do what you can do evangelize your brand, but don’t confuse your audience by using your brand and its content to propel your profile. It can backfire. Read my full interview with Beverly. Follow Beverly on Twitter or LinkedIn. [bctt tweet=”#SocialMedia allows brands to create one-on-one relationships with their customers and prospects. Marketers should never get in the way of that.  – @bevjack #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

#5 – Don’t settle for crappy content—your audience (and search engines) certainly won’t.

Josh NiteIn the fall of 2017, my talented colleague Joshua Nite made his speaking debut at a local bloggers’ event. During his presentation, he declared that it was time to flip the script on how we craft content. With search engines getting smarter and our audience being more self-directed in research than ever, Joshua said making the switch from SEO-driven content to content-driven SEO is the key to resonating with both readers and robots.

There’s never been a better opportunity to write great content that people actually want to read and that will get seen in search results. So, go forth and be awesome. And please, please—don’t settle for writing crappy content.

While seasoned marketers may say “duh” to this little reminder, I’d wager we all have room for improvement here. So here it is: We can’t settle. We need to innovate. We need to be thoughtful. And above all, we need to create content that our audience will actually enjoy reading. Read more from Josh’s presentation. Follow Josh on Twitter or LinkedIn. [bctt tweet=”Go forth and be awesome. But please, please—don’t settle for writing crappy content. – @NiteWrites #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

#6 – Your audience is already telling you how to connect with them.

Another pro I had the pleasure of interviewing for the Behind the Marketing Curtain series was author, customer experience and social media expert, and marketing veteran Dan Gingiss, now the Vice President, Strategic Group for Persado. While much of our conversation focused on social customer care, Dan said something simple—and perhaps even obvious—but it’s a good lesson nonetheless:

Always be listening. People will generally tell you everything you need to know about your business—what’s working, what needs fixing, and what could be your next big hit. Marketers need to embrace the feedback, including compliments, questions, and complaints.

From social media comments to customer surveys to inquiries or sales calls, brand or company has access to direct feedback from their ideal customers or buyers. They’re giving you an opening to make a connection. Use it to create content that answers their burning questions, quells their top concerns, or empathizes in a way that sparks agreement and head nodding. Read my full interview with Dan. Follow Dan on Twitter or LinkedIn. [bctt tweet=”Always be listening. People will generally tell you everything you need to know about your business. – @dgingiss #LessonsInResonance #SociaMedia” username=”toprank”]

#7 – “Story” is everything—and influencers can be compelling characters.

Ursula Ringham, Head of Global Influencer Marketing, SAPMy most recent interview introduced me to Ursula Ringham, SAP’s Head of Global Influencer Marketing. As we chatted, a constant reference point was what she called her “love of story”—something that’s guided her throughout her career and something all marketers need to reinvest in. And influencers can help.

In marketing, story is everything. But in order to tell a compelling story, you have to be immersed. Bring empathy and understanding, bring purpose, and bring insight—the latter of which influencers can certainly help with.

At a time when content is absolutely everywhere—and consumer trust is diminishing—marketers and brands need to be in the business of storytelling if you  want your content to resonate, inspire, and build trustful connections with our audience. You need to commit. You need to be thoughtful. And you need to consider who (e.g. internal or external thought leaders, current customers, prospects, employees) can help you tell that story. Read my full interview with Ursula. Follow Ursula on Twitter or LinkedIn. [bctt tweet=”In marketing, story is everything. But in order to tell a compelling story, you have to be immersed. – @ursularingham” username=”toprank”]

#8 – Invite your audience to be part of the content creation process.

Dave CharestWhen most modern marketers think of content co-creation, they likely think of partnering with industry thought leaders. Of course, this is a method we at TopRank Marketing absolutely believe in. But one co-creation opportunity marketers may not take advantage of, is partnering with your audience, as Dave Charest, Director of Content Marketing for Constant Contact, shared in Content Marketing Institute and TopRank Marketing’s “The Ultimate Guide to Conquering Content Marketing” eBook.

When it comes to content creation, far too often content is created in a meeting room with a bunch of marketers without any thought for the day-to-day reality of the person consuming it. BIG mistake. Level up your approach by creating content in partnership with members of your target audience. By including your audience in the creation process you’ll better understand what you need to create and how you need to create it. You’ll no longer be working in a vacuum and your content will better resonate with those you’re trying to reach.

There may be no better way to ensure a direct connect with your audience than asking them to be apart of your content process. From social media polls and other UGC to spotlight interviews or guest posts, there’s a range of ways you can include your target audience in the content creation process. Follow Dave on Twitter or LinkedIn. [bctt tweet=”By including your audience in the content creation process you’ll better understand what you need to create and how you need to create it. @DaveCharest #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

#9 – Marketing integration is a must to deliver the best answer.

Lee OddenAs a digital marketing industry veteran, perhaps one of TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden’s most famous lines is: “Be the best answer for your audience wherever and whenever they’re searching.” When you become the best answer, you become sticky for your readers—and integration is key to achieving best-answer status. This quote sums it up well:

With content marketing so popular among brands and content high in demand from customers, why are many B2B marketers so challenged to stand out and be effective? One reason is that the inherent pressure to produce can result in content that does not resonate. … The best content isn’t really that great unless it can be found, consumed, and acted upon by buyers. That is why an effective content marketing program is customer-centric and incorporates data from SEO, insights about format and topics from social media, topical relevance of content from buyer persona research, and awareness of what effect media and influencers can have on buyers’ research and purchasing decisions.

Read more from Lee on the importance of being the best answer in B2B marketing. Follow Lee on Twitter or LinkedIn. [bctt tweet=”The best content isn’t really that great unless it can be found, consumed, and acted upon by buyers. – @leeodden #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

#10 – Resonance is rooted in long-held content marketing best practices.

Joe PulizziNo marketer has been untouched by the teachings of Joe “The Godfather of Content Marketing” Pulizzi. As someone who was relatively green in digital marketing when I joined TopRank Marketing back in 2015, Joe and the Content Marketing Institute (CMI)—along with my in-house team—were incredible resources as I learned the ropes. One of the first pieces I read featuring Joe’s insights was from a session we covered at Social Media Marketing World back in 2014. His message was simple, but it’s something we all need a little reminding of from time to time:

If we only talk about ourselves, we’ll never reach customers.

Content marketing evolved out of the need to meet our audience where and when our audience is searching—and at whatever point they may be in the buying cycle. And ensuring that we’re answering their questions and educating them—not just pushing our product or saying how great we are—is a basic yet still-relevant best practice we should never lose sight of if we want to connect with our audience. [bctt tweet=”If we only talk about ourselves, we’ll never reach customers. – @JoePullizi #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”] Follow Joe on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Go Forth to Create and Resonate

Another incredible marketing mind, Jay Acunzo, recently shared this go-to, “classic content marketing combo” tip. And it pretty much sums everything up:

Prioritize resonance over reach, and the latter (everything else you seek do do as a marketer) gets far easier.

Audiences want to connect with brands and companies that “get it.” So, give your audience great content. Give them guidance. Give them insight. Give them answers. And give them resonance. Ready to create content that resonates? Take a cue from TopRank Marketing Nick Nelson and Honest Abe. Read our post on how to build trustful connections through storytelling. Disclosure: SAP and Content Marketing Institute are TopRank Marketing clients.

The post Creating Content Connections: 10 Lessons in Resonance from Content Marketing Pros appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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About Daniel Rodgers

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Interactive Content Marketing: Why B2B Marketers Should Take Their Content from Boring to Bold

Why B2B Marketers Should Consider Interactive Content

Why B2B Marketers Should Consider Interactive Content

Show of hands, B2B marketers: How many of you know which Hogwarts house you belong in? Or which Disney princess best represents your personality and relationship ambitions?

via GIPHY

Don’t be shy. I’m a Gryffindor wizard through and through—and apparently, I’m more of a Jasmine than an Ariel. And I know all this thanks to the rise of interactive content.

From quirky quizzes to ROI calculators to guided eBooks, interactive content is a rising content marketing star. BuzzFeed is perhaps the most prolific example, creating dozens of quizzes each week that are making their way into social feeds and search results. (And almost all users reportedly finish them).

But why should B2B marketers consider adding interactive content to their mix?

Because B2B is often pegged as bland and boring. And in a crowded content market, not to mention the fact that buyers' content preferences are turning increasingly visual, interactive content is the next evolution.

But if that doesn't convince you, read on for a few more reasons why its time for B2B to embrace interactive content.

#1 – Interactive content is more engaging than static content—for the long-term.

Interactive content may seem a little gimmicky for some marketers—especially those in the B2B space. But the vast majority of marketers who use interactive content agree that it not only grabs attention, but can also hold that attention beyond that initial view.

In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and Ion Interactive 2017 Interactive Content Study:

  • 87% of marketers agree that interactive content grabs the attention of the reader more effectively than static content
  • 77% of marketers agree that interactive content has reusable value, resulting in repeat visitors and multiple exposures
  • 73% of marketers agree that interactive content, when combined with other more traditional content marketing tactics, enhances message retention among their audiences.

So, if you’re aiming for awareness, engagement, and attention, interactive content holds incredible potential. But I’d also add that this is only true if you deliver quality, relevant content in an interactive format.

As my colleague Josh Nite points out: “[Interactive content is] absolutely designed to grab attention. But if your content provides value—if it’s worth paying attention to—interactive elements can help you bring in an audience.”

[bctt tweet="#InteractiveContent is absolutely designed to grab attention. But if your content provides value—if it’s worth paying attention to—interactive elements can help you bring in an audience. - @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

#2 – Interactive content can differentiate you from your competitors.

Content has always been a foundational element of B2B marketing. Buyers don’t make hard and fast decisions. Instead, they do their research, weigh their options, and have multiple engagements with sales reps before they sign on the dotted line. Interactive content can help you make an impression and stand out in a crowed, competitive content landscape.

In addition, according to the aforementioned report, just 46% of marketers report using interactive content right now—which was flat year-over-year. And if history is any indicator, I’d wager that interactive content adoption among B2B marketers is far lower since the industry is typically slower to adopt new tactics.

But that won’t always be the case. Harnessing the opportunity right now has the potential to differentiate your B2B brand from the competition early on, showcasing your commitment to innovation.

For example, Prophix, a leading provider of corporate performance management (CPM) software solutions in the FP&A industry, wanted to drive awareness in a unique way around its report on the evolution of financial planning and analysis, as well as its solutions.

By repurposing its original research and adding influencer perspectives, we created an interactive quiz to help empower their audience to "crush" their jobs to succeed now and into the future.

Prophix Crush It Interactive Quiz

This anchor asset, which was promoted using a supporting mix of blog content, social amplification, email, and more, saw a view rate 6-times higher than the benchmark for a similar resource. In addition, the page where it lived garnered 3-times the average share rate. This unique approach to interactive influencer content made Prophix stand out from the competition and deliver a great resource that performed.

#3 – Interactive tools can provide you with exclusive data and analytics.

Savvy marketers are driven by data insights. And many of the interactive content tools you’d leverage for an asset come with their own analytics dashboards, allowing you to get near real-time data on how your audience is interacting and absorbing your content.

For example, Ceros, an interactive content software that simplifies the creation process, provides all the basic KPIs such as visitors, opens, and pageviews, as well as engagement metrics like time spent and interaction clicks. But they also track inbound referrals, social shares, video plays, and outbound link clicks.

Oh, and that data is viewable in its Analytics Dashboard within second of it happening.

Ceros Interactive Content Tool

While traditional analytics platforms and the data within them is invaluable, from my perspective, this more niche data can help uncover some insights that can help you refine your asset on the fly or consider how to improve other content types moving forward.

#4 – Interactive content can drive results at every stage of the funnel.

From educating buyers to creating customer loyalty, interactive content can serve a purpose (and drive results) at every stage of the funnel. Interactive content users report using the tactic for lead generation, lead nurturing, customer retention, and the list goes on.

And interactive is especially powerful, when combined with other tried-and-true content marketing tactics.

To help promote the Influencer Marketing 2.0 report based on research conducted by Traackr, Altimeter Group and TopRank Marketing, we partnered with interactive content platform Ceros to produce an Influence 2.0 interactive infographic.

Influence 2.0

The infographic was promoted via blog posts, social channels, email, and through the influencers that contributed. With calls to action embedded within the interactive infographic, this content succeeded at attracting over 1,700 prospective customers to download the full report with a 43% conversion rate.

What Opportunity Does Interactive Content Hold for Your B2B Brand?

Interactive content is here to stay. But the real opportunity doesn’t lay in the interactivity itself. The real value creation is in the excitement or connection that you can make with your audience, as well as the potential to hold their attention for long enough to engrain your message or inspire action.

[bctt tweet="The real opportunity with #interactivecontent doesn’t lay in the interactivity itself. The real value creation is in the excitement or connection that you can make with your audience. - @CaitlinMBurgess" username="toprank"]

So, B2B marketers. If you’re ready to break away from boring and drive better engagement, interactive content deserves your consideration.

How can you leverage interactive content? Check out our post featuring five ways of making marketing magic with interactive content.

The post Interactive Content Marketing: Why B2B Marketers Should Take Their Content from Boring to Bold appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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