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Several weeks ago we shared tips on where to find your target audience on social media. Now that you have found your target audience, what are you going to do to keep them engaged?
You need to stand out from the influx of information that is arriving into the inbox and home feeds of your target audience. If you don’t then you are missing out on the opportunity to engage with your audience. Engagement sets the foundation of trust in your client relationship.
Jay Baer, a highly regarded marketing strategist, has a great quote that summarizes how to trigger audience engagement perfectly “be awesome or be useful”. Jay suggests as a guideline that businesses create online content that is so incredibly helpful and relevant to their needs that they would be willing to pay for it.
Most of us would be hard pressed to come up with an audience engagement strategy focused on being awesome. How would that even look? How would you or your target audience define “awesome”?
The other option, to be useful, can be mapped out in a strategy. Being useful not only helps to increase audience engagement it also helps you retain the clients you already have.
Let’s say you have made the decision to increase your audience engagement by being useful. What would the content marketing strategy be? What steps would you need to take to get a documented strategy and start implementing it?
As we go through the steps of building the basics of a content marketing strategy focused on being useful, think about your own business and any parallel opportunities you can see with respect to building your own audience engagement. Jot down your thoughts and ideas as we go through the steps.
Step 1 – Assess your content for utility
✔ Website Content
- Take a critical look at the content on your homepage
Does your content focus on what you do for your clients? Have you answered the most common questions clients have? Is your unique approach to client service clearly spelled out?
If your homepage is focused on your depth of expertise and skills then you are missing an opportunity to connect with your clients. Visitors to your website are looking for answers they are not looking for your online CV. The text should be filled with “you” and “your” and keep yourself – the “I” and “we” to a minimum. Save that for the About Us page.
- Is your About Us page engaging?
This is not the place to recreate a typical biography. Take the opportunity to highlight again what makes you and your services unique. This page still needs to be client focused.
Have a great quality picture of everyone that is part of your team combined with a brief bio that includes some personal elements. This is also the perfect spot to share a brief story on why you started your business. Everyone enjoys a peek behind a business to let the personal elements of your business complement your skills and expertise.
✔ Blog or Newsletter
- Are you focused on solutions or sales?
Your blog or newsletter is an opportunity to reach our directly to your target audience and answer their questions. Keep an eye on their questions while meeting with them. Note the questions and comments they post to social media. Is there something specific to your industry making the news? If so, take the time to explain any industry changes or to explain the impact of a recent news story.
Your blog and newsletter’s goal is to be in service to your clients and to provide useful information to potential clients. They should not be used as a weekly or monthly sales pitch.
- Is your blog / newsletter easy to search?
There is nothing more frustrating than finding the information you need and the links don’t work. Worse still is being on a blog or newsletter and being unable to search for what you are looking for. Even if most of your new clients come to you by referral they are still checking you out online before making that first phone call or appointment.
Practitioners, such as dentists, lawyers, accountants or doctors have a wealth of specialized information that your online audience would love to learn more about. Make the content targeted to their questions and concerns and make it easy for them to find and search using key words. You need the quality of your content and the quality of your website to be a reflection of your services – responsive and useful.
✔ Social Media Content
- You need to be where your audience is
You know your target audience demographics and who you want to reach out to. Assess if the social media platforms you are currently using are the best fit for your audience. Forget what your competitors are doing and if everyone is on one platform or another. You are the client expert for your audience. Determine where your target audience is and put your strategic efforts into 2 platforms rather than spreading your time and effort across 5 or 6 platforms.
- Is there a strategy behind what you share?
This is the biggest complaint about social media – the time commitment to keep your feeds current. It is true, success on social media definitely requires consistency but it also requires a strategy.
The lack of focus behind the types of content you share and who your trusted sources are for third party content is what really takes up the time. Don’t waste your time randomly searching for relevant content. Build a list of sites that cover the types of content you want to share and that your audience wants to see.
These sites may be industry peers, trusted advisors, thought leaders, how to gurus, fun facts, historical quotes or great images from around the word. You know what is of interest to your target audience so build a list of reliable sources to keep your social media fresh and engaging.
Step 2 – Build your content for your target audience
✔ Content Related to Your Business
Create value added content for your target audience that extends beyond your central expertise but still supports your broader industry. For example, if you are in the health industry you could include content that also speaks to healthy living, exercises, recipes and instilling healthy living habits in children.
It is still important to answer the questions most important to your clients but don’t be afraid to extend into compatible areas that would also be of interest to your target audience.
✔ Content Related to Your Strategic Partners
This is content that you may be creating or sharing on behalf of strategic partners to provide that additional level of useful information your target audience is looking for. For example, if you are a dentist you could decide to share content related to orthodontists, cosmetic dentistry or pediatric dentistry.
This approach helps to solidify professional partnerships with your peers and centralizes content which has a positive impact on client engagement.
✔ Content Related to Community Building
You can never go wrong when highlighting how much you love your community. Share with your clients your favourite spots for lunch, hidden gems in your area and how you and your team give back to the community.
Get your business involved in organizations that welcome new families to the community and that focus on business improvement in your area. Clients engage with businesses that are active members of their community – it builds trust and a stronger relationship.
Step 3 – Create your marketing assets to engage and educate
✔ Immediate Use Assets
These are marketing assets that your target audience can benefit from immediately without investing a significant amount of time to read or understand the material.
These types of assets are ideal for website visitors that want to quickly access information. Examples of immediate use marketing assets would be:
- FAQ section that is printable or downloadable as a PDF
- Tip sheet showing the client how to get started on their own
- Tool checklist of your favourite resources within the industry
✔ In Depth Assets
These are marketing assets that cover areas of interest to your target audience in a bit more depth. These are often guides to help clients get started on their own or help the client decide exactly what kind of services they could benefit from.
These types of assets are ideal for website visitors that want detailed information that covers a specific topic. Examples of in depth marketing assets would be:
- Quiz or survey to help narrow down the types of services your client needs
- Starter Guide to help your client take the first steps on their own
- Ebook that explains your expertise or specialty in every day language (jargon free)
Videos are quickly becoming the favourite marketing asset of target audiences across all industries. Videos provide information in an easy to digest format and are a great way to personalize your content. They provide the opportunity to see you, hear your voice and get a sense for what it would be like to receive your services.
- Personal videos of you, your staff and your work environment, think of them as a preview
- “How To” video or video series to help clients take some preliminary steps on their own
- Community and Social events that you and your team participate in
These are numerous options for you to consider as you move towards creating content that is useful for your target audience. It is a significant time investment to go through these steps and see where there is potential to increase audience engagement.
Our recommendation, prior to reaching out to strategic partners or creating new marketing assets, is to build your strategy using your client persona as your guide.
Your client persona in combination with the analytics and metrics you receive from your website and social media will assist you in determining where to focus your immediate attention.
It takes time to build up your pool of useful content so do not place tight time constraints on yourself. Take the time to make each piece of content useful and targeted to your audience and eventually you will reap the benefits of an engaged audience.
We would love to hear from you. What ideas, tips or tools have you implemented lately that have had a positive impact on your target audience engagement?
If you are looking for some tips that include the neuroscience behind target audience engagement check out our free ebook on Reaching Your Target Audience Through Science.
Jennifer Arnold, Founder at InnovaMap, Ph.D. in Neuroscience
InnovaMap – we use the science of marketing to connect you with your target audience.
Contact us to learn more on how to start integrating techniques for engaging the brain into all your marketing strategies.