The Wild World of Preparing Custom Content
By Nick Giallourakis, Digital Product Development Manager, Design & Manufacturing Group
This two-part article was originally published in Folio: Magazine, June 2017. See part one: Setting the foundation to any content marketing campaign. Part two is featured below.
Identifying your audience is the start of any marketing campaign, content or otherwise. For the sake of this article, we will assume you have already identified who your audience is based on research and analysis. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Who is our audience?” or “Who are we marketing to?” you have a problem on your hands and I would advise you to figure that out before reading any further.
But for this month’s post, congratulations! You know your audience. So let’s get going on the next step: developing custom content for clients that audiences crave.
There are three easy steps to get a client’s custom content piece off the ground:
- Why does our audience want this content? How can we help our audience solve a problem with our client’s solution(s)?
- What kind of content does our audience engage with? In what format or tactic is this kind of content best consumed by our audience?
- Where and when do they want it? This is all about promotions, baby. I can hear people now; “But Nick, this is two steps in one!” Yes, it is, because where we promote content and when we promote content should always go hand-in-hand.
Identifying relevant content and what kind of tactics your audience wants is extremely important when setting up any campaign. Just as important is not only identifying the relevant content and tactics, but how best to promote them. We may get lucky sometimes, but let’s prepare and avoid the extra praying.
Content should always tell some kind of story. It should be educational in nature, rather than a straight product pitch. Too many clients want the titles of their content assets to have their name or their product’s name in it. Please, do not ever allow this to happen. This is the quickest way to have your content passed right over by your audience. Content needs to be relevant to the viewer, focused on a problem with which the viewer can relate and how that problem is solved (HINT: this is how the client can show off their skills or services without a direct pitch).
Identifying the best format in which the audience consumes content can take some trial and error or research. You could ask your audience with a simple online survey, or deploy an eListening study to gather information on your audience prior to any content development. (See my column last month on research here).
Experimenting with different promotional tactics and/or researching the audience prior to selling anything specific to a client will help save a lot of headaches down the road, and it can allow your content team to really embrace creativity when working with a client. Uncertainty about which tactics to use or asking a client to take a leap of faith on something that may or may not perform well is playing with fire.
A suggestion for companies looking to try something new: Go out and bring in one of your top clients and discount the heck out of a new product or program for them. Be honest with the client that it’s your first go-around and that you want them to be a part of it. Not only will the client be excited to try something new that could give them a potential competitive advantage, you will henceforth have a case study from which to figure out if a new content product will resonate with your audience. Being honest with the client from the start — rather than blindly pitching something — is the key to success in this situation.
Below is a list of custom content tactics that I see B2B media companies audiences engage with. But remember, some may perform stronger than others in certain markets:
- Whitepapers (Essential guides)
- Snackable content (Top Lists, FAQ’s)
- Digital Magazines
Where do we want to promote something? When is the best time to do it? There needs to be a lot of effort put forth in this step with trial and error. You can research the audience to find some more information, but A/B testing is a big part of understanding where and when to promote.
Via Campaign Monitor: A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a way of working out which of two campaign options is the most effective in terms of encouraging opens or clicks. In an A/B test, you set up two variations of one campaign and send them each to a small percentage of your total recipients.
Working with clients to come up with custom content should be fun and exciting. If you follow these three steps before the creation phase of any content piece, it will allow your team (and client) the freedom to get creative on the fly and enjoy the ride.
“Luck is where preparation meets opportunity” – Seneca