10 Factors Affecting Your Content Performance
This is a guest post – Andy Preisler is an inspired content strategist, marketer and writer for Grab My Essay. Andy loves experimenting with content creation and trying new marketing techniques. Feel free to contact him on Twitter.
Content marketing is an art as much as it is a science.
You can have all the creative genius in the world – fresh ideas, beautiful visuals and mind-blowing headlines – but if no one sees it then who cares.
Likewise, you can have the ‘science’ of analysing the numbers, tracking metrics and optimising every page – but if your content isn’t high quality, again no one will care.
So, whether you are new to this whole content marketing thing or whether you have been doing this for some time, if your content is not getting conversions, you need to look at these 10 elements that may be impacting your content performance.
Simplicity is the key here.
Content that reads like some academic paper is a huge turnoff. Dump the complex sentences, the vocabulary that you are so proud of, and the jargon that experts in your niche use. Talk to real people who are not “experts” and who prefer reading levels at about the 8th grade level.
One of the best things you can do is check the readability index of your content through the use of Read-able.com – it’s free. You can copy and paste your content and get an immediate report on the age-range for which it is suited. A score of 55 or higher is good.
The “tone” of your content has to match what you are selling. Here is where color, design, language and style come into play.
If you are selling party supplies, your images and text have to be consistent with partying:
If, on the other hand, you are selling sophistication in party supplies, the color, design, and language will be completely different:
These extreme examples, but note the color and design. Reds and yellows are aggressive, active colors; grays, blacks, and tans are formal, sophisticated colors. One features two grids of supplies, food and drink; the other design is a single grid that inspires “class.”
Text that accompanies these visuals must be consistent. Words like “image,” “impression,” and “memorable occasion” should accompany the wedding reception visual; where terms like “get your party on” and “give your friends a party to remember” will be consistent with the tone of the Mexican themed party.
Remember, your brand has an “image.” Everything you do, from color, to design, to texts and visuals, must be consistent with that image. That is how you engage and keep your target audience.
You may be aware of what Google Analytics can provide, but take the time to truly understand what the numbers are telling you.
It’s nice to get reports on how many views you have had, how many comments have been made, and how many shares have occurred. But these are what we call “vanity” metrics. They may boost your ego, but not necessarily your profits.
You need to go deep into analytics and get data that will help you make good decisions about your content.
- What pages are getting the most visits
- Where are those viewers coming from
- On which pages are your viewers spending the most time
- At what spots are your visitors bouncing
- When conversions are achieved, what was the origination page of that conversion
- What is the movement about your site
- Which CTA requests are getting the most response.
These are the reports you need if you intend to create and modify your strategy for better content performance.
4. Failure to Have a Cause
We now talk about “Generation C,” the generation that has grown up with technology since early childhood.
This is a new breed of consumer, and unless you are selling walkers and walk-in bathtubs, you will need to appeal to this audience with your content.
One of the things that this generation values is social responsibility. And members want to do business with companies that take up a cause.
A successful example of this it Toms Shoes. This company has adopted the cause of providing shoes to people in third-world countries. It has both short-term and long-term campaigns that engage followers.
For every shoe purchased, they donate a pair of shoes. A campaign of “barefoot for a day” asked readers to go barefoot for an entire day in order to experience what it is like, another campaign asked for bare feet photos to be tagged on Instagram – for every shot, a pair of shoes would be donated to a child in need.
Toms Shoes sales are soaring!
Now, you may not have the sales, following, or profits that Toms Shoes has, but you need to find a cause, and you need to engage your readers in that cause.
Can you sponsor a child in a third-world nation for every 10 sales (It’s about $35 a month)? Can you donate to a charity that your followers vote on? (This engages them in an additional way)?
5. Failure to Use Images to Tell Your Story
Telling your brand’s story engages readers who want to develop a personal connection with a company. A recent study conducted by Adaptly, Facebook and Refining 29, showed that telling your story, and doing so visually, is one of the most compelling aspects of loyalty and conversion.
Here are some very actionable suggestions:
- Publish pictures of your team – Zappos does this consistently
- Focus on Customers – Tell Their Stories – How did your product or service solve a problem for them? Ask for photos from customers using your product. Publish them regularly on your site itself, your blog, and on social media. Case studies are extremely effective in grabbing reader attention – they are personal and relatable.
6. Not Involving Your Community Enough
It’s nice to want to be the expert and grow you content creation skills so that your stuff is creative and engaging. But more effective will be the steps you take to involve your viewers. Not enough of this is done.
Hold contests as often as possible. Ask for “votes” on things; request responses to surveys.
Jack Daniels recently held a contest that asked viewers to submit photos of really weird bars around the world. The winning photo is to be featured in an upcoming ad.
Threadless T-shirts has campaigns asking followers to submit T-shirt designs. Then everyone gets to vote on the best one, and it is actually used for a T-shirt. There is also a cash reward for the winner.
Sharpie has a “fan of the week,” with a photo of a follower who has used Sharpie pens in unusual contexts.
7. Not Using Visuals To Say What You Want Text To Say
How much content can you convert into a visual?
A common error is to think that viewers really want to read what you have to say. No, they want to “see” what you have to say. So, every time you think about content you want to write, think about some kind of visual that might be able to represent that content – a picture, a video, or an infographic.
Any time you can use a visual instead of words, you are winning.
8. Not Giving Enough Importance to Titles
You have to capture your reader within the first 10 seconds of them landing on your content.
How do you do this?
With a title and a first sentence that engages immediately, the chances that your viewer stays and views the rest of that content are much greater. If you are not creative enough to come up with compelling titles, then get a tool that will help you do this.
Think of a title as a newspaper headline. People scan newspapers for the headlines and only read the articles related to topics that have intrigued them. You have to do the same thing. Spend as much time generating a great title as you do generating your content!
9. Not focusing on CTA’s That Generate Email Addresses
Others may not agree, but think about it. Too often, traffic to your site, your blog, etc. is controlled by someone else – a search engine algorithm, or numbers of shares that others may give. You have to take some control of your content spread and your viewership.
What part of traffic can you “own?”
Your email list, that’s what. S
o, in your content, place many opportunities for viewers to provide their email addresses, so that you are continually adding to your email database.
Getting viewers to open those emails of course, is another matter, and that depends upon the titles you use and what you offer and engage the readers in once they open those emails!
10. Not having a Process for Generating Content Ideas
Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, recently wrote a post on generating ideas for content. In it, he speaks to the importance of listening – listening to current and potential customers and then generating a list of questions that these individuals might be asking.
If you can generate such a list, then you have content ideas for a long time to come (he recommends 50 questions before you stop listening). He also suggests that you “freewrite” for about 10 minutes – just write – anything that comes to mind. When you finish, go back and pick out those phrases/words that could be expanded into great content. Every member of your team should be involved in this initiative.
You should have a list of content ideas from which you can pull constantly.
Now – go forth!
Evaluate what you are doing against these 10 potential problems affecting your content performance, and make the changes you need to make!
Andy Preisler is an inspired content strategist, marketer and writer for Grab My Essay. Andy loves experimenting with content creation and trying new marketing techniques. Feel free to contact him on Twitter.
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