In the age of ad blockers users are avoiding ads at all times, so how do we get users to engage with our content? Consumers also have more access to information and significantly more sources to find answers and solutions than they did in the past. So how do you get past all the noise and help give them the information they need to solve their problem?
The answer? Content.
I don’t mean ads, I mean blog posts, site pages, social media, chatbots. All ways to be in contact with your customer. You know your customer best so you can give them the information they need when they need it.
By creating content that is useful to your user it impacts your user, encourages them to interact with you, and educates them. All this helps you build trust and position yourself as a thought leader.
Content is your voice, and you need your voice to be there for your customer when they need you, giving them valuable information to them at intentional points in their customer journey.
The key pieces to content strategy:
Users– These are the people your company engages with and has a relationship with, it doesn’t matter if they are a paid customer or not.
Personas– These are your users! Know them! Do persona building exercises; who are you reaching? Who do you are your customers? Understand them. These exercises will help you build empathy for your customers by understanding their behaviors, motivations, goals, challenges, values, etc.
Journey Maps – After you’ve created your personas and understand who your customers are, what is the journey they have with your company? What are the different touch points? Pain points? And importantly – how can you improve this journey?
Content – Now that you have your personas and their individual journeys in mind think about what points in their journey you can provide them with content. Be sure to be intentional and meaningful, people aren’t going to want to be bombarded with content at all moments.
Goals – If you are going to be spending all this time (and company money) creating this content, you need to set goals in order to track how the content is performing and to put a value to your efforts.
Another tip: People will remember how your content made them feel before they remember what the content was.
For your long-term content plan, you should keep these things in mind:
How do you start? Align with your customer journey map – Creating a content strategy is a daunting task and can seem like a lot, but if you work with your personas and journey maps it will make the process significantly easier.
Telling a story through your content– This content aligns with your user’s journey - to tell a story with it. I don’t mean a literal story, but make sure it is cohesive and all the pieces fit together.
Don’t remake the wheel– Audit the content your company already has, take those things and see how they can fit into your plan and with your goals. You don’t need to use everything, but it’s always good to have a starting point and content to fall back on.
After all this, you need to think about how are you going to get this content to your users? That’s where marketing comes into play. Using social media, newsletters, SEO, etc.
It is important to be user-centric when developing this plan and strategy. You need to think of them at all points in this process and put yourself in their shoes.
If you want to go more in-depth checkout usability.gov’s article on Content Strategy Basics.
Compare Hubspot B2B to Pottermore’s B2C Content Strategy
By creating the HubSpot Academy as a way to connect content with users places themselves as thought leaders and introduces people to the idea of content and inbound marketing. The academy guides users through the understanding and learning of content marketing and makes it a cohesive experience. It helps users when they need information and need to learn more. In addition, it gives the opportunity to get a certification (which I am working on!) which rewards the users with something after they learn.
*Disclaimer, I’ve never read Harry Potter or seen the movies, sorry!!
For those like me who didn’t know, Pottermore is a company that is everything J.K. Rowling – from digital publishing, to e-commerce, to entertainment and news. They have tons of fun content for their fans to engage with. I specifically tried the House sorting (a quiz that says which Hogwarts house you belong to) and as you complete the quiz it gives you the option to share and learn more about your house, thus encouraging more site traffic, but also gives you more information and things such as wallpapers, more stories, character profiles, et al. This is a great example of aligning content strategy with their customer journey map, they gave me those pieces of content about the different house after I found which one I aligned with, making those subsequent pieces of content more meaningful.
Content is King, but UX is Queen
The king and queen must work together to rule, the king is the main focus, but without the queen, the king would be nothing.
Good UX makes it easy to engage with your content and to find more; if you make it too difficult to engage with your content people won’t bother.
Bad UX kills great content.
Users don’t know or can’t articulate what they want. You need to understand them on a deeper level in order to understand what they truly want and need. This means looking at the data in order to uncover these insights.
Where are you posting your content? Make sure that user experience is easy to understand and to go through. This includes: having a responsive website, making sure your site loads quickly, making your website accessible to all personas. Also – be sure to test your site before adding content, if your site experience is bad most won’t give the content the time of day.
Melissa Eggleston from the Content Marketing Institute covered it pretty well:
“UX includes usability, which is often defined as ease of use or learnability. Usability is arguably the most important factor in user experience, and in practice the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. However, UX has a broader aim to ensure users are satisfied with content, features, and function. It’s possible to have great usability but not great UX because users’ needs and desires aren’t fully met. (The sound system is great, but it’s only playing ’90s pop.)”
To read more check out her article titled A UX Lesson for Content Marketers: Your Invisible Advantage
All-in-all, UX and content go hand in hand, you need one to have the other. So, in order to have the best content make sure you think of both.