How to Tell if Your Inbound Content Is Truly Engaging or Just More Noise


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Everyone is clamoring for mindshare. Marketers rely heavily on digital content because it’s a highly effective way to resonate with prospects on a more intimate level. But while content is growing at exponential rates, the size of your addressable market probably isn’t. That means some brands are going to stand out and others will be lost in the noise. Unfortunately, the data tells us there’s an 8 in 10 chance you aren’t Waldo – you’re just part of the noise. But you can fix that.


According to Gleanster, Top Performing organizations report five times higher response rates over All Other organizations on content marketing efforts. Seven out of ten Top Performing organizations leverage marketing automation tools to help scale contextually relevant engagement with prospects. But what about the content that’s feeding these tools? It’s like the gasoline that goes in a car – it’s got to be just the right octane to make the engine hum. What makes the best content stand out? What drives overwhelmingly high conversion?

Here are a few takeaways from Top Performers:

Humanize the brand.

Here’s a cliché for you: “people buy from people.” Sometimes marketers spend too much time focusing on the brand – what the brand stands for, the colors, the logo, the goodwill. But excessive focus on the brand and the company can lead to communications that fail to resonate. Top Performers touch buyers by humanizing the brand and the products/services. That’s why customer case studies, personal communications from executives, videos, and stories are so important when initially establishing a relationship with a new prospect. Tell a story with the marketing. The thing is, it’s kind of risky to put yourself and your brand out there in that way. It’s almost uncomfortable for marketers because theirs risk in being human, struggling, or admitting where there’s room for improvement. None of that matters because people buy from people. If you can humanize the connection with your brand, you stand out. You want buyers to emotionally invest in the connection. That’s what drives the click, or the call, or whatever your conversion metric is.

Showcase your vales.

Simon Sinek has a wonderful TED talk in which he highlights the value of starting with why. Bottom line, people make purchases and solve solutions from an emotional standpoint. You don’t just buy products because they do things, they also represent you as an individual. That’s why Apple could enter an already crowded MP3 market and dominate. Apple stood for simplification, innovation, and challenging the status quo – things buyers could get behind. Does your content showcase some of your values as an organization, or are you just waving the “this is what we do and how” flag?

Embrace the process and be patient.

An all too common challenge among content marketers is a desire to constantly drive users toward action. It’s as if we are Mr. Burns lurking in the shadows waiting for that initial download. “Excellent. You there, buy this.” Top Performers embrace the dance. Get to know your prospect before selling to them. That means you have to create content that doesn’t sell to them. This helps build credibility with your prospect. In the age of 24/7 information everywhere we are conditioned to be skeptics as buyers. Honestly, we are all very aware that the explosion of content online is designed to do one thing – sell me something. So if you can establish some trust with a prospect and make them feel safe engaging again, it’s going to be much easier to convince them you are different later on. Patience is a virtue, but it’s also critical to making the sale. Don’t rush to the sale with every piece of content you create. A great way to approach this is to think about creating two types of content:

  • Content for people you don’t know. These are leads. Don’t try to sell to them; you don’t know them yet. So create content that helps you learn about their needs. It’s sort of like when you go on a first date; you ask lots of questions to get to know the person before “taking it to the next level.”
  • Content for people you know. These are prospects. They have a defined need that you can start to try to address. At this point you should always be leading them toward a call to action. Never miss an opportunity to engage them in some way. Ask them questions that help you gauge their needs or the next best communication. Top Performers do this with multi-channel campaigns in marketing automation tools. These campaigns are pre-configured to dynamically adjust based on prospect behavior. Then Lead scoring helps Top Performers infer the propensity to purchase.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ian Michiels
Ian Michiels is a Principal & CEO at Gleanster Research, a globally known IT Market Research firm covering marketing, sales, voice of the customer, and BI. Michiels is a seasoned analyst, consultant, and speaker responsible for over 350 published analyst reports. He maintains ongoing relationships with hundreds of software executives each year and surveys tens of thousands of industry professionals to keep a finger on the pulse of the market. Michiels has also worked with some of the world's biggest brands including Nike, Sears Holdings, Wells Fargo, Franklin Templeton, and Ceasars.


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