4 Tips for Better Content Engagement

There’s more to content engagement than just words on a page. Here are the details you must focus on to grab your audience’s attention and keep them focused on your message.

There’s more to content engagement than just words on a page. Here are the details you must focus on to grab your audience’s attention and keep them focused on your message.

1. Design Does Matter

Beauty may be only skin deep, but it gets our attention. And in the online content game, the importance of getting someone’s attention shouldn’t be underestimated. So invest the time and resources you need to create solid, professional designs that fit your industry, your topic, and your audience’s expectations.

Keep in mind that the quality you seek is a professional presentation. This isn’t about winning design awards. (Unless you’re a design firm …) Consistency matters more for content engagemen than achieving highest level of polish.

2. Graphics Get Results

An adjunct to “design does matter” is the use of photos, illustrations and other graphics. These serve to break up written content to make it more digestible and can also reinforce the points you are making in your copy. (For more conceptual content, don’t worry about that kind of literal reinforcement. In fact, being literal in a forced or cliched manner is likely to hurt your efforts more than help them.

And don’t forget the value of video. Here again, you don’t need super high-production values to have an impact. Video shot with a high-quality smartphone camera will do the trick. Add simple voice over and charts or graphics to illustrate your topic and you’re way beyond boring talking head videos. Talking heads can add a nice personal touch if the talking head is a key executive in your organization.

3. But Beauty Is Only Skin Deep

As important as design is, a great looking page isn’t going to keep your audience engaged if there’s no there there, as Gertrude Stein said. (Though not about content marketing …) Your content has to be engaging in its own right, which means:

  • Professional
  • Entertaining
  • Relevant

Professional is as simple as avoiding typos, spelling errors and other basic mistakes.

Creating entertaining content doesn’t mean trying to be a stand-up comic. It means having a voice that is unique and interesting.

Relevance is, pretty obviously, the most important of these goals. Your content must matter to your audience. And it needs to help them understand or solve a business problem they are facing.

4. Grab ‘Em and Go

Don’t bury the lede! A nicely paced build up is a wonderful thing for novels and bad jokes. But in content marketing, as in news reporting, grabbing your audience’s attention immediately is the key to getting them to come along for the ride. That’s our goal with all our content marketing.

Why Your Engaging Content Won’t Produce Leads

The ugly truth is, for many of us, engaging customers creates profitless prosperity—impressive marketing statistics that don’t ultimately, directly help generate leads and sales. Engagement is creating momentary value that is aloof from any kind of sales lead management process. Yet businesses who do create sales using social selling know something the rest of us don’t. Let’s find out what that something is.

The ugly truth is, for many of us, engaging customers creates profitless prosperity—impressive marketing statistics that don’t ultimately, directly help generate leads and sales. Engagement is creating momentary value that is aloof from any kind of sales lead management process. Yet businesses who do create sales using social selling know something the rest of us don’t. Let’s find out what that something is.

Why We’re Failing to Sell with Engagement
For years now, we’ve been rising each morning, downing our coffee and suffering through questions like, “How do I know what to blog each day?” And the biggie, “How do I become engaging enough to produce leads and sales?”

Most of us are busy producing engaging content on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and other social media. But in the end, even our most engaging blogs, YouTube videos and other forms of online publication fail to produce leads and sales. At best, sales are blindly attributed to content as part of a mass media branding success using fuzzy math. Why?

My on-going research confirms it: We’re failing to create sales engaging social media because we’re building content marketing on an outdated foundation. We’re clinging to mass media advertising ideas and values. Instead, we should be exploiting direct response marketing tactics.

“Marketers often come from two distinct backgrounds,” says best-selling author and IBM distinguished engineer Mike Moran.

“Brand marketers are the ones whose work you see on TV. They are all about branding, brand image, brand awareness—use whatever word you want—and their success has made Coca-Cola and many other consumer products into household names. Direct marketers are decidedly less sexy … constantly searching for the next idea that increases response. They are all about sales, and couldn’t care less about brand image as long as the cash register rings.”

Moran says engagement marketers with an interest in driving sales have much to learn from the practice of direct response marketing. Again, it’s not about influencing or leading thought, it’s about being a thought provoker.

How to Always Make the Sale
Why do so many of us pursue getting “liked” on Facebook or followed on Twitter? Because of this single idea: getting a lot of customers’ attention (reach) over and over (frequency) is enough to earn a sale … somehow, sometime. This is how advertising works.

Today’s best social sellers do not believe for a minute that exposure to engaging content will result in a sale. They have no faith that it will produce a lead. Rather, they believe in, and execute on, carefully mixing in calls-to-action. The content they create solves customers’ problems or vividly demonstrates (proves … think “infomercial”) compelling experiences relating to their service.

The best way to sell on Facebook is to solve customers’ problems (yes “for free”) in ways that earn trust and ultimately help them navigate their way toward your paid products and services. And by the way, I’m not saying attention or branding doesn’t matter. It does. I’m simply saying it’s not enough. Stopping at earning customers fleeting attention is a sure-fire losing strategy online.

I say avoid getting sucked into the profitless prosperity black hole by thinking in terms of direct response marketing when engaging with social media and content marketing. What do you think?