5 Steps to Create Content That’s Better than Your Competitors’
Everyone and every business is publishing content. But the sheer volume being produced is stopping brands from standing out. Guess what though? It’s not your competitor’s daily content blast that’s hindering your success: in actual fact you could be sabotaging your growth yourself by creating content lacking any focus or strategy.
So stop committing content suicide. Let’s look at how you can create content that’s better than that of your competitors. Here are five effective tactics:
Step 1: Start Something Everyone can get Involved in with User-Generated Content
Sometimes brands strive too hard to go viral. They mistakenly think that crazy, expensive content is the only way to go to get national or even international exposure. However, there are different interpretations of what ‘going viral’ actually means and you can achieve engagement from a lot of people across the country, and even the world, if you’re clever with your campaigns.
For example, National Geographic set up a social media focused campaign called the #WanderlustContest Photo Contest. This involved social media users sharing pictures of amazing sights, life-changing experiences and unforgettable people, from their travels using the campaign hashtag.
What’s great about this strategy is that the social media participation allows people to get involved with very minimal effort on their part. They take a picture; share it with the campaign hashtag and even “@” mention the brand.
The campaign has even helped National Geographic reach into the realms of their followers’ followings. For example, if someone sees their friend sharing a picture for the #wanderlustcontest, they’ll be intrigued and might want to participate themselves.
National Geographic even created a ‘best of round-up’ landing page giving them the opportunity to use the unique imagery as a way of thanking people who took part and giving them some exposure back. Those people featured will have then shared this page with their own followers forging a continuous loop of engagement.
This campaign is brilliant on so many levels. It’s self-perpetuating and incredibly cost-effective. By asking people to take a few seconds out of their day to take a picture, they’ve gathered an almost infinite source of unique content.
Although National Geographic is an international powerhouse, there is nothing stopping smaller businesses from copying this strategy. For example, a smaller brand could run monthly hashtag competitions on Instagram or Twitter. This will help to establish the campaign hashtag as a trending topic and will fuel further momentum and entrants over the months. Brands could even ask entrants to share the competition as a way to broaden their reach.
Step 2: Delve into your Data
What can all brands leverage against their competitors? Their own unique data.
Research based, data driven content provides unique value to your readers and people within your industry. Furthermore, this type of content establishes your business as an authority because you have crunched the numbers and evaluated the implications of the data.
So how does such a content project help your digital footprint? Well, if the data or findings are compelling enough it can lead to citations of your research and links back to the original source (that’s you, by the way), yielding traffic and exposure.
However, finding which data to pull out and how to interpret it is often the hardest part. To begin with, you might want to look at wider concerns in your sector? Is there a problem that needs a solution? Or have you noticed any unique developments in your niche?
Once you have pinpointed what you want to investigate, you need to know where you can you find this particular data. There are a number of outlets and sources you can try including your Analytics programmes, checking your sales data or even commissioning your own survey and report.
As an example of a business sharing unique data, Personal Injury solicitors, Quittance, have made their monthly injury claims viewable in the form of a widget on their website.
If Quittance were to take a look through the last year of claims they could provide insight into the most common types of claims in 2015. They could then segment this data based upon a claimant’s type of work. There might be a correlation between rising claims for neck and back injuries for people who work in an office, for example. This information will be of benefit to the legal sector as solicitors can prepare and optimise their websites for these types of claims in order to attract more enquiries.
Aside from the legal sector, there might be wider implications into the health and safety of office workers which might appeal to the wider press. Quittance could write a press release of their findings and distribute it to various publishers.
This goes to show that what might be seen as everyday data to one business, can be really valuable to your sector and beyond.
Step 3: Make Things Easy
We’re all time poor, or impatient. One of the two. Either way, with the abundance of content readily available we don’t like hanging around. We want to know how to do something and we need to know now. According to Time magazine, 55% of web page views lasts less than 15 seconds.
So how can you appeal to people with a shorter attention span than a goldfish? If we look at how people use search engines we recognise that users are often looking for a solution to a problem, and with more people leading busier lives, they want the solution quickly and in an easy to follow format.
To appeal to these browsers, you could create and share content with your audience that makes something complex seem really easy. The optimal media to use to maintain attention is accessible media like video and sharing it on a channel where users spend the majority of their time.
That’s what the Food Network did. Their easy recipe videos showed their Facebook followers and website visitors how to create delicious meals in only 60 second videos. Here’s how to make a Trifle in 60 seconds:
This type of content is perfect for channels which prioritise video content like Facebook and Instagram and where playback time is limited. Whilst your competitors might be sending people to watch long YouTube tutorials, if you’re able to explain something in 60 seconds or less you’re going to give your content the edge over theirs.
But what if you don’t make food? What if your business is less Instagram filter-worthy and geekier? Well, there’s scope for you too. PC World have used their products to create quick “video manuals” of how to use their products, like this how to cut calories with an air fryer video:
Whilst the title might seem bland, it’s the animation that has appealed to the 749k viewers.
Don’t cut content types out of your media kit because you think your business is boring. All businesses have an audience. You just need to find the right way to convey your products in a shorter period of time and in an engaging way to the appropriate audience.
Step 4: Use Better Visuals
When I say better visuals, I not only mean great imagery, but I also mean choosing the right visuals for your content. It’s all too easy to stick to the generic blog post format, when instead, an infographic, a video or a downloadable guide might tell the story better. In fact, researchers found that coloured visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content. So now there’s no excuse not to add more visual content to your website.
Hubspot is a great example of a website using visuals creatively for content types. Their latest post about eight time-saving Excel shortcuts is easily absorbed through the use of visual steps by step images.
And, with so many more platforms on which to showcase your visual content, you need to be thinking of more perceptible ways to market your brand, especially because more image-focused networks are driving revenue. – to whom?
Instagram is now considered an ecommerce channel. According to a recent report, ‘Instagram mobile ad revenue will reach $2.81 billion worldwide in 2017’ So, not only are Instagram ads paying dividends, but Instagram posts are estimated to receive 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more than Twitter (source). The picture is crystal clear – Instagram delivers.
Many brands have already mastered Instagram by creating instantly recognisable branded visuals. Olive, a contemporary clothing and lifestyle company uses a dusty and desaturated colour pellet throughout their photos to match the shades of their clothing line. The composition of clothing is almost always flat lay, editorial style images with several props to create symmetry.
For Olive, their purpose on Instagram isn’t to sell, it’s to inspire. And they make it easy for their customers to act upon this aspiration by telling them where they can go on their website to purchase something they like. They also cross-promote their more popular content on their Facebook account which enables them to link within a post back to a specific landing page. This way of leveraging their more popular content across their other networks means they won’t be wasting their time on posts that won’t attract engagement.
But what if you’re not a B2C business? How can B2Bs use Instagram to engage and inspire? Deloitte Digital use their account to introduce their employees. Showcasing company culture and employee activities can be a great way to “sell” your business because, more often than not, we engage with a brand because we like what they stand for and we like who they are – and it’s often the business’ people that help to build a brand’s voice and image.
Plus, if you’re a B2B brand who makes fantastic, filter-worthy products, injecting some candid product shots into your newsfeed is always a great way to showcase the awesome things you make.
Take Staples for example, they sell business office supplies and their Instagram account couldn’t be more colourful:
Step 5: Write Content to Match your Goals
It’s all well and good writing more content, but if you’re not aligning this to the bigger picture (i.e your business strategy), you won’t be aiming for anything.
Take time to refocus your content marketing efforts on particular goals. These goals will differ from business to business but overall the ultimate focus is on revenue. However, in order to generate revenue you need to first attract awareness, then interest and trust, followed by consideration and an action, which should then turn into a sale. The process is best illustrated through a sales conversion funnel:
Let’s apply this to a real world example. Say you’re a web design agency and you want people to get in touch and ask for a new web proposal.
Here’s an idea of the content you could write during the buying and research phase to get potential clients to request a web design proposal from you:
- You start publishing great content on your website like infographics, guides, blog posts and case studies.
- You then promote content in a variety of ways to attract visits – blog posts, web page content, videos, social media content and articles on other sites brings traffic back to your site.
- You then gather information about your readers from newsletter subscribes, eBook downloads, white papers and software trials.
- You put leads from downloads, subscribers and enquiries into a remarketing ad campaign which offers a free website health check.
- Leads then call you for demos and consultations, etc. Then hopefully a proposal is required.
Most of the time businesses forget to do points 2, 3 and 4, or even fail to collect adequate data from their leads and retarget them with ads.
The point is that you need to keep your prospects engaged at each point of the sales funnel. If they fall out, you need to ensure you reconnect with them through content outreach and advertising.
If you think you might be missing content at different stages in the cycle, that’s OK, simply compile a list of content assets you think you might need in order to execute effective lead nurturing. Once you have created your content checklist, carry out a content audit to see if you have a clear conversion pathway.
If you would like to improve your content marketing to attract more customers, get in touch with Receptional.