Tell Me A Story .

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If you think about your favourite websites, the ones you visit every day, it’s the content that brings you back: a steady stream of pithy articles, the latest reviews, timely updates, stuff you want to consume. As long as the content maintains a level of interest and is pumped through with enough frequency you’re hooked (look around an office at lunchtime and witness the power of the Daily Mail’s Sidebar of Shame).

But what if a marketer wants to drag me away from my favourite channels to see and absorb their message? That’s a two-part job:

i) Get my attention
Let’s assume the marketer has a broad approach to their online marketing via search, a good media strategy and the right emphasis on recommendation. Great, I’ve clicked and now I’m looking at their campaign landing page.

ii) Tell me a story

For me to have clicked through something must have piqued my interest - I’m a warm lead ripe for conversion. If the product being sold is a simple proposition then don’t waste my time, hit me with the deal. But if there’s some nuance in the USP then I’m going to need my hand holding a little.

Tell me a story...

Method 1 - Build trust
I’ll start with my favourite method (when done well), where the story is about something useful, solves a problem I didn’t realise I had, gives me a revelation that will push me to the buy button. A recent example is Bellroy’s Slim Your Wallet campaign that scratches an itch for anyone that wears skinny jeans:
Bellroy ‘Slim your Wallet’: http://bellroy.com/pages/slim-your-wallet

Method 2 - Give ‘em the old razzle dazzle
Sometimes it’s glitz that fits, such as this very impressive (although bandwidth-heavy) microsite for the new Citroen Cactus C4. The car represents a genuinely fresh approach and the site backs this up with an experience that will tantalise the target audience with requisite novelty:
Citroen C4 Cactus: http://c4cactus.citroen.com/

Method 3 - Be a great storyteller
Sometime you don’t have a product to push, you just want to tell a story beautifully (and slip the odd banner position in). The New York Times is publishing made-for-web articles with perfectly judged levels of interaction that beat anything you can get in an app:
New York Times ‘Tunnel Creek’: http://www.nytimes.com/projects/2012/snow-fall/

Method 4 - Carry a big stick
Or, spend £60k sponsoring online crack: http://www.umpf.co.uk/blog/pr/how-much-to-sponsor-daily-mail-sidebar-shame-story/



Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.

 

Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

 
Alex Lee Thumbnail
Alex Lee
UX Lead
Alex is an award-winning producer with over a decade's experience in the industry. Alex has a wealth of experience in the creative and digital arenas with extensive knowledge of websites, mobile apps and social media campaigns for blue-chip global brands such as Sony, Pepsi, Tesco and Red Bull. Alex's mix of creative and development expertise ensure a strong connection between clients and the agency team.
Alex Lee Thumbnail

Alex Lee

14 Apr 2014 - 5 minute read
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