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Content Marketing Secrets: How To Tell Stories That Convert

Veronica Beguas

Ever wonder what happens online every 60 seconds? You'd be amazed how online users create and consume content.

[caption id="attachment_14555" "aligncenter" width="700"]infographic-online-60-seconds Infographic by Qmee[/caption]

Creation and consumption of content are what make digital work. Digital marketers have been seeing the lost opportunity in content marketing; but it's not enough to make articles, come up with an infographic or share great stuff online. Content marketing is all about telling stories. Many "content marketers" claim "we-are-storytellers" without even understanding the ground rules and the end point: conversion.

In a survey published by Content Marketing Institute, B2B Content Marketing 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets & Trends, 93% of B2B marketers are using content marketing. Only a very small share — 9% — consider their content marketing efforts "very effective."

It is important to develop content assets that support your online presence, reputation and physical sales. But how would you do that? What are the best ways to craft content that will move your readers further to the buying cycle funnel? How can you boost conversion with your content?

1. Remember the Nitty-gritties

Sure, you can create truly engaging, eye-catching and persuasive content. It could be the perfect post ... until you realize it won't work for your target audience.

The first fundamental of making effective content is to know your target market deeply. It is not enough to know their demographics — age, gender, status, location and what have you. That’s not going to work anymore.

Understand your market on a graver perspective. What do they fear? What makes them anxious? Does creating a short Vine video make them happy? You are a marketer; you are bound to tell not the stories you want, but what they want. Uncovering their stories will lead you to the next crucial step.

2. Pick the Right Channel

After emotions and stories, it is now time to strategically think what channels will work best for your content even before crafting it. Jason DeMers, a contributor on Forbes, is an advocate of this approach.

The logic of this approach boils down to two major points. First, targeting your content to appropriate channels will increase your chances of getting attention. Second, it precisely delivers you to your target prospects and customers.

Taking time to review and deeply understand several and changing aspects of your prospects and customers will ease the processes thereafter.

3. Be Real

…or your own prospects and customers will devour you.

What needs to be done? Use real people. Real examples. True stories. Genuine emotions. Verified facts. And most importantly, talk human.

Be mindful, too, of adding value to your audience. What’s in it for them? Why do you matter? For too long, other media has downplayed truth, but with the rise of digital, that era is over. Be truthful enough to be believable and human enough to be relevant.

4. Narrate Non-linear Stories

It is not enough to tell. Interact. Converse.

[caption id="attachment_14560" "aligncenter" width="650"]non-linear-storytelling Photo courtesy of Search Opt Media via Search Engine Journal[/caption]

In a recent article on Search Engine Journal about non-linear content, Gary Viray, discusses weightily on audience demands for non-linear content. As Viray defines it, non-linear content is about the audience being in control. "Your target market is demanding personalized experiences before you can convince them to share, like, +1 or retweet your content," Viray writes.

[caption id="attachment_14561" "aligncenter" width="650"]linear-storytelling Photo courtesy of Search Opt Media via Search Engine Journal[/caption]

As opposed to the traditional linear storytelling where audiences are expected to listen and stay until the end, non-linear story telling is the now.

You cannot solely dictate what stories to tell. You should be the storyteller of your audiences’ stories. Interact, and let your audience praise or shoot your story. What’s the comment box for? Answer them! Why are you telling stories? Intermingle with you prospect and customers. It is now a demand, a need and imperative for content marketers.

5. Don’t Forget Your Brand, Weave it Naturally

On the surface, this may sound like common sense. But finding the perfect story that is tied to your brand and business goals is as hard as finding a four-leaf clover.

Converting content aims to tell the audiences’ true story in a compelling way, while uncovering the stories of your brand — its relevancy, invoking emotions, imposing the need of your products and service, communicated in a humane manner, in the right channel and encouraging a meaningful conversation about your content, your business, your brand

6. Is Your Content Credible?

Never in your wildest content marketing dreams should you break your credibility just to be talked about. Never.

Being a digital marketer, you should learn a lot from the traditional world of journalism. You just don’t go there, publish or podcast your story without using credible data, seeking out the best possible sources, citing them and rooting out the opposing views.

When talking about content credibility, it is best to rekindle the ways of how traditional media does it. Data and best sources put your content in context and make you reliable, shareable, linkable. Ground your content in facts, and include opinions from influencers that might be an interesting part of the story and worth-mentioning arguments. Don’t forget to give credit to your sources and clear unintended or hidden agenda. Irrevocably, your content should be neat and well-dressed. Edit. Check your spelling. Keep it simple and be visual.

7. Provide Solutions, Simplify

What matters is how you can provide a solution to whatever need is available or you created.

People don’t search for questions; they search for answers and solutions, inspirations and conversations. It is important to give them all these in simplified and accessible manner. How can your products/service help them? If you can’t answer this, you might be targeting the wrong prospects, the wrong audience.

8. Multi-Channel Unified Messaging

Should I write a blog post or record a podcast instead? Maybe an infographic on Visual.ly would be better? Should I email my content to all my prospects and contacts, or stick to promoting on social media?

The answer can be all of the above. A study by Harvard Business School found businesses that take advantage of cross-channel messaging are more profitable than those businesses that employ only a single channel. Using different channels offers different benefits to your overall content marketing campaign. By playing effectively on the unique strengths of each channel can boost your content influence on revenue and sales, and yield a true competitive advantage through content that converts.

Do you have tips for content marketing stories that convert? Please share in the comment section.

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Veronica Beguas is a content writer and researcher for Propelrr and Search Opt Media, Inc. Connect with her on Twitter.
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