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Julia Spence-McCoy

Engaging Content: Biggest Challenge of Content Marketing?

Julia Spence-McCoy
Engaging Content: Biggest Challenge of Content Marketing?

Developing engaging content.

Seems like an easy enough prospect, right?

However, most of us content creators have a problem with making content that has value. Something that packs a punch and has users coming back for more.

Developing content that engages readers is the largest problem many companies face. Content development seems like an easy prospect until you realize how hard it is to build good, creative and engaging content for users.

Why Is Engaging Content So Hard To Build? Maybe You’re Aiming Too Wide

Perhaps the biggest reason why engaging content is so hard to build is because many content creators aim too wide. Instead of focusing on a target demographic, they instead try to cover all the bases. The reason why some content producers can't produce engaging content is because they don't know exactly who they're engaging. Although this in itself is an easily rectified problem, you tend to find that even after the audience is clearly defined, content might not bring the audience in.

This problem is not a recent phenomenon. As far back as 2010, B2B marketers and B2C marketers have stated that their biggest problem is creating content that engages their audiences. Although the percentages are smaller this time around, five years later this still makes up a major swathe of the problems that face content marketers. Since 2010, the amount of money spent on marketing has burgeoned.

Why, then, aren't we seeing a commensurate change in the problems facing engaging content production?

Content Marketing Issues: It's Not About the Money

As we said before, it's easy to see content marketing budgets explode out from their confines over the last five years. This should, theoretically, transfer into more of the problems of content marketing being addressed. If we take into account the amount of money being spent compared to the level of interaction with the consumers, then it's obvious that the reason why budgets have expanded has little to do with the solution of problems and lots to do with getting the word out.

With social media also experiencing a massive level of growth in that time and bringing with it a way to target specific demographics with specific likes, it's no wonder that so much more money was put into budgets.

This money was supposed to be used to develop campaigns that would be focused on a target market that falls into a particular demographic. And once again, we hit a roadblock where the content we develop for a campaign like this being less than engaging.

It's a Quality Game, Not a Quantity Game

Many of the companies that sink thousands of dollars into content marketing usually do it because they have the erroneous idea that more is better. They tend to see returned on their investment because the more you shoot at a target the more likely you are to hit it.

This doesn't really translate well into developing engaging content. If the content we produce is engaging, then what need to we have to produce multiple pieces per day to post? Engaging content should stand on its own merit and generate traffic because of its very nature of being interesting.

Developing content that draws the user in and interests them deeply is not just another content marketing conundrum to solve. It’s the number one content marketing mystery. It would make for more effective campaigns and would convert a lot more users than at current.

Consider the amount of users that witness a piece of content daily. If those users were convinced to come back to check out your page consistently, doesn't that equate for much better traffic statistics at the end of the month? More importantly, doesn't that mean that you have a larger audience to speak to?

Engaging Through Common Ground: Knowing Your Audience

So many people have spoken about knowing the audience that you're writing for that this seems like rehashing something that more content produces should already know. However, from what we see in the statistical report, most of the people who hear this advice promptly forget about it. If more content produces knew their audience and what they wanted then creating engaging content would be a cinch.

Knowing your audience requires you to have a grasp of what they follow. What is interesting to them and what makes them excited? Having a pulse on the things your audience puts stock in gives you ammunition to produce great content.

Many times you're creating content, it's for a particular niche of people. You don't need to know everything about them from their shoe size to their favorite ice cream. What you need to know is what interests them in YOUR niche. What drew them to this topic?

Although you can do a lot of roundabout research, social media has made it easy to tap into the experiences of your audience by asking them directly what they like about this particular niche or what gets them fired up about it. Something a lot of marketing and psychology students learn early on is that people love speaking about themselves. If you give them a soapbox, they will tell you all about themselves. So use this to your advantage to learn about your audience.

How To Grab Your Reader By The Lapels: Keeping User Attention

How do we know if content is engaging? We first look at what the content set out to do. If it was meant to inform, then did it generate any discussion? If it was meant to get people to click or to buy or to download something do the numbers bear out the message?

These things are what the success of a piece of content hinges on. That's why engaging content tends to be far more successful than content that is bland and lifeless.

In the world today, advertising is on everything from phone apps to the sides of billboards. Everyone is competing for marketing space and attention. It doesn't help that human attention spans seem to be getting shorter. Because of that, you have less time to draw a reader into a piece and convince them of what you're telling them.

As a content producer, you have to get your audience into a one-on-one and lock out the competition by addressing their entire attention span. And to do this, you have to engage on a deep level.

So how does a piece of content grab attention? It can do this in a number of ways, but each of them comes back to the same core concept. Engaging content must make you feel. It must appeal to your emotions and it should make you stop and think.

If a piece of content marketing or advertising can make a user ignore the rest of the world for a few seconds then it has succeeded at being engaging and is even more likely to succeed at getting its message across to the target audience.

4 Tips for Creating More Engaging Content

Even after all of this, the creation of engaging content hinges on creators to leverage what they know in order to build content that interests the audience and compels then to share it. Research indicates that if people are able to personally identify with a piece of content, they are more likely to share it. Content that appeals to positive emotions such as joy and love are more likely to get the nod for shares than emotionally negative content. With this knowledge in your arsenal, you can set about creating more engaging content via:

  1. Developing Around User-Based Content

The content your users make form a good basis for developing around. A simple action like asking users to submit pictures that show themselves with your product goes a long way towards engaging your customers.

People like to think that they are an important part of a company's public image. When you encourage users to do something like that you make them feel even more important. By offering an incentive such as a prize for the most likes on social media, you use that content to spread the message of your product far and wide.

Small businesses have been utilizing this tactic on local social media for quite a while. Western River Expeditions utilizes user-generated content in the form of user stories about their white water rafting experiences.

When they get a good response (usually with a user-generated picture), they edit it to add in an introduction and a short call to action at the end and post it on their blog. They then tell the user they've been featured on the blog and that user goes and shares their blog entry via social media with all their families and friends. That's the power of user generated marketing content to help spread the word about your business.

  1. Create Content Like It's For Your Friends

Familiarity goes a long way in the modern world of content marketing. Users have been bombarded with information from all sides for years. Many of them think that companies don't see them as anything more than a sale, so they're used to blocking out a large volume of the advertising rhetoric that is commonly used. If you're trying to get customers with advertising language, then you're going to fail big time.

When developing a piece of content, write the copy as if you're talking to a dear friend. Stop writing as if you're producing work for a magazine or for a Broadway play. Your message is for you to your audience and nothing appeals to your audience more than making them feel appreciated. Once you remove the guidelines for producing content and bring it back to a simple conversation between you and a friend your content becomes more engaging because your writing becomes more genuine. This has the added benefit of being able to read your content aloud without it sounding stilted or forced.

  1. Aggregate Content From Around the Web

Content curation is an old idea that has recently taken on new life. It's a means for refreshing niche blogs by allowing them to gather articles and content from other blogs (properly credited, of course) and then analyze this content or give a new point of view on what this content means. There are professional companies that deal with the creation of content curation blogs and help to generate content that fits into particular niches.

Curation is the aggregation of content from other places with the intention of creating a repository that can be referenced containing all the relevant information about a particular topic. There are other ways to aggregate content, such as what is done by AdRants. This site collects the most inspiring and successful ad campaigns from around the world in one handy site. It serves as inspiration for other content creators to draw on when developing new campaigns. Putting together engaging content is sometimes a matter of getting the best of the best out there and showcasing their talent so all can see.

  1. Stop Trying to Sell

The old days of marketing have made us think that all marketing content should be about converting. We're supposed to be convincing the user that our product is the best there is. We want to them see the benefits of our product so they can buy it. The modern consumer is sick and tired of being sold to. So much so that they've developed an aversion to being treated as just another potential client.

The way around this problem is to create good content that gives something back to the audience. Most information is free. It's just a matter of getting it out to the masses in a way they can relate to. Forget about building sales for a bit and focus on building relationships with your audience. It is far more convincing when you DO have something to sell to them.

The Changing Face of Content

Content has evolved from the days where ads came on flyers and they were handed out to people as they walked on by. Content today is about finding common ground with the audience and asking for their opinions.

Engaging an audience has the positive side effect of developing a relationship with them. This, in turn, translates into customer loyalty, which has become the new coin of the realm in the field of marketing.

That is why you need to produce engaging content. You owe it to your customers to show that you're concerned with more than just their sale.

How does this play into your content strategy? Let us know in the comments!

Julia McCoy's life career happened when she left medical school to follow her passion in copywriting and SEO at 19 years old. A solely self-taught entrepreneur, she built an online copywriting agency a year later in 2011, Express Writers, which has grown to include more than 60 talented copywriters and editors with hundreds of clients around the world. Follow Julia's blog for all things copywriting & SEO.

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