Businesses that want to be competitive in today’s marketplace must invest in content. However, many brands fail to see a return on investment and, therefore, grow weary of putting more time and money into what they believe to be good strategies.
As simple as it sounds, the solution to your content marketing woes is to focus less on traffic and more on engaging your readers in profound ways.
What is engagement?
The term engagement is hot right now. On any given day, you’ll hear it thrown around dozens of times in digital marketing departments all over the country. But what exactly is engagement, and why does it matter?
In the most basic sense, engagement is all about what you do with the traffic you generate. In other words, how well are you interacting with and moving readers to action? Are they consuming the content you’re delivering, or are they merely looking at the surface and moving on?
“When a visitor to your blog exhibits a desirable behavior that can impact your objective, we say that they’re engaged,” entrepreneur Jason Amunwa explains. “Engagement takes on several potential forms, but the ones most indicative of an engaging blog post are: [subscribes/follows, social shares, comments, completions, and bookmarks.]”
It’s not just blogging, though. While there’s a big focus on enhancing blog engagement, you can’t take an isolated approach. In 2018, you need to focus on engaging your audience in every aspect of your content marketing strategy – including blogging, social media, and video marketing.
7 tactics for maximizing engagement
Content marketing engagement is a highly variable metric, but there are some basic tactics you can implement to better reach your audience and encourage them to interact with your brand.
1. Simplify fonts and color theme
If you study successful content marketing strategies, you’ll notice they don’t just feature good writing. They also tend to feature exceptional visuals and design. That’s because engagement and design go together. In 2018, as in the last couple of years, simplicity will reign supreme.
You should especially be cognizant of fonts and color selection. For best results, use two to three fonts max. This usually means one font for headers, another for body text, and another for button text. The same rule applies for colors. More than three colors will be distracting and inconsistent. (The HelpScout blog would be an exception to this rule. They tend to use as many bright, vibrant colors as possible, but this is in line with their larger branding strategy.)
2. Aim for clean navigation
When it comes to owned media – i.e. content that you self-publish through your own website – it’s important that you take navigation into account. The way in which you present your content, aesthetically and organizationally, will go a long way towards increasing engagement.
The For Your Party blog is a nice example of a clean, crisp menu that reflects well on the brand and encourages engagement with individual posts. Notice how it takes on the visual style of an Instagram feed, versus the typical blog menu that prioritizes headlines over thumbnails. This is a purposeful design technique that will prove highly effective in 2018 and beyond.
3. Invest in evergreen content
For all of the time and money you invest in content creation, it would be wise to focus on evergreen content – content that continues to be relevant over time.
“Interesting and relevant content that does not become dated is necessary in order to be found online by search engines,” marketer Rachel Deahl notes. “Evergreen content can help deliver traffic to your website and hold a valuable position in search engine rankings for months or even years from when it was first published.”
4. Hook readers with a killer intro
Today’s readers are skimmers. If you want your readers to actually engage with your content, you can’t mess around. Much like a TV news anchor tries to bring people in with a magnetic first line, you need to hook readers in with a killer introduction.
There are a handful of ways to write captivating intros, but the focus should always be on the individual consuming the content. Use their emotions and give them a reason to stick around. Not only will this lower your bounce rates, but it’ll increase the chances that visitors consume your content all the way to completion.
5. Declutter the sidebars
For years, businesses have tried to maximize the space found in their websites’ sidebars. The problem is that many websites overdo things and end up overwhelming and frustrating visitors. To maximize engagement and eliminate friction, try your best to declutter sidebars. If possible, completely eliminate them and only use white space.
6. Kill autoplay
“Most internet users multitask on their devices,” digital marketing expert Dustin Templeton writes. “It’s not uncommon for a user to stream music and research for a project at the same time. Another user might listen to podcasts while writing papers. Most people visit websites to find specific information. AutoPlay negatively disrupts the user experience.”
7. Interact with your audience
Your audience wants to know that you appreciate and recognize them. While it’s hard to give every visitor the attention they crave, you can enhance user engagement by interacting with readers. The most popular way of doing this is by responding to comments beneath content, as well as any emails/communication you receive from your audience.
Never settle for mediocrity
It’s really easy to have a mediocre content marketing strategy. You can spend hours of your day developing content, sharing posts, and optimizing design and layout, only to see a minimal return on investment. To avoid wasting your time, you need to prioritize engagement and focus on the quality of your engagement over the quantity of clicks and impressions.
Once you learn to do this, most of your big picture, strategic objectives will fall into place.
If you want to get 30 effective techniques to master content marketing along with valuable insights from 10+ influencers like Mark Schaefer, Rebecca Lieb, Lee Odden, Jason Miller or Ian Cleary, download our free eBook now!