Truck laden with scrap

So many channels. So much content. It’s no wonder that people have content fatigue. Everything is buy this or try that or you won’t believe what this giraffe did next.

Content on the internet continues to skyrocket where it’s estimated by IBM that 90% of the content available in 2020 has been created since 2016. And yet engagement is down.

Are there simply too many channels? In the same way that audience figures for TV shows used to be measured in the tens of millions, now they’re lucky to hit four. That’s viewers, not millions. Are we simply overloaded with the number of social channels and news outlets and video streaming services available?

Yes. Advertising shares some of the issues that plague traditional broadcast media: content. It’s not necessarily that there’s too much choice, it’s just that what’s out there is poor quality.

The last time you shared or cared

Oh Em Gee did you see that?

Think back to the last time you saw something in your social feed that you had to share, or a newsletter arrived in your inbox that exactly met the reason you subscribed. That piece of content put out by a company that you loved and knew one or more of your friends would enjoy likewise.

No, not that cat video where the critter plays in the ball pit or does a backflip into a pond. Nor that social ad where the company told you to tag a friend to win a prize, so you did it and moved on. We mean an honest to goodness piece of content that demanded your attention and didn’t just whizz by with a flick of your finger or disappear into the virtual trash can with barely a skim.

Think hard.

It may have been a while ago.

Got one? Did it take you some time to come up with an example? Did you even think of one at all? You’re not alone.

The content-engagement gap is widening

Mind the gap - London underground

Google and social advertising networks will tell you the problem is that you’re not putting content out at the right time, or that you need to post more frequently to reach more people, or use ad tracking and demographic targeting to increase sales. Volume volume volume.

Our response: hokum.

The real reason is that companies – especially small businesses – are being conned into publishing when they have nothing to say. And if you have nothing to say, all you have as fallback are empty words and platitudes that sound like everybody else. The same old phrases: best this or fastest that or the number one brand in the over-eighties swimming cap market. People smell sales or yawnsome me-too content and skip it.

We’re told we need to measure engagement to the nth degree. Track customers and conversions to justify ad spend. Post more and more to add to the deluge in the hope that some of it sticks and increases your monthly sales by a fraction of a percent; and then hope it’s enough to keep your job or your company afloat.

The cycle seems endless. Advertising networks get richer. You don’t.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can be different.

Sit and think as if you were a customer

Woman drinking coffee reading content on her phone

Next time you rack your brains to publish your daily update and the best angle you can come up with to publicise your company’s latest world-beating Unscrambler Scrambler product is to first tell people what Lindsey is serving in the staff canteen, please stop.

Do this instead:

  1. Write your intended post in an email.
  2. Address it to yourself.
  3. Press send.
  4. Go and make a cup of your favourite beverage. This step is important; don’t skip it.
  5. Return to your computer and open the email, not as an employee but as if you were someone – anyone – else.

Stepping away from the computer, even for just a few minutes, to do something mindless or fetch a drink gives you time to reflect. Upon your return, opening the email forces you to treat your message just like your customers would (regardless it might be a social post instead of an actual email). To consume content as they do.

As you read, take notice of the message. Its tone. Its style. Its word and image usage. Its informational quality. Does it make you want to share the post with your friends or business network? Does it hold your interest?

If the answer is no, stop right there. You have a choice to make…

Post or post not. There is no meh

Yoda from Star Wars, contemplating

Paraphrasing Yoda might seem a copout, but the sentiment is applicable. If your content isn’t sharp, shiny, focused, genuine, exciting, and shareable, then one of two actions become available:

  1. Alter it until it is all of the above.
  2. Don’t.

That second option can seem scary: not post? Waaaaht? But it’s perfectly okay. Your customers won’t suddenly jump to your rivals because you haven’t shared a post today. Most of them probably won’t notice. That’s a harsh reality, but it is reality: you are not the centre of your customers’ world. So stop trying to be.

Instead, save your energy. Cogitate a little. Let ideas simmer. Maybe the next day something happens in the news and you have the perfect opportunity to piggyback the story and demonstrate how your Unscrambler Scrambler can be used to fill a market need. Perhaps two days later while mowing the lawn you have a brainwave about how to position the post.

That’s the time to strike.

Volume is not the route to prosperity

Man screaming, covering his ears

Nobody likes to be shouted at. Very few like a loudmouth. So why be like that with your customers? Why clog their social feeds with post after post of inane drivel? Isn’t it more likely to annoy people and lead to them unsubscribing than buying from you?

You’ll hear marketeers say you should post frequently, and that’s true. The problem is when people interpret ‘frequently’ as ‘daily’, run out of things to say, and then panic because they’re not posting as often. Seriously, it doesn’t matter.

At the risk of sounding like a motivational slogan, less really is more. Put more thought into less frequent social campaigns to raise awareness of an awesome feature of your products or services. Follow that up with calls to action for subscribing to newsletters that deliver only information of interest to an individual. Not a one-size-fits-all newsletter, but tailored content that reflects their reason for expressing interest in the first place. If you hit them with content that is only 20% relevant, they’ll reward you by unsubscribing.

Tailored content doesn’t require endless analytics

Man being measured for a suit

Analytics looks over your customers’ shoulders as they browse the web. Sneakily watching everything they do isn’t the way to win their hearts. Instead, why don’t you post amazing, informative content and ask them which bits they’d like more of? Then give them exactly that. If you ask politely, they’ll tell you.

Tailoring content to a person’s tastes sounds hard work. It is if you use the wrong tools (or the right tools wrongly!) to bludgeon your customers with content that’s only partially of relevance. Many of the big off-the-shelf software with free – or even paid – plans have a wealth of features that are either not used fully, or simply misused.

Imagine you’ve written about your lastest company breakthrough. Captured someone’s interest and offer a sign-up form for more content. Why have a sole checkbox Subscribe to our newsletter? You should offer Choose which topics are of interest and present them with a shortlist. Then deliver only that content, just to them.

Matching your subscriber base with your content means it feels more relevant so they’re more likely to stick around and read more. And if you allow them to change their interests over time by unsubscribing from some content and resubscribing to other areas, you can keep them for life as their tastes change.

Customising content is something you should – no, must – be doing if you want to grow your business. Check if your CRM or newsletter management tool offers tailored content based on customer-led interest and use it!

If that still sounds like hard work and you don’t have a clue where to start, or even simply need help writing amazing content that captures the spirit of your business, we’ve got your back. Get in touch and we’ll help you attract – and, crucially, retain – loyal customers who love and look forward to your content.