Ten strategies to ignite your content at the publishing stage

You’ve researched your audience, looked at all the different forms your content can take and created a bank of killer content. Now it’s time to package it all up and hit publish. But before you do, there are a few steps you can take to maximise your content’s cut-through.

The Honner infographic: Turning Content Marketing into Conversations details the key steps to executing a winning content marketing program and how to nurture a conversation with your customers.

In this week’s blog we focus on the fifth stage of the process – Publish. Organise. Here are our top tips.

  1. Remember – think like the media industry – this is a crowded space. One of the biggest pieces of advice we give our clients is think like the media industry before you push out content. Put yourself in the shoes of media outlets such as the Australian Financial Review or Money Management. Would they be pushing out this content?  These organisations’ readership rests on the ability to consistently deliver quality, relevant content and you should be doing the same.
  1. Serialise your content. Stop thinking of your content as a single event. Quality content can be turned into dozens of different content pieces and staggered over a period of weeks or months. This process is called serialisation. Just like your favourite Netflix series.  US insurance company Allstate, for example, runs a series of blogs on car accident scenarios – from hitting a deer to a friend totalling your car. It also offers a video series, which is carefully curated into playlists on youtube, so users can find a range of content for their needs.
  1. Follow the leader: Publish content under your CEO’s name to increase engagement. People like hearing from leaders – not big brands. So consider if some of your content can be published under your CEO’s personal brand (or via other senior leadership). In 2018 LinkedIn named the “20 must-know influencers driving the global business conversation” – this includes Ray Dalio from Bridgewater Associates and Ian Bremmer. Characteristics of these leaders in communication (which you can use as guide) were; the content was authentic, it was used to influence employees as well as customers and shareholders, it was visual and in video format sometimes, they posted regularly. This was particularly important during a ‘crisis’ where a high level of authenticity and honesty was paramount.
  1. Commit to A/B testing to optimise your content performance. A/B testing is a tool for identifying which version of something helps an  organization meet a business goal more effectively. When you test a variable in your content piece, you can see if these are having an impact on engagement rates – and use this intelligence for future pieces. So pick one variable and experiment with different headlines, images or incorporate a testimonial. See if these influence engagement rates.  You can even A/B test the time of day you post on your social media channels.
  1. What is trending/popular? Let your readers know. Publishing firms are increasingly using their data (such as google analytics)  to highlight what are the most popular stories. Rather than ordering your content by date, you should also be allowing your readers to see what other customers are finding interesting. For example, we all love a good end-of-year financial year roundup, so publishing an article that summarises your ‘Top 10 most read content pieces in 2019’. Check out the Harvard Business Review’s curated reading lists and visual library for inspiration.
  1. Break up content visually. There is nothing more off-putting than being faced with a wall of text. Add subheadings, numbers and bulleted lists and highlight important information to keep your content punchy and engaging. Use engaging images that incorporate the core proposition of your content. Tools like canva give you a lot of flexibility to create bespoke visual experiences. Take a look at these great examples from firms like Expedia.
  1. Pick the best time of day to publish. Knowing exactly when to publish is essential to maximising your content’s cut-through. Social media management platform Sprout Social, which has over 25,000 customers, recently analysed its customer data to see what time and day their customers’ social media posts generated the most engagement.  Overall the best times to post are Tuesday to Friday from 8am-2pm, with peak engagement times on Wednesday at 9-10am and 12pm. If, however you are looking to engage your readers with a larger piece of research, we’d suggest trying to target them on a Saturday.
  1. Make it mobile friendly. 80% of sponsored content clicks come from mobile. So ensure your content is optimised for small screens. Consider using larger font sizes and shorter paragraphs to make your content easy to read and help your readers to find important information. It’s also important to regularly test your site out yourself on your own mobile devices.
  1. Don’t fall into the trap of having ‘dead-end content’. What is your call-to-action? What do you want your reader to do after they have read your content? Is this an opportunity to capture leads so you can nurture the relationship further? You could simply ask readers to leave a comment, or maybe download a free guide or register for a webinar. Also try to include dynamic links to other content on your website to encourage people to read on.
  1. Organise and optimise. Each piece you push out should be viewed as part of your broader content ecosystem. Consider where you will house and organise all your content to make it easier for your different customer personas to find what they are looking for. This is also a good time to ensure strong search capabilities by tagging, adding in key words and making sure your headline is searchable. Some brands that do this well include accounting software firm xero, which offers a range of guides, stories and resources for accountants and bookkeepers. South African bank capitec also offers a well-organised content hub, featuring topics from travel tips to buying a house and fraud prevention.

Tools to help you publish and organise

  • Inbound-marketing platform hubspot offers social media analytics and message-scheduling, so your content can seamlessly publish to your social channel when it is ready.
  • google search console is a collection of services you can use to figure out how the search engine views your website. This service provides you with a wide array of tools to use, covering many different aspects of SEO.
  • Once you have published a piece, check out linkody, which allows you to find out who is linking to your website and learn what key words they are using. You can also ‘disavow’ any links you don’t like if you think someone is linking to your website as spam.

Nine strategies for creating winning content

Generating content that will resonate with the target audience is one of the biggest challenges facing content marketers. With the internet becoming increasingly cluttered, we know that and consumers are bombarded with up to 10,000 brand messages a day.
One of the theoretical cornerstones of marketing used to be to create as much content as possible. However, even the more traditional marketers are now recognising the need to work smarter not harder when it comes to generating and reusing engaging content – and not add to the clutter of irrelevant messages.

The Honner infographic: Turning Content Marketing into Conversations details the key steps to executing a winning content marketing program and how to nurture a conversation with your customers.  In this week’s blog we focus on the fourth stage of the process – Create. Curate. Multiply. Here are our top tips.

1. Images and visual story telling are starting to dominate the content landscape: One of the key takeaways from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2019 report – which provides insight into what is going on in digital channels – is consumers are increasingly embracing visual content, primarily on mobile devices. The report highlights the importance of financial services firms using images and stories to engage consumers. Traditional text-based platforms like Twitter are now dominated by story-telling via images. Instagram has up to 1 billion monthly active users and Meeker’s report estimated that over 50% of Twitter impressions come from tweets that include images, video or other visual media. The report also highlights that for the first time, more than half of the global population were identified as internet users.

Visually interesting photographs of executives speaking at industry events, team building activities or images of your team undertaking community engagement programs can all make powerful content pieces to support your brand – particularly on social media. Among finance companies, American Express is seen as a leader by many in its Instagram outreach. Rather than focusing on product, its content is an assortment of high-quality food and travel photos, which has amassed a following of over 350,000.

2. User Generated Content (UGC) can be a real winner. There is a wealth of authentic content sitting at your fingertips – and it is largely free. UGC is any type of content created by your audience. In a recent interview the CMO of Salesforce proclaimed that The age of the marketing campaign is over and they believe more content will be co-created together with customers, “In the future, the content won’t come from the brands, it will come from the communities”. Another great example of generating content from your communities is the #mymintmoment Instagram campaign that asked customers to share ‘special moments when your life and finances aligned’.

3. Write a killer headline. Your headline is the most important piece of any writing as it grabs the reader’s attention and encourages them to read on. Don’t put your reader off with a waffly, vague headline. Keep it short, relevant and exciting. You can get some inspiration from free headline generator tools from Portent and SEO Pressor.

4. Use data and research as the foundation of your content. Adding some numbers to your copy adds weight to your argument, particularly if it is something new and sheds light on consumer sentiment around a particular issue. Consider commissioning a piece of research on a hot topic, surveying a customer segment, analysing your own customer data to uncover some new content angles or crunching data such as returns of the major asset classes. Russell Investments does a good job of using asset class data to create their annual Russell Investments/ASX Long Term Investing Report.

5. Infographics experience high engagement rates. Love them or hate them, infographics are much more likely to be read than text articles and are one of the most shared forms of content. Creating an infographic doesn’t need to be complicatedSee our tips below for some great tools from around the web that can help. Canva now have a dedicated area to help you easily build infographics. We think The Honner infographic: Turning Content Marketing into Conversations is a good example of an engaging infographic.

6. Leverage influencers. Consider joining forces with a third-party influencer to co-author or co-brand a content piece. This could be an industry body or industry institution like the ASX. This is highly effective with research-style content and is likely to both extend the reach of your piece and add credibility.

7. Look outside of your organisation. Content curation – the process of gathering information from outside sources – is currently huge. Curating content is not only more cost-effective but allows you to offer a broader selection of content to your customers and position your business as a thought leader.  Once you have determined topics of interest to your audience, identify relevant and trusted sources of content as candidates for your curation. Sources can include research firms, industry bodies, news sites, trade publications, social media and influencers. As a rule of thumb Honner recommends 80% of your content should be original, and 20% of content should be curated.

8. Build out content on topics of importance to your customers: Brands need to act more like a news agency when producing content. Boston-based Santander Bank, for instance, has a hub for millennials who may be a couple of years away from applying for loansBupa’s Health Link is another good example as it provides broad tips on topics like family, pregnancy and mind and body.  These content hubs engage customers with quality content on financial tips but also extend the conversation to lifestyle pieces on health, travel destinations, fashion and pet ownership.

9. Multiply. If you have put in the effort to creating (or curating) a great piece of content, don’t fall into the trap of simply pushing it out in a blog or newsletter. You can use a core idea in many different ways. Videos, podcasts, case studies using real people, checklists, webinars and testimonials. Lots of work goes into producing quality content – so look for every opportunity to reproduce it.

Tips from Honner:

  • Knock up your own bespoke images with ease using canva, one of the most design tools on the market.
  • piktochart is a good entry-level tool to create infographics, with easy to use, customisable templates and visme allows you to create an infographic in minutes using its 100 free fonts, quality images and thousands of icons. If you are more interested in video, biteable gives users the opportunity to create video infographics for free.
  • For content curation, take a look at platforms such as feedly and netvibes, which alert you to breaking news in your industry and region that you can share with your audience.

Next week we’ll publish the fifth in the eight-part content marketing series, Publish. Organise.
If you’d like help creating a well-researched content marketing strategy, or more information on Honner’s 8-Step Content Marketing Model, contact Honner’ Head of Marketing Solutions Craig Morris.