Duncan Sparke

If you build it, they will come… Creating growth through user engagement

Posted on 29th January 2018 by Duncan Sparke

The great opportunity that comes from building marketing campaigns in 2018, is that the power of word-of-mouth has reached epic proportions. The title of this blog is evidence of that very phenomenon.

The quote “if you build it, they will come”, is wrong. The actual quote from Field of Dreams is “if you build it, he will come”. But the misquote got used a few times in the early days of the internet and took hold. If you search for the misquote today you get 2.2 million results – the real quote gets just under one twentieth of that number.

Fuelled by Google’s drive to centre SEO around what people actually engage with and share, the way marketers can light a fire under an idea has changed. So it’s time to update the adage that we in marcomms have been celebrating for years; strictly speaking, content is no longer king, engagement is.

 

Content is dead… long live engagement

When people buy into, spend time with, and then share your content at scale, it’s easier to connect the dots between what is clearly on the page and sought after on-site metrics. But one-to-many content, in the traditional sense, isn’t enough.

To generate real value, marketers need to build something that is not only highly targeted, but highly useful to the target group. It is the real value that creates highly shareable content, rather than old-hat SEO tricks to fool search engines into thinking this content is relevant.

It is the user, in real-time, who is gauging relevance and applicability to each other person in that market, whether they have the exact same challenges and ambitions or not. Fundamentally, those are the reasons people bought into and shared your content in the first place – not because you wrote it – but because it’s engaging.

Sure, there are things you can do to bring your content more in line with the microcosms within your audience, but there’s also the potential to go much further.

 

Never be content with your content

But what blanket changes should we be making to content to help it thrive on an internet that’s increasingly fussy?

Content as it used to exist is too big, too long, and too boring. Who needs a hundred articles, all written from a self-serving perspective, on ‘what GDPR means for your business’? You only need one article, that is relevant to the industry to you’re in and what your business does.

Some say that attention spans have dramatically slumped in the age of smartphones and microblogging, but it’s only half the story to say it’s purely down to the quantity of information. The other half is that people aren’t interested in consuming information that isn’t relevant to them. There’s a universal glut of information designed to capture traffic in high volume, and it’s literally impossible to read it all. So why would we burden ourselves with things that we don’t value and that don’t help us as individuals?

At a basic level, it means that content should be broken down so it’s easily accessible based on who’s reading it, segmenting your audience for highest relevance. Though breaking content down into trend pages and chapters on “millennials” or “fintech SMEs”, for structure and clarity – you can take it one step further.

If the user can break the content into digestible pieces themselves, and it’s easily navigable, you’ve solved the content problem and the audience problem in one fell swoop. Why? Because no segmented audience ever conforms exactly to the profile you’ve assigned it, but individuals know what it is they’re looking for.

It’s about creating choice. And by allowing a smooth process to allow the choice, and capturing the traffic all in one place, you’ve shown Google what fantastic content looks like, increasing the organic traffic to your site.

 

Always on, always bespoke

Once we dive beneath the level of audience segmentation and start to understand the needs, wants, and ambitions of individuals, we create content that blurs the line between driving awareness of your company and creating a valuable sales pipeline.

To take an example from our work with a major international bank last year, we wanted to show entrepreneurs in emerging markets that by using a more sophisticated savings approach, they could make their money work much harder for them; building their wealth, reaching their personal goals faster, and maybe even retiring earlier.

Hooking them with headline figures – the amount they were missing out on – got their attention, but rather than facing them with a behemoth research paper for them to get lost in, we invited them to tell us who they were and where, and to see exactly what the situation was for others like them, in their country.

This interactive digital experience outlining the challenges they faced, gave them an understanding of the direct benefit of talking about developing a financial strategy with our client. Awareness through to sales, all in one place, relevant to everyone in the target group.

 

Connect your products with your audiences using a single message

Many companies have complex products to sell in complex businesses and industries, and have created nuanced marketing plans to traverse and communicate these complexities to their audiences.

But products are designed to meet very specific needs. Though it’s difficult to cut through the noise and show customers why the product is important to them in a differentiated way, it can be done.

By finding a clear central narrative which pulls these complexities together, and coupling it with interactive digital tools, brands can talk one-on-one to large groups of customers in a relevant, engaging, and differentiated way. And with online interactions being constantly monitored by search engines and shared among engaged users – making the connection between product and user engagement – you can pull traffic directly into your sales funnel organically.

To speak to us about the conversations you need to have with your customers, and how they might be enriched, get in touch today.

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