Engaging Content

3 Commandments for creating incredibly engaging content

by Ben Heiser, 02 Aug 2017

If you’ve ever tried to crank out an article for your company’s blog, an email, or post on social, you know creating content that earns great engagement isn’t easy. Sure, you nailed talking about the exciting new features of version 2.0.1, but the engagement numbers trickle in so slowly you feel like you’re on dial up. That’s because when you create content, you have to take a step back from what you want to say and think about what your audience wants to hear. That’s a hard concept for marketers or sales departments to wrap their heads around. It runs counter to the years and years of hard-earned experience most marketers have in bludgeoning potential customers with the hopes that your message actually sinks in and is clicked on (or fat thumbed) by the small fraction that convert. Creating engaging content means rewiring your thinking to reflect what your audience is looking for, not what you want to tell them.

To Create Great Content, Follow These Commandments

    1. Surrender Your Ego As content creators, we have to face the fact that our audience has the power. Almost every time someone fires up their browser or scrolls on their phone, they’ve got a mission in mind. Our job is to understand what they’re looking for and give it to them in the best way possible. Your creative idea for content is only as good as the results it earns, so remember to put your creative ego second to what your audience is looking for.
    2. Know Thy Enemy: The Back Button It’s something we use without even blinking an eye. Search results not what you were looking for? BACK. Blog post you clicked on looks like every other blog post? BACK Video has a super long intro? BACK You get the idea. Your audience doesn’t have to spend time on your content and will flex that muscle whenever they’re not satisfied with what they see. Which means your content needs to be worthy of their attention. Considering the back button is about putting yourself in your audiences’ shoes and truthfully asking yourself: “what would make me want to stick around?”
    3. Rule: Have Some Manners Americans spend upwards of 10 hours a day on the internet. It’s like a second home for most people. Common manners dictate that if you enter someone’s home, you should act politely. With content, that rule is just as true as in the real world. People don’t like being deceived online. Whether that’s a misleading article, a tricky CTA, or an email gate that asks for more than it should. Good content isn’t sleazy – it doesn’t have to be. Improper behavior damages your brand image — just think of all those times brands have wandered into Reddit, only to be crucified by hordes of pissed off commenters.

In short, remember who you’re here for

Content marketing is marketing, which means it must be strategic and link to the business goals of your brand. But content marketing only truly pays off when you correctly mix that strategic thinking with the ideas, posts, gifs, articles and videos that serve the needs of your audience. It’s like baking a good loaf of bread. Get the ingredients and proportions right and you'll end up with a boule of golden goodness. Get the mixture wrong and the only thing that will eat your gluten monstrosity is your garbage can. Bread baking aside, I use these three content commandments on a daily basis to keep me honest. They’re short, simple, and they’ll help you take a step back and create more engaging content, everyday.