Don't Kill Your Own Content

August 15, 2018
Whitney VanKlaveren - Marketing Communications Coordinator

Every day we are exposed to what seems to be an endless array of content. From that found in email campaigns to articles, videos and newspapers – you name it, the amount of content we consume on a daily basis can be staggering.

Like a rite of passage, we’ve all had the misfortune of discovering that a good title, visual or teaser used to draw us in is not synonymous with a good piece of content. In these instances, it’s like an unsolved mystery, leaving us to wonder where the content could have possibly gone so wrong. 

And let’s be real – there’s few things more frustrating than reading an article all the way through only to discover it provides zero value to you. For us marketers, these experiences should make us cringe because it’s no secret that content is king; yet, these pieces of content continue to make their way out the door. 

To try to get in front of our audience and attempt to stay top-of-mind, we have to be continually churning out content in some way, shape or form, but it cannot be at the expense of quality content that provides value. Often times, we have one chance to spark our audience’s interest and convince them that our content is worthy of their time – so we have to make it count.   

The reality is that due to factors that are out of our control, more often than not we probably aren’t going to knock it out of the park. But why kill our own content before it’s even seen the light of day? If we want our content to stand a chance, our content should always be created with the intention to provide value to our target audience. Continually pushing content with little to no value will give readers a negative perception of future content. And if they regularly don’t see the value, they'll stop reading. Providing value can be the difference between a disgruntled reader that never returns and a loyal follower who recommends.  

In order to provide value, we have to listen to our audience. Within my personal experience, rarely have we received feedback via word of mouth; however, thanks to digital metrics, we have been able to gain insight into the content that our audience is consuming and which pieces of content they find valuable. This information then allows us to determine if it makes sense to expand upon a piece of content using the hub-and-spoke model or to try something new.  

For instance, one tool used is Google Analytics, which has allowed us to see which articles on our website are gaining the most traction and how much time is being spent per session. How much time spent on an article gives us an understanding on if that piece of content is being read, skimmed through or if they are quickly jumping off of the page. Another tool used, Hotjar, has allowed us to gain insight from readers on each article by providing a scale to voluntarily select a number from one to 10 on how beneficial they found the article. (To those who have provided feedback, thank you!) Beyond this, we can gain additional insight through our email campaign analytics provided by HubSpot such as click-through rate, unique opens, etc. as well as those stats provided through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for paid and organic content.  

It’s information like this that we should be using to guide our content. Admittedly, I’ve missed the mark and I’ve created content with what I thought was valuable information only to have it fall flat. If you’ve experienced this too, you’re not alone. But with that content dud, also comes the opportunity to learn and to grow – to find what works and what doesn’t.  

That’s the important thing, to learn from it and try to understand why readers may not have found it valuable. Not every piece of content is going to resonate – the reader's having a bad day; they’re distracted; they don’t have the time to read the piece; etc. The list could go on and on. By doing the work to determine the type of content our audience finds valuable and using that as a guide, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.   

But should we choose to push out content, just to push out content, without doing our due diligence to provide value – there’s always the risk of it negatively impacting our brand. We have to be intentional and mindful with the content we produce because we may only get one shot to reach someone. And at the end of the day, we’re not writing or creating content for ourselves; we’re writing or creating content for our target audience. So before we hit send, post, print, whatever it may be, we should always ask ourselves – does our content provide value to be worthy as king?   

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Whitney VanKlaveren - Marketing Communications Coordinator