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Our VP of Marketing, Ryan Phelan, put it best last week when he asked everyone in his blog post whether they had “predictions fatigue” yet. You see, as the New Year unravels it seems that everybody and anybody with access to a blog is putting out content telling you what to expect in the coming year. And if it’s not predictions, its general content ensuring the likely New Year’s resolution of making full use of the ‘blog’ medium is being fulfilled.

Ryan’s question made me think, are we putting so much content out there that consumers are getting “content fatigue”? That is, the inability of consumers (whether in the B2C or B2B market) to keep up with the volumes of content being produced by brands and marketers.

Coincidentally, Steve Rayson, director of BuzzSumo, seemed to be curious of the same question. He analyzed his company’s data and found that the volume of content being published on any topic is increasing. And, subsequently, the engagement for individual posts is dropping.

Rayson put it bluntly: “We see that the volume of content being published eventually exceeds the interest in the topic and this competition for attention leads to a decline in average shares.”

Is the situation hopeless?

Never fear, the situation for content marketing is far from hopeless.

A recent survey from MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute, B2C Content Marketing 2018: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends—North America, found that 78 percent of marketers thought their content marketing was moderately to extremely successful.

However, this trend is something every marketer should worry about. The most successful content marketers in the survey did two things differently:

  • Always or frequently creating content for the audience, not the brand
  • Always or frequently prioritizing quality of content over quantity

Audience first

Those two practices are intertwined: The quality of a piece of content is a direct reflection of how well it serves the target audience.

Just as the “spray-and-pray” approach doesn’t work for email, it’s a bad approach for content, as well. Here at Adestra, we think every marketer should make segmentation of the audience and targeting content to different segments one of their New Year’s resolutions.

You can segment your customers in a variety of ways:

  • Customer behavior (types of products or services; pages visited on the website; opens; clickthroughs)
  • Customer-reported interests (via surveys, opt-in forms)
  • Third-party data (from social networks or data providers)

For more examples of how to segment your customers, read our earlier article Data segmentation: Filter, personalize, automate and raise that ROI!

It’s certainly possible to create quality, targeted content based on such segmented criteria. It could be as simple as offering someone who bought a blender a free recipe book, or sending them a “next logical product” email for some jars to put the blended food in.

To really improve the ROI of your content, consider the next step: developing one or more personas for each segment. Personas are fictional characters created to help marketers understand not only the data characteristics of an audience segment but also their interests, drives and behaviors beyond the product.

For a deeper dive into how to create audience personas, read What are customer personas and why are they so important?

Targeting segments and personas with content

To understand how segmentation and personas can improve the response to your content, let’s take the hypothetical example of jeweler. Segmenting the audience by gender could by itself yield some excellent, targeted content ideas: Men could be offered an article about how to select a fine wristwatch; women could be offered an article on how to clean gold jewelry.

Refining that approach, the jeweler might create several male personas: A young, unmarried man, just out of college and on a budget, who might get advice about polite behavior in stressful social situations that included a tip on choosing cufflinks. An older, married man with high net worth, who could be offered an article on how to evaluate the quality of gemstones.

A very smart marketer who had, over time, collected more and more data points about each customer might be able to take this content personalization even further. If she knew in what month that older man’s wife was born, she could create 12 pieces of content on how to evaluate gemstones that each featured one month’s birth stone—and send him the right one for his wife.

That last example illustrates the power of dynamic content, that is, the ability to automatically tailor email content to a specific individual. Each of those older, married men could receive a different product recommendation along with those targeted articles.

A cross-channel approach to content

Remember, when we talk about content, we don’t mean only blog posts or articles. Make sure you target content to customers at every step of the journey (or every part of the funnel, if you prefer that metaphor).

Email, social media, blog posts, contributed articles and even SMS should be treated as content and evaluated for its ROI. To make this easier, begin the creation of each piece of content by defining how it will exist in each channel. For example, many content management systems have fields for posts on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. When these are all filled in as a blog post or article is written, social distribution becomes seamless.

Test relentlessly, and use analytics—whether cross-platform or for individual channels—to understand what content actually works for your audiences. It’s an iterative process that will let you rise above the content clutter and build deeper engagement with your customers over every channel.

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