The digital world is a busy one. And it’s getting busier. We are bombarded with visual imagery daily from TV ads, billboards, newspapers and magazines – and then there’s social media. Just think about how much content you consume either actively or passively when you spend just ten minutes scrolling through feeds on Facebook, Twitter or any of the other social media channels.
So how can businesses cut through the chatter? They not only have to find a way to make their message stand out, but, crucially, it has to engage the audience too.
The Traditional Advertising Approach
Building a loyal digital audience of engaged customers is a new experience and skill set for many businesses. Your initial plan will be to tell potential customers or clients about your brand, the services you provide, and your experience in delivering them. This may seem logical and straightforward in a very linear way, but this approach is asking a lot from the audience:
• First, you’re asking them to identify their own problems.
• Then you’re suggesting they work out what an appropriate solution might be.
• And then you want them to choose your brand as the source of the solution.
Don’t forget, it’s not just the digital world that is busy. It’s life in general. And people don’t have time to think too much. So a key part of building an engaged audience is to do as much as possible for them – including addressing the points above.
So how do we do this?
Identify your customers’ problems – before they do
Businesses are now expected to identify customers’ problems, share a range of solutions, and become the trusted source to resolve their issues, in that order.
So you need to make it much easier for your customers to hear you while they are so busy with everything else going on in their lives. You can do this by:
• Sharing valuable and engaging content to make them aware of you and your brand.
• Promoting your premium content like white papers or webinars, tailored to the needs of your audience.
• Ensure you have a complete and accurate brand story. Your audience should evaluate the quality and value you provide, not just the direct cost of what your business does.
Read more on building your brand story in our blog: How to Structure a Compelling Story to Connect with your Customers
Use a variety of content types across multiple platforms
The wonder of the digital world is that there are many options that enable businesses and brands to have much broader and more engaging conversations with their audiences. But different content should be used on different platforms to ensure ultimate engagement:
Social media is a great place for creating awareness of your brand and making initial contact. But it shouldn’t be treated as a place to blindly push out content. To really build an audience of engaged customers, you need to communicate with them, not talk AT them. You need to shape and modify your messages to work WITH the time your readers have available. This means shorter formats that catch their eye and they can consume easily while they are scrolling.
When the time is right, long-form content such as blogs, case studies, white papers and webinars will engage with the audience on a deeper level. While these can be posted out on social media, you should be redirecting people to your website, where they will expect longer-form content. If they don’t have time to read it immediately, they can leave a window open on their computer or phone and go back to it later when they have time to process what’s being offered, at a time that suits them.
Once the audience is engaged on a deeper level, they are more likely to make contact and cross that line to becoming a customer.
Create a content cycle of engagement that works for your audience AND you
Building on the above, a tiered system of content streams means that you can develop and build relationships with audiences within their timeframes. The messages are there when the audience is ready to connect, creating a content engagement cycle where connections grow at the audience’s pace.
While this may sound good for the audience, what does it mean for us as content producers trying to market our products or services?
Well, if it’s good for the audience, it’s good for us, as it means they are more likely to engage and consume. But, by creating a cycle of engagement rather than using the old-style linear model, new material simply needs to continue the momentum and keep the wheel spinning. That’s much easier and more flexible than continually creating linear campaigns from scratch.
Creating a content strategy that aims to deliver a cycle of engagement is an ongoing process. All efforts are trackable, measurable, and can be easily refined. When things prove successful, they can be replicated and enhanced. The pressure is no longer about reinventing the wheel for content creators but keeping the wheel spinning – ready for when the audience chooses to connect.
Found this interesting?
If you need help buildinga digital audience of engaged customers for your business please get in touch. We’re always happy to talk…