As a marketer, manager, or business owner, understanding your audience is everything. Sometimes, your audience may change or evolve, and you need to be aware of how your target audience shifts as you try to absorb and engage them in your agenda. That said, engagement is a two-way relationship. In short, both parties (business and audience) need to have meaningful conversations about what they want.
Why Audience Engagement is Critical
Audience engagement can mean a variety of things to different businesses. However, it is commonly used to refer to how interested an audience is with your content and how much the audience participates in the content (clicks, reading/watching, sharing, referring, linking, buying, sharing, and responding). It is useful to monitor audience engagement because it can be used as a metric to measure how much your audience enjoys what you are marketing and producing. Audience engagement is also critical because it allows businesses to achieve the following:
- Amplify brand awareness and elevate a company’s profile
- Build and enhance customer trust and loyalty
- Increase website conversions
- Stay in touch and increase social reach
- Inspire emotion and increase attention
- Make the company more personable
- Increase sales
- Grow business
As you study all the above, you will begin to realize why online marketing is a critical factor for audience engagement. Let’s take a closer look at why this is the case.
What Are the 3 Benefits of Content Marketing?
Some of the benefits that marketing promises if done the right way include the following:
- Identify real customers. Marketing allows a company to identify likely and actual customers, which helps them to target prospects that have a need that they can satisfy instead of forcing their product on unwilling customers.
- Branding and differentiation. Brand recognition is probably the most crucial benefit of marketing because it ensures that customers seek out the brand and its products instead of the brand seeking out its customers. A brand differentiates itself by defining a unique selling proposition (USP) in its marketing plan that allows customers to understand what the brand sells, why what they sell is a superior choice, and how what they sell will make the customer’s life better. Providing useful information to every customer is critical so that they can effortlessly identify, know, love, and trust the brand.
- Engagement and selling. An engaged customer is a fundamental payoff of marketing, and more specifically, content marketing. If branding is done right, customers should raise their hand and want to do business with the brand because they identify, know, love, and trust it. Ultimately, this should lead to sales. Accordingly, selling should always be an activity that marketing supports. That is, sales goals should be established first, and then marketing should be structured to support these goals.
Importance of Content Marketing for Audience Engagement
So, why is content marketing important for audience engagement, and why do you need a content marketing strategy?
Well, for starters, audiences are more likely to buy from the brand they engage because they identify, know, love, and trust it. This is achieved through branding, and at the heart of every digital marketing and branding campaign is a content marketing strategy. The content marketing strategy is what produces a treasure trove of relevant and valued content that audiences can connect with.
What Is Content in Content Marketing?
According to Jeff Bullas, a content marketing strategy is about attracting customers, then nurturing the attraction into engagement, and converting the engagement into leads and customers. Ultimately, you want to create loyal fans and advocates, both online and offline. The question is, how do you achieve this when there is so much noise with every marketer seeking ways to stand out in the eyes of the consumer?
The short answer is to create attention-grabbing and trustworthy content that shows who you are, and that builds awareness. This is achieved through a content strategy. However, lets first touch on the different categories of content that a marketer can create.
- Inbound content. This is content that has the prime goal of building trust and provides value for your customers without expecting anything in return. Examples of such content include social media, blogs, white papers, and eBooks.
- Passive content. This is branding content that describes who you are, your online presence, and what your mission is. Examples include slogans, web copy, and tag lines.
- Outbound content. This is compelling content that creates awareness about your brand. Examples include Sales scripts, e-mail campaigns, call-to-action content, and ad copy.
Creating a Content Marketing Strategy for Your Audience
At this point, you are probably wondering why do you need a content marketing strategy?
First, notice from the categories listed above that inbound content is about your customer, while passive and outbound content are about your brand. A content marketing strategy is crucial because without building trust, you will find it difficult to brand and create awareness. That is, they are all interdependent, and a content marketing strategy brings it all together in the most effective way.
To build your content marketing strategy, you must ensure that you:
- Tell the right story
- Connect with your audience at the right time and place
- Nurture and move your customer through the funnel from unawareness to awareness, research, buying, and hopefully advocacy
Benefits of Content Marketing that Increase Engagement
If you create high-quality content, you will gain from the following content marketing benefits, which will, in turn, increase audience engagement.
- Gain control in conversations
Today, by the time a customer comes to buy your product, they already know what they want. This can make it tough for a company to sell or upsell and, worse yet, lose a customer to the competition. If you create content to inform and engage your audience about what best suits their needs and what you have on offer to fit those needs, then your job of selling becomes a lot easier. In short, creating content that informs potential customers while they are still looking for what they need allows you to control the conversation and increase engagement.
- Circumnavigate Ad blockers
According to the GlobalWebIndex, 47% of internet users worldwide use an ad-blocker in 2019, and their top motivations for Ad-blocking include, excessive Ads, Irrelevant and annoying Ads, and Intrusive Ads. Content marketing enables you to build strong relationships that put relevant and intriguing content in front of your customers at an appropriate time and in the right channel. Best of all, the content created actually helps customers make a choice in your favor.
- Increase your social media interest
When customers and potential customers find useful and captivating content on your website, they become potential advocates for your brand. These followers talk to their friends on social media, which further increases audience engagement and exponentially increases the benefits of social media interactions with your brand.
- Improved customer service
Compiling informative content about your products, including product reviews and ‘how-to guides,’ not only helps your customer service team save time, but it also creates an atmosphere where customers can engage your company. Compiling such information into single blog posts or a series of posts will make it easier for your customer care team to point customers or potential customers in the right direction for the information that they need and allow your marketing team to get a sense of where the lead is in the funnel.
- Increased brand visibility
One way to stand out from the crowd of other businesses in your industry is to establish your brand as the go-to business in your niche. This can be done by creating content that allows audiences to interact. Such interaction, in turn, is nurtured by addressing the concerns of the audience through the content you create. The more audiences interact and get to see your brand as an expert source of information and thought leadership, the more visibility is created.
- Improved SEO ranking
According to a recent study, Google sends 10 times more traffic to websites than Facebook, the next leading referrer. By consistently creating high-quality content, you allow search engines to put your web pages in front of audiences who are looking for topics in your niche. Once audiences get to see your content and engage with it, search engines get even more reason to rank you higher because audiences are taking time to consume your content.
- Improved brand recognition
When a search engine user clicks on links that are not necessarily first or high up on the search engine results, then this is quite often due to brand recognition. Such brand recognition is shaped by creating content that makes audiences familiar with your brand, which in turn naturally draws them to solutions that may be in your niche. Naturally, they will seek to engage you whenever they feel that you may have a solution to their problem.
- Enhanced brand image and brand authority
Long before consumers purchase a product from a brand, the brand needs to earn the respect of the consumer. One way to do this is by creating high-quality content that builds brand identity and puts the brand in control of its reputation. Additionally, earning such respect on a local and global scale through useful interactions with audiences ensures that they can compete at all levels no matter the size of the business.
- Increased brand loyalty and credibility
Creating high-quality content is often the first step in converting readers/viewers into first-time buyers. If they like the journey that you take them through, they will not only become repeat buyers, but they will also become your advocates and reel-in new buyers through reviews and testimonials, which increase brand credibility. Creating content, therefore, builds loyalty, credibility, and an affinity to your brand, which is priceless.
- Increased leads
Today, creating content is, by far, one of the best ways to generate leads for your audience. Providing high-quality content that informs consumers and provides insight about your brand, products, and expertise, allows prospective buyers to trust you and quickly become customers.
- Faster lead conversion
Typically, converting prospects into buyers is painstakingly slow. However, by creating and availing highly-targeted and engaging content to prospective buyers at the right time and place speeds up the conversion process by helping leads and prospects to make up their minds faster.
- Increased sales
Increasing lead conversions by creating engaging content eventually ends up in increased sales because you get to hold the hand of the prospective buyer from any touchpoint where they meet you, right up to your ‘payment till’ and beyond. Additionally, because you get to hold their hand through the sales funnel, you reduce the chances that you will lose them to competitors. High-quality, targeted content is excellent at facilitating the ‘hand-holding’ process in a non-disruptive and natural way.
- Make your brand personable
Brands that treat their audiences as active stakeholders and not as passive consumers by creating content that addresses the potential buyers’ specific needs are often the most successful. Additionally, creating content, actively seeking feedback, and engagement, humanizes the brand, and makes it more personable, which builds trust.
- Better customer relationships
In the digital age, customer relationships are more important than ever because people rely on other people’s opinions to make purchase decisions. Creating content is not just an excellent way to shape people’s views but to also provide access to opinions that can help to build brand credibility and loyalty. People’s opinions can be influenced through blog posts, reviews, testimonials, FAQs, and other types of content that address pain points and encourage interaction and engagement.
- Support for other marketing channels and activities
Well-thought-out content is the glue that integrates different marketing campaigns and activities across channels. By creating content that has a consistent marketing message and that aims to meet different marketing objectives, a brand can synchronize intent and actions, which creates a congruent experience for buyers and potential buyers.
Hopefully, the benefits of content marketing outlined above will help you identify where you need to put in more effort with your content marketing strategy to enhance audience engagement. The key takeaway here is that content can help you build awareness, trust, and brand. Also, content marketing is the glue that will bind your other marketing strategies and ensure that your customers are engaged with your brand.