Why are we reading the same old shiny, yet valueless content over and over again?

(We know what you were thinking!)

Now the title of this blog isn’t exactly the best title ever penned, nor is it the most creative; but it did get your attention. Fundamentally, this is what creating effective and engaging content is all about. As proven here, words can be extremely powerful if used in the correct way. We’re pretty sure we can guess the word you had in mind when you first read the end of our blog title. We also bet that you never expected it to be ‘shiny.’

That’s not the point; the point is you’re now here reading our blog post. An effective and engaging blog title brought you here and now you expect to read something of worth and with substance. We will of course endeavour to provide just that, but unfortunately the same cannot be said for the rest of the internet’s ‘content providers.’

Captivating Titles Leading to Shambolic Content

We use the term ‘content providers’ in this context extremely loosely. For the internet is awash with article spin-doctors that frequently churn through the same old hog wash on repeat. Let us refer you to a recent article published on Econsultancy called: ‘You may also like: the horror of bad content recommendation’. The article’s writer, Christopher Ratcliff, comments on the poor use of ‘Recommended Article’ platforms.

You know, this kind of thing:
Example image 1

Also this absolute nonsense:
Example image 2

See how they all work? They all make use of captivating, engaging and thoroughly interesting titles. The sad thing is we all fall for it! Hey, who wouldn’t want to know how many times Kate Middleton has shown more than she should have? Or who wouldn’t want to see what 90’s child TV stars look like now? With millions of us working online these days, sat behind a desk all day, the temptation to click and see the world’s most expensive yachts is just far too much!

Don’t take us the wrong way here, we’re not trying to be preachy, we’re just as guilty of it ourselves! As much as we’d love to be working on a beach somewhere or preferably in a bar with good cocktails, we also unfortunately find ourselves sitting in a clammy office. So when it comes to that after-lunchtime lull, a little procrastination with some light reading becomes extremely appealing. But not when the reading material is monotonous, weightless and totally unoriginal!

Content Marketing via Sponsored Content

These ‘recommended article’ platforms appear on a vast number of news related and publisher websites and they all exploit the use of attention-grabbing titles as click-bait. Readers are manipulated into clicking through to another page where the content is typically of a poor standard, overtly sensational and completely lacking in value.

This kind of thing won’t be going away any time soon either; there’s far too much money in it. Publishers are provided with these platforms as a way of bringing in extra revenue. Sponsored content is pulled in from the internet and then an on-site widget will recommend other relevant articles from that publisher’s site. Website owners will get a share of the revenue provided by the advertiser behind each promoted story.

In terms of making a revenue stream via advertising, this type of content has proven to be a success. Content marketing platform Taboola makes over £154m a year by supply exactly this kind of content. People just can’t help but click on these recommended articles, despite most of us knowing the quality of content is lacking. It works and it serves its purpose tremendously; who can argue with that?

Words Without Value = Content Without Results

However, when it comes to creating a proper content marketing campaign, this trend should be avoided like the plague. Creating content for your own brand and company is a lot different – you actually need to offer something of value to attract attention. Click-through statistics are irrelevant and redundant if you fail to provide your readers with something of real worth. Bounce rates will certainly become more of a concern in this case as your visitors will simply leave as quickly as they arrived.

On page content, whether it be a blog or a simple landing page, must establish who you are and what you’re about almost immediately. It needs to be emotive and easy to digest, yet at the same time detailed and informative, for your content to be truly successful. The quality of your content placed on other websites is even more important, as this creates an impression of your company and a reputation for your business.

It’s all very simple really; if you don’t speak well of your product, who is likely to ever buy it? When we say speak well, we mean more than just good lexical choices. We mean putting words in the right places, loaded with valuable information and a genuine desire to assist with your target demographics’ needs. We mean producing content that engages your audience and influences them into pushing that ‘Like’ button, sharing your information and ultimately buying your product. We mean more than catchy titles. We’re talking about proper content marketing!

Finding the Right Balance

Choosing which direction to take your content marketing strategy can be difficult. Do you want to come across sales-like or simply informative? Do you want to be an industry thought leader or a thought follower? Do you want to be suggestive or definite in your approach? These are all questions you should be asking yourself when starting out a content marketing campaign. Just by answering these questions alone, you’ll automatically begin creating better content than these ‘recommended articles’ provide.

To find the correct balance it is strongly advised that you embark on a ‘persona-finding’ mission. You may have a strong idea of who your target audience is, but this is something very different from a target persona. Understanding the difference between these two can be the difference between content relevancy and complete content failure.

Target Audience VS Persona

Remember, your target audience is a general category used to label all those individuals who may find your products and/or services helpful or necessary. Your target persona is different – this represents a more exclusive and detailed target and this is likely to change for each of your products/services.

For example, if you sell bicycle tyres (bad example we know, but let’s ride with it) then you’re overall target demographic is going to be bike riders. Obviously! But there are different types of riders and therefore different types of tyres. Someone who rides their bike on the road is going to require different tyres to those who ride in the mountains. Therefore, to be captivating and successful with your marketing content, you must devise a different target persona and a different writing style for both.

Road cyclists are usually either racing fanatics or professional people who use cycling as a method of commuting to work. Mountain bikers are usually extreme sports fans with a ‘hippie-like’ love for the outdoors. From these simple yet educated assumptions alone, we can see just how different your approach to content should be towards these two personas. Getting this right will ensure you are engaging with your audience on a totally relatable and empathetic level. Therefore, as a business owner you must ensure you have a different approach and a style to suit each and every one of your audiences.

The More You Put In – The More You Take Out

For the inexperienced and amateur content marketer, or the extremely busy CEO, all of this research and legwork (before actually getting to write any content) may seem like a bit too much. But like anything else in life (aside from taxes) the more you put in means the more you take out. Practice makes perfect and planning makes success – old adages but absolutely true!

Putting the effort into content research and developing target personas will ensure your marketing efforts are not going to waste. Metaphorically, you’ll be fishing in a humongous river with no bait, hoping to catch a big one! Don’t just captivate people with attention seeking headlines and make sure the content you provide is relevant and valuable to the people who will read it.

Content Marketing with unit36

Of course, completing a content marketing plan can be time consuming and frustrating without expert knowledge and experience. Here at unit36 we take content marketing very seriously, whether it is on-page, off-page or social media content. We understand what makes content work and can identify where it should be placed in order to galvanise as much attention as possible. We recognise the difference between valueless content and words than can inspire, motivate and manipulate. Remember, it’s not always what you say; it’s how you say it that matters.

For more information on our content services Contact our Team today or call us directly on 0161 241 5453. Together we can stop reading the same old shi…and start creating words with real worth!

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