Imagine this simple conventional scenario: You already have your content marketing strategy rolled out with all that jazz. Yet, you are still struggling to reach your target metrics — conversations, interactions, and amplifications. You’ve tried a lot of supposedly better content marketing strategies and still everything seems to be so half-baked at some point. Sounds too familiar, isn’t? I’ll bet if you keep doing same old drift, you will eventually become a freezing iceberg that will sink your own ship. Dramatic, huh?
Veritably, what brands and content creators often overlook these days is the phenomenon on how audience actually consume content. It is about how they discover, evaluate, and act on narratives. Indeed, with evolving digital platforms and unpredictable consumer behaviors, content consumption is being disrupted, too. It is apt then to re-evaluate how audience actually consume content.
Let’s start zooming in your audience content expenditure habit, shall we?
Discovery Stage: Choices and Searches
The initial stage of every content consumption cycle is the discovery phase.
This is where your target market primarily searches for a content based on their current needs and interests. Critical? I say yes, definitely. This will be where your suits and ties are placed, and where first impressions will be forever remembered. Today, it is not enough that you create content in your home base (own blog or website) alone because most of your audience if not all, are no longer buying the idea of it.
This is where right content placement and promotion comes in. With the world becoming heavily loaded with information, data, marketing buzzwords and too many call-to-actions, it’s quite near-impossible to discover a specific content. The challenge now for every content creator lies not only in producing quality content but also making sure that these assets get enough consumer eyeballs.
B. Reference Group Influenced Content Choice and Consumption
When was the last time you’ve read an article or watched a video that is totally from your own bias? I mean, you organically type something just for the sake of reading it — without the influence of others. I will not be surprised if I will receive an earsplitting “I can’t even remember” response because, admittedly, we are in an epoch where we don’t have a choice on what content we are about to consume. People wholeheartedly believe that it is purely their choice, but it’s really not and I mean it. Most of the decisions we make about content consumption are imposed by our reference groups. According to a 2014 study by Pew Research, more than 60% of users consume content on social networks.
C. Social Platform Specific
It’s simple, though. For your content to become recognized by your target market, you have to be on their daily bible. Generally, all generations agreed that Facebook and YouTube are the primary social platforms to view and share content.
D. Screen-size of Choice
Examine your brand and target audience’s screen size, too. Are they on the same squares as you are expecting? Though surprisingly, pulling the cord on the traditional TV is still moving at a tortoise-like speed, smaller screens are drawing every human retina by storm. Verily, 52% of people is now using mobile as their primary device to view content, and over half of them are millennials. Whether it is on your own blog website or on other rented platforms, make sure that whatever type of content you are producing is always attuned with your audience’s favored squares.
E. Timing of Content Push
Aside from platform and screen size, timing is very significant to discovery stage, too. You don’t want your content to be published on the right medium but acquire zero engagement at all. People consume content differently and tapping the best time of their content consumption is vital. According to a recent study by Contently, late evening, between 8 pm to 11:59 pm, is when most people likely to consume content. This is the time when they are taking their full meal of researching and massive browsing so make sure that your content is visible in this snacking habit.
“Discoverability is indeed the new king. Being always there when people search you is the thick line that separates content winners to content second placers. By being searchable, suited to different screen sizes, and of course, visible to social media pedestrian, you can effectively trot out your content on the first phase of content consumption process.”
Evaluation Stage: Read, Watch, Listen
Once your audience becomes aware of your content, they will start to evaluate it. They will click on what they discover, read, watch or listen to. Remember, today’s audience rarely believes that what you do is as breathtaking as you believe it is, so make sure that your content is worth finding.
A. They Read
Disclaimer: The above subtitle is quite becoming a fallacy. Your consumers are no longer reading your entire content.
What? But, why?
According to a recent Taboola data, on average only 35 to 50% of people actually finish reading an article. To keep this simple, four of five people who spot an article never read the content. You may be successful in the discovery stage, but if you lack content quality and consistency, then you’re only as good as nothing in particular.
Make sure that you provide the right food on their plate. What type of content do your target audiences consume? Do they crave for blog articles? Are they visual-centric? Unexpectedly, the favorite and the least chosen content types remain consistent across all generations. From Millennials to Generation X up to the Baby Boomers, blog articles, images, comments, eBooks, audio books, case studies, and reviews are the most consumed content. They almost all have no interest on whitepapers surely because they find it boring and old school. In addition, they just feel like they have to read technical and academic articles because they’re transcribed by the so-called industry leaders. So for the brand and content creators who are still with me, you might consider this or just for a hint: don’t call it a “whitepaper” instead.
Right food is not enough, though. It should always be the “right amount of food” Readers nowadays are hungry for knowledge, information, and references. They ask for more than a 300-word blog post that is well-researched, information-packed yet easy to chew and digest.
B. They Watch
As they say, a one-minute video can convey more than just a thousand words and ideas than that of cliché photographs.
With the high growth of mobile devices, moving visuals are now everywhere. In fact, according to Cisco, video will account to 69% of all consumer internet traffic in the next two years. Moving visuals are undeniably content marketing’s forthcoming face. Nielsen even claims that 64% of marketers expect video to dominate their strategies in upcoming years. It’s not difficult to see why. No buffering figures, huh!
As I’ve said earlier, TV is far from over, but smaller screens are becoming bigger in this scheme. Sizes of mobile also convey some insightful sentiments. If you think mobile video means shorter video, think again, because the trend for larger mobile screens is helping to beef up mobile video consumption. According to the latest data from Strategy Analytics, 42% of phone users or owners would watch more videos with larger screens. Note also that although the mobile video is sustained by young audiences, other older folks are closely catching up.
Movies are the most viewed and watched video content, followed by news, TV shows, movie previews and reruns, and then sports clips. The implication is that consumers are watching video content more for entertainment and information, so make sure your content bleeds one or both.
Traditional culture in video ads consumption is impressively changing, too. Contemporary consumers are now watching videos created by brands. To back this up, some of the most popular videos on Y channel comes from some of the world’s favorite brands. The good news is that modern consumers now understand the idea of branded video content and are also affirmative on consuming it.
To stand out from the many brands out there, you have to create holistic video content strategy and a moving visual that is certainly ACTS.
C. They Listen
Turn up your content marketing volume by tapping your audience’s another vigorous sense. We all know that sound has always been authoritative in telling a brand’s story. Today, people don’t just read and watch content, they also make every content material their playlist. Imagine the scenario in the traditional retail space where they use music as an in-store stimuli to capture their consumer’s attention and loyalty — creating music that delights every consumer’s ears.
Now is indeed not the perfect time to just settle in one medium or create just one type of content for your brand. Re-assess your target audience’s new behavior.
I bet you also spend more than eight hours listening to Spotify at work and at home (maybe even while reading this article). Many people are now consuming audio-related content more than ever, and if you can still recall what I’ve stated earlier, audiobooks is one of the top five favorite types of content being consumed across all ages. Indeed, streaming is the new way to consume content.
How we listen to music and other audio-related content is also altering. In fact, Nielsen’s research shows that most people prefer listening to music rather than watching TV. The way we consume this type of content is fundamentally on a digital facet. Indeed, it is an overlooked opportunity.
Make your brand evident on major audio platforms like Spotify, Soundcloud, Spinnr and etc. Create compelling playlist and creative content around it. Embody your target market’s preference. If you’re a retail food brand, let’s say a pizza restaurant, why not establish a “The Perfect Songs While Eating Pizza” playlist or a “Pizza Playlist”? The cross-creation of blog content or an infographic can also help you magnify the pizza, I mean the content idea.
Explore. Put your content in your audience’s headphones. Who knows, maybe this is the gap that’s missing between you and your real audience.
“Again, content quality is very vital in Evaluation stage. Make sure that whatever you created — whether for reading, watching or listening purposes — it is interesting, unique, memorable and will make your audience move into the next important phase of content consumption cycle.”
Action Stage: Seen zone VS Appreciation
The Action stage is the next phase of the content consumption cycle. This is where your audience shares your content, contribute sentiments, become your consumer, or worse, nothing at all. This is where “seen-zone” and appreciation schema collides. This is also known as the “judgment” stage.
A. Crafting Content Goals is Substantial
As brands and content creators, you don’t just create noise. You should craft a tempo that is measurable and in tune with your perceived lyrics. For this phase, crafting content goals or objectives is necessary. Your content should always have an overarching marketing goals, whether to increase brand awareness, drive more traffic to your website, generate leads, improve retention and loyalty, drive upsell, or encourage consumer education and engagement. With these goals, you should also have KPIs to look into. These will help you funnel out your strategies so you can improve your content and push it to your target market.
B. Define Content Actions
Make sure that your goals are being manifested in your content. If you envision your content to be driving more sales to your brand, ensure that your content has the most detailed and current the information about offerings and your brand’s benefits. In-depth, how-to articles, detailed tutorials, information about a product price or service rate, and testimonials are good categories of content.
If you want your content to be viral on social media, you should examine the social sharing behavior of your audience. BuzzSumo figures says that the top 10,000 most shared articles across the web space invoke awe, laughter, and amusement. In terms to content format, people mostly share list, infographics, and how to articles. Overall, you need to create a help, a hub, and a hero content.
Creative call to actions should also be naturally weaved into your content. Instill a sense of urgency to share, buy, to react, and to contribute.
C. Consumer Reaction for Valuable Insights
Consumer’s reaction is a key metric on this consumption stage and will provide endlessly valuable perspicacity. Modern audience can now choose whether they will react on a certain content or not. In fact, the most dominant feedbacks are sharing, conversion, and the timely digital social crisis — the “seen-zone.”
Although it may sound like the worst digital scenario, being “seen-zoned” can give you pretty decent insights, too. You can discover what type of content is being effective and what is not for your particular audience. Here is where Content A/B Testing comes in. After some trial and errors, make sure you turn those results into content that works. Believe me, iterations are your BFFs on this stage.
“Your content needs to be so relevant, so inspirational, so meaningful and can solve big predicaments that your audience have no choice but act on it.
Reference Stage: Content Advocacy and Loyalty
Your content marketing strategy should not end even if you have already turned strangers into consumers, and introverts into social sharers. The goal of this stage is to get your existing audience to consume more content, follow your brand’s journey, continue in-depth sharing (the word and work of mouth) and, of course, make your content hub as their ultimate reference.
TMG Custom Media Data says that 78% of consumers believe that brands providing custom and contrived, compelling content are interested in building good relationships with them and they are positive about it.
A. Consistent Creation of Content
Think of it this way: just like the human norms, if you received a hype for the great job you have done, you continue to create more. The first formula to become a master of this phase is to be consistent on producing content so that your audience anticipates your next move. Evaluate analytics from time to time to help you win your consistency.
B. Content Usefulness
Every post should teach readers something. Enlighten them with additional links, tips and information that make them smarter. Treat your content as something that your audience can’t live without.
C. Audience on Content’s Behind The Scenes
Take your audience behind-the-scenes in creating your content. It should always be relatable, can promote their ideas or beliefs, and with the sole purpose of self-gratification.
“Being able to make your content as your audience’s primary reference is an advocacy. A by-product resulting to a resounding content loyalty.”
With the emergence of disrupted economy, content consumption is in reality being contrived. Consumers are now moving outside the mainstream content consumption funnel — altering the way they discover, evaluate, act, and consume content. And if your strategy hasn’t modified yet, it should.
Is your current content strategy in line with this content consumption cycle? What particular schema are you thinking to beef up the becoming complex content consumption? I’d love to continue the discussion in the comments section or on social media!