Why Your Content Lacks Substance (and How to Fix It)

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Posted: October 23, 2015 | Content Marketing

Anybody can go on Google, research a topic, and come up with content. For instance, in 2007, The New York Times came out with an article declaring that we see 5,000 ads and marketing messages per day. Since then, this particular research has been referenced countless times in different pieces of online content:

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While content creation is easier when you simply repost already existing information, if you do this, it has a negative effect on your campaigns. Why? If you’re putting out the same content as everybody else, you’re not going to have a unique positioning in the market. You’re just going to blend into all the other content out there and not stand out on your own two feet. This works against attracting your target audience to your company.

Content producers who repurpose information aren’t adding anything to the existing conversations or creating new ones. People crave new information, and you’ll draw them in if you can offer it with your content.

Do you want to rank at the top of Google and attract your audience? Would you like your content to be shared and, as a result, insert more prospects into your marketing funnel? Then it’s time to invest in developing stronger content.

Below are four tips for enriching your content. By integrating them into your content marketing strategy, your customers will react positively to your content and show more interest in your company and brand as a whole, leading to more prospects and more potential sales.

1. Create customized infographics

In any content marketing campaign, visuals are crucial. This is because about 65% of the population consists of visual learners. If you’re posting visual content, you’re able to better connect with a majority of your audience. Plus, visuals have staying power in people’s minds. They might not remember a lengthy piece of written work, but they’ll always be able to recall a powerful image or graphic. As they say, a picture’s worth a 1,000 words.

One type of visual that carries many benefits is infographics. They allow you to:

  • Establish your authority. You’re able to show that your company knows the ins and outs of your industry. For example, let’s say your company makes shoes. By producing an infographic about the benefits of buying a good, solid running shoe, you’re showing that you can be seen as the go-to resource for information on this consumer product, and even more, for information on athletics and physical performance. You are the trusted source, putting you in a different light from your competitors.
  • Provide facts about your niche in an easy-to-digest fashion. While blog posts are useful (like this one!), infographics are better for illustrating ideas since they strategically use visuals to tell a story. Infographics are easily scanable and thus can help people grasp otherwise complicated concepts.
  • Divulge interesting (and new) information to your consumer or B2B audience. Whether you’re targeting consumers or fellow professionals in your industry, you can demonstrate that you’re an insider and have access to new research.

A solid infographic will contain credible statistics that are sourced back to the research. This shows that you’re not trying to pass off the research as your own, and that you only cite reliable sources. Your audience will be more likely to trust you if you do this, allowing you to establish your authority, as noted above.

Ideally, the research will originate within your company. There should be images and a follow-up blog post to complement the statistics, and various ways of visualizing the information including pie charts and bar graphs. It must also tell a story and answer a question that B2B or consumer marketers in your industry seek the answer to.

If you don’t have a graphic designer on your team but want to start creating infographics now, check out this list of top infographic creation tools from GetResponse. The companies on there, like Canva and Easel.ly, offer free and low-priced options for producing stunning infographics that will be sure to impress your audience.

2. Do original research

If you want to produce content that will not only have more impact, but will also have greater shelf life, too, you need to do original research. Instead of citing research that’s already been used in content a bunch of times, like the aforementioned New York Times advertising statistic, you’ll be putting out information that will get people talking. Content creators will link back to your site and research in their articles, thus doing your marketing for you. Also, with your original research you’re showing that you can make ground-breaking assessments and recommendations accordingly.

You could survey your customers and reach out to them on key issues occurring in your industry. By taking a portion of your customer base and compiling statistics about them, you can give insights into your niche that might otherwise be unknown.

3. Act like a journalist

Traditional journalism, which includes stories with three sources and first-hand research, often falls by the wayside when companies are creating content. Oftentimes, this is because content creators are typically not trained in journalism. But by integrating some journalistic practices, your content can stand apart from anything else out there.

So, when creating blog posts, articles, ebooks, and whitepapers, reach out to sources and conduct your own interviews. You’ll have unique quotes and perspectives for your piece and forge relationships with your sources which will no doubt come in handy when pursuing other projects down the road. These quotes will make your content more original, and you’ll have access to these thought leaders in your industry. Once you have an “in” with them, you can talk with them and start to generate even more ideas for future content campaigns. They know your industry backwards and forwards, forwards and back, and can therefore let you know about trends occurring now and in the future.

One of the best examples of branded content is Barneys’ The Window, which features exclusive interviews with their influential designers and tastemakers. By logging onto their site, fashion enthusiasts can find behind-the-scenes conversations with designers that they can’t find elsewhere. This means that consumers think of and navigate to the Barneys’ website when they want to know the ins and outs of fashion. Then, once they read or watch the interviews, they might be inclined to make a purchase from that designer on Barneys.com.

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4. Grab statistics and research from locked content

Original research is going to result in backlinks to your website and citations by other content creators. However, if you want to curate research as well, make sure it’s only from trusted sources.

Instead of relying upon Google results, pay and/or register for credible research instead (see below). Then, you’ll be able to give readers content that they probably can’t access otherwise. You’ll be ahead of the curve as well, and have the opportunity to release information prior to it becoming general knowledge that’s been repeated a bunch of times. If you have information before anyone else, your page views may increase.

For example, you could create an account on eMarketer to find briefs, reports, and interviews on topics like marketing, advertising, retail, social media, and media and device usage. There’s also Forrester Research, which releases analysis and information on technology and marketing, and covers industries like healthcare, media and entertainment, and consumer electronics. Another option is Gartner, a site that has research and predictions on IT, infrastructure, and enterprise architecture for insurance, manufacturing, media, banking, and energy industries, to name a few.

Improving your content campaigns

By investing more into your content, you’re going to improve your bottom line. While it may require additional resources, like time, effort, and manpower, in the end, your content marketing program will achieve greater ROI. And that makes it worth it!

What other innovative tips do you have for optimizing content? Let us know in the comments section below!

Kylie Ora Lobell is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and has been published on NewsCred, Convince and Convert, Social Media Examiner, and CMO.com. She's passionate about writing on everything marketing!

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