One of the biggest challenges that marketers face today is finding a way to rise above the noise.
Competition for attention has never been fiercer; the din from news, entertainment, web, and social chatter never quite so deafening. The stakes are higher and there’s less room for error. In a time when people are content grazers (scanning, snacking, and quickly moving on), you need to find ways to make your content and campaigns stick.
One of the most impactful ways? Be human and engage them as individuals, not contacts or leads. Stop thinking business-to-business or business-to-consumers and realize that your buyers are people just like you. Whether they’re shopping for business software or a washing machine, they don’t want to interact with a robot. They receive enough spam and junk mail as it stands. Instead, practice the principles of engagement marketing and explore ways to break through with content and campaigns that truly resonate with them.
In this blog, I’ll share three unique ways to make your content and campaigns more engaging:
1. Make Content Interactive
One way to engage your buyers is to make your content interactive so that the experience feels like a two-way conversation, not a monologue. This means tapping into different vehicles to deliver content that increases their time on page or time in app.
The New York Times covered this trend and described the most popular features on Slate, Time, and its own site. Record traffic resulted not from breaking news stories or in-depth features and analysis, but from quizzes and games–referred to as “gamification of content.” While quizzes and games are not new (crossword puzzles have been a print media mainstay for ages), they are becoming more interactive, social, and viral. So how can marketers get in the game?
While there are a number of solutions that enable you to create interactive content, first you need to get smart about the different formats available and their costs and benefits. Which ones are most appropriate for your target audience? For example, games might be more interesting to consumers, while quizzes and surveys perform better with a larger audience, including business buyers.
Once you’ve narrowed down your format, you need to create and implement a winning concept. Even if it runs well, a great app, survey, game, or quiz will not help you achieve your goals unless it’s anchored by the right idea. The best ones will support your brand, draw your audience in, and provide an engaging (e.g. fun, challenging, informative, entertaining) experience.
Check out these classic examples of interactive content from popular publications:
Time magazine launched an interactive quiz about time wasted on Facebook; it produced record traffic
NY Times hosted a U.S. regional dialect quiz, which was the most viewed and emailed article
Slate’s Adele Dazeem name generator spoofed John Travolta’s bungling of singer Idina Menzel’s name at the 2014 Oscars; it was the most viewed article in Slate’s history
2. Get Personal
Your buyers are inundated with massive amounts of communications every day from other businesses and their own networks. To break through the noise and reach your target audience, you need to send them personalized messages at scale, which requires a sophisticated marketing automation platform that can listen to your prospects and customers’ behaviors and actions to inform and trigger relevant communications.
While you can certainly use digital marketing to reach your buyers, have you considering implementing traditional marketing methods to offer them a refreshing experience? In fact, direct mail is coming back into vogue, with 70% of Americans saying that snail mail is more personal than the internet, according to the Direct Marketing Association. Why is this so effective? Personalized direct mail is concrete and unexpected, and it can also be more credible and tap into your buyers’ emotions. Done right, direct mail campaigns can increase engagement and fuel good will and positive word-of-mouth.
But how do you send personalized direct mail at the same scale of your automated digital marketing campaigns? It can be time-consuming and labor-intensive to send out each piece, not to mention handwrite it. Thankfully, there are solutions in the market that can integrate into your marketing automation platform to automate the creation and delivery of personalized direct mail pieces, be it handwritten cards or gift cards.
For example, if you want to trigger a card to be created and sent out after a customer passes a purchasing milestone or speaks to your team, you can use an automated handwritten card solution, like Thankster, to weave personalized handwritten cards into your marketing campaigns, whether it’s to support nurturing campaigns or loyalty programs. (Disclaimer: This is my company’s product, but there are other automation solutions in the market that you can use to personalize your direct mail campaigns).
3. Go Virtual
The other extreme is to double down on digital and go virtual. What could be more engaging than bringing your buyers into a virtual world?
Ever since William Gibson’s groundbreaking novel Neuromancer was published over 30 years ago, publishers, content creators and marketers alike have awaited the day when their audience could jack into virtual reality (VR) holodecks and navigate a 3D cyberspace world. Now, these science fiction dreams are becoming a reality, aided by developments in technology, video, and VR headsets from Facebook, Google and others.
VR can be a vehicle for powerful storytelling. Publications as well as marketers have began experimenting with VR and for good reason. Its immersive nature makes the medium inherently sticky, and when done well, it can tap into your audience’s emotions and make the digital world more concrete. For example, earlier this year, digital agency Sapient Nitro launched a VR Easter egg hunt to showcase how they can combine 360-degree photography and VR in a fun and engaging way.
To pull off a virtual reality campaign, you need to use your imagination and understand the capabilities (and limitations) of today’s technologies. Envision what you should present in a 3D, virtual world. What can your audience see and do that will lead to a better understanding of your product? What elements might draw your audience in? As the Wall Street Journal reported, there’s a death of good content to meet the growing hype and demand for VR; the void is an opportunity for marketers that can jump in and do a good job of telling stories in the new format.
How will you take your content and campaigns to new heights of engagement to really make them stick? Share what approaches you’ll be applying to your marketing strategy moving forward in the comments below.
This blog was co-authored by Bob Geller, President of FusionPR.