Remember science class when you'd fire up the bunsen burners and start mixing potions in test tubes in a lab setting?
We may have questioned why we needed to partake in these tests, but we likely took something away from those classes. In science, experimenting is necessary because it provides information, not solely on beliefs, hearsay, or interpretation, but on facts. While marketing may not be an exact science, that doesn't mean that experimenting isn't beneficial, especially for improving your content.
Many marketers have trouble knowing how to experiment or what to experiment with.
Fear not. We're here to help you stop guessing and start experimenting in five key areas.
1. Bring in new voices to your content
Who doesn't want more engagement, more readers, and more conversations?
You could improve traction to your content by injecting new life into your content strategy with fresh voices. You can do this by seeking new contributors for your blog.
There's never a shortage of guest bloggers looking for opportunities to gain exposure on new channels, so you won't have to look far to find some potential contributors.
Pro tip: Consider setting up a landing page where writers can submit ideas to you instead of having them bombard you with emails. You can use the page to explain your style guidelines and what you'll need for submission, including a headshot and the author's bio. Here's an example of what our guest blog submission page looks like.
Get your colleagues to write
Another way to get new voices on your blog is by asking your colleagues to submit articles. We have a lot of in-house writers at Foleon who are keen contributors. For our content newsletter, The Crave, we have four writers on rotation, including myself (bringing the Content Marketer's perspective), our resident Copywriter, Head of Brand and Comms, and Content Ops specialist. Between the four of us, we're able to cover a range of topics in our areas of expertise, which means there's something for all our subscribers.
When it comes to bringing new voices to your content strategy, you'll want to make sure that the topics remain more or less in your niche, but that doesn't mean you should shy away from exploring new ideas or deviate from your "standard" voice. You may see your engagement, reader numbers, and conversations grow as you incorporate new voices into your strategy.
2. Explore new content formats
When you're producing content all the time, it can be easy to get stuck in a rut and keep churning out the same old thing. Suppose you're looking to freshen up your content marketing and keep content interesting for your readers. In that case, it's essential to step outside of your comfort zone from time to time and experiment with new ways of presenting the information.
Depending on where your readers are in the buying process, it's important to understand what content formats will be the most effective for them. For instance, a video buying guide could work well for prospects on the fence, whereas a retargeting email could work well for cold leads to try and entice them.
Content formats you should be looking at to mix things up with include:
- Infographics. Did you know that a person would retain only 10-20% of written or spoken information after three days compared with almost 65% of visual information? It's no surprise then that readers are not only looking at infographics more but are also more likely to remember and absorb what's on an infographic. This makes it an excellent content format for your blog or brand messaging. They're digestible, great to look at, and can be a lot of fun. The best part about infographics (aside from being memorable) is because they're visual, they're 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content!
Pro tip: You might be keen to create an infographic from repurposed content but consider new and fresh ideas that haven't previously been shared (or shared widely). New research or studies in your industry can be a great way to share new and exclusive content that hasn't been released yet.
- Listicles. Love them or hate them, they work. We agree that the saturation is a bit much, and yet we still click on them. Why? (Although I know I don't need to see another 10 reasons why dogs are cute, I still want to). There are many reasons for this; lists are memorable because they're digestible and make us feel organized and inclusive (I don't need to know about a topic thoroughly to understand a listicle). So, it may be time for you to experiment with what women's magazines have known for decades: Lists work. And top 10 lists work even better!
- Personal storytelling. Emotion rules the day when it comes to social media, so when it comes to creating content for your audience, getting them to engage with it on a personal level is a great way to connect with them. Personal stories can be written in many ways. You could write a personal essay, for instance, where you explain how an experience has helped teach you something or shaped you as a person. Opinion pieces are also an excellent way to share your stories, thoughts, and ideas with people. Lastly, telling inspirational tales, whether yours or someone else's, can be a great way to educate your audience and perhaps even inspire them to take action.
These are just some content formats you can already start experimenting with.
3. Master social media copy
Social media can feel unimportant to some—it's fleeting, things move fast, so why bother perfecting every word of each post? The key point to remember here is that the level of engagement that social media can bring is massive. Your audience wants to connect, and social media is the place for them to do that best. The stronger your social posts are, the easier it is for them to get there.
If you want to reach your audience where you are, you can do a few things. Keep your headings short, concise, and to the point. You should attempt to get the meaning of your message across before the 'see more' button, so experiment with trying to stay within the limited number of characters.
When it comes to increasing the visibility of your social media copy, you can sprinkle some high-performing hashtags. Hashtagify is a great website to search hashtags for social media. It comes with many plans that you can choose depending on the hashtag usage & research volume. You can search insights & real-time data regarding all hashtags on social media, including trends, popularity, ranking, etc.
With Hashtag Expert, the application will create 30 associated hashtags for each hashtag. You must ensure that the hashtags are associated with your content by choosing hashtags from various categories.
Pro tip: Before including hashtags in your copy, make sure you check their popularity and performance over time, as this will ensure they boost the visibility of your content. Hashtags should also be relevant to your content, complement its message, and not mislead social media users.
The last point to keep in mind is that you do not have to copy and paste the same piece of text for every social media platform. Try out new titles and graphics, share them with your community/followers, and see what sort of reactions you get.
4. Try out new distribution channels
You finally hit "Publish" after hours spent outlining, writing, editing, and proofreading your content. Now it's time for your distribution strategy to come into play.
Most likely, you’ll share your content on your company's Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media channels. Followed by a mention in your weekly content newsletter, which is then forwarded to the inboxes of your friends and family. You might even spend a little bit of money "boosting" the reach of your post.
All of these content distribution tactics are valuable, but what if I told you there were distribution channels you could boost your reach even further?
Get to know communities and forums
Did you know that republishing your content on Quora Blogs is similar to the content shared on Medium or LinkedIn? It's true; Quora Blogs allow you to share a blog post that will be categorized under relevant topics (i.e., Marketing, Writing, fashion, etc.). Readers who follow or show interest in a topic you write about may see your content whenever you share a blog post on Quora.
You can also use LinkedIn Learning to repurpose some of your content. If you didn’t know already, LinkedIn's educational platform provides more than 10,000 online training and development courses. You could even apply to become a LinkedIn Learning instructor. This strategy is also a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader in your area of expertise.
Distributing your content on Reddit is also an option. As the world's biggest social forum with subcommunities for every topic, there are plenty of opportunities to build discussions and connections with niche audiences. Remember that Reddit only works if you're posting your content organically and not for self-promotion.
Loop in your sales team
One of the most crucial parts of the content process is communicating new content with colleagues - especially your Sales team if you work in B2B. Don't forget that your sales team is also an important distribution channel. You can keep them informed by sending out a brief explaining the type of content created, a short description of it, where it sits in the funnel, key takeaways, and how the team can use that content with leads, prospects, and customers. Learn more about how to brief your sales team here.
5. Make your content reader-friendly
Let's face it when your audience visits your blog, website, or content, they want a good experience. Making your content readable is the best way to achieve that. The last thing people want is to stare at text-heavy articles devoid of any visuals or is a pain to read. If that's the experience you're providing them, then it won't be long before they end up exiting your funnel and slowly making their way to your competitors.
How to get the audience to spend more time on your content
Making sure your content is easily accessible and scannable should be top of mind. This can be achieved in many ways.
Think about breaking your content into relevant subheadings so that people scanning can quickly find the most interesting part.
Let's get visual
Next, add visuals wherever you can to make the content look more appealing and inviting. When creating content on web-based interactive content formats, you can insert all kinds of multimedia from memes, gifs, and videos and make navigation a seamless experience.
Last but not least, optimize for a flawless mobile experience. Although this sounds obvious, you’ll be surprised how often this part of the content optimization process gets overlooked.
Over to you
There are many opportunities to experiment with your content to see what kind of visibility and engagement you can generate. We have no doubt that some of the experiments will work out for you, while others may not — but that's okay too because it's a great learning opportunity.
So consider trying out one of the experiments from our list:
- Include guest writers (and your colleagues) to write for your blog, to bring in new voices
- Step outside of your comfort zone and explore new content formats
- Play around with your social media copy, and personalize it for each channel.
- Get to know the communities and forums in your industry.
- Step into the shoes of your audience when creating new content.
Test out these experiments over the next few months. You never know what you might uncover.